Now, for the ultimate test of Adam Oates' decision to platoon his goaltenders, Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth.
At this point in the season, many NHL head coaches choose to reduce the amount of rest and days off afforded to the team's No. 1 goalie, in preparation for the playoffs. That way, the starting goalie will become accustomed to the heavy workload, so it becomes second nature when the grueling postseason schedule begins.
Not Adam Oates.
Braden Holtby was given 11 straight starts, starting with the game on March 17. During that stretch of the Capitals' schedule, Holtby went 8-2-1, stopping 311 of 337 shots for a .923 save percentage. (ESPN.com)
Then, Oates gave Neuvirth two consecutive starts. The first of those two was on April 7 and was the second game of a back-to-back. In that instance, Neuvirth was providing Holtby with some much needed rest.
But the second of those two consecutive starts was a big game on the road against Montreal. And Oates again called on Neuvirth. He explained his decision to Katie Carrera of The Washington Post:
I think that going forward — hopefully we get in a good playoff run — you’re going to need both goalies. You will. I don’t want him to feel that just once every 10 games he’s going to play. He needs to know that he’s a part of our team that he played good the other night and gets the start tonight. [It] gives Holts a little more rest and we’ll go forward.
Neuvirth ended up playing well both nights, winning the two games and saving 55 of 59 shots for a .932 save percentage. (ESPN.com)
The longer this rotation works, the better. But if one or both of the goalies cool off for Adam Oates, the Capitals are in trouble.