CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Michal Neuvirth
Michal NeuvirthPosition: Goaltender
HtWt: 6-1, 209
Goals-Against Average: 2.82
Save Percentage: .903
Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 2-year, 2.3 million contract 1.15 million cap hit in 2012-13
Strengths: Neuvirth has quick reflexes, moves side to side very well and has far more experience than most goalies his age with 108 NHL games in parts of four seasons. He also proved he can play at a high level in the 2011 playoffs, going 4-5 with a 2.34 GAA.
Weaknesses: Neuvirth played in the shadows of veteran Tomas Vokoun most of the season, but whenever he was given an opportunity to seize the starting duties away from Vokoun he stumbled. During a stretch in February he won three straights starts and appeared to have the upper hand before losing three in a row and losing the confidence of Dale Hunter. In the end, a lower body injury in the next-to-last game of the season ended Neuvirths forgettable season.
Memorable Moment on the ice: Neuvirths season ended much the same way it began. He injured his foot before the second game of the season on Oct. 10 when he was struck by a shot in pre-game warmups, and his season ended in the next-to-last game on April 5 when Floridas Marco Sturm fell on top of him, injuring his left leg and issuing in the Braden Holtby era. Stupid things happen like that, Hunter said after that game, in which the Capitals clinched a playoff spot. But Holtby came in and played great for us.
Memorable Moment off the ice: Its hard to forget the shock and disappointment on Neuvirths face when he learned on Feb. 13 that Braden Holtby would be starting a home game against the San Jose Sharks after being recalled from the Hershey Bears. It was an early indication of Hunters lack of confidence in the struggling young goalie, whose confidence never seemed to waver. Bad goals can bother you for a while and you need to wake up the next morning, have a good practice and good things will happen, Neuvirth said at the time. What doesnt kill you makes you stronger. There have been some ups and downs but I always bounce back.
2012-13 Expectations: Vokoun is no longer in the picture, but Neuvirth will still enter next season as the Capitals No. 2 goalie behind Holtby, provided the Capitals do not trade him and sign an experienced veteran such as the Rangers Martin Biron. Neuvirth knows just how fleeting playoff success can be and if he returns next season there will come a point in the season where he is given a chance to return to his role as the Caps No. 1 netminder. It will be interesting to see how he handles that opportunity the next time around, especially in the midst of a contract year.