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Theodore set to start on the Island

Jose Theodore will start in net tonight at Nassau Coliseum as the Eastern Conference-leading Caps go for a season-best seventh victory in a row. If they win, it will match the longest streak of Coach Bruce Boudreau's tenure (he's done it twice before).

Theodore will likely face Dwayne Roloson, who came off the ice first this morning, instead of Rick DiPietro (more on him later).

Based on the skate, the Caps' lineup appears to be unchanged.

For the Islanders, Josh Bailey's status for is unclear. Their fifth leading scorer with 12 goals and 13 assists, the center missed the morning skate because he's sick, according to Coach Scott Gordon. But the doesn't mean he's out, Gordon added.

The Isles will get back 6-foot-6 defenseman Andy Sutton, who is coming off a two-game suspension for his hit last week on Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis:

Gordon this morning defended Sutton.

"It was one of those situations where he couldn't pull back and change his mind," Gordon said of Sutton. "It happened too quickly. It's not like he went with the intention of hitting him from behind."

Some other notes and quotes to get you ready for tonight's showdown at Nassau Coliseum:

*Injured defenseman Brian Pothier (broken hand) is cleared to return. He won't suit up tonight, but he might tomorrow.

*The Islanders have been rotating goalies and tonight is Roloson's turn. DiPietro, who recently returned from a year-long layoff because of knee surgery, is 2-2-0 with a 2.22 goals against average and a .917 save percentage since coming back. But Gordon said the team is proceeding cautiously with their franchise netminder.

"I've told the guys that when there are four games in a week, you're going to play two," Gordon said. "There's plenty of ice time. And realistically, we have to be smart with Ricky, too. We can't expect him to play the number of games that he did when he was healthy. We're not just trying to get him going for this year, we want him ready for the long haul."

*All three of the teams' meetings this season have required extra time, with the Caps winning twice. In all, the Caps and Isles have gone beyond regulation seven times in their last nine meetings.

*Since the Caps last saw the always-hardworking Islanders, New York has climbed back into the playoff hunt. They've gone 10-4-1 in their last 15 and currently sit 10th in the jumbled standings -- just a point out of sixth place.

"They work really hard and people underestimate them, and they shouldn't," Boudreau said. "I think they're a really good team and they scare me to death."

*Asked about his team's success on the penalty kill in recent games, Boudreau said that the team isn't doing anything different tactically. He said the biggest difference is that the eight forwards the team uses are doing a better job of executing quick line changes, which ensures fresh legs. Ideally, Boudreau said, he would like to see four line changes on each penalty kill.

And, Boudreau added, like his line combos at even strength, he's been staying consistent with the forward pairs.

"It's a significant factor is why we're being successful," Boudreau said. "It comes with confidence. When your team is playing well, they feel good about going out there and being able to kill it. They want to do it and they're getting the job done."

*Boudreau's first response when asked about the PK was a funny one: "Usually when I talk about it, we don't do good ... for lack of good English technique," he joked.

*Boudreau on whether Alex Ovechkin has done anything differently since being named captain: "Not that I know of. I really don't know what he does off the ice. And sometimes that scares me. I haven't noticed any changes. He hasn't called team dinners or anything of the sort. He's just been him."

I'll check in with a lineup later.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 26, 2010; 12:39 PM ET
 | Tags: Jose Theodore, New York Islanders  
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Next: Semyon Varlamov set to return to the ice

Comments

Good. Get it done Theo.

Posted by: JSchon | January 26, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Tprpolen | January 26, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Good read. Great info.

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Steven-Hindle/Capitals-are-Scheduled-to-Win/98/25745

Posted by: Tprpolen | January 26, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Interesting article on the predominance of road games and relative weakness of opponents to close the season. While not anywhere as weak as our schedule closing last year (remember the damn "21 game salute"?) after last year's experience coming out flat in the first round, it seemed clear that facing weak opponents to close out the season did us no favors at all.

Our home record does counsel for reaching hard for the number 1 seed, though.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 26, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Should have said "predominance of road games thus far."

Posted by: Sonyask | January 26, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

This is more appropriate here, with the headline being about Theo, than where I posted before:

The goalie on every Cup winner since 1993, except one, had a playoff GAA of 2.14 or less (most under 2) and a save percentage of at least .920. The exception?....Fleury in 2009. His GAA for the playoffs was 2.61 and his save percentage was .908. Or pretty close to what JT60 has put up so far this year.

So if we assume last year was a fluke, does this mean Varly's health is more crucial than we thought? I'm not sure, but I think right now Varly is the only goalie we have good enough to put up a GAA around 2.00 and a save percentage of .920 or better over a 20-game stretch.

Posted by: Gould23 | January 26, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Sonyask: Good point, let's hope windjammer doesn't come back and post the same thing 1000 times.

"All we need is a puck-moving defensemen for the stretch..."

Wait a minute...isn't that still possibly true?

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 26, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I love these "hockey-talk" excuses for dirty hits - "It happened too quickly. It's not like he went with the intention of hitting him from behind." Sutton lined up Dupuis for 2-3 seconds, during which all he saw of Dupuis was his back.

