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Boudreau mum on goalie situation

Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau this afternoon was willing to talk about his team's recent losing streak, the slow starts and what needs to done to get back on track over the final six regular-season games. The one taboo subject, however, was who would be his top goalie for the postseason.

When asked if he had made a decision on that front, Boudreau simply said, "No."

When prompted again, his response was considerably more acerbic.

"Really on this goaltending thing, eh?" he said. "I'm not going to answer goaltending questions today, okay?"

Jose Theodore had appeared to lock down the No. 1 job with an extended stretch of superior play, but recent developments have made the decision less of a certainty. Although Theodore has not lost in regulation since Jan. 12, he gave up three goals on 10 shots on Sunday against Calgary before being pulled in the first period of a 5-3 loss.

That was a dramatic decline from his performance against the Penguins four days earlier. In that game, Theodore stopped 39 of 42 shots, and Washington won in a shootout, 4-3, over its nemesis.

On Tuesday against Ottawa, his most recent game, Theodore stopped 26 of 31 shots in a 5-4 overtime loss. The winner with 19 seconds left in overtime appeared to bounce off Theodore's skate before dribbling in for a goal.

"Throughout the year, we didn't really know what to expect," Theodore said, "so for me it's about doing the same thing game in and game out, and every time [Boudreau] calls me make sure I play well and I respond well. Usually if I only focus on that, I'm going to have some success, and that's what I've been doing the last 20 games, is just waiting to get the chance to play.

"I'm aware you have to play well if you want to play, and like I said, I'm going to work hard in practice. The last couple games, there were a couple plays I was not happy with my game, so I'm just going to work hard and bounce back."

By Gene Wang  |  March 31, 2010; 6:17 PM ET
 
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Comments

I just keep wondering if our best goalie is in Hershey. Neuvirth is tehnically the soundest of the 3, but also the least experienced.

Last year taught us that while a rookie can play out of his mind (not a first in the NHL - with goalies it is pretty common), in super-tight pressure situations that only the Stanley Cup playoffs bring it is the mental bit over the physical, and Varly cratered in Game 7.

The right answer was to convert either Varly or Neuvirth into a Vokun or Halak at the trading deadline, but goalie was not considered a priority given the perceived sense of riches at that position. But if you take away Theo in his final year and certainly in another uni next year - you got 2 rookies for 2010/11.

Posted by: Political_Stratgst | March 31, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

The last three games have had slow starts. I blame Theo for the slow start against Calgary, and thought Varly could have been sharper against Carolina - but the team played well defensively against Carolina after they started slow. (Actually until the shootout he looked like old good Varly from last year)

The problem has been a slow start by the offense. Only 4 shots in the first period is asking for something bad to happen. This team plays best with the puck and making the other team respect them.

Notice how Ottawa was on its heels when they had to be worried about breakaways and aggressive passing.

So this last week was a mulligan - but probably a good lesson in work effort.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 31, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

maybe if our goaltending isn't stellar, then mgmt is forced to address the defense a bit more. Sometimes great goaltending can mask some real defensive flaws.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Bears at Syracuse tonight. Bears lead 2-0 midway through the 1st. Goals by Alex Giroux and Cody Eakin...his first pro game and his first pro goal!
Bacashihua in goal.

Posted by: tess2201 | March 31, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how you can blame Theo for Calgary. First goal was definitely his fault, but neither of the other two was. The second hit someone in front and bounced way off to the side, where Theo didn't have a shot at it. The third was a point-blank tip in, and the forward who was trailing Bouwmeester was the one responsible. In the 1st period against Calgary, the defense and forwards played horribly, and Theo was the victim of that. To me, he should still be the starter come playoff time.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 31, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

from previous thread
tmac2yao/cstanton1:

"tmac - good point on Belanger. Any defensive habits he had have been wiped clean in our system"

this could be true for any player that comes into this system
if so - then i commend (cstanton1 - is not gonna like me for this... but) GMGM for not trading the likes of varly/neuvy, carlson/alzner, flash/fehr, semin, etc. for some high priced, crease clearing, in your face S@H dman rental that will just end up pinching at the wrong time or decides its more fun to rush the net for that 'back door' pass.

imo - if you don't buy into the fact that offense can win a championship, then your ride probably won't be as much fun as mine. think about it - they will either win the SC or they won't and the only thing we can control is how we feel about the caps chances.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

more from last thread
cstanton1:
debating GMGM's moves would probably be a waste of a lot of internet bandwidth. i understand why you don't care for him. in reality he's probably not as good as i think he is and maybe not as bad as you think his is.

point taken on: "Standing pat or making bad moves is still not a good way to improve a team. If he couldn't land Sutton or Hamhuis, he shoulda not made any moves for a Corvo type"

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 7:30 PM

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

It didn't look like the OT goal dribbled into the net. It looked like it got completely behind Theo was slow to slide over to the post and cut off the angle. Even if it hit him, it went in towards the top of the net pretty cleanly.

Theo's movement and rebound control have been pretty bad, if not awful, in the last 2 games.

He's not playing with consistent energy and focus much like the rest of the team. It's spurts of lazy, bad play mixed in with stretches of good play for him and the rest of the team.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 31, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

this could be true for any player that comes into this system
if so - then i commend (cstanton1 - is not gonna like me for this... but) GMGM for not trading the likes of varly/neuvy, carlson/alzner, flash/fehr, semin, etc. for some high priced, crease clearing, in your face S@H dman rental that will just end up pinching at the wrong time or decides its more fun to rush the net for that 'back door' pass.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 7:24 PM

I think that would only hold true for forwards, not defensemen. Only 4 of the current Caps dmen really play offensively - Green, Poti, Corvo, and recently, Carlson. The defensive minded ones, like Schultz, Erskine, and ShaMo, still play defensive hockey. In that case, a crease-clearing dman would have been a good pickup, if there had been any available.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 31, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Stamkos with #46. Dang.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 31, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

there is absolutely no upside to naming the playoff starter right now... what if BB names Theo the playoff starter now then he continues to play like the last two games and Varly suddenly gets hot and plays like before he got hurt in december?

