With the revolving door situation at goalie for the Washington Capitals all season, coach Dale Hunter has usually been mysterious with his decision of who will be starting in net until right before game time.
Wednesday however, the Capitals coach made it quite clear the Michal Neuvirth would be the go-to man in the final two games of the season. Neuvirth will get the start in hands-down the most important game of the Capitals season Thursday when the team takes on the Southeast leading Florida Panthers.
Hunter attributes Neuvirth’s recent success for his decision to go with the 24-year-old netminder down the stretch. Neuvirth has won two of his past three games, winning against the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, and suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning with a last minute goal by Steven Stamkos. In his last seven decisions, Neuvirth has gone 4-2-1 and on the season has gone 13-13-5 with a 2.86 GAA and .901 save percentage.
With Tomas Vokoun out indefinitely with a lingering groin injury, the Capitals are looking for Neuvirth to take the form that had him lead the team past the New York Rangers last year in the first round of the playoffs.
With victories Thursday against the Panthers and Saturday against the Rangers, the Capitals would assure themselves a playoff position, most likely being the eighth seed taking on the Rangers in the first round again for the third time in four years. Neuvirth said he is looking forward to Thursday’s matchup against the Panthers. The Capitals will clinch a playoff spot if they win and the Buffalo Sabres lose in regulation to the Philadelphia Flyers.
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