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Quick Morning Update (Updated)

Simeon Varlamov, Andrew Gordon, Bryan Helmer and Alexander Giroux have indeed been recalled and are on the ice this morning. Varlamov, it appears, is definitely here to stay -- at least for tonight's game against the Sabres, if not longer -- since Brent Johnson (cold, leg) is not skating.

As for the injured players, lots of them are on the ice, including: Donald Brashear (leg), John Erskine (concussion), Chris Clark (fractured forearm), Jeff Schultz (broken finger) and Mike Green (shoulder).

There are also a few notable absences: Tom Poti (groin) is not skating, Alexander Semin (back) came out for about five minutes before leaving, and I haven't seen Sergei Fedorov (ankle).

Update:I'm also not seeing Tomas Fleischmann. He came back from a leg injury four games ago. Perhaps he aggravated it.

I'll have another update in about an hour or so.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 26, 2008; 9:54 AM ET
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Next: Theodore To Start; Clark Returns


I wanna see Varly tonight!

Posted by: TheOriginalEgon | December 26, 2008 10:09 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 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I hope at least Green and Brashear suit up tonight...PLEASE! We definately don't need another 5-0 loss against the Sabers! I am still hoping the will start Varlamov, or at least be quick to pull Theodore if he is not on his game!

Posted by: NatyBG | December 26, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

It would be a great test for Varly to play tonite.
Vanek is a sniper!

Posted by: pmoravek | December 26, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

From the last post:

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 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Kim-3 about JT's confidence problems, and while I'd like for him to get fired up and step up his game...I want the kid out there tonight.

Yeah we need Brash and we need Mike Green to spend as much time playing defense as he does money on his car(s)...

Posted by: TheOriginalEgon | December 26, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Non-Caps, but hockey -

The NHL Network has the World Juniors Germany-USA game at 3:30 and Canada-Czech Republic at 7:30 today.

I know the second game conflicts with the Caps' game, but those of us at home can catch the end of the second game.

Joe B

Posted by: rw-c | December 26, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

from last thread:


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 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm in Atlanta for the week and need a bar to watch the game. I'm staying in East Point by Hartsfield.

Any suggestions?

Posted by: ChrisAm | December 26, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse


ESPN Zone in Buckhead is really nice.

Posted by: TrappedinGA | December 26, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

What people do not comprehend:

Caps will give up goals. I don't care if Lunquist is in net, the Caps will always give up goals with BB sytle of play. That's just the way it is.

Jose is a better goalie than Johnson. Johnson has only been a starter in 1 year of his career, while Jose has been a starter for the majority of his career. Jose will pick it up - no doubt about that.

As for Johnson - do you all know this is his last year on the contract? So, if you were about to lose your job or have an opportunity to get a raise, wouldn't you make it your duty to do better at your job?

We should have bought out Alex's contract when he was in that slump in the beginning of the season... what a waste, he never got out of it.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Jose is also 5-3-1 in those last 10 games.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm still taking a wait-and-see attitude with Theodore... he CAN do this job, and he can do it well, when he's in the zone. I'm not giving up on him just yet. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I don't think so.

@_828 - Re: Varlamov - I think you've hit the nail right on the head. As soon as some team lights him up, people will be whining that we brought him up too soon. Fair-weather fans. Guh!

If GMGM has something up his sleeve, we won't know what it is until he pulls it out and flabbergasts us all, so I'm not even going to TRY and speculate on the possibilities re: trades, etc.

Posted by: irockthered | December 26, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse


Where in Buckhead? Any landmarks? I went to school down here but haven't been to Buckhead in about 10 years.

Posted by: ChrisAm | December 26, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Right. BB's style allows goals. We agree. If you use that as a basis for these two goalies, what's happened?:

Johnson 2.52 GAA (14th in league)
.916 Save % (18th)

Theodore 3.32 (41st)
.881 (42nd)

That doesn't include Varlamov's two games. If the goals pile in under this system, is Theodore just having bad luck? Are all the goals flukes? Great screeners every time he plays? The idea that Theodore was a starter for more years than Johnson has been, or that Johnson is in a contract year, makes no sense. What does that matter? Tony Esposito was a great goalie but I'm not chucking him in the net.

