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Morning Reading List: Varlamov as Backup?

(Gregory Smith - The Associated Press)

Simeon Varlamov made another strong case to be named Jose Theodore's backup in the playoffs with his 29-save performance against the Thrashers. The rookie netminder improved to 4-0-1 with a strong showing in the second and third periods to ensure the Capitals would inch closer to clinching the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference.

You can check out the Washington Times recap here and also get the Thrashers perspective from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Here are the highlights from yesterday's win over the Thrashers.

If you missed it last night, go back and check out the video from the Atlanta jumbotron. It's a public service announcement, pleading with hockey players to stop making bad commercials -- and well there's a certain dancing left wing you might recognize.'s Shawn Rourke breaks down the Norris Trophy race and presents his case for Mike Green.

Steve Kolbe Takes 5 with Keith Aucoin.

In today's trophy debate we have John Bucigross' picks and the rest of the ESPN hockey crew's favorites.

In the System
In a bit of an unlucky turn, the Bears will lose Sami Lepisto after the defenseman suffered a lacerated spleen not long after Quintin Laing's season was cut short by a spleen injury.

Oskar Osala is beginning to break out of the freshman slump that followed his hot start to the season just as the Bears head into the playoffs.

Don't forget about Bear Tracks to get set for the final three games of Hershey's regular season.

Frozen Four
You've heard a lot about Bemidji State by now, but it's worth a look to understand how seriously this small school and city that's home to Paul Bunyan take their hockey. There will be a post up later today with some extras from my story on the Beavers. I'll also be camped out at Verizon Center the rest of the week for the Frozen Four festivities.

The Associated Press chronicled Vermont's return to the Frozen Four, and how the Catamounts have moved on from a hazing scandal that threatened to dismantle the program.

Greg Wyshynski chats with Boston U.'s Matt Gilroy about being a Hobey Baker finalist, playing for the Terriers with his little brother and the up and coming generation of hockey players from Long Island.

By Katie Carrera  |  April 8, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Fleischmann Feeling 'The Mojo'
Next: Frozen Four: Bemidji Extras


I think the world has found the chink in the Cap's System. Weak Spleens. Pretty soon its going to be all "Spleen Shot" and "Spleen Checking"

Posted by: trunkenmath | April 8, 2009 5:47 AM | Report abuse

Did not watch last game, but saw highlights and Varly looked good.
Anyway Feds found his game again and Nyls as well is doing better.

Posted by: Hazz | April 8, 2009 5:51 AM | Report abuse

Feds took some stupid penalties last night..

Posted by: rachel216 | April 8, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse

I really feel bad for the Islanders. They were outshot 57-12, they had 10 penalties totaling 37 minutes, with one 10 minute misconduct. Were the Hurricanes a little bit classless? I think so. I don't think they needed to keep shooting like crazy in the third, where they had 24 shots on goal...

This is why I'm scared Malkin may get 10 points when the Pens play the Islanders..ugh.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 8, 2009 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Seems like we need a SAVE YOUR SPLEEN campaign.

Posted by: MNMNT | April 8, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Go Flash, doin' the bull dance, feelin' the flow.......

When I saw the Pens scored 6 last night I feared the worse, that Malkin would have put up really big numbers but not so. If he does feast on the Islanders its ok as Ovie will be beating up the Bolts, hot stick dancing his way to a hat-trick!

But, I think the beating the Isles took last night will galvanise them into playing better tomorrow. Their professionally pride will be hurting after last night and beside, they have now "secured" last place as even if they win their remaining 3 games they can't overtake the Avs, so they have nothing left to tank for, so to speak.

As for Carolina being classless by continuing scoring, I don't see that. Sport is an entertainment and they are in front of their own fans to put on a show. If NYI don't like that then play better, hit harder, skate harder, work harder. If it was the Caps murdering someone like that at the VC I bet everyone would be chanting "We want 10". And rightly so.

Btw, what are they putting in the water in Hershey, does it do something to weaken the spleen?

Finally, Katie, there are plenty of towns that claim Paul Bunyan as their own, not least Brainerd, MN. I should know, I spent a summer there once.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | April 8, 2009 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Varly should be the backup. If Theodore wins, it won't matter who the backup is. If he doesn't, we're probably not going to win behind Johnson since he hasn't played in several weeks.

Johnson isn't signed for next year. Varly clearly will be with the Caps all next season. In the event either of them have to play during the playoffs (which means things aren't going well or Theo gets injured--in the latter case this is a moot debate), I'd rather see Varly cut his Stanley Cup teeth now than next season.

