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Michal Neuvirth to start against Ducks

With goalie Jose Theodore sidelined, Michal Neuvirth, who stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief last night against the Islanders, will be between the pipes tonight against the Anaheim Ducks.

In his last start against the Coyotes Saturday, Neuvirth stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced in a 4-2 Capitals victory. Backing Neuvirth up will be the latest talented young goaltender in the Capitals' stable, 20-year-old Braden Holtby, who has been tearing it up in the minors in his first season as a professional.

Holtby got the call at 9 p.m. yesterday and drove down from Hershey with his father, Greg. In 18 games with the Bears this year, Holtby sports a sterling 15-2-1 record, .935 save percentage, and 1.81 goals against average since taking over Neuvirth's starting spot there now that he's been needed in Washington much more than originally expected. In 12 games with the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays, Holtby was 7-2-1-2 with a 2.95 GAA and a .911 save percentage, good enough to earn a spot in the ECHL All-Star Game.

This is Holtby's second stint on the Capitals this year. He was also an emergency backup for the Caps' Oct. 17 game against Nashville.

Holtby, a 4th-round pick in the 2008 draft, said his first year as a professional has been a "whirlwind" with how much he's had to move around from place to place, and that since arriving this morning, he's "not asking many questions, just going with the flow." He also seems aware of the logjam the Capitals currently have between the pipes, with four goaltenders, two of whom are almost the exact same age as him.

"I'm a firm believer that if you're good enough to play in the NHL, you're gonna get a spot no matter what," he said. "There's obviously a lot that can happen, you don't see very many goalies stay on one team their whole career, so it's basically work as hard as you can. I would like to be in Washington, obviously; the talent here and the chance to win a Stanley Cup in future years is unbelievable. All I can focus on is one day at a time, working as hard as I can and hopefully I'll end up here."

As for what Holtby might accomplish during this current call-up, Coach Bruce Boudreau said: "I'm expecting him to cheer on the bench. I know he competes really hard, I've seen him in summer camp and I get the reports from Hershey all the time, but as of today, I don't expect him to play."

More on Semyon Varlamov's status, plus some notes on tonight's game, coming soon.

By Mark Giannotto  |  January 27, 2010; 1:34 PM ET
 | Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Braden Holtby, Jose Theodore, Michal Neuvirth  
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Next: Semyon Varlamov works out, Ducks on a mission

Comments

Disappointed that Holtby probably won't get playing time. Good that he's keeping things in a positive perspective though.

Posted by: GMUCAPS | January 27, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

ridiculous, give him a start! friday nite or sunday.

Posted by: doughless | January 27, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Totally disagree.. i'd be disappointed if he does have to play. Starting our "3rd" goalie isn't an ideal situation. I just hope Neuvy does a great job in this role, and Varley comes back healthy soon.

Holtby will get his chances, but I would hope it is after more than just 18 games of AHL experience.

I still think it's a bit soon for Neuvy.. but this is a reason we drafted him!

Posted by: fricknoutstandin | January 27, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Flash is turning into quite the goon. He has almost half his penalty minutes for the year (6) in the past 2 games. Who needs an enforcer when we have goons like him mucking it up?

Posted by: Aldred15 | January 27, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

As much as I like Varly, does anyone else worry that Varly will not be durable and/or fit enough to carry us through 4 grueling rounds of SC playoffs?

Durability has been a question mark so far in his career. I almost wonder if we wouldn't be better going with Jose into the playoffs (if he can keep his current form).

Obviously Varly has looked good this year. However, he's played 16 games over nearly 3 months and has had recurrent injury problems. In the playoffs, he could be called upon to play in 28 games in ~2months. That worries me.

Posted by: justbrewit | January 27, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Flash and Carcillo are like twins.

Posted by: zmega | January 27, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Flash is also the one who boarded Letang in the Pens game.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 27, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

jetting back to the previous thread...trade talk and hypothetical stuff...

It is quite possible Boyd Gordon is not in the long-term plans...what about Steve Ott from Dallas (UFA) as a rental for the stretch run?

He is very gritty, can score goals (10 to date), and can mix it up, also PK/PP time too this season.

I am sure without disrupting the 4 forward lines now, he could add 4th line depth, grit, and work ethic.

