For months the Capitals have talked about Tomas Vokoun being such a “steal” and coach Bruce Boudreau made no bones about the veteran being the starter over Michal Neuvirth.
Then came the bombshell Friday when Vokoun said he was not starting the Caps’ regular-season opener Saturday against the Hurricanes at Verizon Center.
“No, I’m not really nervous because I’m not playing,” Vokoun said. “Supposedly I’m going to play the next game.”
It seems Neuvirth will get the nod Saturday, but Boudreau was taken aback by the question.
“I didn’t know that was public knowledge now,” the coach said.
When informed that Vokoun told reporters, Boudreau didn’t exactly open up.
“Well, I’m not ready to comment on that,” he said.
Neuvirth was 2-1 in the preseason with a 1.34 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. Vokoun was 1-2 with a 3.26 GAA and .870 save percentage.
Speaking about a half-hour after Boudreau’s meeting with the media, Neuvirth confirmed that he was starting.
“I just found out after practice, and, yeah, I was a little surprised,” he said. “I think I had a great training camp and had very good preseason games and probably that’s why I’m playing tomorrow.”
He said the team informed him that showing up in great shape and playing well in preseason got him the nod. But Neuvirth also isn’t taking this as any grand gesture about the season.
“It’s only one game,” he said. “I’m going to stay in the net and try my best and help the team win the hockey game tomorrow and that’s all.”
Boudreau was asked what makes it hard to choose between goaltenders.
“We’ve got two real good ones,” he said.
Vokoun continued to speak to Chuck Gormley when Boudreau was talking and had this to say:
“Certainly, it’s a surprise,” he told CSN Washington. “It’s not my decision. Sometimes you like [those decisions], sometimes you don’t like them. We haven’t even played a game yet, so it’s premature to be upset. It’s not a good feeling, but I’ve played hockey for 30 years. Things happen.”