EDMONTON, Alberta — Back home at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, it sounded like Michal Neuvirth’s bruised right heel was healed and that he’d be back between the pipes Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.
But when the Washington Capitals got to Edmonton, signs pointed to Tomas Vokoun getting his seventh straight start: the veteran came off the ice first and was in a much better mood than Neuvirth, who said it’s up to coach Bruce Boudreau — “so if he’s going to start Tomas, it’s good with me.”
Vokoun confirmed that Boudreau is indeed sticking with him as the Caps open their Western Canada road swing. Given the 35-year-old’s success (a 6-0-0 record, 1.80 goals-against average, .944 save percentage), Thursday is a chance to keep the good times rolling.
“It’s nice — don’t get me wrong,” Vokoun said. “I’ve been on the losing side enough in the past. That’s tough, and no matter if you have a good game or bad game, when you lose the game it’s not the same like you win it. I’m definitely enjoying the successes we have.”
Much of that success has been thanks to Vokoun, who struggled mightily in his Washington debut — five goals on 28 shots Oct. 10 against the Lightning. But with Neuvirth getting hurt that morning, there was no choice but to give Vokoun more chances.
“I don’t think time, if it’s 10 games in or 30 games in, is the issue. It’s more about the present, how you feel, what the circumstances are,” Vokoun said. “If you had a bad game or a good game. For me, it’s just practicing well, practicing hard and trying to keep it kind of honest and doing the right things.”
Vokoun admitted being on the good side of some “puck luck,” but has talked a lot recently about making his own breaks.
Goaltending coach Dave Prior agreed with Vokoun — but more about his performance between games than about luck.
“Most of his success, I truly believe, comes from practicing correctly,” Prior said. “He practices really well and his game’s precise and he’s benefitting. When you go to the game, you just play the game. If you’ve done your homework and proper rehearsal in practice, you’re going to be good. He’s playing like he’s practicing right now.”
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