Net TwistPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Michal Neuvirth got a fifth straight start for the Capitals here tonight in Buffalo. Neuvirth had been rolling along nicely coming into the contest; he went 2-1-1 with a 1.48 GAA and a .942 save pct. in his last four starts. When Washington last visited Buffalo exactly a month ago, it was Tomas Vokoun in net for the Capitals. Neuvirth had been nicked for a half-dozen goals in a 6-3 home ice loss to the Rangers on Nov. 25, leaving Neuvirth with a 0-3-1 mark, a 4.32 GAA and an unsightly .846 save pct. in his previous five appearances at the time. Vokoun had won each of his two previous starts at that time, so he was the one with the relatively hot hand while Neuvirth was running cold. Coming into tonight’s game in Buffalo, Vokoun had been in dry dock for nearly two weeks, since coming up on the short end of a 5-1 decision against the Flyers at Verizon Center on Dec. 13. Neuvirth started against the Sabres, but was dented for three tallies on just six shots in a mere 11:15 of work. Vokoun came on in relief at that point, and he allowed a goal in the two shots he faced over the remainder of the first period. For Vokoun, his 13-day absence from the nets was his longest in five years. He missed 20 games with a thumb injury in the first half of the 2006-07 season and has not gone as long as 13 days without making a start since. Vokoun went more than two weeks without starting an NHL game late in the 2009-10 season, but that dry spell was because of the Olympic break. During that break, Vokoun did tend the twine for the Czech Republic team at the Vancouver Olympic Games.
The Caps took off right around the same time that defenseman Mike Green’s career took off. Green was basically a No. 5 or 6 defenseman at the start of the 2007-08 season, skating anywhere from 15 to 19 minutes a night, occasionally logging 20 minutes and occasionally showing flashes of his dynamic