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Goaltending questions loom for Boudreau

It's already after 1 a.m., so let's get right to it. Check out my final edition gamer here, Gene Wang's notebook on John Carlson here, Tracee Hamilton's column on Alex Ovechkin here, then come on back for the question that's going to consume Coach Bruce Boudreau and the Caps for the next 48 hours: who will be in net for Game 3 in Montreal?

Jose Theodore, who was pulled after yielding two goals on two shots? Or Semyon Varlamov, who was okay in relief?

"I haven't really thought about who's playing Monday yet," Boudreau said. "But it was more of a deflating thing on the bench [so] I thought we needed a change. The first one was a knuckle ball. For your first shot on goal, it was a tough one."

I caught up with Theodore as he left the building and he shouldered the blame for the first goal.

"I felt good in the warmup," he said. "Then that first shot, it was a save you want to make, even though it was a knuckleball. In the playoffs you have to make those saves. Then I was ready to get [more] shots and they didn't come. Then that second shot was a pretty good shot."

"Bruce decided to change me and it was obviously a good choice because we won the game," he added. "Tomorrow is a new day and I'll be ready to practice hard."

Asked if he expected to get the nod Monday, Theodore said: "It's not my call. I really don't know. Tomorrow is going to be an important day for me to get back" to feeling good.

Varlamov, meantime, was also saying all the right things.

"The coach is going to make the decision," Varlamov said through an intepreter. "I don't want to make any predictions for next game."

Boudreau made headlines before the series began when he said Theodore would be grated a longer leash. Well, we're about to find out exactly how much "longer" Boudreau meant.

Some other notes before I head out for the night:

*Many in the home dressing room credited Tom Poti's fight with Scott Gomez for turning the momentum in the Caps' favor. Washington was down 4-3 when Gomez shoved Ovechkin from behind. Poti stood up for Ovechkin, then accepted his first invitation to fight since before the lockout. Poti won the fight, the capacity crowd began to chant "Poti! Poti!" and the Caps surged after that.

"After that, we scored a few goals," Poti said. "If it did fire everyone up, that's great. I want to help the team anyway I can."

Boudreau added: "The players rallied around it. I thought after that gave us life."

*The Caps' power play was bad again. In all, the Caps had four shots on goal on three power play opportunities. That makes them 0 for 7 in the series and 0 for 14 dating back to the final two games of the regular season.

*The Mike Green-Jeff Schultz D-pairing was on the ice for six goals tonight. Four were Canadiens' goals.

*Eric Fehr's first period goal was his second career playoff tally, but first since the Philly series two years ago. The big winger was, I thought, was mostly outstanding for the second straight game. His breakaway tally was set up by a nice stretch pass from Tomas Fleischmann, who also got on the board with his first point of these playoffs.

*There was an Ovechkin sighting at VC tonight, and his four points were a playoff high.

*The Caps ended a five-game losing streak in OT playoff games on home ice and improved to 16-22 all time in playoff OT games. It was their first OT win at home since a 3-2 triumph on May 25, 1998.

That's it from me tonight. Practice tomorrow is at 11.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 18, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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Next: Boudreau has high praise for Carlson


For the most part, Theo has been the better goalie this year. I don't know if Varly can hold up under the pressure of being the starter. However, Theo was horrible tonight. I would still give him the nod though, I think he will bounce back.

Posted by: timmyv38 | April 18, 2010 1:20 AM | Report abuse


The first goal Theo let up was horrible. The second goal was a nice shot from a great shooting position where either Schultz or Green should've helped.

But those were the only two shots Theo faced. So it was a little hard to determine if Theo was bad or not tonight or if he just had one bad mistake (the 2nd goal would've been hard for any goalie to stop).

I thought it was a good move by BB to remove Theo. Theo did look a little shaky on shots that missed the net in that he seemed to not read the puck well.

But I think BB will go wtih Theo on Monday. Varly was good, not great, and I think Theo will get another chance.

Posted by: sgm3 | April 18, 2010 1:34 AM | Report abuse

gotta go with Theo. He was solid in Game 1 and had a bad start in Game 2. Obviously he didn't want a repeat of Game 7 (vs. PIT) therefore he yanked the goalie in case it would get worse. Theo is more experience to deal with the harsh crowd of Montreal therefore should get the start.

