When he went down with injury last week Michal Neuvirth didn’t look like a goaltender who could be available anytime soon. That’s still probably the case, and Braden Holtby will very likely be the Washington Capitals’ starter for Game 1 Thursday at the Boston Bruins.
But according to general manager George McPhee, Neuvirth is making progress and could potentially be healthy enough to fill some role for the Caps during this first-round series.
“He could if everything goes OK the next few days,” McPhee said Monday. “We don’t know till Thursday, obviously, where we are.”
Neuvirth (lower body) will try to practice with the team Tuesday, McPhee said, and Tomas Vokoun (groin) will try to skate on his own. Vokoun is “a little bit behind Neuvirth, McPhee said.
The Caps recalled Dany Sabourin on Monday to serve as the second practice goaltender, and he very well could be Holtby’s backup for Game 1. But the Caps hope the goaltender carousel stops with Holtby, Neuvirth and Vokoun.
“Well, it took us three goaltenders to get to the playoffs,” McPhee said. “We may need three in the playoffs.”
Goaltending coach Dave Prior talked about Neuvirth’s 15-minute solo workout Monday as very precautionary.
“I really didn’t do anything with him. He just wanted to come out and feel how he felt,” Prior said. “Clearly he’s not in a position yet to practice. He’s just getting a sense of where it was.”
Prior said he has talked to Vokoun just in passing since the veteran goaltender returned from a brief break to see his family in South Florida last week. It’s hard to imagine Vokoun being a factor in this Bruins series.
Brooks Laich said he had not spoken to Neuvirth about his status.
“I don’t even know what the extent of his injury is. I really can’t comment on if he’s back tomorrow or back in a week or two weeks, I don’t know,” Laich said. “The fact that he’s on the ice must mean he’s closer than further. That’s good news that he’s on the ice.”