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Varlamov set to start against Thrashers

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal tonight as the Caps attempt to shake a three game slide against the visiting Thrashers, who have pulled to within two points of the eighth seed (who, of course, will start the playoffs in Washington).

Varlamov is in desperate need of a big performance tonight. He struggled in relief of Jose Theodore against Calgary, and really hasn't looked the same since returning from his groin and knee injuries in February. In fact, he's allowed 24 goals in seven appearances (one 182 shots).

Boudreau said on Wednesday that he's done discussing the goalie situation. But I can guarantee you that he's not done thinking/obsessing about it.

Goaltending situation aside, the team's injury situation is a mixed bag today. Brooks Laich will return from a face injury tonight, but John Carlson (upper body), Brendan Morrison (groin strain), Scott Walker (knee), Quintin Laing (lower body) and Boyd Gordon (back) are all out.

Carlson, who was injured Tuesday against Ottawa, skated with the scratches this morning.

"It's not serious," is all Boudreau would say before adding, "He'll be ready when it's time. The guys aren't playing unless they are 100-percent healthy."

Who said the Caps weren't in playoff mode? When it comes to injuries, Boudreau clearly is.

One more thing: By missing tonight's game, Carlson can't appear in more than 25 games this season. That means he'll remain eligible for the Calder Trophy next season. (The Caps have six games left.)

Morrison, meantime, has missed two straight games and did not skate today. He is, however, expected to hit the ice tomorrow or Saturday.

"We would have liked him to be further along," Boudreau said. "He skated a little bit yesterday and didn't feel right."

Boudreau added that Laing's injury isn't serious, Gordon could skate with the team tomorrow and Walker could be ready any time now.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 1, 2010; 1:08 PM ET
 
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Next: Brooks Laich on returning to the lineup

Comments

This injury bug thing is starting to worry me a bit. Bad time of year to have a ton of guys out of the lineup. Those lines need to be completely gelled and clicking come April 15th or so......

Posted by: PhilR | April 1, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

yes, you would like to have everyone healthy but the Caps don't really have much to complain about as far as injuries go... their key guys have been healthy all year for the most part

Posted by: joek443 | April 1, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I feel like (or at least hope) that some of these injuries are just the result of them being cautious and if it was playoff time these guys would play...

We just don't want a repeat of last season when players like Green, Poti, Semin were limping their way through the playoffs at half-speed. Better to rest now and get rolling in a week.

Posted by: adamkatzen | April 1, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I agree joek443 that they have been blessed this year thus far but this is just a bad time when the lines need to gel. I worry about Belanger, being a trade line acquisition, not knowing where his linemates will be at any given time. It takes time to develop that feel for each other and the playoffs is not the time to start to establish that feel.

Posted by: PhilR | April 1, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Hope they come out strong in the first. This should be tougher than the Calgary and Ottawa game which we had a lot of trouble with. Atlanta is the most desperate. Hope to see the PK do well tonight.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 1, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

This settles it...I'm back to the Varly sweater. Seems to be some back luck tied to me wearing #8.

Posted by: mcfarkus | April 1, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

The injury thing is why we got depth. Bruce said if your not 100% your sitting. We need to have full health come playoff time, and depth will make sure it happens.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 1, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I see the caps continuing to struggle over these last 6 games, and I'm not worried about it at all. Their remaining opponents (except Columbus) all have a lot more to play for. I won't be surprised if the Caps go 3-3 down this stretch. People shouldn't stress any upcoming losses. Come game 1 of the first round they'll be ready.

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | April 1, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Tarik (or anyone else...),
Can you please explain the Caps tv playoff coverage? I have rcn in the District and so I only get Versus if I upgrade to premium. Which series will be broadcast on CSN? Will I need to bite the bullet and pay up for Versus?
Thanks!

Posted by: JEp1 | April 1, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

believe that the game locally is on CSN and on Versus outside the DC area

Posted by: ajian1 | April 1, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

So Carlson could win a Stanley Cup this year (maybe even the Conn Smythe....I KNOW ITS A LONGSHOT), and then win Rookie of the Year next year!

GO AMERICAN HERO!!!