Posted by: blushfilms | April 18, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

I think you need to edit this article Tarik. You state that the Caps had a 5 game losing streak in OT before this game. Not true. The Caps won in OT in Pittsburgh in Game 6 last season, with Dave Steckel scoring the winner

Posted by: tempusfugitrgv | April 18, 2010 2:05 AM | Report abuse

MISSING: Washington Capitals 2nd Line.

LAST SEEN: In the regular season

IF FOUND: Please send to Montreal immediately.

Posted by: LesGrossman | April 18, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

that game was in pit - the reference was to home playoff games

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 18, 2010 2:59 AM | Report abuse

Varlamov deserves the start on Monday. None of the 3 goals that he let in were anywhere close to being his fault.

3rd goal: Green and Schultz stuck on the boards marking the same guy, Knuble makes a bad choice going the long way around the net and gives way too much time for Cammalleri to set up a forehand pass to a net crasher.

4th goal: The Capitals Curse. Shot that was going wide deflects off a D-man's stick (Schultz this time) hits someone else in front and bounces in. This was on the penalty kill no less, and we shouldn't have been on the penalty kill in the first place. Discipline guys.

5th goal: Green. Either you have to take the shooter or the pass, he did neither. Varlamov made the initial stop but Green didn't clear the rebound. In fact he put it in himself.

Posted by: dimagus | April 18, 2010 4:43 AM | Report abuse

Memo to Mike Green: please show up for the playoffs... second straight year you've gone AWOL.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | April 18, 2010 4:55 AM | Report abuse

I vote for Varly to play in game 3. I just think that Theo will be under too much pressure in front of the Montreal fans. He may have already let the Canadiens get into his head with the back and forth with Plekanec before the series started.

Posted by: rs12 | April 18, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

I think Theo has earned a start but I think Varly is the safer bet for game 3. Maybe Theo for game depending on the situation. He seems to be holding his stick too tight right now.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | April 18, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

It Theo, Theo, Theo! Yeah he looked bad on the first one last night, but he should be plenty motivated for Monday's game. Varly just hasn't looked the same since returning from injury.

Posted by: jimc93 | April 18, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Vsrly "deserves the start"??? Jose has been incredible this year and carrying the team for stretches while Varlamov has been just OK. Two quick goals required a change of pace but it's not an indication of any great weakness. If anyone "deserves" the start its Theo.

Plus, I don't think its time to turn tail because of supposed pressure on Theo in Montreal. For great teams thinking big, retreat is not the best option.

Theo starts.

Posted by: Justafan | April 18, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Trade Green......

Posted by: CB28031 | April 18, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

i think it should be varly in game 3. theo is good against big teams with sustainable attack. montreal is not rpt not able to keep pressure on us more than 2-3 minutes and they continue to bite 3-4 times a period. i believe varly is better in this type of game.
i also like to ask a board another question - will it be halak or price in game 3?

Posted by: steckel2010 | April 18, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Who's up bright-and-early and still has adrenaline coursing through his veins from last night?

This guy.

As for the goalie situation, I would really love to see Theo redeem himself in Montreal. He should've stopped the first goal, but the second? As usual, it was a breakdown in defense, and Theo was facing a 3-on-2. I thought Green could've done a better job clearing the puck before Kostitsyn took the puck in the neutral zone for his first goal. Green needs to significantly improve his defense.

I wasn't particularly impressed with Varly, but then again, it was a combined breakdown in defensive effort. I thought Bruce still made the right move in pulling Theo. Two quick goals on two shots are going to rattle a goalie for the rest of the game. It jump-started the boys to respond.

The Poti-Carlson pair was +3 last night, and both made HUGE contributions to the comeback. The Morrisonn-Corvo pair was +/-0. Our starting pair? -1. Interestingly, that's also the game differential.

Posted by: MyPostIDisAfake | April 18, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it matters who you start if the D doesn't stand up better than it has. Green and Schultz in particular. Carlson may be their best D-man right now.

That all said, I think you go back to Theo. Completely different set of circumstances around his pulling here (momentum change vice game 2 replacement last year for lousy play).

Posted by: rnscaps | April 18, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Varly didn't exactly put on a goal tending clinic last night. Theo deserves another start, and he may be using the pressure in Montreal as extra motivation. It might help if the rest of the team shows up at the beginning of the game. The second shot was basically the same shot that won Game 1 in OT for MTL, and the Caps backchecking was basically as nonexistent.

