Neuvirth to start over Vokoun is Caps’ opener; Boudreau looks stupid

This is one of the weirder ways to find out who the starting goalie is. Tomas Vokoun was asked if he was nervous about playing tonight and he replied with one of the more awkward responses possible: “Uh, no, er, I’m not nervous because, uh, I’m not really playing tonight.”

This elicited a “no comment” from Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. Word is he didn’t want this to get out. I wouldn’t have either-he looks like a total dolt now after naming Vokoun the starter rather bluntly a mere 9 days after he was signed in early July.

One thing jumped to the forefront of my mind: WHATWHATWHAT WHAT DID THEY GET VOKOUN FOR THEN?!?!?!

According to Katie Carrera of Caps Insider (see first link), even after the last preseason game, Boudreau still insisted Vokoun was no. 1:

“Tomas is number one, but we’ve got a number one-A,” Boudreau said following Washington’s 4-1 win over the Blackhawks. “Training camp, you’ve got guys that come in that deserve the respect to be where they were and Tomas has earned that. Michal’s been very good…Michal’s going to play a lot of hockey this year but I don’t think you look at that.

“It’d be like saying, okay, Jason Chimera played better than Alex Ovechkin in the preseason,” he continued. “Does that mean Jason Chimera is now the number one left wing over Alex Ovechkin? I don’t think that’s a fair question.”

Something ridiculous there is the old Chimera-Ovechkin analogy. First, Tomas Vokoun is not to goalies what Alex Ovechkin is to left wings. Alex Ovechkin is the best left winger in the world. Is Tomas Vokoun the best goalie in the world? Not even close. It is totally a fair question to ask why Neuvirth would not be starting over a new guy who is way older than him, and who he severely outplayed in the preseason. This has the look of Boudreau covering his ass from naming Vokoun the starter in July and having him be totally beaten out by Neuvirth.

Everyone praised the Caps for signing Vokoun for what he would prospectively bring to the team, and for what a discount they got ($1.5 million, down from his 2010-11 salary of $5.7 million). I was not one of those people-you can read my thoughts on it here. I never understood the Vokoun signing because I didn’t think they needed him with Neuvirth and Holtby. Now, obviously, it seems like the vaunted attributes Vokoun was going to bring to the Caps (veteran/solid/consistent/not-Jose-Theodore goaltending) were contingent on hisbeing the number 1 goalie. Look, Vokoun had a .871 SV% in the preseason–far from fabulous.

Just goes to show you that you should not name your starter 3 months before the game-another fabulous bit of coaching by Bruce Boudreau to add to his repertoire.

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