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Michal Neuvirth interviews with Blesk: “We’ll try to be the best goalie duo in the NHL”

August 2, 2011

The Czech Republic’s daily Blesk has been running full interviews this summer with the NHL’s Czech stars. And thank goodness they do. Last week it was Jagr, this week, Washington Capitals’ Michal Neuvirth. Full text can be found here. He will be joined by countryman Tomas Vokoun this season, as old partner Semyon Varlamov was shipped to Colorado. 

The interview is an important one, and a timely one. For the the Caps’ goaltending situation has been intertwined with their playoff fortunes these last few seasons, and the offseason moves made by George McPhee reflect that. Where does Semin go when the post-season puck begins? Green? We all know how Bruce Boudreau copes under pressure thanks to 24/7. To the credit of the Lightning, who pushed the Bruins to a game seven, they were a lot more of a nut to crack than most anticipated. Their sweep of the Caps was shocking, but in hindsight, it shouldn’t have been. Still, Neuvirth went a long way in establishing himself this past spring as a number one goalie, but the team didn’t do him any favors. Picking up Vokoun means adding a veteran presence. He is a player that has achieved internationally, but been left to languish with the Panthers.

In the interview, he is asked about Vokoun’s arrival and his play this season. He is humble and candid. He spoke like a man who still has a lot to prove–and that kind of talk is probably the standard for any Caps player. But young Neuvirth already seems to carry himself in a manner befitting an older player.

Still, he says that he’ll head into training camp the same as always, trying to compete for a spot. And while he claims it doesn’t really matter whether his tandem partner is Tomas or Semyon, that the more experienced netminder partner has its advantages. He noted he was just somewhat surprised when the news broke that Vokoun had been signed. He says he “couldn’t imagine being there with Marty Turco or some other goaltender like that.” Zing?

“We’ll try to be the best goalie duo in the NHL” he confidently said. That’s not stretching it, either. Neuvirth was on a Calder-winning team in Hershey and is still young and developing. But he’s already proven himself relatively durable and level-headed in his time in the NHL. Vokoun was grabbed a bargain price and has continued to give opposing teams trouble despite a less than robust team in Sunrise. He may be older, but he’s not too old, according to Vokoun, who hopes they can be “buddies.”

“I wanted the team to have at least one other Czceh, and now I’m glad there are two more” in reference to the addition of Roman Hamrlik in addition to Vokoun. That support should work wonders. 

In the end of the interview he states bluntly “there is a lot of stress, work and it cost much heavily, to arrive at this situation.”

Doesn’t sound like a person who will blow it.

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