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Q&A With Varlamov

Here's another great interview from Slava Malamud of Sport-Express:

Simeon Varlamov (and yes, he will make an attempt to change it to Semyon after the season... It's a long story... Involving sea men) gave an interview to Sport-Express immediately following Game 3. For those unfamiliar with the Caps rookie due to his limited command of English, you should not be surprised at the level of eloquence and maturity in his responses. Varlamov consistently comes across as a perfect teammate with a positive attitude and an easygoing personality. And, by the way, he did come through on his post-Game 2 promise not to get rattled by MSG, didn't he?

Q: Try to describe your feelings right now.
A: Feelings? Oh [expletive]! I am happy to get my first NHL shutout, but we are still down 2-1 in the series and I, and my teammates, remember this. So, yes, I feel a lot of joy for myself and for my team because we have won, but tomorrow will be a new day and this game will need to be forgotten.

Q: You had said after Game 2 that you were not afraid of MSG, especially after making your debut in Montreal. You did look quite comfortable out there, almost as if you were back in Yaroslavl and not in New York.
A: Back in Yaroslavl, huh? [laughing] Well, the experience that I got in Russia is helping me a lot now, obviously. But to be honest with you, I was nervous before the game. Not as much as in Montreal, but the nerves were there. First of all, it was 2-0 in the series and we had no right to lose. It is so fantastically hard to come back from being down 3-0. And yes, I was thinking about all of this and winding myself up. And the arena here is tough, too! There are lots of fans here, which actually makes it a pleasure to play in, but they did apply a lot of pressure on me. They support their team very well. I needed to control my emotions and I managed to do it in this game.

Q: Sean Avery was very active around your net today.
A: I think he was doing in on purpose. He is that kind of player, it's his job to throw opponents off their game and he does it pretty well, as I see it. He does it very professionally and I think he is a good player. But tonight there were a couple of instances when he was really trying to get me off balance. He hit me in the face once. But I know that I shouldn't pay attention to this and concentrate on the game.

Q: Are you a kind of goalie that can retaliate to this kind of behavior?
Like taking a goalie stick to his ankles once in a while?
A: I can do that but unfortunately the officials are always watching goalies and I have no chances to get him: it will be a penalty right away. When I was a kid and played for Lokomotiv's farm team I would get away with that, but in Superleague I got warned immediately after the first time.

Q: Are you aware that you have just set a record?
A: No, which one?

Q: You have become the youngest goalie to have a playoff shutout in MSG.
A: Wow, great! I may have been the youngest goalie to record a playoff shutout at Arena-2000 [in Yaroslavl], too! I remember it very well because it was my last game in Yaroslavl and I knew it was going to be the last one. I was so happy! In the two previous years playing for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl I had never had a shutout on home ice.

Q: Is the whole thing about you being a rookie a bit overblown, then? You are not new to professional hockey and the playoffs.
A: Well, I am a rookie in the NHL and everyone knows it. But the two years in the [Russian] Superleague have given me a lot. As far as the mental part of the game, at least. If not for that, I would have had no idea what it's like to play in a knock-out tournament like this. But really, nothing grandiose has happened yet! I have had but one shutout. We haven't won the series yet and we haven't won the Stanley Cup yet. Yes, we are happy now, but I will remember nothing of this tomorrow.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 21, 2009; 11:24 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Reading List: Game 3 Aftermath
Next: Video: Mike Wise on Madison Square Garden


@doughless: Kind of surprised to see you here today. You were one of the biggest bashers in here yesterday. Seemed like you were basking in the playoff mess the Caps find themselves in. Are you a Caps fan or just one of those people that love to complain about everything...Caps, 'Skins, Nats, the weather, Santa Clause, etc...

You did everything from say that BB caused a goaltender mess, to calling out OV for not being at practice on Sunday, to trashing our "EUROs" as a whole. Has the fire temporarily been contained on the bandwagon and you'd like to get back on?

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 21, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

On another note...Go Flyers...I am hoping to see a series there...

Posted by: SA-Town | April 21, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Where is KittyPawz and that other guy who about 5-6 days ago were talking about all of Varlamov's flaws and how we should stick with Jose because Varly wasn't ready? I think it's safe to say that if Varly starts game won its 2-1 Caps not 2-1 Rangers in this series. You guys were talking about how his flaws are evident, and all the negative things he did wrong but he has been great in this series. On behalf of KittyPawz and (the other guy can't remember his name), I would like to apologize to them Mr. Varlamov for incorrectly speaking negatively about you. Keep up the good work my friend.

