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Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth thinks Braden Holtby is the ‘weakest competition’ he’s had

Greg Wyshynski
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Remember Michal Neuvirth? He was the Washington Capitals' goalie of the future after Semyon Varlamov was their goalie of the future, and before Braden Holtby was their goalie of the future.

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With Tomas Vokoun — signed last summer by the Capitals after Varlamov was traded — playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, it appears Neuvirth and Holtby will compete for Washington's goaltending honors for new coach Adam Oates.

And hey, don't worry: Neuvirth's got this. After all, as he tells iSportz.Cz (via Russian Machine Never Breaks' translation), Holtby is the "weakest competition" he's had:

"It's true that until now, I have never been an official number one. But I have played just over a hundred games in NHL, that's nothing. 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 (Braden Holtby) I've ever had. I will try to be number one goalie this season. Finally!"

There's some important context to consider here, however.

From iSportz:

Q. You mentioned that Holtby is the weakest competition, but he was awesome in playoffs, don't you think?

He sure is a great goalie. But I can't compare him to Voky or Varlamov, that's what I meant. In comparison to those two, he played nothing in NHL and that's why I take him as the weakest of them three. I'm definitely not saying that he is bad, not at all. I actually like the way he plays. But he is the worst of them three, that's all.

I'm not afraid because of how he did in playoffs. I think that year ago I played in playoffs the same as he did now. They always say that the second season is the turning point, I'm curious how he will do…

There's much more at Russian Machine, including insight into the goalies' relationship ("We don't do 'dates.'") and how Neuvirth influenced Vokoun's decision to join the Penguins.

There's no question that Holtby matured significantly last season under Dale Hunter. There's also no question that Dale Hunter Hockey helped him to a remarkable .935 save percentage in the playoffs; and that his early career numbers historically seem destined for a decline.

That said: Is anyone picking against the kid to get the majority of starts for the Caps next season?

s/t again to Russian Machine and their translator, Karolina Martinková of hockey-on.blogspot.cz.

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