The Caps are 5-3-1 in the those last ten games. Do we think these guys can pull back a 4-0 lead or that AO will score in the last ten seconds of OT, or that they'll always recover from a trailing position every game he's in net? I'm not much for that gamble. Barring the Montreal game, Theodore isn't getting the job done. I'm not comfortable looking deeper in the season and imagining a playoff series where we see Theodore in net even two or three games.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Three things:

1. Question for the stats people, what was Carey Price's first few games, and AHL numbers? Just to compare aginst Varlamov's
Since BB said that we weren't going to put Simeon into Carey Price mode yet, just want to see how the two compare numbers wise.

2. Does anyone have any info on Price and his conditioning from last year and earlier?

3. Seem these three names thrown around the blogosphere:
Lord Varlamov
Iron Curtain

Not sold on anyone so far, but anyone have other suggestions? At somepoint (this year or next) we need to come to a consensus on how we cheer for our future goalie.

Posted by: caps28fan | December 26, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

+1 to 828. My coaches always said "it's never the goalie's fault." Maybe they just said that because I was the goalie, but I do think people are overly critical of that position. He's supposed to be the LAST line of defense.

Posted by: honed | December 26, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Who cares about stats - the main stat is in the win column. Jose is 9-6-1 and Johnson is 10-5-(something). Jose came in to relieve Johson that one game after 1 period and probably should have got the win as he shutout the other team. So, in the win column, they are equal.

Like I said before, Johnson has to play well, but he is not a number one goalie. Jose is getting the job done just enough... however, we need him to do better.

"I'm not comfortable looking deeper in the season and imagining a playoff series where we see Theodore in net even two or three games."

Well pal, looks like you should change your team then. Or, you could call up GMGM and tell him your opinion. Maybe he will listen to you. Or, you can just deal with what we have and be supportive and have faith that they will come through. Either way, things are going to happen out of ALL of us fan's control.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

@ ChrisAm
It's on Peachtree RD, right down the street from the Intercontinental hotel and Lenox Square mall.

The area includes some very trendy restaurants and nightlife.

I watched the Redskins at ESPN Zone on a few occasions. There are a lot of DC metro transplants in the area.

Posted by: TrappedinGA | December 26, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

@saintex: I get what your saying but don't think you can lay every one of those losses at Theo's feet. Remember those two 2-1 games out west? The team in front of him just couldn't score. And there have been some other instances where they just forgot how to play defense.

Posted by: honed | December 26, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse


I agree - not as a goalie - but to the statement your coach made, whether he was being nice or not.

The defense is certainly responsible for tons of issues the goalie has to deal with every game. But since we are looking at the same team, injured and all, every night for both our goalies, what's the difference? That's what I'm trying to figure out.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

honed, it's just like the QB of a football team. That is the person they see the most and that is the person they see fail or succeed the most. It's just the way it is.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Mikka Kiprusoff of Calgary sucks too - he is 32nd in save %

Martin Biron of Philly sucks too - he is 34th in save %

Marty Turco of Dallas sucks too - he is 43rd in save %

Chris Osgood of Detroit sucks too - he is 44th in save %

What's your point?

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Like 828 said the type of system we have , there will be some 5-4 and 6-5 games.Bruce just wants the key save at the key time. WE GOT THAT FROM THEO AGAINST THE RANGERS.

If anyone thinks that we should go with BJ and a rookie at this time and point need to re-think what they are saying and analyize is a little bit more. It would be disaster to put a proven play-off goalie on the waivers to go with a lifetime back-up and a rookie.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 26, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, that road trip out West was horrible to listen to, and I understand the theory behind the goalie getting the blame most of the time. I don't have the GM's number but maybe I'll see him at the game tonight.

