Attention to the rest of the NHL! Look what Bruce Boudreau and George McPhee have found themselves: yet another 20-year-old kid with unbelievable potential. We’re not talking potential like Mel Kiper and Todd Mcshay do this time of year. He is good, and can only get better. He is playoff good, shutout in Madison Square Garden good, youngest goalie to ever record a shutout in the playoffs good.
Image Courtesy of the Associated Press
Simeon Varlamov was so good Monday night that he even got sucker-punched by one of the best antagonists in the game and barely blinked – all the while stretching his playoff shutout streak to five periods against the Rangers. He is another one of the young twenty somethings, joining Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green, who are going to keep the Caps around for years.
Boudreau had one of the toughest decisions of his brief NHL coaching career, having to decide between Varlamov and veteran starter Jose Theodore. Theodore played awfully in game one. Had Varlamov started, the Caps probably would have won, but that argument was for last week. Now, all Caps fans should be delighted. The biggest question mark this franchise has been facing moving forward into the “Ovie Era” is the goaltending situation. Cristobal Huet played magnificently last season down the stretch. This year Theodore was serviceable, even very good at times, but began to wear down as the season went on.
The biggest reason I loved the switch to Varlamov was for one simple reason: the Capitals chances of winning Lord Stanley’s Cup with Theodore in net were slim to be generous. He is eight years removed from his prime. The fans, coaches, players, scouts, GMs – everyone knew the Caps’ chances rested with how well Theo performed. Well, he didn’t and Boudreau wasted no time realizing which player can lead them to the Cup one day. If not this season, at least Varlamov has some NHL playoff experience under his belt. In the playoffs, its all about goaltending. I’m not going to look it up, but find me a champion who had a weak goaltender. It is like winning the Super Bowl with 25th ranked run defense, it just doesn’t happen.
Now with the goaltender in place, Caps fans can really start to dream about a championship. I know its only one win, but it was as uplifting a victory as I can remember. