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Boudreau on Neuvirth: 'We want to see what he can do'

After watching goalie Michal Neuvirth pick up his first victory of the season with a solid effort Saturday in Edmonton, Coach Bruce Boudreau wants to see more. So the rookie will be back between the pipes tonight against the Ryan Miller and the Northeast Division-leading Sabres.

"We just want to see what he can do," Boudreau said after the morning skate. "It's tough. You throw a young guy in one game here, one game there. [But if] you get him in a couple of games, you get a better idea of where you're at with him in his stage of development."

Giving Neuvirth another start also has to do with Semyon Varlamov's imminent return, Boudreau said.

"Obviously, he's going to get sent down as soon as [Varlamov] is better," Boudreau added. "[Jose Theodore] only gave up four goals in his past two games, so it has nothing to do with him. It has everything to do with [Neuvirth]. Now that he has a little bit of confidence now that he's won a game, let's see where that confidence can lead."

Neuvirth made 26 saves to backstop the Caps to a 4-2 come-from-behind victory over the Oilers. For the season, though, the 21-year-old is 1-2-0 with a 3.71 goals against average and a .872 save percentage.

Some other notes and quotes from this morning:

*Varlamov skated on his own before practice (and before I arrived) instead of with the team. But Boudreau said he remains on target to return next week.

"Yeah, I think so," Boudreau said when asked if Varlamov was still improving. "I know we keep putting it off and it ends up being a three-week injury. But we want to make sure it's his only injury of the year."

*Miller has got to be the leading candidate for the Hart Trophy at this point, no? He leads the league in goals against, save percentage and shutouts, and in the teams' most recent meeting, he blanked the Caps and their NHL-leading offense.

"He's a very good goaltender," Boudreau said. "He has a very good glove hand. It's like Yogi Berra's [saying] 'Hit 'em where they ain't.' We've got to shoot it where [Miller] ain't. ... His goals against is like 1.85 or some ridiculous thing."

It's actually a 1.89, but that still qualifies as "ridiculous." And how about his .938 save percentage? Equally as ridiculous.

Boudreau said facing a hot/great goaltender puts extra emphasis on the Caps' need to go to the net, create traffic and seek out second-chance shots -- things they didn't do in a 3-0 loss in Buffalo on Dec. 9.

"It's something you talk about every game, but it's something you have to accentuate in a situation like this," Boudreau said. "We need the traffic and second shots, and the second shots all have to go up top because he covers the bottom of the net so well."

"He's very good and with good goaltenders you have to bear down," he added. "You can't just go in and shoot and hope. You've got to have a rhyme and reason when you're shooting and [pick] your spots. There's a lot that goes into beating a good goaltender."

*One day after leaving practice early, defenseman Brian Pothier (rib) did not skate today. Boudreau said he caught a cold and so the team sent him home.

*Boyd Gordon is "probably" going to play in Hershey this weekend. "To see how his back withstands a game situation," Boudreau said.

Gordon has not played since returning -- prematurely -- for a period on Nov. 14. In all, he's only played seven games because of his troublesome back.

*The lines and pairings will likely look awfully familiar to the ones in Edmonton. Based on the skate Milan Jurcina and Tyler Sloan will be the scratches on defense.

*Buffalo took its morning skate at KCI right now because of the Georgetown basketball game this afternoon at Verizon Center.

*The first game back from a road trip has historically been tricky for the home team, especially around this time of year when the demand on players' time away from the rink is much higher because of the holidays. Asked if he planned to say anything about that before tonight's game, Boudreau fired back, "Last two days, road teams won 13 out of 14 games. So it's going to be known."

That's it from here. I've got to cram in some last-second shopping before racing downtown for the game.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 23, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
 
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Next: Tonight's lineup: Sabres at Caps

Comments

I still dont get why the Hoyas have to play a NOON day-game Today of all days. Makes no sense.

I also dont get my Neuvy will be starting tonight....get Theo in there. This is a BIG game against a legit EC team with a stud goalie. If BB wants to see what Neuvy has now is not the time...wait til Monday perhaps. Its not like Neuvy wont get another shot - Varly is BOUND to get injured yet again.

