TORONTO | Goaltender Michal Neuvirth will start for the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at the Toronto Maple Leafs, his fifth straight appearance since Braden Holtby had two games to begin the season.
Neuvirth is 1-2-1 with a 2.96 goals-against average and .889 save percentage, but he has made plenty of big stops as the Caps struggle to find consistency within Adam Oates’ system.
“I obviously understand that we want to get some stability to our game right now and Michal’s giving it to us,” Holtby said. “That’s just the life of being a goaltender.”
Oates said Neuvirth got the nod Thursday because “he’s played good hockey.” He and goaltending coach Dave Prior talk, and there’s communication with the goaltenders, Oates said.
Holtby hasn’t played a game in nine days, but if he’s getting the start Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers back at Verizon Center, he wasn’t letting on that he knew.
“Just playing it by ear, trying to work hard in practice and hopefully the opportunity comes,” Holtby said. “I don’t know if disappointed is the word. I obviously want to play every game. If either of us had it our way we’d play every game, so that’s tough.”
Holtby was better in the first two games than his statistics (5.04 goals-against average, .863 save percentage), too. He wasn’t able to make as many clutch stops when his teammates faltered in the defensive zone.
Holtby is eager to get another chance.
“Obviously I want to forget about them but there’s a lot of things that I’ve taken out of them that I want to work on and a lot of good things that happened at the same time,” he said. “That’s the way hockey goes. You look at last year when Neuvy got hurt, it’s the same type of thing. It’s the luck of the game and I haven’t been around for too long but long enough to understand it and right now Neuvy’s playing very well and deserves to play.”