Friday, August 14, 2009

What Are They - Nuts? Caps Pick Theodore

A Washington Post Story this morning quotes Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau as picking Jose "Three-or-more" Theodore - not Semyon Varlamov - as the Capitals number one goalie. Here's the full quote from Boudreau:

"Right now José is the number one guy and the other two young men [here he means Varlamov and another young goalie - Michal Neuvirth] have got to come in and play the way they did last year and try to push him out,"

"José won games for us last year, and like the year before when Cristobal Huet got hot down the stretch, Varly came in and did a great job where we just couldn't take him out."

"But that was 13 games. It doesn't make up for 12 years of experience. I've seen an awful lot of goalies come in at a young age and go into a slump for a year or two. I think José has earned and deserves the right [to be] the number one guy."

To me - this is crazy. Every Ranger fan knows that Varlamov was the difference in that series. And I'm sure if we had faced Theodore for all seven games we would have found a way to win at least one more. Its a bad decision and it's bad for a few reasons:

1 - A goalie controversy is like a quarterback controversy. It divides the team. It makes the players second guess every goal, every rebound, and every game. When you get scored on - you want your players thinking about how to come back and win - you don;t want them thinking that they wish they had a different goalie.

2 - The message you've already sent to Theodore is that if he messes up he's yanked. So his confidence and loyalty are already damaged. So this year he plays with one eye on the puck and the other looking at the bench to see if the coach is about to bench him again.

3 - And now you're telling the young Varlamov the same thing - that you benched him for his play against the Penguins in the playoffs. The goalie position is about confidence. Semyon rode a wave of it against the Rangers and then lost it in the big barrage thrown at him by the (eventual) world champion Penguins. Tossing him back on the bench now further erodes his confidence. He's very young and very talented - the more you play him - the better he will get.

Hey - I've got an even better idea for Boudreau. Why not put Theo and Varly in goal at the same time? Then they can both try to make saves and the hotter goalie will always be on the ice. And with Ovechkin - do you really need four other skaters?

Seriously - Boudreau humiliated Theodore by pulling him for a rookie after one playoff game. But it payed off brilliantly for the Caps and for Varlamov - who came up huge. But picking Theo now is like benching Varly - who is under 21 and has a chance to be a great one. By playing it this way, Coach Boudreau risks losing both players.

And from a Ranger standpoint - that's just fine with me.

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