I'm sure BB will wait as long as he needs to...

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

It didn't look like the OT goal dribbled into the net. It looked like it got completely behind Theo was slow to slide over to the post and cut off the angle. Even if it hit him, it went in towards the top of the net pretty cleanly.

Theo's movement and rebound control have been pretty bad, if not awful, in the last 2 games.

He's not playing with consistent energy and focus much like the rest of the team. It's spurts of lazy, bad play mixed in with stretches of good play for him and the rest of the team.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 31, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I disagree entirely. That OT goal was on an awesome no-look fake shot/pass, and Theo was out to cut off the angle on the shot, leaving the incredible sharp angle shot to go in. If the replay's available check it out. That was not Theo's failure to "get over" - no goalie is going to get over on that sort of deflection in. Other than being an incredible offensive play, if anything you have to put it on the D for not disrupting the pass and not Theo.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 31, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

joek443:
agreed
not naming a starter will keep theo and varly focused


even with theo's last two games - i think he is playing a little more consistant than varly. but we all know BB will go with who he thinks will give them the best chance to win

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Theo was playing great, I was worried he was due for a letdown. It has arrived. The question is how long does it continue? Varly has been iffy at best since his return from injury. If one doesn't come through, we could be in for major disappointment.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | March 31, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

"Theo was playing great, I was worried he was due for a letdown. It has arrived. The question is how long does it continue? Varly has been iffy at best since his return from injury. If one doesn't come through, we could be in for major disappointment."

----

I think the team will be fine, but yes, you never know with playoff hockey. It's a cliche to call it a new season, but it really is. The team with the hot goalie, at the right time of year, has a huge advantage in the playoffs. By comparison, just look at Ryan Miller in the winter games - the dude carried the U.S. almost all the way to gold. Hopefully either of our keepers gets it together in time for round 1.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | March 31, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Hershey Bears won their 57th game of the season tonight - that ties the all-time mark for wins in 1 season in the AHL - and they still have 6 games left to play. As far as the Caps best goalie being in Hershey - Neuvy has not played for awhile as he's been hurt (again). He is due back again this weekend. It's quite possible the best goalie in the organization right now is Braden Holtby.

Posted by: hersheybearfan | March 31, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

can't figure out why tampa isn't a playoff team... gotta be their goaltending even though they just shut out the pens

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

It's not really fair to solely blame Theodore the last couple games. How about holding the defense accountable? They didn't play very well either.

Posted by: GoCaps08 | March 31, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

yeah Tampa did a fantastic job clogging up the neutral zone against the Pens. The Pens were getting frustrated. The Lightning played really hard for a team that's basically out of the playoffs. Seems a lot of teams in the playoffs are struggling with teams that are not in it. Montreal lost to Carolina tonight also.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 31, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Sharks are down 5-1 after two. If it holds that would make the Caps magic number 5.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 31, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

With Tampa Bay, they've had a problem with their forwards producing - they have 5 20+ goal scorers, but no one else even has 10. Their 9th leading goal scorer is a dman, with 5. Stamkos and St. Louis are doing awesome (46-42-88, 27-63-90), but Lecavalier is next with 23-44-67. No other TB player is even at 50 points.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 31, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

It seems that the only contending (i.e. Top 8) team in the Eastern Conference who's doing that well is Buffalo. They're 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Ottawa's won 5 in a row but they lost 5 in a row before that.

About the only thing we can say good about the Caps' recent performance is that it's been slightly better then the Devils and Pens.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 31, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Imo Varlamov is the best of the 3 young goalies in the system.

He's the most athletically skilled and can make the flashy saves Wsh needs time after time, when hes on. His injury really hurt him in a lot of ways, I have the strong feeling if that didn't happen he'd be challenging Jimmy Howard for rookie of the year.

Neuvirth is technically good, but reminds me very much of a younger Theodore. Which isn't terrible since Theo did win Vezina and Hart but he isn't there yet and his time in the NHL wasn't fantastic.

I also feel like Braden Hotlby down in Hershey may be benefiting from the Varlamov-syndrome. He came in mid-way through the season and no opponent knew who he was or how to score on him. But his numbers are ridiculous down in Hershey. He may be a few years out but I wouldn't be surprised if we see Braden actually play an NHL game next season if not the backup.

Posted by: breaklance | March 31, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

This goalie drama is never going to end with the Caps. Once Theo's gone next year (provided we don't re-sign him) then the controversy turns into Varlamov v.s. Neuvirth with Holtby lurking in the shadows. All three are likely to be solid goalies, but does anybody see any of these guys seizing the top spot in our organization? Personally, I like all three but I don't think any of them are Brodeur/Luongo types who can play 65 games a year.

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | March 31, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Next season, here's how I see the goalie situation. Theo will be gone, no question - for the Caps to keep him, they would have to get rid of a few forwards, and I don't see that happening. I think Varly and Neuvirth will share the starts for the Caps, and Holtby will be at Hershey unless there is an injury. If performances hold true to the past, Varly will likely be the #1 goalie, unless he gets hurt.

Posted by: timmyv38 | April 1, 2010 12:07 AM | Report abuse

can u email me when you know who is starting.. crucial for my fantasy hockey league.. I need the winning goalie tonight and he is playing for the capitals...

jnotermann@charter.net

Posted by: HockeyNutinSoMN | April 1, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

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