Michal Neuvirth will make his second start of the season Monday night as the Capitals wrap up their Western Canada trip in Vancouver. His only prior appearance against the Canucks came back on Oct. 29, 2011, at Rogers Arena, when he played 40 minutes of relief and allowed four goals on 26 shots in a 7-4 loss.
Coach Adam Oates had originally planned to start Neuvirth in Calgary on Saturday but opted to stick with Braden Holtby, given his solid performances heading into that contest. But Oates pulled Holtby after the team got off to a lethargic start. Neuvirth allowed two goals on 19 shots in 47 minutes of relief action against the Flames, and Oates said this was the opportunity to get him a full game for the first time since Oct. 12 against Colorado.
“You’re always trying to figure out what’s the best for every single guy. He needs to get games too,” Oates said. “Maybe after we gave up so many shots in Winnipeg, another big game in Edmonton, maybe it was time to give Holts a rest. Neuvy gets the start tonight and [he’s] a very capable goalie. We’re looking for a good game.”
>> Based on the morning skate, the Capitals’ forward lines will stay the same as they have been the past several games. There could be a change on defense, though. Washington may play Alex Urbom, who hasn’t suited up for a game since Oct. 19 against Columbus, instead of John Erskine. The veteran defenseman hasn’t missed a practice since returning to the lineup from an upper-body injury. When asked if a potential scratch of Erskine was injury related, Oates said no.
“We’re thinking about it, going to be a game-time decision,” Oates said. “A lot of hockey in a short span of time for Ersk.”
>> Meanwhile, the Canucks will get Alex Burrows back to their lineup after he missed 12 games with a broken foot after blocking a shot in the season opener.
>> Caught up with Nicklas Backstrom about his chipped front tooth after that tape-to-face pass by Marcus Johansson. He’s no worse for wear except he now only has half of a tooth where a full one used to be and a little bruising. Backstrom laughed it off as a lesson learned, because he usually wears a mouth guard but forgot it during the second period in Calgary.
Here are the projected lineups for both teams.
Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Ryan Kesler
Chris Higgins-Mike Santorelli-Alex Burrows
Tom Sestito-Brad Richardson-Zack Kassian
Darren Archibald-Jeremy Welsh-Yannick Weber
Alexander Edler-Jason Garrison
Dan Hamhuis-Christopher Tanev
Ryan Stanton-Kevin Bieksa
Roberto Luongo is expected to start.