Oh well..he's the coach.

LETS GO CAPS!

Posted by: Redskins2Win | December 23, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Afternoon basketball game...? The ice is gonna be great tonight.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 23, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Ted:

please get the scheduling fixed. Hoyas playing the same day as the Caps??? I just don't understand.

Posted by: doughless | December 23, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Amen Steve_R. At least they are back. It feels like forever since I have been in the Phone Booth. GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: pkendrick | December 23, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Agreed pkendrick, it has been a long time. And I had to get rid of my tickets for Sat and Mon because of holiday travels. At least I get to go tonight though & will be able to watch Monday's game while in NC. Cup half full.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 23, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Trophy Talk, since it was mentioned above.

There are some proponents, including those who are vocal about voting for the Hart, that are really agianst a goalie winning it. "That's what the Veniza is for" they say. And to a point they are right.

But equally to a point, a goaltender can be considered so good he carries his team. I think that is really what the MVP is for. Its the "if this player was on this team this season, this team would not be nearly as good" Its what people were saying last year against Ovetchkin. "The Caps are good team, him not winning it would be a compliment to the rest of the team, that the caps aren't a one man show."

I think it will be ineresting if Miller ends the season with a gaa below 2 still, and a .930+ sv%. It might mean that the leading offense guys might have to look for a 55 goal season or a 110+ point season.

As for the Calder, as good as Semyon Varlamov has been its going to be very difficulty for him to get attention compared to Jonathan Tavares. I beleive I saw a stat breakdown where Tavares has almost 20% of the Islanders goals thus far into the season. Ovetchkin has almost 20% of the Caps goals for the season. Thats a big deal.

Posted by: breaklance | December 23, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Trophy Talk, since it was mentioned above.

There are some proponents, including those who are vocal about voting for the Hart, that are really agianst a goalie winning it. "That's what the Veniza is for" they say. And to a point they are right.

But equally to a point, a goaltender can be considered so good he carries his team. I think that is really what the MVP is for. Its the "if this player was on this team this season, this team would not be nearly as good" Its what people were saying last year against Ovetchkin. "The Caps are good team, him not winning it would be a compliment to the rest of the team, that the caps aren't a one man show."

I think it will be ineresting if Miller ends the season with a gaa below 2 still, and a .930+ sv%. It might mean that the leading offense guys might have to look for a 55 goal season or a 110+ point season.

As for the Calder, as good as Semyon Varlamov has been its going to be very difficulty for him to get attention compared to Jonathan Tavares. I beleive I saw a stat breakdown where Tavares has almost 20% of the Islanders goals thus far into the season. Ovetchkin has almost 20% of the Caps goals for the season. Thats a big deal.

Posted by: breaklance | December 23, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I think the post above answers completely the questions about Neuvy v. Jose in net tonight. It's done. I'm looking forward to it.

Ted has the opportunity to take complete control over the scheduling, and loads of other matters. Anyone heard an update on his intentions with respect to his rights? Probably too soon after Abe's death, but I think we've got a better schedule/ice/ticket situation in our future.

Posted by: Sonyask | December 23, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1:

I love that rink! My sons played there a few times. It has that stove in the middle of the lobby, right?

How did the game go?

Posted by: WhyGo | December 23, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Anyone heard an update on his intentions with respect to his rights?

Considering that his statement of condolence the day of Pollin's passing reminded everyone he has the rights (IMO, an uncharacteristically graceless move), there's no doubt he intends to exercise them. How long that will take is another question.

Posted by: zimbar | December 23, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Nothing Ted can do about this year's schedule. Probably not a whole lot to be done for next year either as a lot of that is being set right now. Saturday's are gonna have Hoya's games no matter what. Just the way it is unless they build their own arena. Today's certainly is odd though.

Sadly, I dount there's much to be done about the circus scheduling either. At least it's not the end of March this year.

