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Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Report Card: Michal Neuvirth

Czech, please.
Today I bring you the twenty-third installment in my "Report Card" series, as I continue my evaluation of each Capital throughout this past regular season and playoffs.  Today's player is rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who finished his fourth year in the organization this season.

Stats/Season Summary: Neuvirth played in 48 games this year, starting 45, and went 27-12-4 with a 2.45 GAA, .914 save percentage, and four shutouts.  For most of the season, he was considered the number one; it was either because of an injury to Semyon Varlamov or because he was playing the better hockey of the two.  There was only one stretch where he didn't play at all over a two week span in late December and early January.  He was Washington's most consistent goalie all season long despite Varly's better statistical numbers, and by the end of the year, had emerged to the point that many people (including me) think that he is safe from being traded or let go. Grade: B+
Role Play: Originally expected to make the team merely as a backup and see a few starts here and there, Neuvirth was given the chance to start on opening night after Varlamov got hurt and ran with it.  Originally not much was expected out of him, but by the end of the year, along with his emergence, it was clear that the coaching staff was relying on him to be the anchor of the Caps from the goal. Neuvirth rose to that occasion splendidly.  He completely exceeded what was exptected of him with flying colors, and for that reason, he gets high marks. Grade: A
Playoffs: Neuvirth's playoffs were overall pretty good, although his play in the Rangers series was far superior than against Tampa.  In total, he finished with a 2.34 GAA, .912 Save%, and a shutout, but as I said before, was not ideal against Tampa.  He was left out to dry consistently against the Bolts and had some goals bounce of skates of DC players, but the bottom line is that to win in the NHL playoffs you have to make some of those saves.  Regardless, it exceeded my expectations. Grade: B+
Future Potential: Neuvy is only 23 years old, and he has a world of talent, so he has nowhere to go but up.  He is composed, his technique is excellent, and he has shown so far that he does not get injured easily.  It the Caps end up trading one of their three goalies this offseason, he's probably not going to be one of them.  You build franchises around goaltenders like Michal Neuvirth.  He is going to be a star, period. Grade: A

The next report card will be posted on June 9 and will feature forward Alexander Semin.

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