Before the start of this three-game road trip, Coach Dale Hunter decided how he was going to split the first two contests between his goaltenders. Michal Neuvirth would start in Montreal and regardless of the outcome there, Tomas Vokoun would get the nod against Carolina today.
Neuvirth put forth a 31-save shutout performance in Washington’s 3-0 win over the Canadiens on Wednesday in what was the 23-year-old’s first start since Dec. 26. It was a bit surprising to find out that Neuvirth wouldn’t be getting the nod, given his stellar outing in Montreal and his track record against Carolina (2-0-0, .929 save percentage, 1.97 goals-against average).
But the move ultimately speaks to the fact that Vokoun, who will make his 11th start out of the past 12 games, has become the workhorse in net for the Capitals.
“It’s nice to have coach’s confidence but you always have to perform,” Vokoun said. “Nothing’s for certain you know -- if you don’t perform you’re not going to be out there.”
Vokoun said Hunter has given the goaltenders advance notice recently who will be starting, which offers a chance for them to better prepare mentally for an upcoming contest. “He told me when we landed in Montreal, Michal’s going to play in Montreal and I’m going to play in Carolina,” Vokoun said. “It’s nice to know like that, you know what to expect.”
Hunter said he had an idea of who would start Sunday in Pittsburgh “in the back of his mind.” In other words, Hunter knows who he’s planning to start against the Penguins even if he wouldn’t share it with us reporter types.
— Based on who stayed out for extra work, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine and Jay Beagle will be the healthy scratches against the Hurricanes.