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Posted at 12:48 PM ET, 12/05/2011

Michal Neuvirth gets the start over Tomas Vokoun in Florida

(Toni L. Sandys - WASHINGTON POST)
In a bit of a surprise move, Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun will not start tonight in his return to South Florida. He played four seasons for the Panthers before signing in Washington in July.

“Those are the decisions Coach makes,” Vokoun said after the morning skate at BankAtlantic Center. "I’m a paid employee and I don’t make those kind of decisions. I’m a hockey player and I’m here to play games.”

Vokoun, whose wife and two young daughters still live in Ft. Lauderdale, said he was permitted by the Capitals to come down early on Sunday to visit with his family. He was also allowed to spend the night at his home instead of the team hotel.

Sitting on the bench tonight, though, will spoil the professional portion of his homecoming.

“When they tell me I’m playing, I’m playing,” Vokoun said. “And when they tell me I’m not playing, I’m not playing.”

Vokoun had a 20-save shutout against the Panthers on Oct. 18 in Washington.

Coach Dale Hunter was not very expansive when asked why he and goaltender coach Dave Prior decided to go with Michal Neuvirth, who is coming off a solid performance in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Ottawa.

Neuvirth stopped 32 shots in the victory, Hunter’s first since taking over behind Washington’s bench last week.

“It’s just a choice; there’s not much to explain,” Hunter said. “me and Dave Prior talked about it and thought it was a good way to go.”

— On Hockey: Capitals need their goalies to be better

So much for the splash page the Panthers have on their site promoting tonight’s game as a battle between Vokoun and former Caps goalie Jose Theodore (h/t Japers’ Rink):
(Image via

By  |  12:48 PM ET, 12/05/2011

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