Despite a dreaded performance against Montreal in game 2 of the playoffs, Jose Theodore might still find himself in net tonight against the Canadiens.
Theodore could not get through the first ten minutes of the opening period Saturday as Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau pulled him after letting in two goals on two shots. With Semyon Varlamov taking over for Theodore, Washington was able to pull off a critical win in overtime and avoid a disastrous 2-0 deficit heading into to Montreal for game 3.
While Varlamov was not spectacular in net as he did let in three goals on 21 shots, he was nonetheless the winning goalie of record and one would expect that Boudreau would go back to him in Montreal.
The news of Boudreau not naming his starter yet seems somewhat surprising considering the poor performance by Theodore in his most recent outing. One has to believe that as a Quebec native and a one time member of the Montreal Canadiens, Theodore would cherish the opportunity to beat his former club at the Bell Centre.
Quebec goalies always seem to get motivated when playing in Quebec as was witnessed by then Flyers goalie Martin Biron who led his team to a second round playoff victory against the Habs in 2008.
Rollercoaster Year for Theodore
Much of the year for Theodore has been a bit of a tumultuous one. Unfortunately Theodore has undergone some personal problems this year that no family should have to go through.
After the most recent setbacks that Theodore has faced in his life away from hockey, one has to have a bit of routing interest in the Capitals goalie as he heads into Montreal for Game 3. From a hockey perspective, any setbacks in Theodore’s personal life were not evident on the ice as his 30 victories in 47 games contributed to what was a stellar regular season with the Caps.
After playing well towards the end of the season, Theodore was able to take the starting job away from the up and coming 21-year-old Varlamov who is likely the goalie of the future in Washington. Despite Theodore’s great play near the end of the regular season however, critics continue to point to the fact that the Caps might not have the goaltending to win the Stanley Cup. Now eight years removed from his Hart Trophy as league MVP, Theodore remains a shadow of what he once was many years ago.
Environment at the Bell Centre
The atmosphere in Montreal for Game 3 tonight will be one that no other building in the league can capture. Expect the followers of le bleu, blanc et rouge to be very vocal tonight as they do everything they can in helping their team to a series lead against the Caps.
Theodore is very familiar with playing in the playoffs at the Bell Centre, all be it as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. If Theodore is the net for Game 3, one can expect the Montreal faithful to be heckling him the entire game in an attempt to make him falter in what should be a pressure filled situation at the Bell Centre.
Varlamov Should Start
The decision that Bruce Boudreau has to make on who to start tonight in Montreal should be an easy one. For Boudreau, the safe choice would be to go with Varlamov as he was the winning goalie of record for the Capitals in Game 2. If Theodore does start and happens to let in a bad goal or two, confidence on that Washington bench could be at an all time low. Varlamov could very well end up of having a bad game himself, but his most recent victory seems to make him the safe bet. Whether it is Varlamov or Theodore who starts Game 3, Boudreau should at the very least put his goalies on a short leash as neither one of them have yet to solidify the starting job.
In what is a season of high expectations for Washington, question marks in net continue to plague what is an incredible offensive machine in the Caps.