Posted by: MyJobsMyCredit | April 8, 2009 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Dave: You're right. I think if the Caps scored 7, I'd want them to keep on scoring. I remember last year when we scored 9 on the Bruins and the fans were going "We want 10!" But I just felt bad for the Islanders, they were so helpless/hopeless last night (& all season long), I think they just gave up.. and Cam Ward basically had the night off.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 8, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Spot on re Varly. No room for sentiment for Johnny. And brilliant name.

As for the ATL video, I think it's funny and with it being Atlanta/Kovy they get a pass from me.

Now, if it had been Pittsburgh with Crosby doing the "Ovi, next time give me a call" line...... well, that's war!

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | April 8, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

What's the big deal with Steve Kolbe doing his nine hundredth game. The previous guy,
Ron Weber, never missed a game for the Caps until he was unceremousily dumped. IMHO Ron Weber should still be calling the Caps games.

Posted by: fatboy08 | April 8, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

I am really excited to play New York or Montreal in the 1st round.

Lets go get that last point, and Im pretty sure it will be one of those two in the first round.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 8, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Last night was uniquely hilarious - the Club Scarlett thing was a hoot. I need to get on skates more often - I think I might actually be half-decent at it if I did it more often.

Getting knocked down by Slapshot had to be karmic payback for accidentally making him trip over a trash can earlier in the season.

Add to season personal memories: running across Wilson Boulevard with a couple of other girls and Slapshot. He's so funny :)

Posted by: kittypawz | April 8, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Oh that PSA is so wrong ... poor Ovi! :-)

Semin's goal was the highlight of the night on NHLOTF - it was pretty sweet, wasn't it?!?

What an exciting night - I can't wait until next week!!! And I hope that Ovi catches Malkin before we get there!

Yeah, aren't the Paul and Babe statues in Brainerd?

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 8, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

@fatboy Ron Weber was the best, and apparently he still goes to all the home games.

Posted by: mikebrady1 | April 8, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

@SA-Town: Take out Tampa Bay on Thursday and the franchise points record and the second seed are ours. New York or Montreal both work, although my preference is for Montreal, obviously.

It really does seem like we're coasting to the playoffs, doesn't it?

Posted by: kittypawz | April 8, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

With Ovechkin's 200th assist last night, Ovie became the third player in NHL history to have 200 goals and 200 assists in their first four seasons in the league.

Ovechkin joins Wayne Gretzky, and Mario Lemieux in this feat.

Wow...not too shabby!

Posted by: thd1 | April 8, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, those statues are just outside Brainerd.

Check your emails too.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | April 8, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Backup? I think he should be the starter! Let JT be the back up. the same with Schultz! Once again he gets he looks horrible and still makes it in the line-up. what's his plus minus now? come on BB give us a break! Dump that skinny bag of bones and put Alzner in the lineup. Does this team want to win or lose?

Posted by: ReedRothchild | April 8, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

If he is going to be the starter or actually play then fine keep him in DC. But if he is only going to sit on the bench then send him to Hershey to help the Bears win.

I understand it is Hershey's role to provide and develop players to the Caps. BUT if a player is only going to sit on the bench then send him back down. If Theodore gets hurt you can call Varly up right away anyhow.

Thats my feeling on it anyway.

Posted by: gman2797 | April 8, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Who does Al Koken think he is? Mike Fornes?

Posted by: aybee27 | April 8, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

That's what I thought. I have not seen them since I was a little girl, but I remember them being HUGE. Is that true or is it just so through the eyes of a child? BTW, no email.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 8, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse


Please call your pals at and tell them that the Caps have a new logo....for the past 2 SEASONS!!! I'm sitting there watching the ESPN Hockey Crew picks vid about the Hart Trophy and they have the old Black Jersey logo....

Get with the times ESPN....

Posted by: rdiehljr | April 8, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Varlamov's proven that he's capable and has played in NHL games recently. Johnson is coming off an injury. Is he ready to play at the NHL level? That's a known versus an unknown. I'd go with the known. It is no disrespect to Johnson, just an injury at an unfortunate time.

Also, I don't have problems with the Carolina situation. They're going into the playoffs and kept their focus and (presumably) continued to play their game. I wouldn't mind if the Caps did that instead of playing down to their opponents.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFederov | April 8, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Does ron webber still work? I would listen to him talk about anything! There was nothing like the Caps Recap while sitting in traffic trying to get out of Landover. I would pay to sit next him at a game and have him deliver play by play.

