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For those of you who missed it yesterday the Caps will recall Simeon Varlamov, Bryan Helmer and Andrew Gordon today. While it's unclear which, if any, of the call ups will face the Sabres tonight the Caps hope to continue their recent success despite the "virtual revolving door" that is their roster.

*Here is Mike Vogel's third installment looking back on Mike Gartner's career as a Capital.

Sabres Cliff notes:
*The Sabres have earned points in four of their past five games but has mustered only a 2-1-2 record during that stretch. They're searching for a way to finish games after giving up leads to Pittsburgh and Montreal in the past week, and well, the Capitals know a thing or two about comebacks should Buffalo falter.

*Here is Buffalo's injury report. They'll be without defensemen Craig Rivet (shoulder), forwards Tim Connolly (broken rib) and Patrick Kaleta. Nathan Gerbe and Paul Gaustad have both been out with upper-body injuries and will be reevaluated, while Jochen Hecht isn't expected to miss time after being hit in the ear by a puck.

*The league's second-leading goal scorer Thomas Vanek, hasn't scored in his past four games but he scored two goals in Buffalo's previous 5-0 thrashing of the Caps this season.

*Winger Clarke MacArthur scored goals in each of Buffalo's past three games to snap a 17-game scoreless streak. The Sabres Jason Pominville is mired in one of those long scoring droughts, however, going 16 games without a goal.

*ESPN's Scott Burnside focuses on Goals & Dreams this holiday season, as the program that has helped grassroots hockey grow around the world and united communities approaches its 10th anniversary.

*The NCAA's Frozen Four will be at Verizon Center this March and lists the top 10 surprises in the college hockey season thus far.

*The World Junior Championships kick off today in Ottawa and in case you missed the earlier ones here's one last list of some of the top NHL prospects in the tournament.

In the system:
*With it being the holiday season and all, the Caps 365 crew brings a feature on what else but family, specifically brothers Pierre-Marc and Francois Bouchard.

*It's unclear who the Bears will recall to fill two vacant goaltender slots when Varlamov is summoned to Washington and with Daren Machesney away competing for the Spengler Cup.

By Katie Carrera  |  December 26, 2008; 8:36 AM ET
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Repost from last thread:

I can hope that Theodore will play hot if he plays tonight. He's shown he is capable. As for Vezina trophy winners, apparently people have forgotten that Theodore is also one, and he won the Hart that year as well. So being a Vezina winner means little to nothing for some winners, and that argument doesn't hold water for me.

After looking at Johnson, if he's ill - and he looked like sh*t the other night - I would want to call Varlamov up just so that Johnson can stay in bed where he belongs and get the cold gone.

But I don't want to rush him. If he does not have the stamina, and that's what Boudreau is saying, well... In Bruce I trust!

Posted by: irockthered | December 26, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I don't want Theodore in goal at all. The Caps are a different team with him in net. They're tight, back on their heels, and they play "panic hockey." It's obvious they don't trust him, and it's obvious why. With Johnnie and Varlamov, they're loose and play their game. Theodore was a $9 million mistake. GMGM panicked when Huet bailed, and now we're stuck with no cap room to rectify the mistake unless we trade someone. I can think of who I'd love to trade -- Nylander, Clark, Schultz -- but we'd probably only be able to get something for Schultz. I don't know if Ted can afford it, but if he can he should just buy out Theodore's contract and release him. For that amount of money, we'd be able fill the few holes we have left.

Posted by: FedsFan | December 26, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

ya that's the dumbest suggestion i have ever heard. let's buy out a goalie when we don't really have any other options. johnny isnt well enough to take the #1 spot if we buy out theo and varlie still needs some conditioning. keep theo! or trade him for someone else, buying out is the stupidest idea ever. u buy out players who don't contribute, or who are difficult to deal with, or who coaches don't want on their team. theo tries, he might not be what we want but that guy tries, and he stays in there. we are still in the lead in the SE until he losses 5 in a row or we fall way behind in points theres no need to shoot ourseleves in the foot

Posted by: capsfan387 | December 26, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

A voice of reason. Theo has been lees than spectacular but give the guy a chance. This is the time of the year he picked up his game last season . He can get hot and we can ride the Theo wave.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 26, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

@ Jschon -- Nyls for Komi -- in a NY minute, yes. As for the 10.6 mil -- I tought he was a UFA after this year. If you are right (and you probably are), then the Caps really have to find a way to ship his salary away with his utter lack of production and his weak backchecking.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | December 26, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Only the first sentence was for you.
"A voice of reason"

After I re-read it, it read like it was all going to intended that way.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 26, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

capsfan387 - agreed!

Theo also has a shutout this season. If they Caps are a different team in front on him, how did he get a shutout?

I still have faith in Jose! He just needs to get it together and he will.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I feel like defending them :D

Nyl is doing a good job in keeping the puck. Price tag is high for his production, but he is part of the team.
Theo... many of the goals weren't his fault, and he is making huge saves when it counts. He can be great net minder, let's give him more rope.
Brash... did you look at how he fights, or look for blood when enforcing? He doesn't show his age... (by the way, is he playing tonight?)

I wouldn't trade anyone right now... remember, we're w/o so many important players and still playing good hockey.

What I would do in the near future is to keep Alzner and Collins. They're an upgrade on Erskine and Schultz... sorry guys, but they are.

