Michal Neuvirth will start in goal for the Washington Capitals against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, coach Adam Oates confirmed.
Neuvirth’s mood told the story even earlier and even as he didn’t want to reveal he was starting.
“I feel cold, but, you know, this is job I pick and I gotta handle it. I’m trying to stay positive and happy,” Neuvirth said. “I felt good during the practice today and I’m ready to go.”
Neuvirth is 4-1-0 with a 1.82 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in his career against Montreal.
He hasn’t played in a game since New Year’s Day with HC Sparta Praha in the Czech Extraliga. That layoff is not easy to deal with, and goaltending coach Dave Prior could see what was wrong with Neuvirth’s game.
“When I showed up Dave knew right away I was playing too deep,” Neuvirth said. “He called it ‘European hangover.’ I worked at it, the puck’s hitting me, so that means I’m in the good positioning.”
Braden Holtby went 0-2 in his first two starts with a 5.04 goals-against average and .863 save percentage.
“It was really tough on Holtsy. He gave up a lot of goals and it’s not easy,” Neuvirth said. “It was tough start for him. But I think he play well last night. We’ve got to play better as a team.”
Oates said it was the plan to have Holtby play the opener and home opener, but he knew he had to get Neuvirth some game action early.