Bring back Webber!!!!!

Let's get the petition going...

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | April 8, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse


I guess the Caps need to win 60 games in your book.....It's not just's the entire D that struggles at times...also Theo only has 30+ wins I believe....guess he's horrible too...

Varly is doubt and made some spectacular stops...his rebound control has a little ways to go....he beat a team that looked like is ready to hit the links next week....once again I think the guy is the future and hopefully we don't need him this year...but I agree with one of the posts above that he should backup if Johnson isn't ready...but at the same time I think it would be great experience down in Hershey for a Calder Cup run of his own....

Who knows....can next Wednesday get here soon enough!

Posted by: rdiehljr | April 8, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Neuvy is doing fine for Hershey. He can lead them. Varly has to stay up here after that performance. Even if Johnson is ready to go he needs to get into some game time action and face some shots to shake the rust off. Either way, I'm really hoping Jose will do very well so we won't see Varly (i love Varly, he will be starting for us every game in a year or so, but right now, it's Theo.) If we play Montreal, You know Theo will play his hardest to beat his former team. All we have to do is win tomorrow and lock down the #2 seed, hopefully Ovie will have 5 points, he likes to score on Mike McKenna. And hopefully Geno doesn't register a point against the... Islanders... that would be a miracle.

Tomorrow night's games will be very interesting and will have a lot to do with who we play. I'm hoping for a Canadiens win and a Rangers win, I think Florida and Buffalo are done.. Buffalo is really done..

Posted by: rachel216 | April 8, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

They were big to me but I'm not exactly tall. I bet you as a little girl were as tall as me now!

Email sent.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | April 8, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

aybee27: I think Al is great... just not at calling Caps games. Thank God for Joe B! He really is the best. Koken screamed too much during the game, it kinda gave me a heart attack..

Posted by: rachel216 | April 8, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

From the Buccigross mailbag (I hope this was not already posted):

Dear John,

Your idea that Mike Richards is a possible Hart Trophy candidate is absurd.

I am a life long Flyers fan. I vividly remember my father taking me to a game against Winnipeg in 1981 to witness Bobby Clarke return from an ankle injury, I attended Pelle Lindbergh's last game against Chicago in November of 1985, I cried my eyes out at age 10 on Memorial Day 1987 when they lost Game 7 to the Oilers, I listened to a radio as I was going to sleep and heard Gene Hart announce Ron Hextall's goal against Boston in 1987. Any comparison to Bobby Clarke is asinine.

Again, I am a Flyers, and though I hate myself for saying it, I would trade Richards and his little buddy Jeff Carter in a heartbeat for either Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin or Hossa. No question about it. The Richards hype in Philadelphia (as you mentioned, it doesn't seem to be taking place anywhere else) is mainly a media creation from an organization and the media company that owns them trying to sell the fans the notion that Richards is the greatest player the organization has seen.

Joe Boylan
Philadelphia, Pa.

(Buccigross's response): I'm speechless.

Posted by: crooks_c | April 8, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Arh arh.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 8, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

rdiehljr: That's ESPN... i hate ESPN, they don't give a CRAP about hockey. They talk more about Nascar and racing and all that boring stuff.. stupid ESPN!!!!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 8, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Philly, did any of you catch the main highlights of their win yesterday? I DVR'd (will be in the dictionary soon) the Flyers/Panthers game. The decisive goal was rediculous and if I were a Panthers player I would have completely lost it. The Flyers dumped it into the Florida zone, Hartnall (surprise surprise) did a two handed crosscheck to the back of Cullimore sending him face first to the ice. Carter grabbed the puck, snapped a shot, and buried it. Bill Clement was doing the game and even said he was shocked there wasn't a call. That probably cost the Panthers their season.

The Pens didn't look too sharp either they had built a 4-0 lead only to see Tampa get it to 5-4 (Pitt lead) with less than a minute left and Pitt scored an EN goal to secure the win.

I don't get the feeling the Caps are gliding in. Secondary scoring has picked up, BB is trying different forward and defensive combinations so there is constant adjustment by the players. It would really be nice to BB settle on lines now so the boys can work two full games with their line mates and D partners and practice the same lines next week before the playoffs kick off.

By the way, Aucoin played solid again as well. His passing ability is pretty much wasted on a line with Brads and Steckel, but he has outstanding puck control.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 8, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I love BB, but he needs to chill a bit. That video was creative and very funny. All credit to the Atlanta video guys - you could have mean-spirited and personal attacks - but instead you get something funny and true. Heck, it wasn't just Ovi; Hull, Gretzky and Lemeiux got the treatment. I'll take that company. Ilya was great at the end.

