The Washington Times - October 29, 2011, 04:20PM

VANCOUVER | Scratches workouts after morning skates are usually grueling for players who don’t get into the lineup. The skaters are often huffing and puffing afterward, though goaltender Michal Neuvirth was again Saturday, too.

Neuvirth is healthy enough to play, Bruce Boudreau said Friday, but the coach on Saturday explained his theory for giving Tomas Vokoun his eighth straight start, against the Vancouver Canucks.

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“I think the last seven games he’s allowed two goals or less. Michal had two good practices under his belt in the last two weeks. You’d like to see him have another good one or two before he gets a chance to play again,” Boudreau said. “We’ve got back-to-backs coming up next week, so I think next week would be a really good time for him to start.”

Neuvirth spoke Wednesday in Edmonton about his situation, saying that day was his “third good practice,” since returning to full workouts after suffering a bruised right heel.

He said the injury hurt his movement when making certain necessary motions in net.

“When I was skating as a player, it didn’t bother me at all. But as a goalie, it was hard to get a little different skating, especially in the crease,” Neuvirth said. “I couldn’t really stop, like hard stop.”

Asked about being 100 percent, Neuvirth said Wednesday: “I’m doing pretty good. It’s getting close to it.”

But Neuvirth won’t get a chance against Vancouver in part because Vokoun has been playing so well. He’s 6-1-0 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

“It’s nice to play. I take it as maybe a reward for the streak we had,” Vokoun said Friday. “It’s obviously nice to be playing.”

The schedule sets up, as Boudreau pointed out, for Neuvirth to return either against the Ducks Tuesday at Verizon Center or at the Hurricanes or Islanders Friday or Saturday.

“I’m just going to be working hard every day and trying to get better and in better shape,” Neuvirth said. “When I get the call, I’m going to be ready.”