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Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 12/20/2010

Michal Neuvirth regains some confidence after win in Ottawa

By Katie Carrera

Semyon Varlamov walked through the visitor's dressing room doorway, patted his counterpart on the shoulder and gave a nod to acknowledge Michal Neuvirth's part in snapping the Capitals' losing streak at eight games.

It might not have been a flawless game, but for Neuvirth, who hadn't won since Nov. 17 against Buffalo, the way he played late in Sunday night's 3-2 win over the Senators bolstered his confidence.

With the Capitals protecting their one-goal lead after Mathieu Perreault's second goal with 6 minutes and 55 seconds elapsed in the second period, Neuvirth made ordinary saves and a few flashy ones as well. The former were just as important as the latter though, because during this streak, the routine saves haven't always been quite so simple for either of Washington's 22-year-old netminders.

The contest in Ottawa marked Neuvirth's first set of consecutive starts since late November. He acknowledged that by playing in back-to-back games, he was able to develop a rhythm.

"It's kind of tough going back and forth," said Neuvirth, who finished with 24 saves against Ottawa. "Even [against Boston] I was feeling pretty good but it's all about confidence -- I was trying to find it and hopefully I found it [Sunday]. After we scored the third goal I made a couple good saves and I was feeling like myself."

By Katie Carrera  | December 20, 2010; 11:40 AM ET
Categories:  Michal Neuvirth  
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Next: Eric Fehr will likely miss Tuesday's game; Alexander Semin doubtful

Comments

Hey, may be we should stick with one goalie for a while...

Posted by: hbcapsfan | December 20, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

@flynnie - from your earlier post about losing streaks: I tend to agree with you.

It's amazing that people in the same breath will say the regular season is unimportant, then call for the coach's head as soon as he loses three games.

This edition of the team has its flaws (as all NHL teams these days must) but I get the sense that players are working their way through this learning how to contribute. This may be a a great thing later on and it looks to me as though the players care.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | December 20, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Yeah! Let's go on long win streak now!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | December 20, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"It's amazing that people in the same breath will say the regular season is unimportant, then call for the coach's head as soon as he loses three games."

---

I know this might be a difficult concept to grasp, but have you ever considered that it's not a simple dichotomy of either the regular season is important or it isn't? Perhaps it's not so black and white, but rather a shade of grey?

Now, I know this will go against your little "tee hee, look how clever I am" theme that you're running with here, but hear me out for a second...

I can't speak for everyone in the group that I bet you're lumping in as saying "the regular season doesn't matter," but It's not that the regular season doesn't matter, it's determining the extent to which the regular season matters.

the regular season matters in two respects, the first is making the playoffs. So, of course it "matters" you have to make the playoffs to win the Cup. You have to win the regular season to make the playoffs. Beyond that, though there simply isn't a huge difference between finishing 8th in your conference and winning the President's trophy. Sure, winning the President's trophy is a nice accomplishment, but that's it -- it's a nice regular season accomplishment that means little when you're actually in the playoffs (as evidenced last year).

The second way in which the regular season "matters" is that it matters *how* you are winning. Anyone with a critical eye could plainly see that the way that the Caps were winning last year wasn't going to translate into the playoffs -- playoff hockey is almost a completely different game. Once teams figured out how to stop the Caps' attack, it was all over from there. The reason the losing streak was so frustrating was not because we were losing, it was how we were losing. We were losing because of a stubborn refusal to put the brakes on "The System" and go back to fundamentally sound, playoff-style hockey. I think over the last couple of games, you've seen the opposite, and last night it resulted in a win -- now they just need to do it for 60 minutes.

I'm sure you're going to disregard most or all of what I say, but if you take one thing away from my post, I hope it's this: Sometimes people's reactions are not to something as simplistic as the W-L record.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 20, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing that people in the same breath will say the regular season is unimportant, then call for the coach's head as soon as he loses three games.

