Caps Send Neuvirth and Giroux to Hershey

February 08, 2009 | Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals have assigned goaltender Michal Neuvirth (NOY-vihrt) and forward Alexandre Giroux to the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Hershey Bears, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Neuvirth, 20, is a first-year pro who stands 6’1”, 199 pounds. He has backed up Washington goaltender Jose Theodore for the past three games, but returns to Hershey today as the Bears host Portland at 5 p.m. Neuvirth has split playing time between Hershey and the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL this year. He is 4-2-2 with the Bears this season and has not suffered a regulation loss since Jan. 2. Neuvirth has three wins and two shootout losses in that time and won his most recent game on Jan. 31 against Norfolk.

He was 6-7-0-0 in 13 games in the ECHL and recorded a 2.28 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. He played in the ECHL All-Star Game on Jan. 21 and stopped 19 of 20 shots he faced in 20 minutes of action.

The Usi Labem, Czech Republic, native was the Capitals’ second-round choice, 34th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He played a combined 33 games for three different teams in the Ontario Hockey League last year and was a combined 17-7-5-3. Neuvirth represented the Czech Republic in the 2008 World Junior Championship and posted a 2-2-0 record. His .910 save percentage ranked fourth in the tournament and he was fifth with a 2.50 goals-against average.

Giroux, 27, stands 6’3”, 205 pounds and returns to Hershey after being recalled yesterday. He did not play in last night’s win against Florida. Giroux has 36 goals in 40 AHL games this season and recently set an AHL record with a goal in 15 consecutive games. Mixed in with his record-setting run, Giroux recorded at least a point in 22 straight AHL games, as he tallied 25 goals and 17 assists from Nov. 15 to Jan. 30. Giroux was named the AHL Player of the Month for January after scoring 18 goals and nine assists in 15 games.

He is tied for second in AHL scoring with 57 points and trails only teammate Keith Aucoin (62 points) for the league lead despite playing in 11 games for the Capitals this season, where he has one goal and one assist.

The Quebec City, Quebec, native was Ottawa’s seventh-round draft choice, 213th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Giroux rejoined the Capitals organization on Feb. 26, 2008, in a trade that sent Joe Motzko to Atlanta.

Comment: With the Caps off until Wednesday, when they play in New York against the Rangers, it makes sense to get Neuvirth a game in the minors since Washington will only need either Neuvirth or Darren Machesney to back up starting goalie Jose Theodore. The Capitals number one goalie propsect, Simeon Varlamov, is still out with a knee injury but should be back soon.