In a rare turn of events, Coach Dale Hunter shared details about his lineup Sunday morning ahead of Washington’s tilt with the Flyers.
Hunter said that Michal Neuvirth gets the nod against Philadelphia, which will mark his fifth consecutive start. Veteran winger Mike Knuble will also be back in the mix after sitting out as a healthy scratch in seven of the last 11 games.
While no one will know whether Neuvirth would have received the start against the Flyers today if Tomas Vokoun were healthy and Braden Holtby hadn’t arrived in town at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, one thing is clear: The Capitals need a strong outing from the 23-year-old Czech.
Neuvirth allowed five goals on 20 shots in Friday’s 5-0 loss to the Devils, and while not all of the tallies can be attributed solely to him, Washington will require a poised performance in net against the Flyers.
“We need a good game from him. He’s ready to go,” Hunter said of Neuvirth. “They put a lot of pucks to the net so he’s gonna have to be sharp. They shoot from a lot of angles and they have a lot of good players over there, [Claude] Giroux is leading the way with [Jaromir] Jagr and they can make good plays. The team gets a lot of pucks to the net, so he’s gonna have to be ready for tips and rebounds and stuff.”
As for Knuble, this will mark his first game since Feb. 22 at Ottawa. Hunter said he wanted to add more size to the lineup.
“When you lose coaches are going to make changes,” Hunter said. “They’re a bigger team, Philadelphia, big and stronger. So Mike being a big guy, we get more size in our lineup.”
Keith Aucoin, Roman Hamrlik and John Erskine all took part in extra work after the main portion of practice wrapped up so they will likely be healthy scratches tonight.