Posted by: EricS2 | December 23, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad that Neuvy is starting tonight. This is a good team/time to get him more NHL experience. I just hope Ryan Miller is tired.

(from a previous thread)

@ Rambutan_ru

Kovy is worth $9 million dollars to Atlanta because he is their franchise player who attracts paying customers. Reportedly, Atlanta has offered Kovy $9 million, but he wants more. To another team, Kovy will fall between the $7-8 million range. With a creative contract, they can get the cap hit down, but he will definitely command that salary on the open market.

Between Kovy and Semin, I'd pick Semin. Semin brings the same skill set (except physicality), yet he'll be cheaper and doesn't seem to mind player second fiddle to Ovi.

As for a defenseman, I don't really think the Caps need to go outside the organization. I covet Webber and Phaneuf just as much as the next person, but one guy can only play 25-30 minutes a game. With the salary cap, the Caps would still have to keep Erskine, Jurcina, or ShaMo or find cheap replacements. I think a good defensive coach who can develop young guys is more valuable than a single player.

Posted by: ablake70 | December 23, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

from previous post:

"Who says he has lost his job to Neuvy?? I think that they want to get Neuvy one more game before Varly is ready to get back in the line-up, and they would rather have Theo in net Sat. vs. a team that has "dominated" us."

@Capsfannmiss

What else would call this? They have had 3 days off and then another 2 days off after tonight. No game this week is a B2B. I am a big fan of Neuvy (more of Varly) and hopes he sticks around with the big club, but this move speaks volumes. There is no reason to run with Neuvy tonight and "get him 1 more game before Varly is back." What would be the purpose? The Sabres aren't an easy team to play against either, whether the Devils have dominated the Caps or not.

I just think that this has to be a red flag to Jose - and I'm not even Jose!

Posted by: RAJSTAR | December 23, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

If Neuvy is going to be our #1A to Varly's #1 status in years to come, we need to see what he can do. I read nothing into this.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | December 23, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | December 23, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

@Whygo: Yeah, it was the rink with the potbelly stove in the back room. It has since been remodeled and is a very nice facility. It lost a little of its charm though. Anyhow, the rink has a 4 sided scoreboard just like the ones at Kettler. A great place to play hockey.

My sons, 19 and 17, left half way through the game to run errands so I don't know the final score. They did say the Ukraine boys were a good team and they were up 3-0.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 23, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

From an earlier thread:
@ Crooks_c

Always look at the Caps web page to find out about practices, etc. Today is the "pre-game" skate at 1000 in Kettler.
The "Caps Today" shows 3 days of Caps whereabouts, activities, etc.
Posted by: Dougeb | December 23, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

**************************************
@Dougeb:
You saved me a lot of trouble and driving. I see on the Website under "Caps Today" that the Caps are off tomorrow. If I had not seen that, I would have assumed they would have the 11:00 practice.

Thanks!

Posted by: crooks_c | December 23, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Semin brings the same skill set (except physicality), yet he'll be cheaper and doesn't seem to mind player second fiddle to Ovi. * * *

Posted by: ablake70 | December 23, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I've wondered about that (and I don't believe Sasha's going to tell us anytime soon). While DC must be a great place to plant a stake for the future, Sasha might very well want to be the number one guy somewhere, despite his bashful personality. Plus, another team might pay to make him their franchise guy.

Posted by: Sonyask | December 23, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Georgetown playing a few hours before the Caps...I have a feeling that I'm going to be seeing horrible ice tonight...

Posted by: blindskateluke | December 23, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

@Redskins2Win: Absolutely disagree. This is a really good time to put Neuvirth in.

1. We get to see what he's got against a legit EC team without throwing him to the wolves against the Devils and potentially ruining his confidence;
2. We get him two starts in a row to get him something resembling a rhythm;
3. We get to see him one more time before Varly returns and he goes back to Hershey.