He may be a minus to date, but everyone on Dallas is a minus...

Thoughts..? And yes, I'd rather get a top 4 stay-at-home style veteran defenseman to replace ShaMo...but just a thought...

Posted by: netminder71 | January 27, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

If we are in the market to rent a veteran goaltender, on the cheap, we should shoot to rent Roloson from the Islanders. He's had a save percentage over 90%, even on bad teams. He was moved out of Edmonton in favor of Khabibulin. He is the ONLY reason the Islanders are in the hunt even though our boys lit him up last night. He's probably attainable for league minimum. I know we seem to have a stock pile of goaltenders but neither Varly nor Theodore can stay healthy once they get hot. Rolo is durable too.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 27, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I love Steve Ott. He'd fit in perfectly.

Sandpaper, fights sometimes, kills penalties, has better hands than 99.9% of players of the same ilk, center.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 27, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

As far as getting Rolo, it would be a CHEAP insurance policy in net. With the luck our goaltenders have had, I would hate to have to going down to rely on Neuvirth or Holtby. This isn't far fetched either. Varly and Theo have rolled on and off the injury wagon. Neuvy has had to play in 12 games. (He got pulled from two that Theo became the goalie of record)

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 27, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Common sense prevails. Thank you BB.

Posted by: AleksanderOMunchkin | January 27, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

I don't think Rolo is going to be shipped off, he's playing too well. I think the Isles are trying to dump off Biron.

Roloson is playing out of his mind, and would be the better fit, but I don't think we need to hit the panic button on getting a rental goalie yet.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 27, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Holtby not being played can be looked at a few different ways:
1. They don't think he's ready for the NHL.
2. They don't want to "throw him to the wolves", and possibly tarnish his positive prospect reputation. A bad outing would perhaps hurt his potential as trade bait. Then again a good game would really help if that is what the Caps are after...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 27, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Gordon is likely not in long-term plans. Can he climb to 3rd line? Doesn't seem likely. Meanwhile, the 4th line in two years might well be Steckel, Bradley and Della Rovere.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 27, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I've seen Ott's name and he seems like a good fit. Does he have any playoff experience? It never hurts to add a veteran with a Cup on his resume for instant credibility/respect with his new teammates.

Posted by: Gould23 | January 27, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Rolo is playing well, but if the Isles fall out of the race and think they can get something for Rolo (because DePietro is back so a minor league back-up will prob be in NY next season) they may deal him at deadline time. He might garner a 3rd or 4th round pick.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 27, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Come on BB!! give him a chance :)...we gotta lose one eventually anyway!

Posted by: capscoach | January 27, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Come on BB!! give him a chance :)...we gotta lose one eventually anyway!

Posted by: capscoach | January 27, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this has already been covered but HockeyBuzz saying Nylander to Finland..

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 27, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Caps lines in two years:

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Fehr
Laich-Flash-Semin
Chimera-Johansson-Bouchard? Osala?
Della Rovere-Steckel-Bradley

If they can fit them all in. Perreault could also be in the mix.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 27, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Ott was on the Stars team that went to the West Finals recently.

Unfortunately, he joined the Stars right after their Cups/President Trophies/etc. He's only 27.

Top 5 or 10 in the league in hits.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 27, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

If he is also good on the PK and we could get him for just a draft pick, then I think GMGM should seriously consider that move.

Posted by: Gould23 | January 27, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

OK, Tom, I can buy those forward lines. But, for a real challenge for your crystal ball, why don't you project the 3 d-pairings and which 2 of the 3 young goalies will stay? Presumably Green-Schultz as a pair, maybe Alzner-Carlson as a pair (if they really develop), and maybe Orlov?

Posted by: zmega | January 27, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Volchenkov-Green
Schultz-Carlson
Alzner-Erskine

Sloan

Varlamov
Holtby

:)

Posted by: richmondphil | January 27, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

No matter how good Holtby is supposed to be, or how well he's done with the Bears so far, he's still the 3rd string guy. I would play Neuvirth tonight and let Holtby at the very least have a couple days of facing NHL-level shots before giving him a start.

I think he's going to be very good, but there's a big difference between facing AHL level teams and NHL, even if it is the hapless Panthers or Lightning.

