Capitals' Neuvirth prepared to play first three games in goal

Thursday, October 7, 2010; 6:06 PM

Michal Neuvirth is expected to start in the Capitals' season opener Friday against the Atlanta Thrashers, and if he is needed to play the team's first three games in four days, the 22-year-old goalie said he is prepared.

"I've done it a lot in my career," Neuvirth said of playing several games in a short time period. "But I'm just focusing on [Friday] night. I want to be sharp and that's what I'm thinking right now. . . . I'm pretty excited. I can't wait for the game and I'm going to get a little nervous before the game, but I think I can handle the pressure."

With Semyon Varlamov on injured reserve with what he told CSNWashington was a groin injury - the same ailment he battled on several occasions last season - the Capitals may rely on Neuvirth more early on than they had planned.

Coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn't rule out the chance of playing Neuvirth in all of the first three games, but it's still possible that veteran Dany Sabourin, who likely will be sent to the minor league Hershey Bears after Varlamov returns, could pick up some ice time.

While there is no definite timetable for Varlamov to fully return to the roster, Boudreau said he anticipates that Varlamov will be able to participate fully in practice on Tuesday.

Varlamov was a late scratch for the Capitals' preseason game against the Bruins on Sept. 28 and did not practice with the team again until Oct. 5.

"I'm discouraged for him because it's happened before, and it's taken him a while to get ready," Boudreau said. "It was just something that we wanted to make sure didn't get as bad as in previous years."

- Katie Carrera

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