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Boudreau still won't name playoff starter

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal today against Boston in a game that means a whole lot less after the Bruins clinched a playoff berth yesterday.

The biggest game for the Caps will, in fact, take place 120 miles up I-95 in Philly, where the Flyers host the Rangers in a winner takes all matchup on the final day of the regular season. If the Rangers win, they clinch the eighth seed and will face the Caps later this week. If the Flyers prevail, the Rangers are out and Montreal slides into eighth.

"I still don't know who we'd rather play," Coach Bruce Boudreau said moments ago. "I just think both of those teams are good."

Boudreau also said he doesn't plan to stick around at Verizon Center after his game to watch the end of the Rangers-Flyers game. After all, he joked, the Masters will be on TV.

While Boudreau still hasn't named his Game 1 starter, this morning he hinted that his entire postseason lineup, including his netminder, could hinge on the Caps' quarterfinal opponent.

Just speculating here, but one has to wonder if his reluctance to name a starter has anything to do with the possibility of drawing Montreal? Jose Theodore has had a very good season, but the former Canadien did not start a game against the Habs this season, hasn't started a game at Bell Centre since joining the Caps, and in a relief appearance earlier this season was taunted by 22,000 fans chanting "Tey-oh!"

Here's Boudreau discussing the playoff lineup situation, among other things:

As for today's game, Boudreau wasn't giving up his lineup but it appears that the scratches will be Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Fehr, Quintin Laing, John Erskine and Tyler Sloan.

For the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi will rest. Tim Thomas will get the nod in net.

The Art Ross and Rocket Richard races took an interesting turn yesterday, with Henrik Sedin racking up four assists in a 7-3 Canucks' win over Calgary and Steven Stamkos getting goals Nos. 49 and 50 in a 4-3 win over Florida.

Alex Ovechkin trails Sedin 112-109 in points, but has the tie breaker (goal total). Ovechkin is tied with Stamkos in goals (there is no tie breaker for the Richard; the trophy simply will be shared.) Sidney Crosby, meanwhile, has 49 goals.

Ovechkin, Stamkos and Crosby all play today. Sedin's Canucks are done, however.

We'll put today's lineup in the live chat after warmups.

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By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 11, 2010; 10:47 AM ET
 | Tags: Alexander Ovechkin, Bell Centre, Eric Fehr, Henrik Sedin, Quintin Laing, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Verizon Center  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: In-game chat: Caps vs. Bruins
Next: Ovechkin ready for the playoffs

Comments

I don't think either Montreal or NYR are good opponents for Theo...

Montreal for obvious reasons and against NYR, he did get pulled after one game and Varly had 2 shutouts and only gave up 7 goals in 6 games in the series against them last year.

Posted by: joek443 | April 11, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I doubt any team is in Theo's head.
It should not matter who the Caps play--you have to fight like he@@ to win a playoff series and the Caps, by now, should know how to do that. Otherwise they just don't deserve to move in.

It's wonderful to hear Verizon erupt in chants of M-V-P for OV but in my opinion what they should be chanting is Pear-son, Pear-son. It's like LeBrun said, the fact that OV is no longer a clear-cut MVP is a credit to how good the team is.

Posted by: HeatherinMD | April 11, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Who decides the MVP? Is it just the league or is it sportwriters? If it's the league, I somehow think they will deny Ovie the Hart just because of his two suspensions this year. I don't agree with that.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | April 11, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine the pressure if the Rangers and Flyers go to a shot out? Winner moves on , loser goes home. There would be some tightly held sticks with that.

Posted by: RichC3 | April 11, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Got to see Kane's beatdown of Cooke last night. That was great to see until we realized we was seriously down for the count. I admit it: I was glad he wasn't hurt (too much, anyway). The Thrasher's coach said it best: what goes around, come around.

One other observation: I know we all call cindy a crybaby but it really is justified. Sid the Kid - emphasis on kid - is CONSTANTLY yapping at the refs. It's like they have a "special" relationship or something. Unbelievable.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | April 11, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Who saw that goon Matt Cooke take a cheap shot against Evander Kane and be subsequently pummeled by Kane?

Posted by: MyPostIDisAfake | April 11, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

*Argh CAP-lanta, beat me to the punch.

Posted by: MyPostIDisAfake | April 11, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW9Sp-WndwA here is cooke meeting Kane's hand...one punch TKO, Tyson did not do it better.

Posted by: RichC3 | April 11, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Montreal. It would at least be a change of pace. The Capitals always seem to get the same old opponents. Having said that, I don't see this team letting up one little bit. Bring either one of them on. Go Caps!