Posted by: southside721 | January 27, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I saw Holtby play in both games this past weekend. It is hard to see if he is ready for the NHL. The speed of the game down there is much slower and the shooters aren't near as accurate. IMHO, Holtby was good but his competition wasn't that much and he takes too many chances. I think it will take some time to see if this is a viable cadidate.

Posted by: psugolf | January 27, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

zmega: Here is roster for 2011-2012. I got them all squeezed in with $3000 in available cap space.

Ovechkin (2008-2021) 9.538
Backstrom (2010-2021) 6.500
Semin (resigns 2011-2016) 6.200
Laich (2011-2015) 4.000
Flash (2010-2013) 3.300
Fehr (impending RFA) 2.000
Chimera (impending UFA) 1.875
Bradley (2011-2013) 1.200
Steckel (2010-2013) 1.100
Johansson (est) 0.950
Perreault (impending RFA) 0.850
Della Rovere (EL signed 2009) 0.588
Laing (re-signs yearly) 0.550
S/T 13 Forwards 38.651
Green (impending RFA) 5.250
Schultz (impending RFA) 1.750
Alzner (re-signs 2011 - impending RFA) 1.750
Erskine (2011-2013) 1.250
Carlson (impending RFA) 0.846
Orlov (guess) 0.800
Finley (re-signs 2011, impending RFA) 0.800
Sloan (impending UFA) 0.700
S/T 8 Defensemen 13.146
Varlamov (signed 2011-2015) 4.000
Neuvirth (signed 2011 - impending RFA) 1.000
S/T 2 Goalies 5.000
Total 23 Players 56.797
Cap Space 56.800
Available 0.003

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 27, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Let's not get ahead of ourselves and prognosticate the 2011-2012 Caps...even looking at the 2010-2011 team is slightly ridiculous at this point.

Here and now, the team needs either or all of the following three pieces to win the big prize and give us what we covet:

1)A veteran smart defensive minded defensman (make it possible to move Poti or ShaMo).
2)A durable and reliable backup goalie (because I don't trust Theo and don't think Neuvie is playoff ready, if Varly is not going to be the "guy" down the stretch).
3) A rugged, good hands, 4th line center/winger that can PK and hit. Someone that can win a draw in the defensive zone and block shots would be great too (Ott fits the mold, plus he's younger and cheaper right now).


In the realm of looking forward at the defense for next year(s)...I love the idea of Volchenkov playing for the Caps. He fits w/ the Russians, he is a good puck mover, and he still has many good years ahead.

Green / Alzner
Volchenkov / Carlson
Schultz / Pothier

Sloan (D/F swing guy)
Erskine (depth)

Would be a great 8 d-guys to lean on. With the cap space from shedding Poti & ShaMo, that could happen.

Also have to give Oskar Osala some respect. I think he has the talent to be a 2nd or 3rd line guy next year.

Posted by: netminder71 | January 27, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

netminder71: If I wasn't doing this, I'd be hanging out on the street corner.

Osala will get respect when he earns it. Last I knew, both him and Bouchard were not really advancing like the club had hoped.

And I don't think Volchenkov fits next year and going forward unless they move Poti and one of the young forwards.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 27, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Pothier, given that the Caps gave him so much time to recover and treated him so well, will give this team a 'hometown' discount and stay for a bit less to be a part of the potential of the franchise...

I do not see Poti or ShaMo staying much longer...just have to find a team willing to take Poti's final year @ $3.5M.

Schultz has improved enough to warrant a 1 or 2 year extension in the range of $1.2M (a raise from his ~$700K)

Posted by: netminder71 | January 27, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

me too...i may be trying hard to focus on here and now...but it is tough to not look ahead to what could be...i hear you...

Posted by: netminder71 | January 27, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"15-2-1 record, .935 save percentage, and 1.81 goals against average"

That's just ridiculous. I knew he was doing well, with the Bears, but holy cayrap!

Posted by: thomas20 | January 27, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Also, how come no one touts Sean Collins anymore...I have not made it to Hershey yet this year, but is he still there?