It is critically important that we not rush Varlamov, people. You want to make sure that this is the only injury he has this year. The goalies we have right now can hold the fort for us; Varly fresh and rested and healthy come playoff time is likely to be critical to the Caps' success in the postseason. We've got the luxury of auditioning goalies in December; let's use it and find out where Neuvirth is against legit NHL competition.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 23, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

@kittypawz: excellent points. I agree wholeheartedly.

Posted by: Sonyask | December 23, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@CTCapsPhan: I agree with you and thought the same thing. Going forward is Varly and Neuvy the goaltending tandem or do you need to sign someone (or retain Theodore)?

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | December 23, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I just think that this has to be a red flag to Jose - and I'm not even Jose!

Posted by: RAJSTAR | December 23, 2009 12:34 PM

i think the red flag theo sees is last years playoffs and his salary. he already knows the potential salary cap issues the caps have (semin and backstrom) - and that his salary coming off the books is a real possibility. i'd think he also knows that just about any chance for the team to see neuvy will be used. with varly coming back soon (hopefully) - neuvy goes back to hershey

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 23, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of who own Verizon next season, they afternoon Georgetown games need to go away. They only average just over 12K a game last season, and those ticket prices are significantly less than the Caps or Wizards. The owner of Verizon probably isn't making much off of tickets because the school has to pull in money somehwhere from the basketball program. With 12K+ milling around Verizon concessions probably don't make as much as an NHL or NBA game either. It would be nice to see Georgetown move into another venue. Maybe they can lease space from U of MD or George Mason.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 23, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

@CTCapsPhan: I agree with you and thought the same thing. Going forward is Varly and Neuvy the goaltending tandem or do you need to sign someone (or retain Theodore)?

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | December 23, 2009 2:03 PM

it has to be a bit scary for the caps, as an organization, to envision varly and neuvy as their two goalies. jim carey looked (at the time) like he would be the main guy for years to come - didn't work out like they hoped ...
young goalies are a true unknown, some flourish and some just flop

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 23, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of who own Verizon next season, they afternoon Georgetown games need to go away. They only average just over 12K a game last season, and those ticket prices are significantly less than the Caps or Wizards. The owner of Verizon probably isn't making much off of tickets because the school has to pull in money somehwhere from the basketball program. With 12K+ milling around Verizon concessions probably don't make as much as an NHL or NBA game either. It would be nice to see Georgetown move into another venue. Maybe they can lease space from U of MD or George Mason.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 23, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Here is an interesting concept, how about they play in their own arena on their own campus. I know they have one. Now, it may be smaller than VC, but invest in making it larger.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | December 23, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

@ Here is an interesting concept, how about they play in their own arena on their own campus. I know they have one. Now, it may be smaller than VC, but invest in making it larger.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | December 23, 2009 2:20 PM

That would be the best thing for everyone involved. Maybe have one or two marque games at the VC. You would think that they would rather play in a arena on campus for the rowdy college campus atmosphere.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 23, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

@BetterOffWithFedorov - I can only judge based on what I've seen so far, and I do think that Varlamov and Neuvirth make a good tandem.

1) Varlamov is the more athletic (although his technique is improving greatly under Irbe's coaching), while Neuvirth has the better technique, and will likely have the longer career, unless Varlamov's improvements continue.

2) Because they play different styles, we can match the goaltender to the team we're opposing - in other words, use Varlamov when you need athleticism, and use Neuvirth when you need rock solid technique.

Both are very fast; Neuvirth is unflappable. I have never seen him with a 'deer in the headlights' look. Varlamov is getting that way, too, but earlier on, he melted down when he started getting on himself over goals he let in. I've never seen Neuvirth have an on-ice meltdown.

Posted by: irockthered | December 23, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Good decision starting Neuvirth in goal tonight. The ice will be so horrid, the puck will be bouncing and rolling more than the basketball at the Hoyas game this afternoon. I'll be surprised if there's more than 20 shots on Neuvy.

Posted by: sandyflee | December 23, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

7,600 to see the Hoyas play and hurt the ice. Good trade off for the 18k+ to watch a game on bad ice.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | December 23, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Uh, I believe "Hit 'em where they ain't" was Wee Willie Keeler. Oh well, gotta love Gabby anyway...

