The Washington Capitals continued their preparation for the Boston Bruins today by holding one of their most intense practices in weeks and they had some good news as Michal Neuvirth practiced today for the first time since being injured April 5th against the Florida Panthers.
Neuvirth made it through practice, but rotated in throughout with Braden Holtby and Dany Sabourin and isn’t 100 percent.
“I’m feeling better” Neuvirth said. “Wasn’t good enough today, but it’s day-to-day and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
Neuvirth was then asked if he would be able to play in the first round against Boston which starts on Thursday.
“Yeah, I think so. I don’t know, I don’t know what the answer.”
Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter was encouraged seeing Neuvirth practice.
“It was good,” Hunter said. “You know something, that’s a big step getting back on the ice. He feels better he’s out here and he’ll get better every day now.”
Braden Holtby will get the start in goal on Thursday if Michal Neuvirth can’t go.
“No idea,” Holtby said on if he will start on Thursday in game one. “Everyone could see the goalies on the ice today. I’m preparing as if I’m playing. I think that’s what we should all be doing.”
Tomas Vokoun is further behind then Neuvirth and has struggled with a groin injury for more than a month. He skated for a few minutes before practice today.
“Obviously it’s been an injury I re-injured it twice,” Vokoun said. “I’m working hard and getting better and see how it’s going to be. I went on the ice today for 10 minutes, and it’s fine like that. Like I find out before in the game in unpredictable situations. It’s a lot more susceptible to getting re-injured. Now I’m just trying to get it a hundred percent so when I do play I don’t have to worry about re-injuring it again.
“I’m just worried about me saying, I think I’m ready to play. And after that, whatever happens happens. I’m working hard to get healthy and at least be able to play. That’s a start for me and after that we’ll see. We never know what’s going to happen. I’ll just do the best I can to get healthy, and after that, it’s up to the coaches who they’re going to play or not. I’m not worried about it at all. It doesn’t even mean I’m going to be able to get healthy to play. But it’s progressing. I felt way better than I felt ten days ago. It’s all going to depend on how long our season going to be and all the other stuff. I don’t have a lot of answers. All I have is a plan and I’m trying to stick to it and get my health where it needs to be to be able to perform on the ice.”
Caps forward lines today looked like: Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Backstrom-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Johansson, Aucoin-Perreault-Ward-Knuble-Halpern-Eakin.
Alexander Semin was back on the ice after missing yesterday with a “maintenance day”. All eight Caps defenseman practiced. The defenseman pairings looked like: Alzner-Carlson, Hamrlik-Green, Schultz-Wideman, Orlov-Erskine. Dany Sabourin is still here and will back up Holtby in goal on Thursday if Neuvirth isn’t healthy.
The Caps will hold one more practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex tomorrow before they board a plane and head to Boston tomorrow afternoon.
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Tomas Vokoun, Michal Neuvirth, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich, Mike Green and Keith Aucoin had to say following practice today.
Dale Hunter Practice Audio
Tomas Vokoun Practice Audio
Michal Neuvirth Practice Audio
Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Practice Audio
Jason Chimera Practice Audio
Brooks Laich Practice Audio
Mike Green Practice Audio
Keith Aucoin Practice Audio