Lockout Over, Goalie Controversy Begin!

DC Sports Nexus ---- Sunday, January 6, 2013

With the NHL Lockout finally over after four arduous months, the spot light has now turned back to the individual NHL teams and how they'll prepare for the shortened season. For many Caps fans, there are several anxious questions that they are waiting to have answered:
  • How will Adam Oates fair in his first season as an NHL coach?
  • How will Adam Oates system look?
  • How will the Caps play without Alexander Semin?
  • How will Mike Riberio fit into his new team?
And one of the biggest questions; Who will be starting in the crease?

Braden Holtby had an amazing playoffs, but this is the Washington Capitals...who knows what goalie will start, and what random goalie will appear at the end of the season.

Before the 2011-12 season, the Caps looked like they would be going with Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth in goal.  But in somewhat of a shock, General Manager George McPhee signed Tomas Vokoun to a one year deal. His reasoning? Give Holtby a little more time to mature so he would be ready to go when he hit the NHL.

Vokoun was brought in to start, but all of a sudden Neuvirth was named the opening day starter.  Classic Caps!

Fast forward to the Playoffs and to two nicked up goaltenders.  What were the Caps to do?  Call up the rookie and pray for the best.  Bam.  Braden Holtby, starting playoff games.

Holtby performed above expectations.  All of a sudden the Caps, who limped into the playoffs, were in the second round, and chants of "Holtby, Holtby" reigned down from the seats of Verizon.  The Caps had a new star, and a new goalie.

But did Holtby earn himself an automatic bid as the Capitals starter?  Just one season before Michal Neuvirth was the up and coming goalie.

Neuvy played in the NHL the past two seasons mostly as a back up to Semyon Varlomov and Tomas Vokoun, respectively, with his GAA for the two seasons at 2.61. But his real accomplishment came during the 2011 Playoffs where he lead the Caps to a 5 game series victory against the New York Rangers before being swept by the Lightning in the second round.  Neuvrith posted a GAA of 2.34 in those playoffs.

Holtby's run as playoff goaltender went a little better.  The young goalie posted a GAA of under 2 while carrying the team all the way to a seventh game in the second round.  Holtby clearly stood out as a top playoff performer.

Both goalies have their strong suits and quirks which make them both viable contenders for the starting position behind the Caps blue line.  But barring an amazing training camp by Michal Neuvirth, Adam Oates will be have to have a very good reason for not going with Braden Holtby.

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