Funny enough, I don't put wins and losses on goalies any more than I do on the entire team. I'd like to see us giving up fewer goals every night. But I would like to see Theodore's numbers get considerable better. I'll be there again tonight and cheering the team regardless. My opinion of Theodore is simply based on what the number show and what I've seen.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

This team in not the same. So far, each game, we don't know who is playing and who is sitting. So, you can't compare these goalies as they are playing behind different people each night.

I look at the win column... that is all I look at. Both goalies are over .500, so, why should I be worried? Oh, the Caps are also in first place of their division and have the 6th best record in the NHL... again, why should I be worried?

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

The point was simply a comparsion be the two Capitals goalies based on playing with the same team. I think you'd agree there's a disparity, right? I didn't compare one of our goalies to Lundqvuist or Biron or Fleury because those are different situations. I'll take out the league rank and just consider the raw numbers - Theodore is giving up way more goals per game than Johnson. Can we agree on that? And that they are playing in the exact same system? That's all it was meant to be.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse


"But I would like to see Theodore's numbers get considerable better."

I think we all agree on that. I'm just saying, no matter what we say, he is part of the team and he's not going anywhere anytime soon. So, we just have to deal and hope that he gets better. Until, we are down in the dumps, I'm not going to worry about this team.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

@saintex: Yeah I don't know the answer either. It's just these last few weeks so many commenters have advocated waiving or buying out Theo, and I didn't respond because if people want to panic there's really no stopping them. Today I just happen to be bored at work, and there it is :p

Posted by: honed | December 26, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

hey, Neuvirth's going to Hershey!

Posted by: honed | December 26, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I do agree... I was just bringing up Johnson's contract year and how he has to play better. Johnson has a lot more to lose than Theo at this point. Maybe that is why he is playing better?

But yes, we would all like few number of goals and more scoring from our team. We can also wish in one hand and poop in another and see which one fills up first.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse


Agree. I think you have the impression that if JT is in the net tonight I'm going to chuck things at him and boo all night. I don't, and I won't. I'm not hugely worried about the team as a whole but I am worried about his play - pretty normal stuff. I don't think I'd feel any differently about his play whether or not we were in dumps or not - it would be much easier to be so when that happens.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

It's tough putting blame on goalies. I mean, when Theo allowed 5 goals against the Sabres on Nov 1st... well, where was the scoring? We lost 5-0. What if we scored 2 goals, would Theo have allowed 5? That is why it's so hard to blame goalies for a loss.

I do hope both our goalies play better. The better they play, the more wins we should have.

PS, I'm bored at work too...

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Semin and Fedorov are a waste of money this season. The difference is I believe Fedorov's injuries are real. They ought to trade Semin for whatever they can get for him because, though very talented, his attitude and work ethic are very questionable. Not to mention that you can't be paying a guy 4 million dollars who routinely misses huge chunks of seasons.

Posted by: poguesmahone | December 26, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, all work should have been canceled today. Nobody's here so they're essentially paying me to surf the internet...

Posted by: honed | December 26, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Semin and Fedorov are a waste of money this season.

haha, you sound like my neighbor who just became a Caps fan. Brashear is his favorite player and says that Brashear should be on the #1 line. He should also make the All Star team! However, when he says that, I know he is joking.

haha, good one!

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

The "work" is ridiculous. I'll have plenty of energy for the game tonight. Taking the daughter to her first hockey game so it'll be exciting.

Brashear as center on Line #1 would be sweet.

I don't think Fedorov could ever be a waste of money. I think his influence on the young guys - playing or not - has been immeasurable.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse


Wow, you are taking your daughter to this game? My girlfriend isn't allowed to go to Buffalo games. They get her heated... next thing you know, Im the one that is going to have a fist through my face. Sabre fans are ridiculous - hope there are more Cap fans than them tonight and hope your daughter has a good time... despite the Sabre fans.
Im def excited about the game tonight! Payback time.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse


She's not much of a sports fan - she's 12 - but I might as well get her excited about the best sport to watch. I hope she won't punch me.