Posted by: croftonpost | April 11, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Great KO by Kane. Kane's just a much better fighter than Cooke is but Matt Cooke did what he was supposed to. Kane and Crosby were going at it early and at least 2 different Penguins tried to get Kane to fight and he wouldn't (rightfully so). So when Cooke came calling, thats a golden opportunity to answer the bell against a player who can't fight very well. I'd say solid job by both players. I like that Kane isn't afraid of mixing it up with Crosby. Most players in this league won't mess with Crosby too much because they spend the rest of the game answering challenges from half the Penguins. Thats one of the reasons Crosby gets a lot of room on the ice. He doesn't like getting checked and the second he responds angrily, that gets the attention of his whole bench.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Montreal. It would at least be a change of pace. The Capitals always seem to get the same old opponents. Having said that, I don't see this team letting up one little bit. Bring either one of them on. Go Caps!

Posted by: croftonpost | April 11, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

only reason i don't want to see the Habs are I think it will lower the Caps' game. Montreals is arguably the weakest playoff team in the league right now. I'd rather the Caps get indoctrinated into the playoffs via a grueling 1st round that wakes them up and shows them the pace they need to play at. It'll make them mentally stronger if they advance. There's always a chance a grueling 1st round will exhaust them a little for the next round but the benefits outweigh the negatives. If we play Montreal I don't think it prepares them for that next round against a much tougher opponent.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Any one else noticing our PP as of late being a bit weak? Seems like no one wants to pay the price and go to high traffic area. All 5 guys are just staying in the perimiter, looking for a seem to shoot in. No one skating between the circles or in front of the crease.

Posted by: floms | April 11, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I've noticed that but you hope it just means that this team is resting up for the playoffs. But its a bad habit to get into nonetheless. Its the little things that either help you advance or end up being your undoing. Like that play Flash made recently where he pushed a Penguins player off the puck in our own end. If he hadn't made that little bit of effort to do that, Jeff Schultz wouldn't have had the chance to intercept the puck that sprung our forward for that first goal. You don't generally see Flash make that type of play. Hopefully he keeps doing it.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Continuing the PP thought, I also hope BB mixes up the lines so we don't have too much skill on the 1st pp line. That's usually when they over pass and don't simplfiy.

I also don't like OVi at the point, i prefer him lower in, but i don't remember last time he wasn't at the point. I think at the point it should be Poti and Green, or Shultz and Green.

Posted by: floms | April 11, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

there's a nice little play in front. #22? I want Knuble to get to 30. He deserves that with all the grunt work he does. I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up leading us in goals in the playoffs, his style is perfectly suited to that.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

problem with having Schultz at the point is he lets that puck skip over his stick quite a bit. And he's not quick enough to recover. Even though Ovy makes some risky passes usually he's got the speed to recover. Usually.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Too loosy goosy today for my liking. Why can't the last game before playoffs be a tune up game? They should of clamped down after being up 3-2.

On a side note, I mentioned this in a previous post, but I'll reiterate. Nicky is unbelievable, and I predict he will be in the discussion of best player in the world within a few years.

Seeing him for a few shifts today just dominate when he's not trying to feed OVi (there was 1 shift in particular, where #8 wasn't on the ice, and backy just dominated puck possesion in all 3 zones, and created a scoring chance.

He has really grown as a player the last few years, and I see that he has more skill than Datsuk and Zetterburg, and maybe even Crosby.

Posted by: floms | April 11, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Lol @ BB sending out Bradley and Gordon.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I did like that 3rd goal we scored. Nothing complicated. Win the faceoff, back to the point, one guy crashes the net (Laich) and Knuble's positioned in front for the redirection. You have to get enough of those types of goals. The first goal we scored, the Semin shot. I just don't see us getting that type of goal very often in the playoffs. You don't get a lot of clean perimeter-type goals. Semin's linemates didn't even try to screen the goalie on that one.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Please bring Neuvy up as the second goaltender for the playoffs. I just don't trust Varly right now.

Posted by: CapsXXVI | April 11, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Please bring Neuvy up as the second goaltender for the playoffs. I just don't trust Varly right now.

Posted by: CapsXXVI | April 11, 2010 2:40 PM |

Yes! It is our back-up goaltender who will cost us the Cup!

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

That Semin goal was on Thomas. He should have had that one.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Please bring Neuvy up as the second goaltender for the playoffs. I just don't trust Varly right now.

Posted by: CapsXXVI

Yeah.. Varly's still not where he was before the injury. Now if Theo falters in the playoffs... then what?

Posted by: rachel216 | April 11, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

unfortunately i think Gordon is back in the lineup again. I see Walker taking a seat when Flash comes back in. The other spot I have no idea. Who does Fehr push out? BMo? Does that push Laich back to center?

I might prefer BMo over Belanger. He's just playing with a lot more fire in his game right now and he's using his speed to his advantage. Belanger doesn't get involved as much as he could.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

POSTGAME THOUGHTS:
Shootouts suck. They take away from the game but oh well. Doesn't matter. STill a good effort.