This edition of the team has its flaws (as all NHL teams these days must) but I get the sense that players are working their way through this learning how to contribute. This may be a a great thing later on and it looks to me as though the players care.

Posted by: RedLitYogi |

I agree. Well said.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse


@sgm3

And lets see how many of those 7 were in his first game and yesterday??? Quit going to Japers Rink and spitting out stats that they provide for you. They also say he was invisible for half the games hes played, but you leave out that part.

Posted by: ThePat | December 20, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I do not think this team a realistic (though maybe an unrealistic) chance of winning the cUp, so I am satisfied that we are working on a more cpmplete game and accept that we may lose more games than we might want or expect b/c of it. Change is not easy, and this team is going through some growing pains this season.

Posted by: capscoach | December 20, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

@hbcapsfan - and yes maybe we should stick with one or the other. I say play one for three, the other for three. They're both good.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | December 20, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I thought change was only good if it was Hanes?

Hmm...

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 20, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

@RedLitYeti - Agreed, hence the while.. ;)

Posted by: hbcapsfan | December 20, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat

I did see that statistic on Jasper's and relayed it. The statistic is a fact, I didn't feel the need to relay someone else's opinion. You can interpret the statistic however you like, I was just pointing it out on this board. That is all.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"I do not think this team a realistic (though maybe an unrealistic) chance of winning the cUp, so I am satisfied that we are working on a more cpmplete game and accept that we may lose more games than we might want or expect b/c of it."

---

I agree with this with a caveat that we actually have to start seeing this alleged "more complete game" or the steps toward it on a regular basis for it to hold any weight.

That said, it's also important to note that "this team is not capable of winning the cup and is working on XYZ aspects of their game to get to that point" is not the bill of goods that was sold to the fans in the off-season. Quite the opposite actually. We were told that the pieces were in place, the defense was sound, that "The System" was capable of winning in the playoffs, and we were simply unfortunate to run into a "hot goalie."

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 20, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I thought our celebration after the final horn was a little too much

Posted by: griz0615 | December 20, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

so was the fact he was invisible but you didnt relay that portion of their information. But its ok.

Posted by: ThePat | December 20, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

This edition of the team has its flaws (as all NHL teams these days must) but I get the sense that players are working their way through this learning how to contribute. This may be a a great thing later on and it looks to me as though the players care.

Posted by: RedLitYogi |

I agree. Well said.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see that at the NHL level, BB's chosen ones are just now learning how to play through adversity and how to contribute on a team. Seriously? BB is holding this team back and needs to go. A come-from behind win against a lame team proves nothing.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 20, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

This edition of the team has its flaws (as all NHL teams these days must) but I get the sense that players are working their way through this learning how to contribute. This may be a a great thing later on and it looks to me as though the players care.

Posted by: RedLitYogi |

I agree. Well said.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see that at the NHL level, BB's chosen ones are just now learning how to play through adversity and how to contribute on a team. Seriously? BB is holding this team back and needs to go. A come-from behind win against a lame team proves nothing.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 20, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

We did not just run into a hot goalie in the playoffs, we did NOT have a hot goalie ourselves.
Say what you want about our goaltending, my opinion is that neither is a leglimate No. 1 NHL goalie in this league.
They are trying to give experience to two kids that should be either backing up or playing in the minors until they mature more.
Big mistake not having a steady veteran.
They must make a big move before the playoffs if we want to have a chance in the spring.

Posted by: joepar703 | December 20, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Flash was named 2nd star of the week in the NHL. Pretty good for a crappy player as some people on here have previously stated.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps

How was the all you can eat?

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 20, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Flash was named 2nd star of the week in the NHL. Pretty good for a crappy player as some people on here have previously stated.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:38 PM

Not a crappy player, crappy center. Big difference. And good for him, he was being improperly used here and wouldnt have been utilized correctly here ever.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 20, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

VTDuffman: Yes, the immortal words of G McPhee, "We can't let five bad days ruin our plans."