Posted by: truke | December 23, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

To get an idea of how good Miller has been this year, the best save percentage since the stat started being officially recorded in 1983 was by Hasek and was .937, which Miller's .938 currently beats. Obviously the season is only 45% finished, but still, Miller has been a beast. That being said, I think the Caps are going to pull out a 4-2 victory with an empty netter. Should be an amazing game either way.

Side note: The Hoyas couldn't have played this afternoon game during the past week and a half when the Caps were on the road?

Posted by: Aldred15 | December 23, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm very glad Neuvy's getting tonight's start. I'm a bit worried that Varly's injury-prone and its possible our #3 goalie may get playoff minutes. We need to see if he's ready.

Posted by: C-way | December 23, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I think the Neuvy move is a great one. I personally believe he will eventually beat out Varly for number 1, but that is a year away. If he turns into the stud he can be tonight, he opens up the option to potentially trade theo while he is hot, get a great d-man in and have varly, neuvy as the one two punch. at least sounds good to me while i am enjoying this beer waiting for the game!!!

Posted by: CapsSkins | December 23, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I know we would all love to see G'town go away from VC but it is not going to happen even with Ted in Charge. Using the building twice in one day it very profitable for the owners. Overhead is only slightly higher, (some labor to clean up, change over and ushers. Heat, light, power, mortgage etc do not change. Without all of these events there would be no VC downtown and we would be going out to PG county all the time. Will Ted invest in some more dehumidifiers, you bet, and that alone should be a great help, but as an owner, you book the place as much as possible to cover your overhead and make money to put into the teams.

Posted by: RichC3 | December 23, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

irockthered - like your rundown on our two young goalies. While I haven't seen Neuvy with a deer-in-the-headlights look either, it's always funny to see him with a big s-eating grin after a win. looks like a 10 year old at a birthday party.

Posted by: superpaqman | December 23, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

G'town is not going away especially with Ted in charge.. he's an alum.

Posted by: joek443 | December 23, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

game time is nearing.

tic tic tic

Posted by: Sonyask | December 23, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey, WaPo's Reliable Source blog is taking votes for its Person of the Year and has included Ovechkin among the possibilities. So go over to the Reliable Source blog to vote for Ovie.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | December 23, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

there's a reliable source blog?

Posted by: superpaqman | December 23, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

@CapsSkins
Ive been saying the same thing for a while now.I think neuvy will be the #1 goalie,whether its here or not i dont know,i sure the hell hope so but still think he's gonna end up being better than varly.I luv varly and wish him success but theres just somrthing about neuvirth that i really like.I played/play goalie in ice hockey so i critique the goalies most of all.He has something special and he knows it.He has great poise and confidence.Anyway,i'm glad to see neuvy get another shot and show what he can do.Wish him the best of luck!GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | December 23, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I am happy with BB's choices in goal-tending. It is as it should be: Neuvy should be allowed to build on his success; Varly should take on the Devils and Brodeur and Theo should start packing and looking around.

Posted by: caraveli | December 23, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Love that Neuvy's starting tonight. Don't love that we gotta face Ryan Miller... but I don't think he can shut us out twice in a row. Who's the Sabres backup and does he ever play? Doesn't Miller ever get tired?

And yes, it's HORRIBLE that the Wiz played last night and the Hoyas did this afternoon. The ice is gonna be CRAP. Neuvy better watch out for crazy bouncing pucks.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 23, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

great poise and technique can only get you so far in the NHL as a goalie. you gotta have the ability to rob the shooters on occasion and I have yet to see anything from Neuvy to indicate that he can be that type of a goalie.

maybe he will be in the future but again I have yet to see that from him at the NHL level.

Posted by: joek443 | December 23, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I haven't read everyone's comments so sorry if I repeated anything.

Considering that the Caps got Nylander off the Cap, they have some room to add a big salary and I wonder what kind of player the Caps can get if they traded Theodore this year?

Posted by: nativedc | December 23, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

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