Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

Remember that possible goalie controversy? Well now there’s a new problem in the crease — and it isn’t pretty. After Tomas Vokoun re-injured his groin last week in Boston, the Caps have been forced to rely on Michal Neuvirth and call-up Braden Holtby. That’s not so bad considering Vokoun’s play before the setback. It’s Neuvy who’s hurt now, suffering a possibly devastating leg injury a quarter of the way into the second period Thursday night.

With the puck in the Capitals defensive zone, the Panthers’ Dmitry Kulikov fired a slapper on net. Twisting to get out from the way from the point blast, former Cap Marco Sturm fell onto Neuvirth, causing the young Czech netminder to bend backwards awkwardly. Replays appear to indicate Neuvirth’s left knee endured the damage, but our fake medical degrees are from eBay so we can’t be sure. Neuvy had already taken some hits lately, most notably two pucks to the noggin his last time out, but this one looks far more serious.

The Caps are so far keeping mum — Dale Hunter termed it a day-to-day lower-body injury and said the team will know more later Friday– but it’s hard not to fear the worst. So where do we go from here?

Shake it off, Philipp. It's not that hard to play in a sling. (Photo credit: @WashCapsRock)

We’re inclined to believe — barring a magical, Newt Gingrich-esqe recovery for Mike — it’ll be Holtby and Hershey backup Dany Sabourin in net when Washington begins the playoffs next week against New York… or Boston… or New Jersey with the former not being let anywhere near the crease in the postseason. Prospect Philipp Grubauer was having a nice year down in South Carolina, but he’s on the mend after wrist surgery. We don’t even want to mention the Bears goalie situation if Sabourin does in fact get called up, but Darren Machesney looks to be the man.

Despite Holtby’s raw abilities — he’s 3-2-1 with a 2.79 goals against average and a .910 save percentage this season but has shown flashes of brilliance since Vokoun went down — the 22-year-old is untested in the playoffs. While Holtby was part of the Calder Cup-winning Bears squad in 2010, Neuvirth was the one who got nearly all the minutes. The Lloymindster, Saskatchewan native started for Hershey during their run for the Cup last year, but he was less than impressive as the Bears bowed out in six games. But now Holtby’s got his shot.

“We know that’s he’s a good goalie,” forward Troy Brouwer told reporters after the game. “He’s proven himself time and time again that he can play here.”

Still, Holtby doesn’t look to be relishing his newfound opportunity, not surprising given the circumstances around it.

“Vokey, Neuvy, Grubauer in South Carolina — it’s not a good thing,” said Holtby. “That’s how the cards are dealt and we’ve got to deal with what we have.”

Holtby acquitted himself pretty well after taking over after the starter hobbled to the bench in a painful scene, making some nice saves right off the bat while the Caps seemed to play with a new fire scoring two quick goals. He ended the night with 12 saves and two goals allowed.

“I don’t really ever feel 100 percent comfortable like you do when you play when you know you’re starting,” Holtby explained. “You basically just run off adrenaline and just battle as hard as you can. Your mindset of the technique and everything kind of go out the window. You just try and stop the puck, even if it’s not pretty.”

Said coach Dale Hunter: “We’ve got one goalie down already, then another one goes down. It’s one of those things, sports, something stupid happens like that. But Holtby came in and played great for us.”

Get well soon, Neuvy.

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

  • locker_is_god

    we are fucked.

  • http://www.calacirian.org sonja n a

    Watching the play where he got injured was some of the horrible footage of the night … and they kept showing it over and over again.  Quel horror.  It was rubbing salt in the wound that there was no goalie interference called.  That was just shameful reffing.  

  • serpent

    I stopped breathing for a bit. Not Neuvy! and not just because he’s our Ace in the net,but he’s just such a darn nice kid. I so hope it’s not as awful as it looks.

  • dc_hockey_nut

    I’m hoping it’s just a dislocated patella, and a minor one at that.  He may be able to recover from that by the time we are done with the first round…  yeah that doesn’t make me feel good either.  :/

  • Laura

    Maybe Ward can play goalie or something. Earn that paycheck in the postseason, right?

  • Guest

    It would have been nice if Holtby didn’t have that smirk on his face when he was talking about the injuries. I know the kid wants to be top goalie and this is a huge opportunity for him, but c’mon.

    On a better note, maybe this is the point that Dale realizes that the caps aren’t a defensive team and with both goalies out, we need to outscore opponents. Lots of goals in the postseason or none and get kicked out in the first round.

  • Guestz

    here here! hahaha

  • Guestz

    i have a feeling DH might’ve already had that revelation, the way we scored in succession last night. i hope the boys just learn how to play off fast breaks while not breaking down in their own zone on D. move Chimer up to the 1st line as RW with Alex and Nicky since MoJo has been cold for a while, and that’ll give us the speed to offset the D and help break open some looks for Nicky to find Alex CRASHING THE EFFING NET. hopefully. anyway, a pipe dream…

  • GovtMinion

    Anyone know if Cale Chimera can start practicing as a backup goalie for next week? I think we’re about down to that point if Neuvirth’s injury is as bad as it looked.

  • Ryan Miller’s Caddie

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEUUUUUVY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joshua-Gyovai/100001607232126 Joshua Gyovai

    I love Holtby to death but it sucks him being thrown in there 1 game before the season ends. I’m just not going to expect much and then that way whatever he does will be awesome. 

  • Matt

    Perhaps someone will correct me, but I would think that goalie interference requires some degree of intent to interfere. It’s clear that Sturm didn’t have any malicious thoughts but rather tripped accidentally. I’m a huge Caps fan but this was just an unfortunate accident and that’s why there was no call.

  • Peter

    I’m  a little foggy myself. I think “incidental contact” is the non-penalty version of hitting a goalie, and probably an appropriate label for what Sturm did.

  • Bamfin101

    That picture of Neuvy, Ovi, and Alzner is one of the saddest pictures I’ve ever seen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Reese/12702780 Matthew Reese

    No intent is required. If you hit the goalie whether by accident or on purpose it is by definition goalie interference. Probably should of been a penalty on Sturm, but I was okay with the non-call. Just an unfortunate occurrence.

  • serpent

    It’s the only position Brooksie hasn’t tried yet.

  • Photoshop Guy

    One thing has gotta be said and that is Mitchell Layton must be an ant to be getting those amazingepicholycrap photos. Maybe even a flying ant since he gets those supersweetomfg shots from above looking down on the goalie too. Whatta bawse. 

  • Guestzs

    Guestz for coach 2012-2013

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  • NEUVYFan

    Here’s hoping for a fast recovery for Neuvy…..  He has proved at the AHL level that he can rise to the occasion as he did for Hershey Bears in 2 Calder cup championship runs!  He also had a good run vs the Rangers last year in first round of playoffs.  GET WELL FAST….  

    GO CAPS!!!  HOLTBY WILL RISE TO THE OCCASION!