Posted by: DCSportsFan28 | April 21, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Gotta love that guy. Bring it, Varly!!!

Posted by: Boo- | April 21, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

am i the only one that saw backie with the big back check and get the stick check on callahans open net shot that hit the post. everyone keeps talking about how callahan had open net layup and hit the post...but no one seemed to notice that backie was there and got a stick on callahans at the last possible second and i think its the reason that didnt hit the middle of the net...

then he comes down the other end, circles in the corner with the puck...lowers a shoulder on callahan and drops him like a wet rag...retains possession and slides it on down to ovie who centers it for semin and a game changing 2-0 lead...

and his 3rd assist...SICK!!! as ovie would say..

the little guy was a monster out there last night...player of the game if you ask!!!

and how come no one is talking about the spear to the neck avery put on one of our defenseman after a scrum on the ice in front of the net? i think it may have came on the same play that he drew the goalie interference penalty (or maybe it was a differnt play) was pretty blatant adn totally overlooked by the refs, the announcers and everyone else i guess...

just like the backstrom stick check on callahans open net poster...

Posted by: deadskin | April 21, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I loved his little fist pump after the final horn. Go Varly!

Posted by: LouLewis | April 21, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Nice interview. I'm so glad we have a Russian press corps that covered the squad. At least we get to hear from 28 and 40.

Deep breathes today. Relax. Nothing to worry about until tomorrow. The rains have cleared, the sun is shining...

Posted by: saintex | April 21, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Backstrom was huge last night. I think even BB was at a loss for words. When you saw on the bench toward the end of the game, the guy as gassed. Not only is a great player, he's unrattleable. That shoulder check before the second goal get me out of my seat. Great future for 19...he's still only 20?

Posted by: saintex | April 21, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

King Henry must be wearing big pads.
He appears to be bigger than Varly even though both are relatively the same size.

Posted by: Rocc00 | April 21, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

@deadskin: nope, many noticed Backstrom saving the Caps on the Callahan shot and heading down ice to set up the 2-0 goal. It was in the Post, and in an article on Backstrom was a beast for sure. Then again he has been a quiet magician for us this entire season. I am always amazed that he is rarely if ever spoken about as an elite playmaker even though he finished in the top 5 for assists this season.

As the years go by the Caps will have to retain core players. Of those I think it will be key to keep OV, Semin, Bacstrom, Laich, Green, Erskine, Pothier, and Varlamov. I wouldn't mind of other stuck around for a long time, but IMO those should be our core players for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 21, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Just posted this comment on Dan Steinberg's blog addressing Varly changing the spelling of his first name next year, so since it's relevant reposting it here:

Semyon is the most correct way to transliterate his first name. I'm not sure where they got Simeon from, but that's not how it's spelled in Russian.

I also definitely understand why they didn't go with Semen, which is another common way to transliterate it.

The "yo" part instead of "e" comes from the this. If you look at his name written in Russian the 2nd "e" has an umlaut over it (2 dots). The umlaut makes it sound like a "yo".

Speaking of that, if the same rules of transliteration are applied to 2 other Russian players on the team their last names would be spelled in English like this: Fyodorov and Syomin.

Sasha could have really used that spelling, but I guess his PR guy was not as aware of the abuse he was gonna be subjected to by spelling it Semin.

Posted by: ranndino | April 21, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

saintex, varly will be 21 next week.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 21, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Q: What did Avery say to you at the end of the game, and what part of his body did Erskine threaten to remove?

A: Who knows. I can't understand regular English, let alone chirping little pest English or lumberjack English. I just looked at him and said, "sto?" (bad transliteration of "what" in Russian.)

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 21, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

nervous? Varlamov looked as cool as a cadaver. he's got no pulse. he's eerie calm.
torts is going to be watching every save and move all day long. the rags are going to come at varlamov very hard on wed. the first period, and first goal, will be critical. thank god for erskine and varlys angels. ny missed a few layups. At least the boys got some good sleep last night.

Posted by: oo7 | April 21, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse He not only stepped up his entire game after the early-season injury, but has pushed to another level for the playoffs, particularly last night.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 21, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

at what point does Torts+Avery=massive meltdown? I'm eagerly awaiting it.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 21, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Torts should be careful to not skate the Rags too hard today. According to him, they are out of shape anyway.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 21, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Any thoughts on wearing the road white at home since ever game so far has been won by the road team? Superstition at least. Get into the Rangers heads.

