To say Braden Holtby was struggling would be a massive understatement. Eight goals given up in just over 75 minutes was a stunningly poor way to start off the season for a goalie that had typically been one that the Washington Capitals could count on giving them quality games.
It all led to a stunning decision to pull Holtby in just the first period after he conceded three goals, and the team brought in backup goalie Michal Neuvirth, who may have just solidified himself as the new starting goalie of the Capitals.
Giving up just one extra goal in over two periods, Neuvirth was fantastic in allowing the Capitals to make a huge comeback against the Calgary Flames. They managed to tie the game to force overtime, where Neuvirth was once again spectacular, especially in the shootout where he stopped the first three attempts to send the Capitals to a crucial early-season win at home.
There now seems to be an even bigger goalie controversy in Washington.
It wasn’t just holding the Flames to one goal in over two periods, overtime and the shootout, but the fact that he had to survive many, many power plays that the Capitals kept allowing by taking stupid penalties.
The workload was heavy, but Neuvirth was able to completely shut down the Flames and keep the Capitals hanging around the entire night, until finally Washington was able to equalize and dominate the shootout. Starting the season 0-2 would not have been the way the Capitals wanted to get their foot out of the gate, and now with a goalie who can actually be effective, this could lead to a better balanced, more dangerous Capitals team.
If just for a night, the Capitals have a better feeling about their goalie situation.