Also, have now locked seven months of winning records - and entire season. Has that been done before?

Posted by: saintex | April 8, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Totally agree with BB: if Atlanta wants to poke fun, do it at their players' expense. No one has fun at the expense of our team. BB needs to make it clear that the Caps are a team and do not need to be lovey-dovey with opponents, much less call them for commercial advice.

This is similar to the last eight years of our American presidency. If Leno and Letterman wanted to poke fun at Bush - fine. If someone from Canada or the UK (no offense Dave) had something to say, they better keep it respectful.

That being said, the PSA was funny and well done. I am glad that it is our guy that everyone else is talking about, from Don Cherry to Cindy Crosby to the Thrashers. Shows that Ovie, whether playing hot-stick, making bad commercials, or setting on-ice records, is the most charismatic, as well as talented, player in hockey today.

This is the Golden Age for the Caps. I am enjoying it.

Posted by: crooks_c | April 8, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Uhh, I would say Varlamov has made a pretty darn good case to be Theodore's REPLACEMENT for the playoffs, not his back up.

Posted by: buryyourduke | April 8, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

@crooks, What? The game was in Atlanta, they have every right to make fun of our players. You are kidding, right? Should we do away with the Matt Bradley / Rangers car bit because we aren't from New York and we are impugning New Yorkers?

I won't even address the political thing.

Posted by: saintex | April 8, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

and one more thing. How irate were all Caps fans and the press when there was endless blathering about the stick on fire? Are we really going to waste time on a video piece played in a near-empty Philips Arena in Atlanta? It was funny, it's over.

Posted by: saintex | April 8, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse


Along the same lines, the Bolts got jobbed by the zebras last night as well. On the Pens 5th goal (turns out it was Sykora's 300th career goal), I believe it was Fedotenko who takes the initial shot on a breakaway that is stopped by Ramo, and then Fedotenko uses his leg to shove Ramo as he's squaring to the puck, pushing him aside so that Sykora can shoot the rebound into an empty net. No wave off by the ref who was standing right there. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the call/no-call for interference is not reviewable, so the play is totally subjective to the whims of the ref. So, on one hand, you have a blatant instance of goalie interference that isn't called while on the flipside, Nylander gets a Caps goal wiped out while not even being close to the goalie. This is a concern of my going into the playoffs.

Posted by: cainoo7x | April 8, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Bemidji also has Paul and Babe statues. Heck, the Chamber of Commerce even has a Paul and Babe webcam:

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 8, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@mikebrady and @ skinfan
At a minimum Ron Weber should be in the Caps Hall of Fame (if it exists). I spent may an evening listening to WTOP if the game wasn't televised or I couldn't make it to the Cap Center. And while I am nominating people for the Caps Hall of Fame I think Bengt Gustavson (sp) should be there. If it wasn't for that bum Potvin taking out Gus with a questionable hip check we might have gone won that series against the Islanders. Next to AO8 I think Gus was the best player we ver had. Opinions?

Posted by: fatboy08 | April 8, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

great call! Ron Webber for Caps Hall of Fame. Immediately!

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | April 8, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Or maybe he could be brought in to do some spot play by play with the TV crew, as an honor or SOMETHING!

And while were at it, lets get a little, "4-3-2-W-M-A-L...I'm Ken Beatrice and this is Sports Call! Ron in Virginia...Your next!!!!"

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | April 8, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

When Gordon comes back, he should be the 4th line center and Aucoin should replace Nylander on the 3rd line. Nylander should be left in a car in the parking lot with the windows rolled up: "Oh, we forgot to roll down the windows, boo-hoo"

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | April 8, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Re: Thrashers video of Ovi and Eastern Motors.

My friend and I had a conversation about something similar and that it's okay if we complain about family members but if someone else not related said the same things about them, anybody would back up their family, even if they themselves said the same thing about them. I'm in agreement that the Thrashers could make fun of their players but when you make fun of Ovi, that's a whole 'nother matter. =P For the record, I kinda' figured inevitably someone would use that commercial to poke fun at Ovi. *sigh* Stupid commercial.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | April 8, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@jimallcaps: That's pretty cold. A little respect for the guy even if you don't like that he hasn't done well in the Capitals system. =/

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | April 8, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Ron Weber: "it's been a two point night."

Posted by: reesem37 | April 8, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

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