Posted by: RichC3 | April 21, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

i think we are seeing why so many president's cup winning teams flop in the playoffs. it's one thing to rack up points against lesser teams or beat teams you might see once or twice a year. it's another thing to win a playoff series against a team who knows you and who you have to play 4-7 times in a row.

guys like erskine, etc can struggle during the regular season cause he's just not built for the new, regular season nhl. he is, however, exactly what you need in the playoffs, which is more like pre lockout hockey. i wouldn't want 6 erskines on the ice, but 1 or 2 is pretty valuable.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | April 21, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone notice OV and Semyon slapping fists after OV made that great defensive play on Korpikoski? That kind of acknowledgment among players during games is great.

Posted by: opita1 | April 21, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Varlamov not only proved to everybody how athletic he is, but showed what a fine young man he is. He is so mature in answering those questions and seemed very professional in dealing with reporters. I'm just so proud to be a caps fan and so excited for this year and the future of this organization. GO CAPS!

Posted by: capsfan2007 | April 21, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock - "As the years go by the Caps will have to retain core players. Of those I think it will be key to keep OV, Semin, Bacstrom, Laich, Green, Erskine, Pothier, and Varlamov."

Agree +Alzner

Regarding Varlamov v Theo - While Varly does have flaws (eg rebound control/positioning) he's athletic/quick enough to recover/compensate. When Theo is not on his game, he's lost the quickness to help him recover.

Posted by: hook99 | April 21, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I think the first home win comes on Friday night at Verizon. It was loud for games 1 and 2 - it's be mayhem on a Friday night in the District.

Posted by: saintex | April 21, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Very mature sounding kid. Also, confirmed once again that playing (and doing very well) in the RSL playoffs prepared him well. He might be a rookie in the NHL, but he's stepping up from the 2nd best adult pro league in the world, not from juniors. Big difference!

BTW, I loved his reaction to getting punched by Avery. He just took off his mask, checked to see that everything was cool and put it back on. All of this with the most non-chalant look on his face.

Also, earlier in the game Avery tried to draw a penalty on him and took a dive in front of the net falling backwards into Varlamov's net. Absolutely zero reaction from the kid.

Avery must be getting frustrated that his antics are being ignored in the same way a troll gets frustrated when his comments are not being paid any attention to. Perhaps we can all learn something from Varly (myself included).

Posted by: ranndino | April 21, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

@opita, that was great to see Ovi with Semyon after that play. I suspect that Ovi was apologizing for the intial play - though to be truthful, it was a tough pass he had to play off his skate - and telling Semyon that they've got his back. Ovi running Korpikoski, who had momentum with Ovi from a stop, was fantastic. Great timing on the reach with the stick. That is the type of play that turns things. Had anyone hustled back on the goal in game 2...who knows. I think the Caps won the series last night.

Posted by: saintex | April 21, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

SEAN-B-GONE Avery Tshirt

Posted by: rockthered21 | April 21, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

ranndino - well played.

Posted by: superpaqman | April 21, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

@hook99: Shoot great catch. I really did just overlook Alzner, he is definitely a core keeper.

Now this is overlooking the good play of Morrison, Poti, and Jurcina. Let's face it folks 1 goal against in two games averaging less than 30 shots a game is a total team effort. Relying on quality D. Not to beat the dead horse but without the two softies in game 1, there have only been 3 true quality goals against this team in the last 3 games. We were worried, and as fans begged them to tighten defensively, and they have. Tomorrow's game is definitely key. If the boys can pull out a win, as they should, they could set us up for a nice playoff run by beating early adversity.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 21, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

@ DCSportsFan28

At least you and I agree. Others just didn't really know much about Varlamov so were kind of... I'm trying to sound polite here... um... were making things up. It annoys me to no end actually when people don't know what they're talking about yet think that their opinion is actually grounded in something.

@ hook99

You must be joking. Varlamov's rebound control is actually one of his obvious strengths and it's light years ahead of Theodore's. Varly either doesn't give up rebounds at all (eats pucks up) or kicks them really far and past shooters who are trying to get rebounds, often to the boards. You probably think that kicking rebounds out far is bad rebound control, which shows how much your know about the game. That's actually great rebound control because it's the next best thing to eating it up. Goalies are actually taught to do that in cases where they can't smother the puck because it prevents players in front from reacting and stuffing it in.

This is something Theodore is terrible at, btw. He constantly gives up terrible rebounds that land a foot or two in front of him and force our defensemen to constantly scramble like crazy trying to react which causes lots of fans who don't know much about hockey to rag on our defensemen for being bad at clearing rebounds.

