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Posted at 7:41 PM ET, 12/31/2010

Varlamov set to start Winter Classic

By Tarik El-Bashir

Semyon Varlamov will make his third straight start Saturday when the Pens host the Caps in the fourth annual Winter Classic at Heinz Field, Coach Bruce Boudreau told me this afternoon.

"I can't see how I can't give him the start," Boudreau said. "I have all the faith in the world in [Michal Neuvirth] because he's played great. But this is what happens sometimes. You can only play one, so Varly gets the nod."

I'll have a lot more on Boudreau's decision in an On Hockey piece, which should be online shortly.

By Tarik El-Bashir  | December 31, 2010; 7:41 PM ET
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Next: Winter Classic video: Capitals undeterred by later start time


Last year in Boston, Bobby Clarke represented the Flyers and Bobby Orr the Bruins. From what I'm seeing this year, only Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis from the Steelers and Mario Lemieux from the Pens will be part of the pre-game ceremonies. This seems to be slighting the Caps of any representation from their past. Just seems wrong for what is an NHL production, not just another home game for the Penguins.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 31, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Tarik gets to cover the big game too?

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 31, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

@ CaptK ... yep, sounded like TEB at the Ovechkin presser (video post - "Alex Ovechkin on learning to adjust").

Welcome back to the rink Tarik! (albeit temporarily)

Posted by: reddog278 | December 31, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we could get Jagr to represent the Caps? Larry Murphy?? Brent Johnson???

I'll bet Jagr would do it if you paid him.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 31, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

I totally dont agree with BB on this one.I think neuvy should of got the start on this game.He played awesome last game vs the pens and hes a main reason the caps are where they are in the standings.Hes earned it and varly is dew for a flop game anyway.He'll play a couple real good games and then just stink right after that and this game comes after a few good games from him so hes do to stink.hope not but still think neuvy earned this game on so many different levels.but thats bb coaching for ya.either way,its gonna be awesome and hope the caps pluck sum penguins!GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | December 31, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure Dan Bylsma would like to see Neuvy playing tomorrow night.

Posted by: joek443 | December 31, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

tom, thank you for my first belly laugh of the New Year!

Happy New Year to you all, and...


Posted by: wocoliz | January 1, 2011 12:17 AM | Report abuse

wocoliz: Well, I still have two hours left on 2010! HNY to you too!

BTW, I love that they moved the game. Now I get to watch at dinner time and rock the white in style!

The only question now is who are the scratches?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 1, 2011 1:07 AM | Report abuse

They should have gotten Olie to be our representative. Whatever, Bettman.

Posted by: amorris525 | January 1, 2011 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Neuvy has had his flops this year as well.

Both goalies could easily start this game, but I definitely agree with BB's decision. Varly is the better goalie when healthy.

Posted by: digster1013 | January 1, 2011 3:47 AM | Report abuse

To me that's a joke. Neuvirth has carried this team through this season, without him they would be nowhere. Plus he was the one to break the losing streak and save Boudreau's job; but Boudreau simply has a crush on Varlamov. When in doubt he will always go to Varlamov, no matter if justified or not. He did so the last two years in the playoffs - and obviously wasn't rewarded - and he will do so again when it comes to crunch time. The constant mishandling of the goaltenders is Boudreau's biggest weakness and it will ultimately be his downfall in Washington.

Posted by: binnenreim | January 1, 2011 7:31 AM | Report abuse

@binnenreim: well said. Other than a few letdowns, Neuvirth has been the rock this season. Also, he would have probably have loved to start after hearing Bylsma's comments. Nothing against Varlamov, but Neuvirth deserved it.
Anyway, Caps please come out swinging, don't let this become a Sid Love Fest on NBC, please!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 1, 2011 8:42 AM | Report abuse

The constant mishandling of the goaltenders is Boudreau's biggest weakness and it will ultimately be his downfall in Washington

You've obviously haven't been paying much attention in the last 3 years. The biggest problem with this team has been their WORK ETHIC or lack thereof.

The goaltending has been the least of their problems, no matter who happens to be between the pipes. When in doubt blame the goalie, that's what noobs do.

Posted by: joek443 | January 1, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Also another REAL weakness of BB is his lack of understanding in the importance of players such as Bradley and Hendricks.

He depends too much on Ovi, Green, Backs and Semin. The other night a stat I saw really jumped out at me. In the game between Tampa and Montreal, Stamkos had two goals and two assists in LESS than 16 minutes of ice time.

That would never happen if Stamkos was playing for BB's Caps.

Posted by: joek443 | January 1, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Damn......BB could probably start BOTH Goalies and somebody would be upset that Holtby wasent in the nets too.

