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Neuvirth Earning Back His Starts
(Photo by M. Richter)
On November 29, 2013, cheering hometown fans watched as Michal Neuvirth emerged from the tunnel for pregame warm-ups. He was scheduled to start that night against the Montreal Canadians—but he didn’t. Neuvirth suffered an injury to his Achilles when he stepped on a puck and slipped. Little did he know that such a simple, freak accident would set the tone for a roller coaster season for the 25-year old goaltender.
In his absence, Philipp Grubauer was called up from Hershey to back up Braden Holtby, but Grubauer would soon capture the starting goalie position. His hand was quick and hot, and he sparked the team as well as a goalie controversy. Neuvirth recovered, but merely watched as Grubauer and Holtby defended the net. Dejected, he requested a trade on December 29th, just one month after his injury.
In the midst of the controversy, Grubauer’s hot hand caught a winter chill and he was sent back north leaving Neuvirth and Holtby to share the netminder duties once again.
Tuesday’s loss against the New York Islanders marked the third consecutive start for Neuvirth. He was visibly frustrated after the game.
“I felt good, you know,” he began. “Last game, I let in five and we still won. Today, one goal goes in and we lose. That’s hockey.”
Neuvirth also talked about the penalties and the lack of offense against the Islanders. “We talk about it every day. We can’t take penalties,” he said. “We had lots of scoring chances, but their goalie made some big saves, too. It’s a frustrating loss, but its hockey and we have to regroup and get ready for the next one.”
Even though the Caps lost, Neuvirth really did play a great game. The problem is that he can’t give up five goals in one game and one goal in the next and expect to retain the starting spot, regardless of the outcome. Inconsistent goalies either sit on the bench or hit the road. So, Caps fans, hold on to your Michal Neuvirth jerseys. I’m afraid they could become collector’s items soon.