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 20, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

On Flash:

One good week does not make a hockey player good. And yes he is a WAY WAY better Wing, than a Center. We all know that. Its not a surprise he is putting up a numbers playing wing, in a wide open offensive system with little focus on defense.

Posted by: ThePat | December 20, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

so was the fact he was invisible but you didnt relay that portion of their information. But its ok.

Posted by: ThePat |

The statistic is a fact, the part of MP being invisible is an opinion.

I was relaying facts so others can make their own opinions. I did not feel the need to relay another person's opinion. That is all. It isn't complicated.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Fehr isn't playing tomorrow because of a death in the family. That sucks as he was coming off of his best performance of the year. But best wishes to him and his family during a time of grief.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Win a few. Lose a few. This regular season crap is meaningless. Consider the streak their vacation so they can rest up for the playoffs. Win a few more. lose a few more. It doesn't matter! They will get in at .500 and then they can start playing hard in April.

Posted by: coolcraig | December 20, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Right on VTDuffman.

Also, the best thing about this team is that we have two (or more) good, solid young goaltenders, with many, many good years ahead of them. CAPs weren't losing because of poor goaltending. And it is fine to let these two get regular season experience during the regular season this year. It will only make them better. If we suffer some losses as a result, so be it. It's worth it for the experience they get.

Posted by: festus75 | December 20, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Flash was named 2nd star of the week in the NHL. Pretty good for a crappy player as some people on here have previously stated.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:38 PM

Last season proves that Flash is a productive forward in the regular season. And congrats to him and the Avs for a resurgent effort last week.

That said, he plays small and loses the puck in games that really count (see: Olympics, Caps postseason), so I was happy to see the team go in a new direction and better prep for the playoffs.

Posted by: justbrewit | December 20, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

re: inconsistent play from our goalies and Matthieu Perreault: the whole team was playing like a bunch of lost souls throughout the streak. I don't know why these three would be expected to be any different. You can point to any number of players who have had good games, whether Hendricks, Fehr, Carlson, Johansson, Perreault, Laich, etc., etc., but absolutely everyone of them and everyone else has stunk it up over that stretch too. Everyone succumbed to the adversity.

Posted by: Justafan | December 20, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Flash was named 2nd star of the week in the NHL. Pretty good for a crappy player as some people on here have previously stated.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 12:38 PM

Flash is a very good player! A very good offensive wing, just not a good two-way center. It's just how many offensive oriented players do you need on a team. He was the odd man out. He is going to be a 20-30 goal guy for many years, but wouldn't get that playing time consistently on the CAPs. There are eight (or more) guys in the system who can put up those kind of numbers.

All that said, the CAPS still need a two-way center.

Posted by: festus75 | December 20, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Everyone ask Santa for a 2 way center who can play on the 2nd line.

Posted by: capscoach | December 20, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Bad streaks like this happen to even great teams. Look at these streaches by the last four Cup winners.

Hawks 2-5-2
Pens 2-8-0
Wings 1-8-2
Ducks 2-7-2

All of these teams went on to win the Cup. Only the Pens changed coaches (about two weeks after that streach). I am not saying we are any of those teams I am just saying going 1-6-2 over a 9 game streach does not mean that this team needs huge changes in order to have a chance at the Cup. I do agree that there are some moves that need to be made but sweeping changes are not the best answer.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 20, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

From the pervious thread. I teach grade 9 and 11 advanced math in Nova Scotia, Canada. Yourself?

Posted by: Aldred15 | December 20, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

@Aldred

Math is not my strong suit...I am social studies....are there any teaching jobs in Canada :) b/c there are none here

Posted by: capscoach | December 20, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

One win (after giving up a 2-0 lead in the 1st AGAIN) doesn't make any difference on the coaching (or GM) front. We need a change. BB needs to go and get replaced by a defensive coach.
Good for Flash, I'm happy for him, I still don't want him on this team. He is a no-show in the playoffs. Hopefully he works out for CO.
It was nice to see the Caps drive the net and get dirty goals. GO DEVILS, get BB (and GMGM) fired.

