Veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun seemed like a good free-agent bet for the Capitals. His history of posting high save percentages on bad teams made him an attractive buy that is at its best playing skate-and-shoot hockey.
Vokoun was eager to reestablish his market value after settling for Washington’s low-ball bid. That high motivation made him seem like the perfect get.
But Vokoun’s mediocre play (2.81 goals-against average, .906 save percentage) thus far opened the door for young Michal Neuvirth make his play for the No. 1 designation. For the first time all season he earned three consecutive starts.
“He’s got a clean slate since I started coaching,” new Capitals coach Dale Hunter told the Washington Post. “We ran the numbers and he’s got over a .920 save percentage, which is good, so he’s back in tonight and I liked his practice today.”
Vokoun allowed four goals during a 5-1 loss to the Flyers in his previous start. Neuvirth allowed just two goals on 54 shots during his previous two starts, giving him a .923 in five appearances (four starts and a relief stint) since Hunter took over.
“He’s a young guy still, he’s a competitor and he wants to win,” Hunter said.