From Alzner to Varlamov, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2009-10 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2010-11. Next up Michal Neuvirth.
#30 / Goalie / Washington Capitals
Mar 23, 1988
$821,667 cap hit in 2009-10; RFA after 2010-11 season
2008-09 Rink Wrap: n/a
Regular Season (NHL)
Regular Season (AHL)
Key Stat: Neuvirth's .914 NHL save percentage was higher than Jose Theodore's (.911) and Semyon Varlamov's (.909).
Interesting Stat: On January 12th and 13th Neuvirth was pulled in back-to-back starts, both times for allowing four goals on 15 shots.
The Good: Given the opportunity to play significantly more NHL minutes than did in 2008-09, Neuvirth proved himself up to the challenge, recording a .914 save percentage and 2.75 goals against average to go along with a 9-4-0 record, while arguably looking "quieter" and more in control than either Theodore or Varlamov.
It's also worth noting that dropping a couple bad starts here and there makes Neuvirth look even more impressive. For example, toss out his first two starts in the NHL this season (hey, everyone needs some time to adjust) and he was 9-2-0/2.46/.924. Ignore the two games in which he got yanked in the Sunshine State and he was 9-4-0/2.33/.926. And throw out all four of those games and he was 9-2-0/1.96/.939. Obviously it's not entirely fair to pick and choose like that, especially with such a small sample size, but it does go to show that Neuvirth was good far more often than he was bad, and that his bad games might, at least in part, be chalked up to adjustment and a mini cold streak.
Of course (and probably, as expected), Neuvirth's been solid when he's been with Hershey too, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. His 10-2/2.13/.917 playoff stat line may not be as impressive as last year's 16-6/1.92/.932, but then again, his regular season numbers are way up. Neuvith's AHL save percentage went from .904 in 2009-10 to .919 this year, while his goals against average dropped from 2.70 to 2.24. Progress is being made, and at this point, you're looking for that more than anything else.
The Bad: As much as we like to praise Neuvirth's steady, contained, positionally-sound style, the consistency in his results could have been better. Though Neuvirth allowed two goals or fewer in 10 of his 16 starts this season, he also allowed four or more four times. In addition, Neuvirth's numbers are skewed a bit by the competition he faced - he was 5-1-0/2.93/.918 against non-playoff teams and just 4-3-0/2.57/.907 against teams that took the ice in the postseason.
The Vote: Rate Neuvirth below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: Heading in to next season with Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov as the team's top two options between the pipes would certainly save the team money, but it's not without risk. Has Neuvirth performed well enough that the Capitals should be comfortable going forward with their two youngsters in net to start the 2010-11 campaign?