In any case, Neuvirth, Holtby will share load

Capitals coach Adam Oates has a decision to make about his starting goalie entering Saturday's season-opening game at Tampa Bay. Does he go with Braden Holtby, who was so good in 14 Stanley Cup playoff games last spring? Or will it be Michal Neuvirth, who started 30 games last season and 45 the year before?

Oates does have a handle on who his position players expect to be there -- at least for Game 1:

"I would say that I would think that the guys expect Holts to be in the net based on last year, for sure," Oates said.

But he didn't go so far as to name Holtby the starter after Monday's practice at Kettler Iceplex, either. In a way it doesn't matter. Given the truncated schedule, both Holtby, 23, and Neuvirth, 24, will see their share of time in net. He is inclined to go with a hot goalie, Oates said. Both men will get the chance to go on a streak and win the primary role. But as for wanting a clear No. 1:

"I've got two young kids. They're both very good goalies," Oates said. "I can't say that I have an answer for that. Obviously, I was just in New Jersey [as an assistant coach] where Marty Brodeur -- it was not a question. We all know it. But circumstances are different."

Notes ยป Defenseman Tom Poti, trying to make a return to the NHL for the first time in two years, got off to a good start in his conditioning assignment with Hershey of the American Hockey League on Sunday night. Poti scored a power-play goal for the Bears in a 5-0 win over the Connecticut Whale. His assignment to the AHL is set for two weeks as he tries to return from a fractured pelvis and a groin injury.

"I had a chance to watch a little bit of it, and good for [Poti]," Oates said. "It's been a long time -- a long time without playing. I'm sure he was glad to be back and get some competitive time." ...

The Caps will hold a scrimmage at Kettler Iceplex in Arlington at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday. As always, the event is open to the public. Washington will face the Reading Royals, its ECHL affiliate.