Hunter on Neuvirth: 'If he was standing on his head every night, would Braden be playing?'

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This is apparently what happens when Michal Neuvirth assumes.

Tomas Vokoun was out with the flu and unable to play Monday, so the Washington Capitals’ young backup goaltender and 2011 playoff starter thought he’d be in net against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, it was 22-year-old AHL call-up Braden Holtby getting the nod.

“Actually I thought the whole day I’m going to play. I show up for the game and find out I’m not,” Neuvirth said. “It is tough, but what can I do? At least if I knew Holtsy gonna get the start, but, you know, no one told me, so I was getting prepared for the game. And when I show up, found out I was not playing, it was tough to swallow.”

Coach Dale Hunter explained that he didn’t tell Neuvirth anything Monday morning because the Caps were still “debating” whom to start against San Jose. But when asked about Neuvirth’s confidence, Hunter singled out his performance.

“It’s one of those things where if he was standing on his head every night, would Braden be playing?” Hunter said. “No. So it’s always judged by how you play.”

Neuvirth has a 2.50 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in his past four starts, including a shutout.

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