Blog Entry

Mr. April

Posted on: April 21, 2010 11:12 pm

The Washington Capitals wanted to anoint Semyon Varlamov as their No. 1 goalie this season.  What they obviously didn’t realize is that there is a right time and place to do it with this talented and extremely athletic kid.

Around the time people have to file their taxes seems to work pretty well. After all Varlamov burst onto the scene during the first round of the playoffs a year ago with only six NHL games on his resume, taking over after veteran Jose Theodore had a shaky start and then giving Washington brilliant netminding until the entire team unraveled in Game 7 of the second round against eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh.

It was a performance that had him ticketed to be the starter this season, but the best laid plans thing reared its head instead in Washington for various reasons, and by the time these playoffs rolled around, Varlamov again found himself riding the bench. Truth is Washington coach Bruce Boudreau had little choice in the matter.

Varlamov had a weak start to the regular season and then suffered injuries that kept him sidelined for the better part of three months while Theodore got his act together after New Year’s and was almost unbeatable in the second half. Thing is no one in or around the Washington organization really had much confidence that Theodore could lead their Presidents’ Trophy winning club deep, despite all the public comments to the contrary . But with Varlamov struggling after he returned in early March, the Caps had to go with Theodore and hope for the best.

Boudreau went into the post season insisting that Theodore was not going to be on a short leash even though he was as it turned out. Washington lost the opener at home in their quarterfinal series to eighth-seeded Montreal  and then fell behind in quickly in Game 2 before Boudreau repeated history by giving Theodore the hook in favor of Varlamov.

The coach later insisted he was looking to wake up his team rather than blame the veteran, but whatever the rationale was, it worked because like last year, the Caps haven’t looked back. Washington stormed back to win Game 2 and are now heading back home with a 3-1 series stranglehold after winning for the second straight time in Montreal tonight.

And the 6-3 victory posted by Washington has as much to do with Varlamov’s brilliance as it does with the Capitals explosiveness on offense. Varlamov was the story of this game in which Montreal played with the kind of desperation that often lets overmatched teams steal games they otherwise wouldn’t.

Montreal’s strength is in its speed up front and its ability to get on pucks first and the Canadiens made the most of those assets, firing 33 shots at Varlamov over the first two periods in the process. The teams traded goals in the opening frame before Montreal took the attack to another level in the second period by producing 21 shots. Problem is Brian Gionta was the only Canadiens player to get one of those past Varlamov whose diving, flopping and Lightning-quick reflexes repeatedly frustrated the home team and its loud crowd.

More important, Varlamov was keeping his team in a game they weren’t in on their own, and long enough for the Caps to get the break they needed. That came when Mike Knuble converted a great shorthanded two-on-one pass from teammate Boyd Gordon with only seven seconds left in the second period, a killer goal and a momentum changer that was apparent when the teams returned for the final period.

Washington erupted, firing 20 shots at Carey Price and taking control of things when Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game 11 minutes in before Jason Chimera made it 4-2 only 52 seconds later.  The Caps scored a couple of empty netters around a Dominic Moore goal after Montreal tried to Hail Mary things in the final three minutes, but by then all Washington was doing was padding its stats.

And reinforcing the notion that this is Varlamov’s time of year.


Category: NHL

Since: Feb 16, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:57 pm

Mr. April

I just posted the same thing (before I saw your post... sorry).  Guess Goldstein had to ignore some facts/stats to improve the story's arc.

Since: Feb 16, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:54 pm

Mr. April

Not sure that I agree with Goldstein's assessment of Varly's start to the 2009-2010 season.  Goldstein calls it "weak."  But didn't Varly start the season 12-3, or something like that, before getting hurt?  Not sure what his GAA and Save % were at that time, but that's not a weak start in my book.  And my recollection is that he was on his way to establishing himself as the No. 1 before he got hurt (and suffured some setbacks in his recovery). 