BTW, watch post game interviews with Erskine and Laich from last night. They confirm exactly what I just said. Laich mentions the fact that Varlamov kicks rebounds out to the boards and Erskine says that Varlamov makes it a lot easier on defensemen (read easier than Theo).

Posted by: ranndino | April 21, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey opita1,

I'll try to be good in future. Maybe the pass was blocked - who knows?

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | April 21, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

complain i do/did. some observations were off the mark, others weren't. Bottom line: Caps played like they were in the playoffs last night (something i complained they HAD NOT done in the first 2 games). now do it again wednesday and for the rest of the series. i will be watching/at the games either way.

arguably the most important person on the ice for the caps last night was Lumberjack (Canadian). Euros were smoking last night. go ahead and rag, Fanohock.

Posted by: doughless | April 21, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Thought y'all might enjoy this little repartee between me and my Rangers fan friend"

Me copying him on something Tarik posted last night:

I asked Tom Poti about the crowd chanting "Poti sucks!" late in the third period after he scored to put the Caps up 4-0. Poti, you see, wasn't the most popular Rangers defenseman.

"I love it," Poti said with his signature smirk. "Music to my ears."

His reply:

He still sucks. He was worse than Bruce Driver.

My reply:

I guess what you mean to say is that despite sucking Poti has scored the exact number of goals as the entire Rangers team in the last 2 games. Cool.

Posted by: ranndino | April 21, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Great interview with Semyon. Keep it up!

Posted by: Sonyask | April 21, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Re: core guys - Pothier is not one of them. He's had some nice moments and is a great story, but he's very much replaceable.

Posted by: Zornado | April 21, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

@ doughless

While I would be the first to acknowledge the fact that Erskine had a great game to say that he was the most important person on the ice is completely ridiculous and shows what an unbelievable bias you have against Euros.

Varlamov with a shutout, Semin, Backstrom and Ovie with all our offense and a great all around game.

You know what rare quality I appreciate in people a lot. An ability to admit that they were wrong. You were proven to be completely wrong on all counts. It would be cool if you actually found the decency to admit it instead of spouting more nonsense that has little or nothing to do with reality.

One more thing I'd say is this. It's amazing how a good performance by a goalie can have people have a totally different perception of the game.

I think, objectively speaking, we were much better defensively in game 1 than last night yet because we lost that one due to horrible goaltending people talk about how our team didn't play well enough to win in the playoffs.

Just as DCSportsFan28 and some others aside from me have been saying there's no doubt that we would have won that game had Varlamov been in goal. Most likely with another shutout. The only goal I can possibly see him letting in is Antropov's. Varlamov had a lot more to do last night than Theo in game 1.

I also remember someone saying that Varly wasn't tested in game 2, which is total BS. There were a bunch of shots through heavy traffic in that one also which he stopped and which had a high probability of going into our net had Theo been playing.

Posted by: ranndino | April 21, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Things the Rangers should be very nervous about:

-First, OV, Backs, and Greenie have not scored yet. With a combined 109 goals this year, wait until they get into the act.

-We found a tender that can make key saves when we need him...

-BB has found his groove on the line combos. I thought he should have done that game two but this series could easily be 3-0 Caps.

-We have six centers with faceoff % above 50%. We have four above 60%. That is stepping it up.

-Our D has played off the charts the last two games and they are gaining confidence.

-Big Donald helps so much and I really don't think he gets enough credit. Welcome back.

-NY knows that Caps are a streaky as they come.

Posted by: numero94 | April 21, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

JT should pick up Rosetta Stone - Russian. May be his only chance of sticking around next year.

Posted by: kkd76 | April 21, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I will admit to being one of those who said Varly wasn't ready to step in, and I am pleasantly surprised to admit I was wrong.
I watched him play in Hershey all year and his rebound control got him in trouble more than once. And it's still something that he needs to work on somewhat. I guess the difference now is that he has guys in front of him (Erskine, Pothier, etc) who know what to do with those rebounds whereas some of the Hershey players did not (or could not).

Posted by: tess2201 | April 21, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Only one person, Dan Rosen in his recap on NHL's site, mentioned what I thought was the greatest significance of Varly's performance last night. He said:

"The New York Rangers still have an All-Star in goal, but after the last 120 minutes of hockey played in this best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round series, it's safe to say they no longer have the edge over the Washington Capitals.

Simeon Varlamov is his name and at least in the last two games this 20-year-old Russian rookie goalie has done everything possible to even up the goaltending, an area in which the Rangers certainly thought they had an advantage heading into the series and definitely did after Game 1."

This is HUGE--both psychologically and actually. Can you imagine? Goaltending was the one advantage they held over us.

