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Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 12/29/2010

Semyon Varlamov continues as the hot hand for Capitals

By Gene Wang

(Richard A. Lipski/For The Washington Post)

Semyon Varlamov stopped 25 shots in last night's 3-0 victory over Montreal, and while he was more steady than spectacular, he has won two in a row, which leaves Coach Bruce Boudreau with an even more difficult decision as to which goalie will be in net for Saturday's much-anticipated game against Pittsburgh in the Winter Classic.

Varlamov started and finished strong for his second shutout of the season. Early in the first period, he stopped several bids from close range, and late in the third when the Canadiens pulled goalie Carey Price for an extra skater, he denied Lars Eller twice from almost point blank.

Varlamov "played outstanding," said defenseman Mike Green, who scored with 37 seconds left in the first period for a 2-0 lead. "He deserved the first star. There were shots that we couldn't block, and he was playing aggressive to make sure he made the save. When he plays like that, he's an outstanding goaltender."

The shutout comes on the heels of of Washington's 3-2 road win against Carolina the day after Christmas. Varlamov stopped 33 of 35 shots in that game, and his past two performances have been a far cry from his low point this season when he gave up seven goals on 20 shots in a 7-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Dec. 12.

Following the loss to the Rangers, Michal Neuvirth, Washington's other young goalie, played in four of the next five games, going 2-1-1, and he has stopped 84 of his last 89 shots for a .944 save percentage.

Varlamov has been even better of late, with a .967 save percentage in his last two games. Boudreau, however, was not about to tip his hand as to who will get the nod in perhaps the team's most significant game of the regular season to date, given the national media attention and the fact it's against the Capitals' most bitter rival.

"Let me think about that one," Boudreau said, eliciting laughter throughout the room. "I won't give that away. They've both been really good."

By Gene Wang  | December 29, 2010; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov, Winter Classic  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Capitals deliver early-season salvo against Montreal
Next: Caps reassign Andrew Gordon and Keith Aucoin to Hershey


I think Neuvy deserves to play in the Winter Classic, provided he's healthy, as he's played well and shouldered most of the load this year so far. Plus, Varly gets hurt often enough as it is without having to play on an outdoor rink with bad ice.

Posted by: cainoo7x | December 29, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I agree nuevy deserves the nod. He also doesn't run as hot and cold as varly...though he was directing those rebounds pretty well last night

Posted by: capscoach | December 29, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Neuvy get another crack at Pitt. He could have easily had that win last week.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | December 29, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Gotta go with Varlamov, he's just playing too dang well lately to not get the nod.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | December 29, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

BB has no decision to make.
He should go with the hot goaltender that now is Varly.

Posted by: enrinat | December 29, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, PLAY EACH ONE OF THEM 30 MINUTES, they both deserve to play

Posted by: caps1 | December 29, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Varly was tested much last night, so I wouldn't declare him the "hot hand". Montreal's offense was flat and the Caps' D was solid -- which I'll take over hot goaltending any day of the week. Also, since Neuvy has seen the Pens recently, why not take advantage of that experience? I give the nod to Neuvirth.

Posted by: jepper | December 29, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I would have said Neuvy last week BEFORE Varly pulled off 2 Games, 2 win, 2 GA total, .967 S%age and a SO of montreal.

What does it day to Varly if you pick Neuvy after Shutting out Montreal? not good things man, not good things!

Posted by: FrankM73 | December 29, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Play them both, I actually like that idea.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 29, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Like in football, if you have two starting quarterbacks that means you have no starting qb. Gotta go with Varly.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | December 29, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

varly is 6-4-1 neuvy is 14-6-? and has carried the load and deserves the start

Posted by: duckyjimpond | December 30, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

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