Posted by: chriscaps | December 20, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Everyone ask Santa for a 2 way center who can play on the 2nd line.

Posted by: capscoach | December 20, 2010 1:35 PM

You can ask Santa. I will ask Santa's helpers! :)

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 20, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Exactly. I was torn last night. I wanted them to finally get a win, but more than anything this season, what I want is for them to lose the games they don't play well, and win the games they do play well.
---doubleAlex---

can i get an AMEN in here!

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 20, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

re: Alzner, I think this losing streak has really actually helped some of our younger guys play harder on the ice. I've noticed that with MaJo, he's hustling more, going into the high traffic areas, etc. Alzner has been more visible in battles along the boards, etc, and the increased ice time and pressure put on him and Carlson have accelerated their development.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 20, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

There are actually. I just started teaching this year (I'm 25) and subbed for 3 weeks and got on full-time, so it's pretty awesome.

Posted by: Aldred15 | December 20, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I think this losing streak has really actually helped some of our younger guys play harder on the ice. I've noticed that with MaJo, he's hustling more, going into the high traffic areas, etc. Alzner has been more visible in battles along the boards, etc, and the increased ice time and pressure put on him and Carlson have accelerated their development.

Posted by: cstanton1

I agree.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

You know whats funny...sgm is now suddenly the biggest Flash supporter. But at the time he was struggling, SGM included him in many of his trade scenarios. Now that he's putting up pts in CO (and lets see how he does there longterm), suddenly the trade was a big mistake or suddenly Flash was invaluable to us.

And I bet at the time sgm was probably gushing over the deal for Hannan. Now he's using the Caps' slide and Flash's resurgence as some type of misguided evidence that the fans who didn't think Flash was good for us were wrong.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 20, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I actually think the Caps made the right move trading Flash for Hannan. I still think it was the right trade for the playoffs.

But I always thought Flash was a good player and much better than many people on this board thought of him. He received way too much criticism than he received. That's not to say he didn't deserve criticism, but not close to the extent he received on here. It was just another case of posters on here placing way too much blame on a few players.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

sgm: I myself posted many times that Flash could be #1 LW on a number of NHL teams. Problem is he was the third best sniper on the team and teams really need two snipers MAX. Plus if you look at last year's stats he had some really negative numbers like the worst stats for team penalties for/against while particular players are on the ice.

A team loaded with bruisers needs a guy like Flash to skate around and chip in loose pucks. Make some passes for primary assists. He's a guy who is best effective when on the #1PP unit where he can be MOST effective. He would never, ever get that here.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 20, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I always thought your evaluation of Flash was fair and almost always agreed with it.

I have had no problem with your evaluation of Flash or what the Caps should've done with him. While I may not have completely agreed 100% at times, it was a reasonable opinion that was based accurately on facts.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 20, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't get the anti Matty P contingent. Who else has scored four goals for the Caps this month?? God knows, not Ovi.

Posted by: pirate1 | December 20, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't get the anti Matty P contingent. Who else has scored four goals for the Caps this month?? God knows, not Ovi.

Posted by: pirate1 | December 20, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Perreault at 5'6 and 170 is doing what 6'2 and 220 Alex Ovechkin and others are not doing, namely going to the net and scoring the kind of goals in front that have been there in the offing all season but which the Caps have not taken advantage of.

Again, I think the NHL has figured out the Ovechkin/Green pairing on the point on the power play and offensive zone setup.

Cram the center of the ice and block shots.

Ovechkin needs to give up playing the point and moving to the front of the net and allowing Backstrom and Green to cycle the puck and find him and other guys like Fehr for the tap ins.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | December 20, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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