Posted by: mauree | December 26, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I am sure GMGM realizes the struggles with our current goaltending situation and I hope for the team's sake he makes some changes. I think both Brent and Jose are nursing some kind of injury, whether it is physical or mental, and we need some help! Varlamov has shown his potential and the other two have shown a lack in consistency let's give the youngster a chance tonight! One would think the better Varlamov performs the more motivated Jose and Brent would be to keep their jobs in Washington. So let's give Varlamov another go at it! We really need to keep getting points...the Caps really deserve a shot at the Cup this year and our lack of consistent goaltending seems to be the weight that might hold us back! I do have to say how PROUD I am of the rest of the guys, even with an abnormal amount of injuries, they are really fighting hard to get our team the points we need to get one step closer to the cup!

Posted by: NatyBG | December 26, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Personally I think a lot of JT's issues are mental. I am hoping that the end of Tuesday's game gave him some confidence and we see JT's swagger tonight vs. JT's deer in the headlights look. Maybe it is misguided, but since I think he is here for a while, I have to hope that he finds his stride and keeps it going until July!

Seriously, I am actually a little eager to see how he plays after a game like Tuesday. He has a chance here to show himself and the fans whether he can consistently play well. I hope he succeeds.

Posted by: Kim-3 | December 26, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

As soon as Varlamov gets lit up (and he will), everyone is going to say: "Why did we call him up... it was too soon."

Mauree, agreed... I am not a fan of Nylander, but he is part of the team. As long as we remain in 1st, there is no point in switching things up. At some point, people will step up when they need to. That's the way it always is.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

@ Mauree -- Agree about Erksine not being missed, but Schultz is much better than Collins. I also disagree about Nyls controlling the puck; he coughs up the puck as soon as someone starts checking him along the boards. He is slow getting back for backchecking. He is physically weak when checking -- I've seen him get run over quite a few times.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | December 26, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse


Still on Theodore. I don't think paying someone and having them giving up gobs of goals is preferential to paying them and not giving up gobs of goals. Let's say Theodore can't be moved - we're paying him anyway and we have no cap room. Or, we send him home (or via waivers) and pay him - we're still paying him and we have we have no cap room. If those two final solutions, which are identical moneywise, mean that I don't have to watch his performance - or the Caps don't have to score 5 or 6 to win, then I'm fine with lost money. If we can make enough room - hundreds of thousands (?) - to bring up Varlamov and have him alternate with Johnson, let's do it.

Maybe Theodore will suddenly pick up the pace but there's nothing indicative that he will. Over his last ten games he's had 1 shutout (well done) and 1 one-goal game. He's given up 3 goals twice, 4 goals five times, and 5 goals once. That doesn't lead me to believe he's picking up the pace. I know it might seem counter-intuitive to drop the shutout and then look at the numbers but that's the truth in this debate and even more damning. Why would a fan look at one shutout in 10 games and disregard the eight games where he allowed more than three goals? The outlier is the shutout, not the others. I'd play along with the one or two bad games over a 10-game stretch, but not seven of them.

In his post-game interview in NY he actually said that he didn't think he'd do anything different on those four goals he allowed. I wasn't there, I'm not a goalie expert, one goal came on a nice screen but the other three goals were nearly open net finishes as he slid three feet outside the net after a save. (At least that's what the highlights showed.) I don't see him magically becoming a better goalie, whether its age or mentality.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Varlamov will get lit up....a number of times. But, would you rather see it happen on a team that can compensate by scoring goals and being successful - and a team with loads of Russian players - or next year...or the year after, when losses might hit harder and his job much tougher.

The difference between this team scoring goals to overcome Varmalov off nights pr Theodore or Johnson games is clearly because I see much more upside in Varlamov. I think a few months of this team supporting his growth is worth the effort in the long run...this season. Our current goaltenders aren't going to get significantly better - they'll have some good games - but Varlamov will get better.

I won't be one to complain when he gives up five. Theodore gives up four or five nearly every night and he still gets support.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I think Varly, as a 20 year old, will be more mentally affected by several blowouts than JT60. He is a veteran and can rebound. Varly is not ready yet and we don't need to rush him.

I remember the days of Jim Carey thinking he was the one, but he faded. Can't have that happen to Varly.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | December 26, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I've seen JT60 rebound from a blowout yet, at least physically. They just keep on coming.

My problem is strictly with Theodore's play. I'm not a capologist or psychiatrist but there is nothing to support anything other than horrible play by Theodore this season.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with you saintex...Jose's overall performance for the Caps isn't the stuff of legends. Everyone keeps saying "insonsistent", but it is the only true way to describe Jose. I am a season ticket holder and I go to most of the games...I have an overall better hockey experience when Jose is not in goal. He scares me...when he is in goal I tend to drink drown the pain! He does have a few games where he plays well, but they are all overshadowed by the number of poor performances. As far as the fans turning on Varlamov at first chance, I am sure there will be a few people that do. As we know every goalie has bad games and he will be no exception, but I see a future for him in Washington. If we do this right he can learn and grow in DC. You can tell he is going to have a real future in the NHL, so we need to take advantage of that! I have seen him play with the Bears, he is fairly consistent...which is what we need!

Posted by: NatyBG | December 26, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: NatyBG | December 26, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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