Thu 16 Apr 2009
As anticipated, the New York Rangers were the big winners of the goaltending battle as Lundqvist easily outplayed Theodore, to the point that there is talk Washington coach Bruce Boudreau might be considering a goaltending switch for Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.
If Boudreau were to make a switch, it would not be to injured veteran Brent Johnson. Instead, the Capitals would have to turn to rookie Simeon Varlamov. It was a switch that Boudreau did not contemplate last night despite his veteranâ€™s less-than-stellar play. According to Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post, Boudreau did not make the switch during Game 1 because â€œyou never want to look like you are panicking. And thatâ€™s how it would have looked to me.â€
While he wouldnâ€™t pull the plug Wednesday night, the Caps coach did not rule out changes for Saturday.
â€œThereâ€™s a chance anything can happen,â€ Boudreau related to El-Bashir. â€œWhen you lose, you make changes. Iâ€™m not saying in goal. But I mean, thereâ€™s a chance for changes in a couple of positions.â€
Given the way Brandon Dubinsky undressed Jeff Schultz on the game-winning goal, one of those changes might include Karl Alzner or Brian Pothier taking Schultzâ€™s place.
Another change might be the return of Chris Clark. According to Katie Carrera of The Washington Post, Clark was medically cleared to return to action. Clark brings the same type of intangibles that Sean Avery brings to the Rangers.
Looking back at the Caps goaltending situation, Boudreau is damned if he does and damned if he doesnâ€™t, especially if Washington absorbs a second straight home loss. Varlamov is the goalie of the future and was sharp in his brief NHL action posting a 4-0-1 record with a .918 save percentage and a 2.37 goals against average. Losing the first game because of a poor performance by Theodore has put Boudreau in a Catch-22 situation.
If Boudreau makes the switch to Varlamov what does he do if the Capitals lose Game 2 because a poor game from the rookie? Do you go back to a shaky Theodore or do you throw the rookie back to the wolves at Madison Square Garden? If Boudreau goes back to Theodore for Game 2 and gets another bad start then he might be forced to go to Varlamov anyway.
It is a situation that Al Arbour faced in 1994. The Islanders legendary coach benched veteran Ron Hextall after they lost Game 1 to the Rangers 6-0. Arbour started rookie Jamie McLennan in Game 2 and the Rangers responded with another 6-0 victory.
If Boudreau does start Theodore in Game expect him to be a short leash, with the Caps faithful in the Verizon Center having an even shorter leash. If Mike Wise of The Washington Post is any indicator, Theodore will face more wrath from his home fans then he ever would at MSG.
Wise refereed to Theodore as â€œJose Threeormoreâ€ and called him an â€œuninspiring impostor of the one-time highlight goalieâ€.
And you thought Ranger fans were tough on Marek Malik.
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