A nice job by Coach Boudreau of giving his players the chance to achieve milestones. It wasn't in the cards. Oh well. Congrats to Sedin on the points race. Maybe Ovie and Stamkos end up tied.

However, what's relevant now is the real season that begins this coming week.

Opponent....TBD soon. A magical and amazing regular season that won't soon be forgotten comes to an end. Playoff time.

ICE BREAKERS GOAL SHAKERS

Posted by: Jonathan6 | April 11, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Theo will be our starter. That 3rd goal by Boston was tough for Varly. I think he had one of his own players in his line of site.

Posted by: floms | April 11, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I thought they were all pretty good goals. I'm not seeing where Varly exactly played bad in this game, but I guess he could have certainly came up huge on one of the goals. But it's not like any of them were like Semin's...at the half board with no one screening him.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Still got a lot of hockey to watch today.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Varly wasn't bad this game. The last three games he has actually played pretty well. If he was needed, while I would be worried I think he could step in like he did last year and perform at a high level.

@cstanton1

IMO, there is no learning a playoff style in round 1 that will change how the Caps play in round 2. If the Caps didn't learn from last year's experience (I think they have but we will see) then they will not learn from a physical playoff series in round 1.

I just want the Caps to win as easily as possible. Cutting down games is important in the playoffs. If the Caps can win in 5 in the first round that could be very beneficial.

I have no worries they will be physical with a team such as Pittsburgh, Buffalo or New Jersey.

Posted by: sgm3 | April 11, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

so whats the deal, if the Flyers win against the Rags, we get Montreal, right? If the Rags win, Flyers are out and we play NY again.
If thats the case I'd prefer that latter scenario. Philly gets bounced which always makes me happy, and we still get a tough opponent in the Rangers who are playing better hockey. And if Ryan Callahan is able to return to their lineup. They'll have a different feel to their lineup this year vs last with Del Zotto, Jokinen and Prust in the lineup along with Christiansen. And Avery should be more effective for them this year, he's had a full season under Torts now and he's back in his good graces. For us defensively, we'll have a very different look with Erskine and Juice out of the lineup replaced by Corvo/Carlson. See how they hold up with the crashing/banging game the Rangers like to play down low. Upfront we're stronger this year with Knuble and the improved play of Fehr/Flash. Don't know how Chimera and Belanger really fit in just yet.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

chimera played like a chump...steckel struggles on pk....why dress walker?..now that he wont win any awards maybe ov can concentrate on playing hockey

Posted by: wendel2 | April 11, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I still don't know who I'm rooting for. On one hand I want the Canadiens but I'm not completely sure. I think I'll be rooting for the Phillies.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 11, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

phillies= philly flyers.. whatever.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 11, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

The lines will be, IMO

1: Ovie/Backstrom/Knuble
2: Laich/BMo/Semin
3: Flash/Belanger/Fehr
4: Chimera/Steckel/Bradley

Goydon/Walker/Laing as injury replacement.

Gordon though is useful because he is the Caps only right handed center, and he is also good on draws. That can be very useful in 3rd period situations when the faceoff is in the Caps end and to the right of the goalie.

However, I don't think Gordon's overall play merits putting him in over any of the other guys.

Personally, when he hasn't been hurt I thought Gordon has been much improved over the last two months compared to earlier this year and last year.

Posted by: sgm3 | April 11, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

IMO, there is no learning a playoff style in round 1 that will change how the Caps play in round 2. If the Caps didn't learn from last year's experience (I think they have but we will see) then they will not learn from a physical playoff series in round 1.

-------------

agree to disagree, i think this team is still young enough and unproven that they need to be initiated again this year before they start bringing an -A- effort. A more mature seasoned team may be able to turn it on and turn it off at will. I think the big ?mark for us is, how many 60 min efforts will we see. Or at least 50 min efforts. I'd be happy with that.


"I just want the Caps to win as easily as possible. Cutting down games is important in the playoffs. If the Caps can win in 5 in the first round that could be very beneficial."

I can see the obvious benefit in that. I just don't see the Caps the same way I see a team like the Pens who do seem to have the ability to play an easier series and then immediately ramp it up as needed.

"I have no worries they will be physical with a team such as Pittsburgh, Buffalo or New Jersey."

The Devils aren't that physical, they have a hard time finishing 20 checks a game. They're not soft but they're not an overly physical team. Buffalo is physical upfront with their forwards, not so much on D. Rivet is a nasty guy to play against with some support from Myers and Montador. The other 3 D are not physical.

The Pens are still an aggressive in-your-face team. Wonder how long Matt Cooke will be out. And Kunitz is also hurt.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Personally, when he hasn't been hurt I thought Gordon has been much improved over the last two months compared to earlier this year and last year.