Posted by: miseaujeu | April 18, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

My guess is that if (BIG if) the Caps do not make it far in the postseason AND Green has another postseason where he just does not show up, the Caps will trade him in the offseason.

And this would be for two reasons.

1) The Caps know that they will be in the playoffs for the foreseeable future. They NEED guys who come up big in the big games. And Mike last year did absolutely nothing and, at least so far, he is looking even worse this year.

2. At some point they are going to have to pay BIG bucks to Backstrom and they are going to have to pull resources ($$$$) from somewhere. At this point, unless Mike starts to play like players everyone outside of Washington says he can, Mike's $5 million would be better utilized in signing Backstrom to one of those lifetime deals Ovi got.

But Mike has been atrocious these first two games. Where Carlson was our best d-man, Green has been BY FAR the worst.

Posted by: dglelite | April 18, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Varly is not ready fo Montreal...he was not playing well before the playoffs and he only played ok yesterday...If you don't give Theo a chance then his confidence is probably shot for the season and Varly has not shown he is ready to be # 1 for the playoffs.

Posted by: capscoach | April 18, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

they had a good run with Theo for the last 3 months and if it was any place else but Montreal on Monday, I would say he deserves another chance.

HOWEVER, because it IS in Montreal and this is the playoffs, they cannot afford to give him another chance in this series. NONE fo the 3 goals Varly allowed were his fault, the safer choice would be to go with Varly on Monday.

Posted by: joek443 | April 18, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Green made mistakes last night. His defense needs adjusting. Call on the coaches to work with him, but stop calling for his head. This is ridiculous. Everyone makes mistakes and has a bad night. We all know Green is capable of brilliance most of the time, so when his star doesn't shine for a night, is it really justification to trade him? If that's the case, then there are other Caps players who need to be traded until we end up with a perfect team who wins every game and never makes a mistake.

Oh, and note to cali_snowboarder: Green was playing while INJURED last year during the playoffs, as were several other Caps players.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | April 18, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Agree 100 percent w/ "rnscaps"

Goalie is far less important to the rest of this series than the Caps picking up their defense.

Mike Green needs to get his stuff together in a hurry. I don't care whether he scores or not, just stop getting beat to the goal. Sloppy/lazy play from Green directly contributed to 2 of the Habs' goals.

Posted by: McBride33 | April 18, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Varly is not ready fo Montreal...he was not playing well before the playoffs and he only played ok yesterday...If you don't give Theo a chance then his confidence is probably shot for the season and Varly has not shown he is ready to be # 1 for the playoffs.

Posted by: capscoach | April 18, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I think Varly did very well in Game 3 against the Pens in Pittsburgh last year... as Al Koken says it was his best game in the playoffs last year.

if the rest of the team had shown up, they would have won that game and gone up 3-0 in the series.

as it was mentioned on sportscenter this morning, Theo has been pulled 3 or 4 times in the last 7 or so playoffs starts including his last year in Colorado. To me he's more of a question mark when it comes to the playoffs than Varly is.

Posted by: joek443 | April 18, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and note to cali_snowboarder: Green was playing while INJURED last year during the playoffs, as were several other Caps players.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | April 18, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

fair enough but what's his excuse this year? is he hurt again??

if Green is not contributing on offense, he helps the other team more than his own last we saw last night.

I'm a huge Green fan but his effort on their 5th goal last night was simply PATHETIC. he looked like Paul Coffey last night but unfortunately it was on the wrong end of the ice.

Posted by: joek443 | April 18, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

dccitizen1 - Problem with Green is that it hasn't been just one bad game. It has been two games this postseason and an ENTIRE postseason last year.

As for him playing hurt last was speculated that he was hurt, but as far as i remember he nor the team ever confirmed he was hurt either during or after the playoffs.

And he is looking equally poor, if not worse, this postseason. So is he hurt again this year????

I like Green, I really do. But this team will be in the playoffs for a nice long run of seasons with the talent they have now and down in Hershey about to come up. If he can't step up when it is time to play big, it is time to find those players that will.

Posted by: dglelite | April 18, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

NHL network showed both Theo goals in slow motion, and said that no goalie in the league stops either one - one because it knuckles like Coach said and two because it's perfectly placed top shelf.

