Michal Neuvirth is in goal tomorrow as the Capitals host the Florida Panthers tomorrow in another must-win game. The Panthers only need one point in their next two games to clinch the Southeast Division, while the Caps are still pushing to make the playoffs.
“Tomorrow’s the only thing we’re thinking about and we’ve got to take care of that before we can even worry about the next game,” Caps defenseman Mike Green said. “It’s too important.”
The Caps are tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, but the Caps own the tie-breaker. The Sabres play at Philadelphia and at Boston to end the season. Besides the Panthers tomorrow, the Caps end the season in New York against the Rangers on Saturday.
Neuvirth (13-13-5, 2.86 GAA, .901 Save pct.) will make his third start in a row.
“Neuvy’s playing tomorrow, no question,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said. “He’s deserving it. He’s on his game right now and perfect timing for the Caps.”
Neuvirth has given up five goals in his last two starts, one win and one loss.
“I feel good,” Neuvirth said. “I had a good practice today and I’m ready to go.”
Caps forward Troy Brouwer missed practice today for a “maintenance day”.
“He’ll play tomorrow,” Hunter said.
The Caps forward lines today were: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Johansson, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Laich-Beagle, Aucoin-Halpern-Knuble-Eakin-Ward.
All eight defenseman, including John Erskine, practiced today.
Tomas Vokoun, who hasn’t skated since March 29th with a groin injury is “day-to-day” and Hunter said he is getting treatments. Vokoun is not available for tomorrow.
Capitals forward Brooks Laich said this morning on The Sports Junkies that,”“We’re making the playoffs,” Brooks responded. “We’re not talking worst case scenario, we’re making the playoffs.”
You can listen to the whole segment here and catch him every Wednesday at 8:45am with The Sports Junkies.
After practice, Laich wouldn’t back down from his earlier comments.
“I have a belief we’re going to be in the playoffs and that’s it,” Laich said. “I don’t want to discuss any scenario that we’re not. My belief is that we’re going to be in the playoffs.”
Nicklas Backstrom has 0 points in his two games back, but is starting to find his rhythm.
“It’s kinda tough. Takes a couple games I think,” Backstrom said. “I wish it didn’t, but I mean I got to play better tomorrow and make sure I do some good stuff out there.”
He also added, “I think our line could be a little bit better, create more chances and maybe score a couple goals.”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich, Karl Alzner and Mike Knuble had to say following practice today.
Dale Hunter Practice Audio
Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Practice Audio
Brooks Laich Practice Audio
Karl Alzner Practice Audio
Mike Knuble Practice Audio