WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: Michal Neuvirth #30 of the Washington Capitals is helped off the ice by Greg Smith after being injured in the second period of the game against the Florida Panthers at the Verizon Center on April 5, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
The injury bug has been buzzing around the Washington Capitals all season long. From Mike Green's myriad of ailments to Nicklas Backstrom's concussion, the Caps cannot catch a break (instead, they catch strains).
Tomas Vokoun was the latest victim, having been hampered by a groin problem that has kept him out of the lineup for the better part of a month. Luckily, the Caps have a capable goaltender in Michal Neuvirth who has playoff experience and knows what it takes to win important games. Or at least they did.
Neuvirth left Thursday's playoff-clinching 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers when former Cap Marco Sturm fell awkwardly on Neuvirth's extended left leg while the latter was attempting to make a save. Neuvirth writhed in the crease, dragging himself like he had just been shot before play was stopped. Neuvirth laid on the ice for a few tense moments before having to be helped off by trainers and teammates.
After the game, head coach Dale Hunter said that Neuvirth is "day-to-day with a lower-body injury," but that is likely a stretch considering that phrasing is almost like a crutch for Hunter (no pun intended). It is unknown how long Neuvirth will be out (if at all), but if he is, the Caps will have to rely on Braden Holtby, he of no NHL playoff experience, during the postseason. Neuvirth, however, also did not have any playoff experience last season, but was arguably one of Washington's best players, so there is reason to hope.
Where there is not reason to hope is behind Holtby. With the Caps' fourth-best goaltender, Philipp Grubauer of the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays, out with a wrist injury, the back-up in D.C. could be Dany Sabourin, who has 14 minutes of NHL playoff experience and has not played a NHL game at all in over three years.
Adam Vingan is co-founder and editor of Kings Of Leonsis, a Caps-centric blog, and is the Capitals Editor for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_KOL and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.