Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Our weekly look at what's going on with the Bears NHL affiliate in Washington....
Varlamov still injured
Washington goalie Semyon Varlamov is still out with an injury. A few weeks ago he made a conditioning start in Hershey were he suffered another injury, one that has kept him out since then. Until he is ready to return Michal Neuvirth will remain in Washington as a spot starter and as Jose Theodore's backup. An injury that was supposed to only last a week or two is now into its fourth week and is putting his Olympic team spot in jeopardy.
Theodore playing great
Since Varly went down and Neuvirth struggled a bit Theodore has been dominant. He has won 5 straight games, allowing only 9 goals in those games, and a ridiculous .944 save percentage. Early in the season it seemed that Theodore was going to be Varly's backup most of the season but now with Varly losing ground every day he can't go it looks more and more like he will be the #1 for the rest of the season. And with Varly's injury history can the Caps really commit to him for next season as the #1 without another top option?
Last week saw the Caps beat the last 2 Eastern and Western conference champions, Pittsburgh and Detroit. Then they beat the upstart Coyotes Saturday night to go 3-0 for the week and extending their winning streak to 6 games. In their last 10 they have won 9 and are back to being the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference in addition to having a 19 point lead within the division.
Coach Bruce Boudreau generally fiddles with his lines for months during the season before finally settling on something for the playoffs. But for the past 23 days and 10 games he has used the same lines for every game. Once Jason Chimera joined the team and Tomas Fleischmann was moved to center the lines haven't changed and it has worked for the Caps. During that span the Caps have scored 4.9 goals per game including 3.3 per game at even strength...very impressive.
Around the league Washington is still considered the odds on favorite to land Ilya Kovalchuk before the trade deadline. The latest rumors have them trading Alexander Semin for him although most people feel as that would be unlikely. Other teams that were thought to be interested are dropping out, the Leafs, Flames, Avs, Pens and Bruins were all rumored at least once to be interested but have now said no way. It is really coming down to a few teams and the Caps seem to have the most interest.
The Caps have a busy 4 games in the next 6 days. Fortunately 3 of those games are at home and none of the games feature teams currently in playoff position.
Tonight - @ NY Islanders
Tomorrow - vs Anaheim
Friday - vs Florida
Sunday - vs Tampa Bay