With the Washington Capitals down to Braden Holtby and Dany Sabourin as healthy goaltenders, it goes without saying that they could use Tomas Vokoun right about now. Michal Neuvirth, too.
Vokoun wants to play but may not be close, after aggravating a groin injury March 29. On Tuesday, he skated on his own at the Caps’ practice facility, the first time since leaving that game in Boston.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since March 29, Vokoun said he felt OK on the ice but didn’t know how it would respond in game action
“There’s a really thin line. It’s hard for me to judge something I’ve never been through,” he said. “I’ve played with injuries before and some of them are manageable to just be able to play with them. It’s not comfortable but you can play with bruises and stuff like that. I played with crack in my foot before. But this is something you can’t kind of guard. When you play the game, you go full out and you’re trying to save the puck no matter what when you do those kind of things.”
Vokoun did sliding motions in the crease to test his groin and stretched near the bench as he consulted with assistant trainer Ben Reese. It did not seem as if the 35-year-old goaltender was pain-free while going through the exercises.
“Obviously it’s in a bad situation, but I find out kind of the hard way. You can hurt something like that. I never had an injury like that before. I think I mismanage it a little bit from my point of view. Right now, it’s getting better, definitely,” Vokoun said. “When you play goalie, it’s one of those things when you need the most and if it’s not a hundred percent, even hindrance issue and stuff like that, it might be fine first five saves, but after that, when you get tired and you lose the strength in it, you can re-injure it again.”
Vokoun is 25-17-2 with a 2.51 goals-against average and .917 save percentage this season.
He said his ability to return might hinge on whether the Caps are still playing. What seems obvious is that he won’t be back anytime soon.
“It doesn’t even mean I’m going to be able to get healthy to play. But it’s progressing,” Vokoun said. “It’s all going to depend on how long our season going to be and all the other stuff. I don’t have a lot of answers. All I have is a plan and I’m trying to stick to it and get my health where it needs to be to be able to perform on the ice.”