The Washington Times - March 28, 2012, 01:21PM

Tomas Vokoun is ready to go. The first groin injury of his NHL career ideally behind him, the veteran Washington Capitals goaltender said he can play as early as Thursday at the Boston Bruins if called upon.

“Yes. I’m available. We’ll see what coaches decision they’re going to make,” Vokoun said Wednesday. “But it was very good today. I had very good last two days. Two hard practices. We’ll see.”

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Vokoun has started just three of the Caps’ past 17 games, bothered by a groin injury that has lingered for several weeks. But he said he won’t hesitate when he gets back into the net.

“You look at it where we are. It’s a lot riding on the season for me, too, so there’s nothing to save anything for. Whatever happens, happens. I play I’m gonna try and help the team win the game,” the 35-year-old said. “If it happens to be one game or two or 10, I can’t tell you now. There’s nothing to save it for, obviously.

“And I wouldn’t play if I couldn’t. If I felt like I wouldn’t be 100 percent out there I don’t want to hurt the guys playing at 90 percent. I feel like I can play 100 percent and hopefully give a good game and win the game.”

It’s uncertain which goaltender among Vokoun, Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby will start Thursday. Holtby is still with the team and was traveling to Boston, a spokesman confirmed.

In practice Wednesday, an optional that included only assistant coaches, Vokoun, Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward and Nicklas Backstrom, the goalie was trying to test “everything.”

“Be able to deal with breakaways and 2-on-1s and just moving. Just feeling I can do everything 100 percent. Because if you limit it in some way in the game it’s more likely to get exposed because unpredictable plays and stuff like that,” he said. “In practice it’s more control so I feel I have a 100 percent strength and extension in that leg and obviously it’s not pain free. But it doesn’t feel like I can pull it any more. It’s strong enough to withhold whatever it needs.”

That sounds optimistic from Vokoun’s perspective, and it’s not surprising that he wants to be the guy down the stretch, starting against the Bruins.

“I’m almost 36 years old and it’s not like I think for some of the guys, there’s so many more chances. Probably not for me,” Vokoun said. “So this rides a lot for the team and for me on these next five games. So if you can you want to be in there.”