Coach Bruce Boudreau said in his pregame comments to reporters that Michal Neuvirth is healthy and ready to play should he be called upon. Neuvirth was forced to leave Monday’s game in Tampa after a piece of metal from his mask entered his eye.
But because Braden Holtby has been playing so well, having stopped 83 of the 84 shots he’s faced in three games over the course of this week, Boudreau has opted to go with the hot hand. Boudreau often likes to go with the goaltender who is winning and rolling along successfully, except this season the rotation between Semyon Varlamov and Neuvirth has often been more about who’s healthy.
“He’s doing pretty good,” Boudreau said of Holtby. “It would seem to be the easiest thing for the coach to do, rather over-coach and say, ‘Is he going to be good or is he going to be bad today? Has his time run out?’ I don’t have a crystal ball, I just know he’s playing really good. So why not continue to play him until something else happens?”
Has the Capitals’ goaltending situation truly become a three-man race this season? It’s hard to say, and it’s likely dependent upon the recovery and continued health of Varlamov and Neuvirth. It’s safe to say there will be more to come in the next few days -- particularly with back-to-back contests looming in the middle of the week -- on how Boudreau is managing the goaltenders’ starts and times with only 12 games remaining in the regular season.