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | April 1, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Maybe some players are taking the opportunity to rest nagging injuries? Anyhow, glad the injuries are happening now and not during the playoffs. GMGM's trades are looking like great moves right now.

Posted by: futbolclif | April 1, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY...

Granted there is still room for jockeying in both conferences, but as a thought experiment I thought I'd run through what results I might expect if the current status quo holds...

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

ROUND I

WAS (1) vs. MTL (8)
Caps will be in a potential run-and-gun on this one, since the Habs are crazy-fast. But look for Ovie to come up huge against those wacky francophones.
PREDICTION: Caps in 5 games

BUF (2) vs. BOS (7)
Sabres have too much firepower for batterd Bruins to withstand. If Miller is "on", fuggeddaboudit.
PREDICTION: Sabres in 5

PIT (3) vs. PHI (6)
As much as I want to see Crysby and his hated dirty-birds to make an early exit, this battle of PA is likely to be a knock-down/drag-out. PHI could win, but it will take a career performance from PHI's netminders. Whichever team emerges is likely to be fairly beaten up: good news for their second-round opponent.
PREDICTION: Pens in 7

NJD (4) vs. OTT (5)
Sens are big and fast this year and their goaltending above average, but Volchenkov could be key. For the Devils, much depends on 1) which Martin Brodeur shows up in-net, and 2) will the Dev's newly acquired offensive firepower match their historically shut-down D.
PREDICTION: Ottawa in 7


ROUND II

WAS vs. OTT
OTT could be tired from a long battle with NJD. Menawhile, the Caps have had difficulty with the Sens this year. Expect a lengthy battle with most of the games going to OT.
PREDICTION: Caps in 6 games

PIT vs. BUF
Pens should be pretty beat-up from the Philly Series. Miller wants revenge for the Olympics. Again: if he is "on", fuggeddaboudit.
PREDICTION: Sabres in 7


ROUND III

WAS vs. BUF
At the risk of trotting out a tired sports cliché, everything will boil down to goaltending. Caps on the attack will need to get pucks deep and fire beaucoup shots to get to Miller. In the meantime, the Studly Varlomov/Theodore and improved D have to hold down the fort for Washington.
PREDICTION: Caps in 6


Please discuss.

Posted by: Rhino40 | April 1, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I want wings tonight!

Posted by: billyrich | April 1, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

rhino: I fully believe that our path to the Cup goes through Pittsburgh. And I suspect New Jersey will have a better showing than you expect. Moreover, the Caps have also struggled with the Habs this year. If they play each other, I'd expect a 6 game Caps victory. If they play Atlanta, I'd expect a 4 or 5 game Caps victory.

If it were the playoffs right now, these people wouldn't be scratched. If the caps were fighting for seeding, these guys wouldn't be scratched. If they were in a tight race for the pres. trophy, they might not be scratched. But the Caps have the luxury of letting guys take all the time they need to heal and to rest. It is wise of them to use this opportunity.

Posted by: j762 | April 1, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Part of me (the dumb part?) hopes we have to play Montreal in round 1. Just imagine how that hockey-crazed city will be up for Ovie & Co. -- the media spotlight will be intense, and I think it'll bring out the best in the Caps.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | April 1, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

@JEp1,

During the first 2 rounds, coverage will be split between CSN (local coverage) and NBC/Versus (national coverage). THERE WILL BE GAMES THAT WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE ON VERSUS...at least if it is anything like it has been in years past, and there's no reason why it won't be.

I *think* after the first two rounds all coverage goes national, but that I'm not as sure about.

Posted by: PaintDrinkingPete | April 1, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

@j762: Good points, all. My pick of PHI over PIT however, has to do with the fact that, at this time last year the Pens had "pulled a Boudreau" i.e., having had a very poor midseason, they were surging after the coaching change that brought in Bylsma.

Lately, though, the Pens have seemed somewhat flat (Crysby's being on the short list for the Richard Trophy notwithstanding).

Also, don't discount the fact that Gonchar becomes a UFA at season's end, and Pittsburgh probably won't be able to pay what he is likely to ask for. This could affect mental readiness in the psotseason.

Posted by: Rhino40 | April 1, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

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