Semyon Varlamov takes over for Jose Theodore (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
In his last appearance in net, Jose Theodore allowed two goals on two shots and was subsequently given the hook. Russian boy wonder Semyon Varlamov stepped up and did an acceptable job (.863) in a game fraught with defensive missteps. But now that the Washington Capitals have traveled to the Canadiens’ home territory of Montreal, who should start in net?
In short, Jose deserves our trust. He proved his mettle with shut-outs, multiple 35+ save nights, and a personal narrative too stirring to profane with description here. Our own Neil Greenberg provides the numbers to back up what we all know: Theo is a stud.
If Varlamov gets the nod from Bruce Boudreau and then struggles, we’re in real trouble. We’ll have two shaken netminders, neither buoyed by the faith of the organization. Watching the pundits on Versus, I’m not alone in this view. In fact, I’m in the auspicious company of noted hockey tactician Mike Milbury and guy-with-access-to-a-keyboard Mike Wise. Err. Regardless, I stand by it.
The core of my argument is neither statistical nor tactical. It’s moral. Much of the Capitals’ success in the regular season is owed to Jose. Semyon Varlamov has a brilliant future, but this — right now — is Jose Theodore’s moment. He may have been shaken up mightily on Saturday night, but we know by now that he is made of sturdier stuff.
Bruce, if you know people as well as you know hockey, this is a no-brainer. Semyon Varlamov’s time will come, but we need Jose Theodore to win it all the right way.
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