Another thing is the team's morale. I think that with more confidence in the goaltending, they were able to bring out their offensive advantage over the Rags. I guess we can never know for sure, but do you think that if Theo was in goal the team would have performed as well as they did? How big of a factor do you think Varly's presence was (directly and indirectly) in the team's aggressive and determined attitude?

If Varly continues his hot streak, I am sure we will win.

Posted by: caraveli | April 21, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

thanks ranndino for displaying that I know nothing about hockey while you are the all knowing oracle. some played crappy first 2 games, they stepped it up last night. GREAT! VArly played awesome. he should continue to get the start. isnt the blog here so boneheads and experts can spout off?? you are so much fun ranndino.

Posted by: doughless | April 21, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Found this on a Rangers board.... think you'll like it. :)

I would be a little happier if we can honestly say that we outplayed them once in this series but we haven't . I'm a lot more into reality when it comes to my sports teams than being like the idiots whose teams are in last place but when they're in the camera they're yelling "We're #1!" Yeah, we're still up 2-1, yeah we can be happy the next game is at the Garden and we have a chance to go up 3-1. What people need to realize is that all this team was missing was the goaltender and If, I say if they found one in Varmalov than the league is in trouble because they have the best player in the world with one of the best supporting casts in the league. They are so much more taleted than us it's rediculous and he best thing about it is that its homegrown. where is our Ovechkin? Our Semin? Our Backstrom? Our Green? Maybe Sather can answer that. Oh yeah I forgot we had Hugh Jessimen, my bad . With all that said, LETS GO RANGERS !

Posted by: joe47 | April 21, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I have just been informed that my source has gotten me the same seats for tomorrow night's game. I would so love to be able to go back to DC 2-2. That would be a dagger in their hearts, IMO.

Bring it a step higher tomorrow night boys as I am sure the Rangers will try.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | April 21, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

also, the euro bias comment is laughable. the only bias i have is against players who aren't playing as a team. seriously man, take a breath. if i hated euro players, why would i buy Caps season tickets?? it is a game, ranndino. maybe you need some other hobbies.

Posted by: doughless | April 21, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

@DCSportsFan28: Was off having a real life. Terribly sorry, won't happen again :) I know how much people like you can't deal with that sort of thing, and it's really unfair....

I actually posted earlier this morning. Varly did well, and I was pleased to see it. I've been wrong before and will be again; infallibility would be a bore! Yes, I was concerned, because he was wild in the net a lot of times in the regular season. He looked good last night, and the D rescued him a couple of times. Unlike some people, I'm not all tied up in defending my point of view. I'll go with what works, and if Varly works, I'm good.

Posted by: kittypawz | April 21, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I for one don't really count game 2. You rarely dominate the play the way we did in terms of possession and faceoffs and lose a game like that. It's 1-1 with 3 games left to win in my mind.

Posted by: snakegriffin | April 21, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse


I'm sooo jealous! Went to the game last night, and clearly, had a blast!! Not heckled nearly as much as I thought I would be, guess MSG fans are all talk (or they are nicer to girls)

Best Varly quote of the night was from the guy behind me "He's just not that good, he just can't be that good". NYC motto: deny deny deny. Have already started hearing conspiracy theories that the refs rigged the game to even out the is full of crazies

Posted by: mrszilla | April 21, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

it's rantdino. he is the self anointed hockey expert here. calling you out as a being biased against euros didn't make much sense to me as i didn't get that from your comments at all. i didn't think erskine was the best player on the ice for the caps, even though he probably had his best game of the year. i thought semin had the most impact because of his two early goals, which i think prevented ny from effectively trying to match their D against our top two lines.
i was also one who thought theo should get the nod for games two - good thing i don't have any input there. varly was outstanding, but i also believe the D (forwards included) tightened up to help him out. the team as a whole has shown (with neuvirth as well) that they play a much better game (and usually the full 60) with the young guys in net. hoping the caps play another full 60 tomorrow and come back home 2-2

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 21, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm still waiting for the Stanleycup1907 to weigh in . . . did his institution put him back in a straight jacket, or is he having problems with the consequences of his lobotomy?

I have been chanting this all day. . . The King (Henrik) is dead. . . long live the (new) King. . .Long live the Varlamov Era. It has begun, officially.

Posted by: bucknelldad | April 21, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse


Yes you have a real life and no one else on here doesn't? Sounds to me like someone is very afraid and too prideful to admit when they are wrong. BTW in regards to your comment, anytime you want to compare W2's let me know.

Posted by: DCSportsFan28 | April 21, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

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