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Posted at 1:01 AM ET, 01/ 2/2011

Semyon Varlamov shines in the Winter Classic

By Katie Carrera

If there were any players who might have been the most impacted by the continually deteriorating weather conditions at Heinz Field for the NHL's Winter Classic, it was the two goaltenders. While Marc-Andre Fleury seemed to slide out of the net when making saves throughout the contest, Semyon Varlamov didn't seem limited by any pooling of water around the crease or unpredictable puck bounces.

Varlamov's 32-save performance in one of the Capitals' more memorable wins over the Penguins during the two teams' rather storied rivalry was his third consecutive victory, and as Coach Bruce Boudreau said afterward, the young Russian is in a "pretty good zone."

"It shows that he can play in pressure situations," Boudreau said of Varlamov's performance in one of the bigger stages of his career. "And he sort of just took it mentally on him, that he wasn't going to allow anything. He's in a pretty good zone right now, shutting out Montreal the last game. He's making a great case this week for being the No. 1 goalie.

"Who knows what can happen next week," Boudreau continued. "I'm sure [Michal Neuvirth] will get a chance. Before he got hurt, he was doing the same thing. So this competition is going to stay together, you know, I'm sure, unless something drastic happens in the last 10 games of the season."

Afterward, Varlamov admitted that dealing with the ice surface and decreased visibility wasn't quite as easy as it might have looked at times.

"It was pretty tough to keep concentration, to keep focused because of the water," he said through a translator. "And sometimes when they shoot the puck it was coming again with water and it was very tough to deal with it."

While the rest of the Capitals have maintained all season that whether it's Varlamov or Neuvirth are in net, when either one is on the top of his game it gives a noticeable boost to the entire team.

"I thought that he played the puck great tonight. Probably one of the best he's ever played the puck, I thought, just making it real easy on us," John Carlson said. "And it helps when he's stopping all the pucks too."

To earn the start for the Winter Classic was going to be a big moment for either goaltender, and as Tarik wrote for Saturday's paper, for the time being it is Varlamov's time to show Washington what it was missing while he was out with a groin injury.

"It was very good for me. I was very honored that coach let me play. It was a great celebration for all of us and for the fans," Varlamov said of the start, though he remained diplomatic when discussing the competition with Neuvirth.

"I'm playing with Neuvy together, and I think we're on the same page," he said. "Last three games I played well and I think the coach let me play tonight because last two games I played really well."

By Katie Carrera  | January 2, 2011; 1:01 AM ET
Categories:  Semyon Varlamov, Winter Classic  
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Next: Winter Classic: Eric Fehr steps up for Capitals

Comments

BTW the worst part about being there is that since I was so far down low I could only really see in the Caps bench zone. I knew that coming in but what was horrible was on the jumbo screen which is how I was watching action in the other zone was off between 2-5 seconds the entire game. How hard it is to just have it live. Other then that no real complains other then poor loser fans who even were upsetting Pens fans and the rain both of which can't really be controled. The good thing is all three Caps goals happened right in front of me.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 2, 2011 1:07 AM | Report abuse

I bet it was still great being there.

Posted by: chriscaps | January 2, 2011 3:30 AM | Report abuse

Dish TV did not show it in HD here in central VA. What about others?

Posted by: Bartolo1 | January 2, 2011 7:34 AM | Report abuse

I was in 223 sheltered from the rain by the 500 level above us, we were dead center behind the Caps net. It was amazing. the atmosphere can never e matched. It was great having so many Caps fans there and it was so funny when Caps and Pens fans united to boo a Flyers Fan we all chanted "Flyers suck" it was so nice beating the Pens in front of their fans who were cocky the whole game.

I'm posting pics on photobucket now, it's taking a while but there are at least 80 pictures up already

http://s3.photobucket.com/albums/y60/Margefro87/Winter%20Classic%20Pens%20and%20Caps/

also all the pictures are on my fb. words cannot describe the total epicness that was this game. Football stadiums are the best to have the game in!!!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2055814&id=64200489&l=e640ae76e0

Posted by: capsfan387 | January 2, 2011 8:25 AM | Report abuse

The production from NBC was terrible. If they were trying to draw in the casual fan, they missed the mark. You would think that they would do more explanation of what the calls mean, strategy prior to a faceoff,... Also, the camera crews obviously have not shot a hockey game. I watch most of the Caps game on TV and I had a hard time following the puck. Next time, maybe NBC could subcontract the filming to Versus, CSN, or someone who knows how to film hockey. Good win for the Caps.

Posted by: tmcherv | January 2, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Since when does interfering with a goalie come with an extended time period? Yeah, OV interfered with MAF but no goal was scored at that moment. How is it that play goes on, AF gets back in net, faces a shot, makes a save, gives up a rebound, THEN gives up the goal to OV and suddenly OV's "interference" washes out the goal?

Posted by: CAP-lanta | January 2, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Also, the camera crews obviously have not shot a hockey game. I watch most of the Caps game on TV and I had a hard time following the puck. Next time, maybe NBC could subcontract the filming to Versus, CSN, or someone who knows how to film hockey. Good win for the Caps.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LOL guess what? I'm watching the CBC version on the NHL network right now and it's all the same camera angles.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

We were in section 517, Row LL... about as far away from the ice as you could get... Still don't understand how OV's goal was disallowed... too much play followed to be goaltender interference. Seemed like a "call from Bettman" to even the non-score at the end of the second period.

As for the experience... THE BEST!!! I paid 500.00 for two tickets, and by far (shy of watching the CUP RAISED BY OUR CAPS) this was an INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE!

C-A-P-S! CAPS! CAPS! CAPS!

Posted by: Fmr_u_bio | January 2, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

@capsfan387: thanks for the report of what it was like at the game and for the pictures.

@CAP-lanta: I was wondering the same thing. Maybe the whistle should have been blown right when Ovi grabbed MAF behind the goal? MAF definitely got back and was in the net and not being interferred with when the puck went in.

NBC crew was all about Crosby before the game ("who would you pick first to be on your team? Of course, Crosby, after that Stamkos and Stahl---not Ovi even in the top three...blah blah blah) and kept complimenting Fleury and saying the he was stellar while Varley was just okay. They had to change their tune at the end, didn't they?

Pathetic that they didn't even call who had the puck for most of the game.

That's one HBO special I'll be willing to watch!

Posted by: dccitizen1 | January 2, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

And the CBC crew, both Craig Simpson and Glenn Healy don't understand why Ovi plays the point on the PP either.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Carly and Greener on the power play point and OV down low would gin up some offense.

Posted by: dull | January 2, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

This is best Varly has played since the early part of last season before all the groin problems started. At that time he was in top 5 in the league in both GAA and save percentage.

With all due respect to Neuvy who's been solid this season, I don't think he's capable of putting up that kinda numbers even when he's at his best. When Varly is healthy, he IS capable of being a top 5 type elite goalie and has more upsides than Neuvy.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"The most impacted?" Really? Was he swollen and sore?

Misusing 'impacted' when you really mean 'affected' doesn't make people sound smarter.

Posted by: RIP-21 | January 2, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

@capsfan387 You have some good pictures. Thank you for sharing them.

Posted by: hock1 | January 2, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

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