Posted by: emmaharger | July 6, 2011

Man of the Day 7/6: Michal Neuvirth

Michal Neuvirth

Born March 23, 1988 (age 23) in Ústí nad Labem, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic)

Goaltender for the Washington Capitals

Known by many as Neuvy–heck, he has it painted on his mask, it’s okay to say it–and often referred to by feline-focused nicknames because of his almond-shaped eyes and catlike reflexes in the net, Neuvirth has provided his goaltending services to many teams even though he is just 23 years old. He started with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, went to the Windsor Spitfires and the Oshawa Generals before entering the Capitals’ farm system with the ECHL-level South Carolina Stingrays. He then jumped up to the AHL-level Hershey Bears, where he helped lead the team to a 2009 Calder Cup and was named Playoff MVP that year. The Bears took the Calder again in 2010, a back-to-back success that led the Caps to snap Neuvy up and bring him to Washington. He started overtaking Semyon Varlamov as the starting goalie and played in all of the Capitals’ 2011 playoff games.

Including this one, in which Derek Stepan careened into his net and he jumped at the right moment to avoid being knocked down by him.

 Reportedly when Neuvirth first got to America, he knew very little English and needed an interpreter. His skills have grown with time. He does still have this cute expression he seems to default to in many photos, one that has been referred to as “sorry about my face.” It just seems so sweet and apologetic. It’s okay, Neuvy! No need to apologize! When you turned in a season like yours this year (regular: 27-12-4, four shutouts, 2.45 GAA, 0.914%; playoffs: 4-5, one shutout, 2.34 GAA, 0.912%), you don’t need to be sorry. His awards so far include playing in the ECHL’s All-Star Game (2009), the Calder Cup (2009 and 2010), Calder Cup Playoff MVP (2009) and NHL Rookie of the Month (October 2010).

Neuvirth’s Wikipedia page theorizes that with the Caps’ signing of Tomas Vokoun, Neuvy will become the backup goalie. I think it’s a bit presumptuous to assume that until someone within the organization says so. Consider that Vokoun is…well, he’s a bit older than Neuvirth, to put it nicely. Washington may decide to have the younger goaltender as the primary and the veteran as the standby. We will just have to wait and see!

Here is Neuvirth with the Calder. See, some cats DO like water! (ha ha)

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