Michal Neuvirth continues to progress in his recovery from a leg injury and it’s possible he may be available for one of the three games this week, but regardless of when the 24-year-old Czech is ready, there will be no goaltending controversy.
On Sunday, Coach Dale Hunter squashed any second guessing that might arise in the coming days and put his support behind 22-year-old Braden Holtby, who has shined in Games 1 and 2 against the Bruins, stopping 72 of the 74 shots he’s faced.
After the Capitals’ optional skate, Hunter was asked if he would run with the hot goaltender even when Neuvirth is ready.
“It’s not even…” Hunter said, trailing off. “Holtsy’s our goalie.”
As he’s faced the Bruins with aplomb and withstood the spotlight over the past few days, Holtby has gone from little-known goaltending prospect to a household name across the hockey world.
That Holtby had only 16 games of postseason experience at any level prior to these first two games against the Bruins makes his composure in this high-pressure situation even more notable. But the Saskatchewan native said that even those brief stints in the playoffs in the AHL and WHL helped prepare him for this.
“Losing in seven games in junior, losing in six in Hershey last year — you learn more from losing than you do with winning most of the time,” Holtby said. “I did some things wrong. I had a long time to look at it and figure out what I could do better and I think I was putting too much emphasis on the playoffs and changing everything up. This year, I was just trying to keep the same routine, keep the same mindset. I’ve had a good year and let’s see where it takes us.”
In other goaltending news, Hunter wouldn’t say when Neuvirth might be available to back up this week, but the goaltender looked much more agile and comfortable in net Sunday than he had previously.
Tomas Vokoun, who aggravated a groin muscle strain on March 29, isn’t skating and there doesn’t seem to be much reason for optimism about the veteran’s status.
More from Post Sports:
— Backstrom lifts Capitals in double overtime
— Lack of offensive production frustrates Bruins
— Interactive graphic: Capitals-Bruins shot chart
— Photo gallery: Scenes from Game 2 at TD Garden
— Backstrom laughs off punch from Thomas
— Holtby stays composed in second playoff game