Posted by: sgm3 | April 11, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I'd agree there. Except his improvement still isn't enough to push another player out of the lineup. He would be my last forward I'd insert.

And you're right about the lines too. I think Fehr and Flash push Gordon and Walker out, at least to start the series. If we play the Rangers and they start winning games by outgrinding us, then you may see Walker or Laing back in. And maybe a changeup on D. I think Juice and Erskine did a lot of dirty effective grunt work v NY last year and I don't think Corvo will excel in the same role. He'll just get abused along the boards and in the crease.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Walker has a lot of experience in the playoffs against these teams. We might see him more than we would assume. I'd initially want to side with Laing's bigger body, but Walker's experience may edge out.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I think Bruce has his lineup set in his head. And unless we start losing games, thats when he'll take out some finesse and put in some bigger bodies. And I'm willing to bet you'll see those types of lineup changes by game 3. Unless we play Montreal where we don't need that kind of presence to beat them.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Varly is still weak on his glove hand and going down to the butterfly too soon. It's Theo's job to lose, imho. The hotter the pressure, the better Theo plays as of the 2nd half of the season, whereas Varly wilts like lettuce under a hot light.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | April 11, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Jody Shelley scored in both of the Rags/Flyers games...hahaha.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The play-offs are started for Philty and the Rags today(one game series). Players like Shelley score play-off goals all the time.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 11, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

that 4th line of the Rangers is getting good ice time over the past 2 weeks. Its usually Ansimov, Prust and Shelley. Or Voros replaces Prust and Prust moves to a higher line. Its a pretty Rangy lineup. I think if we face the Rags we'll have to deal with some of those players trying to bang our skill guys around and some post-whistle scrums. The Rangers seem to be comfortable playing that style lately and its working for them. Not really the way Torts likes to coach but I think he's letting them just do their thang. Just 2-3 weeks ago, Shelley and Voros couldn't find their way into the lineup. Now they're entrenched in there.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Players like Shelley score play-off goals all the time.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 11, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

they do? Players like Shelley usually never get one shift in the playoffs unless they're on a team that firmly believes in what they do.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

the Rags 4th line is also getting a lot of ice time. Which means if we face them, Bruce will have to change his philosophy on who dresses on that 4th line and how much ice time they get. Unless we can burn them on a matchup deal enough times that the Rangers change the way they employ their 4th line. Its a good benefit to a team if they can win games while giving their 4th line 12-15 shifts in a game. Keeps everyone else rested.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Players like Shelley never score goals in the playoffs, that's why I pointed it out. He's coming up big for the Rags no, though.

When Brash scored the first goal in the series against Philly two years ago, it was pretty funny.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

now*

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Tough deal for the Rangers to go into their most important game of the season without Callahan and Avery. Looks like they have some decent depth though.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Prust was the guy that made that goal happen. Actually ever since they traded for Brandon Prust, the Rangers have looked like a better team. He's like a better version of a Bradley. He was just being used as a fighter type in Calgary but he's been rejuvenated in NY. He'll probably end up with 20 shifts today.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

And if it wasn't for Lundy and the goalpost/crossbar, the Flyers would be up right now. Hope the Rags play a better second.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Thats another component, goaltending. The Rags have it going. I hope we get to play them. I have little urge to watch a Caps-Habs 1st round. If we come out of that 1st round v NY I think we're better off for it.

They don't offer us a chance to play at high speed (and maybe facing them in the 1st round kinda killed us when we had to adjust to the Pens' speed last yr) but I think our team speed this year isn't going to be an issue. Its whether our defense can grind it out as needed against a team that will definitely test us there.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

and as to Corvo today, you saw how mismatched he was against Lucic. It doesn't matter how quick and skilled Corvo is, he's utterly a waste of space on the ice when he has to go up against a strong forward. It was Corvo's inability TWICE within 5 seconds to handle Lucic that allowed the 1st goal to score.

CORVO SUCKS.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

and goal#2 was all on Poti. Steckel won the faceoff, got it to Poti, who cleared the puck right to the Bruins point man. It was like the perfect pass. Poti is the king of bad clearing passes. His brain just goes offline when he has the puck on his stick. Just a blind clear right up the middle of the ice. Stupid.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

and gotta give Gordo credit when its due. I don't think I've seen Gordo take a hit before and actually hold onto that puck. He took a big hit, held onto the puck and made a nice strong play to the net on the Belanger goal. Very unGordo-like play.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

This is IDIOTIC Bruce needs to just say Jose is the starter instead of toying with the goalies on this crap.....unless he's already told them who the starter is and not the media...it's just dumb

Posted by: velo_matt | April 13, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

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