Caps Look to Get On The Good FootPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Washington’s five-game road trip consists of five games in eight days. The first of those five games – and the only one that’s not part of a back-to-back set of contests – takes place tonight in Phoenix. Coming off two straight lackluster losses on home ice and five points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Southeast Division, the Caps need to take a page out of James Brown’s official Godfather of Soul handbook here tonight and get off on the good foot. “I think it’s got a lot of significance because we want to get off on a good start,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau of the first game of his team’s lengthy trip. “You don’t want to be fighting from behind all the time. Our goals are week-to-week goals, and we’ve got three games this week. You win that first game and to get a two out of three week – because .666 hockey is pretty good for the course of the year – if that’s our goal, then the first game is the most important game.” Michal Neuvirth will be tasked with the responsibility of shutting down the Coyotes in the Washington nets tonight. He has allowed two or fewer goals in seven of his last eight starts, posting a 4-1-2 record to go along with a 1.75 GAA and a .941 save pct. during that span. Neither Neuvirth nor Semyon Varlamov has started more than five straight games since the season’s first month as Boudreau continues to go with the hot and/or healthy hand. “We want to win, so whichever goalie we think is going to be capable of winning us the game is going to get the nod,” says Boudreau. “Both of them have played great. Neuvy I think in the San Jose game would like to have those two goals back late in the third period, but we were thinking those might be the only two bad goals he’s given up in an awful long time. Varly, you can’t fault him on the LA goals. And that’s the first time he’s given up [as many as] four goals since the Ranger game [on Dec. 12] when we lost 7-0.” Caps winger Eric Fehr – sidelined since Jan. 14 with an upper body injury – skated with his teammates this morning without the usual yellow caution jersey. There is still no firm timetable for Fehr’s return to game action. Washington is 7-4 all-time – and 5-3 on the road all-time – in games played on Valentine’s Day. The Caps’ last played on this date two years ago in a 5-1 win over the Lightning in Tampa Bay. Caps defenseman Mike Green had a goal for the eighth consecutive game that night to establish an all-time record for NHL defensemen. On this date eight years ago, Caps winger Mike Knuble – then with the Boston Bruins – set an NHL record for fastest two goals by one player at the start of a game. He scored twice in 27 seconds against the Panthers’ Roberto Luongo to help the Bruins to a 6-5 win over Florida. Knuble added two assists later in that game.
It has been nearly six years since defenseman Patrick McNeill heard his name called by the Capitals at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa. McNeill was Washington’s fourth-round (118th overall) choice that day, the fourth straight defenseman the Capitals chose at the start of the 2005 Entry Draft,