Varly is in a groove.....comming off a SHUT-_OUT.......hard fault this decision.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | January 1, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Does it matter to the Flyers who's between the pipes, Leighton, Boucher or now Bobrovsky?

The Hawks let go of the goalie who just won them the Cup. Quite frankly there are so many good goalies among the good teams these days it really does not matter as much as it used to.

What matters a heck of a lot more is the quality of D in front of your goalie.

Posted by: joek443 | January 1, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Neuvirth has carried this team through this season, without him they would be nowhere. Plus he was the one to break the losing streak and save Boudreau's job; but Boudreau simply has a crush on Varlamov,

False. This is propaganda put out by "Team Neuvy". The Caps didn't play as poorly in October as some claim, they just weren't as dominate as we expected. They were far from the worst team in the league.

Also, Neuvy was horrible against Atlanta, pulled after giving up 3 goals in less than 10 shots in the Boston game, and became "tired" when the Caps started facing teams that could score like the Maple Leafs ;-)

Right now, I'd put Varly slightly ahead of Neuvy. Since he had the shutout Tues, he should start.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 1, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I don't see what the issue is. Varly had a freaking shutout. Not starting him would be idiotic.

Posted by: Dizruption | January 1, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

It's pretty funny reading the comments. Varly starts so BB sucks!

I'm thrilled Varly gets the start and I think he gives us the best chance, but I can see a case for Neuvy. Neither pick would indicate a coaching weakness, sheesh!

Posted by: Justafan | January 1, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Japers' had the interesting stat from a post a couple of days ago. When the Caps switch goalies, Neuvy has been 10-8-2/3.07 GAA/.897% when someone else starts the previous game. Varly has been 6-0-2/2.27 GAA/.918% (this figure doesn't include the shutout from earlier this week). Statistics without context don't mean much, but it's an interesting difference. Varly shows a similar performance when he didn't start the previous game and Neuvy shows similar high levels of performance in his second, third and fourth consecutive starts.

If I'm BB, I'd go with Varly and then start Neuvy in the next game.

Posted by: MikeF703 | January 1, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jordan Staal said Saturday he will play in Saturday night's Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals.

It will be the first game of the season for Staal, who has been out of the lineup with hand and foot injuries.

This is a lot more significant than who starts in goal for the Caps.

Posted by: joek443 | January 1, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

To me that's a joke. Neuvirth has carried this team through this season, without him they would be nowhere.

Actually the whole statement is a joke. If Neuvy put up the kinda numbers that Thomas or Pavelec have put up so far this season then you might have a point.

But he didn't, not even close.

Posted by: joek443 | January 1, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Poti isn't playing according to Katie.

Posted by: nicety251 | January 1, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Im glad Staal is playing. I want to see how we stack up agaisnt the best they have.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | January 1, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Wow, some nice discussion, eh?

I just wanted to clarify some of the points I made above.
First about Neuvy carrying the team: I actually think that has been the case. Remember, Varlamov was injured the first 5 weeks of the season - if Neuvy hadn't held the fort, really, where would this team have been? Holtby showed that he can handle spot duty but no way he's a No 1. goalie (yet). Neuvy was named rookie of the month in October and everybody agreed that he was the team's MVP for the first 15-20 games. His play only deteriorated when Boudreau overplayed him (s. below), starting him 12 games or so in a row. Plus Neuvirth got the Caps out of that funk with a big game in Ottawa. Winning the Calder Cup twice in a row is a pretty big accomplishment, this guy is a winner, to me, he should be the Caps' No.1 for now.

Second about the way Boudreau handles goalies. I think since he's been with the Caps he hasn't made a lot of good decisions when it comes to goaltending. In his first season he suddenly decided that Kolzig wasn't gonna start anymore, after a loss that definitely wasn't Olie's fault. He more or less forced the most important player in Caps' history out of town, not giving him a chance even after Huet noticebly struggled in the first 4 games against the Flyers. The next playoffs he made the switch to Varlamov, after Theodore had been the undisputed No. 1 the whole season. Varlamov was okay against the Rags but he didn't get the job done against the Pens. Fleury definitely outplayed him, especially in game 7. So, it didn't work the first time, it didn't work the second time against Montreal, when Boudreau pulled that same stunt on Theodore und Varlamov had a pretty bad game 6 and again wasn't good enough in game 7, and I don't see it working a third time.

Sorry for the longwindedness, have a nice one everybody.

Posted by: binnenreim | January 1, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see Tarik's name on this post. Basketball getting a little boring?

Posted by: rufusthedog | January 1, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I joined this website "123 Get Samples" and i got freestuff from it, it took about a week for me to receive? something i actually wanted so just join them and it is easy and free

Posted by: wesleyswink | January 2, 2011 2:35 AM | Report abuse

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