With goalie Jose Theodore sidelined, Michal Neuvirth, who stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief last night against the Islanders, will be between the pipes tonight against the Anaheim Ducks.
In his last start against the Coyotes Saturday, Neuvirth stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced in a 4-2 Capitals victory. Backing Neuvirth up will be the latest talented young goaltender in the Capitals' stable, 20-year-old Braden Holtby, who has been tearing it up in the minors in his first season as a professional.
Holtby got the call at 9 p.m. yesterday and drove down from Hershey with his father, Greg. In 18 games with the Bears this year, Holtby sports a sterling 15-2-1 record, .935 save percentage, and 1.81 goals against average since taking over Neuvirth's starting spot there now that he's been needed in Washington much more than originally expected. In 12 games with the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays, Holtby was 7-2-1-2 with a 2.95 GAA and a .911 save percentage, good enough to earn a spot in the ECHL All-Star Game.
This is Holtby's second stint on the Capitals this year. He was also an emergency backup for the Caps' Oct. 17 game against Nashville.
Holtby, a 4th-round pick in the 2008 draft, said his first year as a professional has been a "whirlwind" with how much he's had to move around from place to place, and that since arriving this morning, he's "not asking many questions, just going with the flow." He also seems aware of the logjam the Capitals currently have between the pipes, with four goaltenders, two of whom are almost the exact same age as him.
"I'm a firm believer that if you're good enough to play in the NHL, you're gonna get a spot no matter what," he said. "There's obviously a lot that can happen, you don't see very many goalies stay on one team their whole career, so it's basically work as hard as you can. I would like to be in Washington, obviously; the talent here and the chance to win a Stanley Cup in future years is unbelievable. All I can focus on is one day at a time, working as hard as I can and hopefully I'll end up here."
As for what Holtby might accomplish during this current call-up, Coach Bruce Boudreau said: "I'm expecting him to cheer on the bench. I know he competes really hard, I've seen him in summer camp and I get the reports from Hershey all the time, but as of today, I don't expect him to play."
More on Semyon Varlamov's status, plus some notes on tonight's game, coming soon.