BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 26: Michal Neuvirth #30 of the Washington Capitals can't stop a shot for a goal by Christian Ehrhoff #10 (not shown) of the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on December 26, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. It was Buffalo's third goal in the first period and Neuvirth was replaced by Tomas Vokoun #29 . (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth had some interesting things to say to Czech media, like the fact that he likes his odds against Braden Holtby in the battle for the Caps' starting job and that he told Tomas Vokoun to sign with Pittsburgh.
Michal Neuvirth spoke to a Czech hockey website Monday, and said some things about Braden Holtby that he might not have said had he known stateside fans would get a hold of them. Luckily, Russian Machine Never Breaks had the translation, courtesy of Karolina Martinkova.
The Caps' goalie was supposed to be the backup to Tomas Vokoun and seemed likely to receive important playoffs playing time as Vokoun went down with injury, but suffered his own injury, opening the door for Braden Holtby, who had only played 21 career games at the time. Holtby proceeded to play out of his mind, with a 1.95 GAA that was probably even better than that, considering he had to play overtime, double overtime, and triple overtime in the Caps' playoff run. But Neuvirth, when scouting out his competition for the Capitals' starting job? Not particularly impressed:
I'm starting the season sure that I want to play forty/fifty games and I am really sure that I have the weakest competition I've ever had. I will try to be number one goalie this season. Finally!
Neuvirth somewhat backtracked on his statements, saying that he respects Holtby and thinks he is a great goalie, just not an par with Vokoun and former Caps starter Semyon Varlamov, both of whom had previously started over Neuvirth. Still, not a great message to send to a player who bailed the Capitals out time and time again in the playoffs.
Neuvirth also said that he advised Vokoun to sign a deal with Pittsburgh this upcoming season, a piece of news that obviously won't sit well with any Capitals fans - although it appears Vokoun was deciding between Pittsburgh and returning to Europe, not, say, Pittsburgh and Washington. He also spoke on the frustration of sitting in the playoffs. And most intriguingly, RMNB says that the most interesting parts of the interview with Vokoun are still yet to come, although it's not entirely clear how it's going to get better than Neuvirth trashing one teammate and telling another to sign with his squad's rival.