Posted by: zmega | January 26, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Look at Roloson go get the trainer and usher up to Dupuis in that clip. He knew right away it was bad.

Scary moment.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 26, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Also interesting to me was the 2 game suspension on Sutton. How was this hit any worse than Koci's hit on Green, which drew no suspension. Oh, wait, I forgot which team Dupuis plays for.

Posted by: zmega | January 26, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the "Ovechkin Angry" is off the banner! Replaced by "Praise for Theo"

Posted by: Gould23 | January 26, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Good analysis Gould23. That being said, weren't the Caps the primary reason Fleury's GAA was so high? As long as we're letting in less than the other team, doesn't really matter what numbers our goalie is posting. There are a few teams (New Jersey, Detroit, Vancouver) where this doesn't ring true, but against most of the league we can win without a goalie posting stellar numbers.

Posted by: Raber | January 26, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Also interesting to me was the 2 game suspension on Sutton. How was this hit any worse than Koci's hit on Green, which drew no suspension. Oh, wait, I forgot which team Dupuis plays for.

Posted by: zmega | January 26, 2010 1:49 PM

Nah. They're suspending for the injury on the ice. If Green had bled from his face and they had to stop play, then Koci would've been suspended. I'm not agreeing with the decision, but this is the way the front office is working these days.

Posted by: Raber | January 26, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

wow, have to totally disagree with gordo on sutton. dupuis had his back to sutton the whole time and sutton still hit him right in the numbers. it's not like dupuis did a sudden turn and sutton had no change to hold up. while not as blatant as koci on green, it's pretty close. its not like sutton is an angle out there either. i believe he was the guy who tried to take greenies head off when he was playing for fla (or maybe atl). might have been brian muir who want after him...could be wrong.

tired of guys defending plays that are undefendable. perhaps gordo is saying nice things so sutton wont do the same to him.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 26, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

It's not our Gordo, it's the head coach of the Isles Scott Gordon that spoke about Sutton.

I saw the hit differently. I thought Dupuis was getting ready to make a move and Sutton guessed wrong. Dupuis and Sutton were behind the net together and Sutton drove him into the boards from behind. He didn't come skating up out of no where and do a fly by like Koci.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 26, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

If Varly doesn't demonstrate that he is 100% healthy by the trade deadline, does GMGM have to bring in another goalie? Wouldn't it be risky to rely on Theo and Neuvirth? I don't think that we can count on scoring 5-6 goals on average during the playoffs, when games involve much closer checking.

Posted by: zmega | January 26, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

@Raber:

I'm not sure, I got the numbers from hockeyreference.com but was too lazy to look at how Fleury's numbers came out by series.

Posted by: Gould23 | January 26, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

@zmega: I think that's a very difficult decision for GMGM. Part of the difficulty is who would be available. Is Marty Turco really any more reliable than Theo?

Posted by: Gould23 | January 26, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

@ dcsportsfan1: the Gordon that defended the hit was their coach, not our Gordon. Sometimes it's insulting that a team would defend a hit where the intent is fairly obvious. We're not dumb.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 26, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

@dcsportsfan1


it was sutton who tried to take green's head off....and ben clymer went after him

Posted by: _stevo | January 26, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

@Gould23- a valid point.

Posted by: zmega | January 26, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Hockey on the tube tonight. Go Caps!

Posted by: ridgely1 | January 26, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I think we can trust Theo for the playoff ...there, I said it.

Posted by: guer_j | January 26, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

totally missed that their coach is named gordon...when did al arbour retire?!

still doesnt make the hit any better. and fanohock i dont buy that dupuis is trying to make a move and that sutton guessed wrong. makes no sense. if he though dupuis was going to make a move it would have to have been right or left. what good would suttons hit do to stop that? if he though dupuis was going to make a move, a hold or a trip would have resulted, not a hit in the back.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 26, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I am looking forward to a good game tonight, but Caps hockey in low definition on comcasts CSN "Plus" is definitely a minus. It reminds me of watching hockey in the early 1980's using rabbit ears. 30 years later, and the picture quality during games has actually decreased, even though I am paying 160 times the amount I paid then.

Comcast needs to address this.

Posted by: RandyHolt | January 26, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this the last Comcast Plus broadcast of the season?

Posted by: PhilR | January 26, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Since some people here seem to not want to trade from Neidermyer how about Foote? It is the newest rumor I have seen. He is old but only 38 but is a plus 5 so far this season so he seems to still be able to play. Of course if Foote was playing on the Ducks I think his +/- would be about the same as Neidermyer's because I think it much harder to be a plus on a team that is bad. His contract is up after the season so we shouldn't have it change our ability to sign any of the guys for next season. So what does everyone think?

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 26, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

From 2006: Thrasher Sutton's run on Green and the ensuing festivities. This is what should happen any time the opposition goes after our stars...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak1DIzvD3eE

Posted by: MetalCapsFan | January 26, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

metal, thanks for the clip. i forgot that brash and brads beat some a$$ just after that and even olie got into it. i remember thinking how lucky greener was that sutton didnt do significant damage.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 26, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

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