Posted by: flynnie321 | April 18, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Theo in game three! I think he deserves that respect. The series is 1-1, Theo got us here, so stay with him. Whichever goalie is in, our "D" has to be on top of it's game. Great game Backstrom!!

Posted by: jmcale57 | April 18, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Theodore should start. Varly wasn't all that effective himself, frankly. And Theodore might just be on fire playing back in Montreal. Of course, it could go the other way and then Varly starts game four. But the possible upside of starting Theo is worth the risk.

Posted by: poguesmahone | April 18, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Varly has not been back to top form for some time now...not sure why everyone assumes he will suddenly bring it for the playoffs when he has shown only mild improvement since coming back from injury.

Posted by: capscoach | April 18, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I like both Varly and Theo, but more than ever you have try to win the cup this year because who knows what next year will bring. The Caps should have gone out and gotten a goalie they know they could have won it all with. They should have gone after Tomas Vokoun at the trade deadline. I'm not sure we can go all the way with either Varly or Theo.

Posted by: kjohnskipc | April 18, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

gotta go with Teddy. in fact, it would be a mistake for BB to mess with his confidence by leaving him on the bench

the problem with much of our roster is that few of the guys have had people to learn from in developing as players. only 4 of our Dmen are over 27 and two of those (Sloan and Corvo) have been with the program for less then 2 years. the answer isn't trade Green; the answer is bring in a Niedermeyer or Lidstrom (or if we can't afford them, Adam Foote/Rob Blake) to a)school the kid and b)shoulder some of the pressure (Green's 24. that's too young to carry the load we want to put on his back)

Posted by: mcintire_will | April 18, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Trade talk now is futile. But if you were going to make a couple of trades based on playoff performances:

Green straight up for Kaberle
Semin straight up for St Louis

Posted by: diner99 | April 18, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

First n' foremost - Theo starts for Game 3. Putting Varly in net would tell Theo that the coach has lost faith in him, there affecting his confidence. The 2 goals were difficult saves for any NHL goalie and both were because of D mistakes. If folks think Theo is going to go into Montreal with anything BUT the mentality and passion to show getting rid of him was a mistake (and BTW, what is it with Habs' fans dictating the 'life' of a goalie there??), they are sorely mistaken..

@ diner99 - trading Semin for St. Louis is just plain moronic. St. Louis is much older and his numbers last year weren't great - I had him on my fantasy team. I believe he's on the line with Stamkos and Lecavilier and that definitely helps. We can't touch our top line chemistry. Semin needs to simplify - stop trying to be pretty and just shoot. I'd take his wrister over St. Louis' any day. And our entire 2nd line has been non-exsistant so far..

And Green for Kaberle?? What?? I think Green's issue is that he's not as aggressive towards the net. The Habs' have great speed and he's had to adjust.. the adjustment hasn't gone well. I think he'll have a better game 3. And besides, Green's a Norris Trophy candidate - you don't do a 'straight up' trade that for one that isn't.. That's just crazy talk...

Posted by: IrishCapsFan | April 18, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

its no question u go back to theo this isnt the varly from last year or even this year before he got hurt (the second,third or fourth time) and that norris trophy talk for green give me a freakin break

Posted by: vjridgely | April 18, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The bigger problem isn't the goaltending, I'd like to invite our D-men to stand these guys up AT THE BLUE LINE, not at the faceoff circles when they can set up their quality opps. Hopefully it'll be like the Sabres' series of 1998 where the Caps pulled a rabbit out of their hat in game 2 in OT and then won 3 and 4 on the road.

Posted by: BBDwrestling | April 18, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Varly is 1-4 in his last five playoff starts, and in his only win he gave up 4 goals, needing overtime.

Very few playoff teams are as offensively "challenged" as the Rangers last year.

Posted by: ChoppinBroccoli | April 18, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I was calling for Varly last year at the first intermission of Game 1 vs the Rangers, but this year is a different story. Last year, Theo was average at his best; this year, JT has been the better of the two goalies by far! JoeTed was also solid in Game 1 vs the Habs. I understand pulling Theo to get the team going in Game 2, but I think he needs to be back between the pipes to start game 3!

Posted by: nomarjax01 | April 18, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

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