Since: Apr 14, 2009
Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:32 pm

Mr. April

Surprise, surprise! 

"The Caps had a great regular season last year and what happened?"

"The Caps got all the calls"

"Fluery is better than the Caps goaltenders"

Varly has played great.  Some of his glove stops last night were spectacular.  If he hadn't played the way he did and held the Habs to 1 goal in the 2nd, there is no guarantee the Caps win that game.  THAT is the point of the article.

As for the other comments, last year is last year.  Let's get to a Caps / Pens series and see what happens THIS year.  The calls the Caps got were ALL actual penalties, so how is that their fault?  Besides, what advantage did they really get if the Caps didn't score?  Yeah, yeah, they spent much of that time on the defensive end.  But they could have scored shorthanded like we have done twice now.

And Fluery can be as good as he wants.  We have two goaltenders who have the capabilities of being great.  Varly is not a rookie anymore and has some playoff experience.  So bring it on, can't wait to see what happens!

Go Caps!

Since: Feb 12, 2008
Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:17 pm

Mr. April

If the Caps get their PP firing on all cylindes it won't matter who's in net because it will be lights out

Since: Apr 14, 2009
Posted on: April 22, 2010 10:12 am

Mr. April

Don't be surprised if Theo gets the start in Game 5. 


Off my bean?

If you think about it, it will make sense.  Varly took away Montreal's home advantage.  He doesn't get phased by ignorant Quebec frog-wanna-bes.  Theo needs some "home-cookin" at the Verizon Center to boost his playing psyche.  Let him start, win the series at a very loud home ice, and you rest everybody until next week.  Starting goalie for Rd. 2 will be best suited to the opponent.  If it's Philly, Theo has owned them this season.  If it's Pitt, Theo has owned them too.  Dilemma?  Yes.  Answer for today?  No.

Not as crazy as you might think.  Here's to Mr. June!  Whichever man it shall be....

Talk about crazy:  The Nats are 1 game above .500 without the $15m man ! 

We are all laughing at you now Danny boy!

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: April 22, 2010 10:06 am

Mr. April


How can you say Varlamov had a "weak" start to the season?

I don't consider a 12-2 record before his injury with a 2.35 GAA, while making 25.7 saves a game anywhere near weak. He also had 2 shutouts not including a game against San Jose in which he relieved Theodore after period one and shut them out for two periods.

That's what I don't appreciate about you CBS writers, it seems that no one takes the time to check their stats before writings a B.S. article.

Since: Sep 18, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2010 9:43 am

Mr. April

First, Wes, just wanted to point out that Varly didn't have a weak start to the regular season.  He had an outstanding start, which made everyone think he really would take over as #1 by the playoffs.  It was only after his injuries that he came back and played subpar. 

Second, I really hope he is Mr. April-June. 

Since: Sep 6, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2010 9:08 am

Mr. April

not a caps fan but varlamov WILL BE a franchise goalie. I dont know if he is there yet, nor do i know if he can carry the caps all the way to a cup (tho he has the offense to do it) but the kid is barely 21 & has unlimited potential. Give him a few years & he will be in the elite class

Since: May 7, 2008
Posted on: April 22, 2010 8:42 am

Mr. April

This thread is about Varlamov and you bring up Fleury.  Jealous much?  By the way, the title Mr. April is refering to playoff time which means the "all season long" you just mentioned would have no affect on Fleury being or not being Mr. April.  Also, like Iron City said, Fleury only played the Caps twice so I'm not sure how he got blistered all season long anyway.

Since: Mar 20, 2010
Posted on: April 22, 2010 8:20 am

Mr. April

not a caps fan or penguins fan

but i watched game 2 of the canadiens and capitals series and i must say it was one of the worst officated games i have ever seen , it wasea nba game it seemed the caps kept getting all calls  penalties they dislodge the net 3 times to prevent scoring on them  purposely(and not 1 penalty was called) sad day  for hockey in general

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