As the regular season begins to draw nigh, day by day, the time has come to predict and begin to take a look at what the Caps and their fans can expect from each player on the roster. Today's player is goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who will begin his fifth year in the organization this fall.
Recap of Last Season: Starting training camp last year as the presumptive backup to Semyon Varlamov, Neuvy was awarded the job for opening night after Varly pulled his groin for 126th time during camp, and boy, did he run with it. The 23 year-old Czech was a model of consistency throughout the season, finishing the campaign with a 27-12-4 record, 2.45 GAA, .914 save percentage, and four shutouts in 48 games; the four goose eggs led all rookie tenders. He managed to overcome several assaults by Varly on his job, and though he did ride the pine for some lengthly stretches, he was still the number one basically all season. For my full in-depth analysis of Neuvirth's 2010-11, click here.
Expectations for this Season: Because the Caps brought on free-agent stalwart Tomas Vokoun on July 1 for pennies, it seems the general consensus that Neuvirth will be the backup to Vokoun this season. That does not mean that Neuvy is going to do his best Justin Peters impression, but it does mean that he is going to have to yield to his countryman more often than not. (Side note: if you don't know who Justin Peters is, that's my point). This backup role for Neuvy will help keep Vokoun fresh for later in the season; I do expect Neuvirth to continue in his development and be a very good goalie when he does get the nod. For a more in-depth look at the Vokoun-Neuvirth battle, click here.
Playing Time: Backup goaltender. All though, truth be told, I think it's more "1-B goaltender." Neuvy will probably see something in the range of one start a week throughout the season, maybe a little bit more or less.
Projections: 32 GP, 19-9-3 record, 2.39 GAA, .915 save percentage.
The next season preview will feature center Brooks Laich.