Posted by: netminder71 | January 27, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

netminder: You will be shocked when you see how much Schutlz signs for. He is a RFA and he could sign an offer sheet for about $3M/yr and the acquiring team would only have to cough up a #2 pick. With his plus/minus, someone will be willing to toss some cash his way. McPhee will attempt to pre-empt, and maybe they can get him a bit lower.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 27, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Sean Collins: 12 assists and plus 17. See how far Osala is below Aucoin and Giroux, and those two guys can't make the Caps.

http://theahl.com/stats/statdisplay.php?type=skaters&subType=9&season_id=30&leagueId=4&lastActive=&singleSeason=&confId=0

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 27, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Holtby get some playing time. He's been tearing it up in the AHL. It might be early for him and Newbie and generally I'd be hoping for Varly to come in shut things down and be the dominant starter that showed in the playoffs. But relatively, why not Holtby? I've been looking at Hockey's Future and they rank the Caps 7th. But even by their rankings the top six don't look any better. Also the Caps are the best team and tougher to crack the line up. While the top 4 rated players Varly, Alzner, Carlson, and Neuvirth haven't spent much time at Hershey. Still Hershey has a strong hold as the best team in the AHL. And Holtby is a part of that. They have Holtby ranked 16th in the Caps system but listed as 7.0C while Neuvirth rated at 7.5C. The C a NHL readiness or how likely they are to reach the potential while the number suggesting potential. 10 would be a generational player like Ove possibly but 8 is considered a number 1 with all-star potential.

I'm not down on Newbie but he's had a spattering of bad games in limited NHL play, just enough to keep his numbers from being the other wise impressive Varlyesque par. He had similar numbers to what Holtby currently has at Hershey last season in winning the championship. But playing the hot hand and giving him a shot as well, unorthodox as it might be playing 4 goalies, could also shine a spotlight on how they perform under the said spotlight and high competition. As well as give validity to the potential trade value one might assume is coming for at least one of them.

The Hockey's future sight I mentioned still rates a 7 as a journeyman no. 1 goalie and is somewhat dated as I believe the it hold the same ratings from before the season. A couple of good games in the NHL could raise Holtby's value/rating. But a couple of good games could also raise Newbie's numbers back up to league leader type numbers and time could be short with Varly skating again.

Posted by: chavez66 | January 27, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1

While I agree that, if there was no salary cap, other teams would be more than willing to pay Schultz $3 million and part with a round pick to get him.

However, many other teams are also in as bad or even worse salary cap position than the Caps. The few teams who are in good position are teams that are not looking to pay much money for anyone. Unlike a few years ago when many teams had cap room due to the expanding salary cap that is no longer the case. This will hurt many players ability to ask for more money because there just isn't that much available to be spent.

That's why I feel that many of the RFA's will sign for slightly less than the going rate the last few years for similar players because there just aren't enough teams out there willing to give these contracts.

There will always be a few exceptions, and if the salary cap rises more than expected that will change things too.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 27, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Aside from the discussion of hypothetical trades and inflated salaries, how 'bout them CAPS?! What a great game last night --what a great team! Not happy to see Theo go down just as he was finding his groove. I would like to think that it was just a lower-body "twinge" and nothing more serious. Also was not happy - for Hillen and Ovie - to see the slapshot-to-the-face incident. A wish for a speedy recovery to Hillen. You also could tell in his play, that it affected Ovie for the rest of the game.

Neuvy stepped up once again and did a great job. I know he's had a couple stinkers, but I really like to see him in goal. There's something about his style and stance (confident, even if he doesn't know it) that makes watching him exciting. I'm not at all minimizing Theo's or Varly's play. They're can be just as exciting. And YAY for Brawny - I mean Erskine - terrific game for him!

Anyway, on to the meet the Quacker Factory-- I mean the Ducks - GO CAPS!! :)

Posted by: nena1 | January 27, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying Neuvi is ready to lead the Caps to the holy grail, but I don't worry about his bad outings a couple of weeks ago. I think he was just fatigued. He was playing regularly at a level he wasn't used to (or maybe really prepared for), and remember last season how the managed Varly's games because he would be exhausted after a game. The 10 days rest he got seemed to do wonders for him, lest just hope they don't have to ride him hard again and wear him down.

Posted by: ds_kelly | January 27, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

yo Brad ! Welcome to Washington...and all that friggin snow coming on Friday.

another boy from western Canada who can flat out play the game....

Posted by: outrbnksm | January 27, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

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