With only 1 home game in the last two weeks I've been in withdrawal. I don't have cable at home but I have the NHL package online - great for hockey, except your hometown team. The only time I've been able to see Caps games at NHL is when I've been travelling.

Posted by: saintex | December 26, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

hey, Neuvirth's going to Hershey!

Posted by: honed | December 26, 2008 11:17 AM
Yay! I've been hoping to see this kid since the beginning of the season. I'll be at Hershey Sat. and Sun. so hopefully he'll play at least one of the games. I've been reading good stuff about him in So.Carolina.

Posted by: tess2201 | December 26, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse


No no, my girlfriend wouldn't punch me... I was talking about the Sabre fans when my girl starts talking crap to them. I will be the one they come after, not her. Hence, why she is not allowed to go to tonights game with me.

It should be an awesome experience for your daughter. I am just giving you the heads up... if their are a lot of Sabre fans there, they get drunk and get obnoxious.

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

_828: you're joking right? The two of Fedorov and Semin have missed more games than they've played. If that isn't a waste of money by definition, I don't know what is.

Posted by: poguesmahone | December 26, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

of course its a waste of money when guys aren't playing cause these guys don't get paid by the hour. hard to call semin a waste of money when he was leading the league in scoring, right? point is, you didn't know these guys are going to get hurt when you sign them. by your definition, tom brady is a waste of the patriot's money.

and did you see the cross check that put semin out? he may night play through the type of pain others do, but hard to call his injuries not real. particularly since you presumably have no more insight into his physical well being than any other fan.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 26, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Could not agree more.

pogues, saying someone is a waste of money because they are injured is just ignorant. Tom Brady is a good comparison. These guys are important to the Caps... no chance are they a waste of money because they are injured.

I thought you were joking...

Posted by: _828 | December 26, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse


If you are still looking for Carey Price's game logs from last year look here: (btw, neither or or have AHL game logs, I'm sure they're out there, but I dont feel like searching right now)

In his first 10 games he was 7-3. He had two 1-goal losses, and one 2 goal loss. Then he slumped and got "blown out" in three of his next four games. (4-0; 4-1; 5-1) He got blown out several more times (worst was 6-1 vs Ott). But he finished the reg season with a seven-game win streak.

But Price vs Varly may be apples and oranges. It probably is.

We wont know what Varly will do until he does it. Things we know about Varlamov for sure: he wants to give it a shot and he's got the reflexes to be a great one.

Who knows. The story of Brent Johnson tells us that shattering a rising star NHL goalie isnt necessarily something that happens in the very beginning of his career.

Posted by: large23220 | December 26, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Injuries: I watched Green, Schultz and Erskine work on stuff after practice. Feds was out there too. Erskine looked pretty good. Greenie still is only shooting the puck at about 70% very few times did he really uncork one. Schultz's hands are fine, It looked like his legs are quite where they need to be yet. Feds is hurting. It looked like if he went straight he was fine but crossing over looked painful. My daughters who got Feds and Greenie's autograph said that Greenie said he was ready and Feds just moaned and shook his head.
I can't wait for tonight's game. I think Theo will be fine. Sometimes you need a little spark to get your mojo back. He think he got it the other night!

Posted by: psugolf | December 26, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

That's right. Keep the blinders on. Fact is, Semin has a HISTORY here of being immature, lazy and flaky. It isn't just this season. But recognizing that would cause you to have to put your fandom aside and actually think, wouldn't it? As for Fedorov, they paid him too much to begin with and given his injury, he's been a complete waste of money and cap space. And they don't need him.

Posted by: poguesmahone | December 26, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Semin leading the league in scoring for one-tenth of the season and then disappearing for twenty games doesn't impress me. Nice that you're so easily impressed, though.

Posted by: poguesmahone | December 26, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

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