As injuries plague their top two goaltenders, the Washington Capitals may have to turn to a rookie for the responsibility of a playoff opener.
With Tomas Vokoun (groin) and Michal Neuvirth (leg) on the sidelines, Braden Holtby sits atop the list of healthy Capitals bodies to face the Boston Bruins' vaunted scoring attack. Boston is the only NHL team to house six 20-goal scorers this season -- C Tyler Seguin (29), LW Brad Marchand (28), LW Milan Lucic (26), C David Krejci (23), C Patrice Bergeron (22) and C Chris Kelly (20) -- leaving Washington's defense with its hands full.
Holtby shined in the club's regular-season finale against the Rangers, stopping 35 shots in a 4-1 win over the Eastern Conference's top team. Sitting behind Vokoun and Neuvirth, he saw seven games of action, going 4-2-1 in those contests.
While Neuvirth was briefly on the ice Monday, he did not practice with the team. The Washington Post reports that Head Coach Dale Hunter labeled his condition as "just day to day," adding that the leg injury is "not bad." As for Vokoun, General Manager George McPhee said he is “a little bit behind Neuvirth," according to the Washington Times.
Washington took the regular-season series from Boston, 3-1, with Holtby seeing action in none of those contests.
Here's a look back at the clubs' 2012 regular season matchups. Do you have the Caps moving on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals? Weigh in with our poll below.
Jan. 24, 2012 @ Verizon Center, Washington Despite Alex Ovechkin (suspension), Mike Green (sports hernia), and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) all sitting this one out, the Capitals skated into the All-Star break on a high note. Mathieu Perreault (pictured above) fueled Washington's offense, recording his first NHL hat trick. Entering the third period tied 3-3, the Caps dominated face-offs in the final frame, winning 12 of 16 draws. (Photo by Chuck Myers/MCT via Getty Images)
Feb. 5, 2012 @ Verizon Center, Washington The Bruins got off to a fast start in this Sunday matinee, capitalizing on early goals from wingers Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand. From there, Boston goaltender Tim Thomas (pictured above) handled the rest, stopping 35 of 36 shots thrown his way. Washington managed only two power play opportunities during the entire affair. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)
March 10, 2012 @ TD Garden, Boston After months of road struggles, Washington put together its first back-to-back string of away victories since mid-December 2011. Alexander Semin got Washington off to a fast start, netting a wrist shot in the eighth minute of the first period. Brooks Laich's power-play goal late in the second proved to be the decisive score. The Caps mustered only two shots on goal in the third, but goalie Tomas Vokoun was able to keep the Bruins scoreless for the first 16-plus minutes of that final frame, sealing the victory. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
March 29, 2012 @ TD Garden, Boston Boston entered the teams' season finale on a strong note, winning five of its previous six games. The first two periods were nothing but defense, with all 24 shots (nine for Washington, 15 for Boston) going for naught. Backup Michael Neuvirth got the win for the Capitals, stopping 19 of 21 shots in relief of starter Tomas Vokoun. Neuvirth stopped Bruins winger Rich Peverley in the shootout, leading to a game-winner by Brooks Laich (pictured above). (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)