While Coach Bruce Boudreau wants to keep from tipping his hand, he dropped a few hints that Michal Neuvirth may get the nod to start in Edmonton on Thursday.
Neuvirth hasn’t played since the season opener on Oct. 8 against Carolina and was scratched for five consecutive games with a bruised right foot after it was struck by a puck prior to Washington’s game against Tampa Bay. But the 23-year-old Czech has participated fully in the past two days of lengthy, tough practices — Tuesday’s session was more than an hour and a half with a bag skate at the end — and said he’s ready to go when called upon.
“I felt good today,” Neuvirth said. “They told me to be ready to play on the trip.”
With just two games in seven days, Boudreau was asked how he approaches balancing days off for Tomas Vokoun — who is on a roll, having won six straight and boasting a 1.80 goals-against average and .944 save percentage — and getting Neuvirth back in a game.
“I don’t know, there’s no balance,” Boudreau said. “I told him that he’s probably starting Thursday, just take what you need tomorrow. He’s got to work hard like everybody else the first two days and whatever he needs tomorrow to get ready for Thursday, get ready.”
Asked which goaltender he told that to, Boudreau covered his tracks and said “one of them.”
Worth noting, though, is that in 21 games against the Oilers in his career Vokoun is 6-10-5 with 2.89 goals-against average and .897. Neuvirth has only faced the Oilers once, a 4-2 win that he made 26 saves in back on Dec. 19, 2009, which was also the last time the Capitals played in Edmonton.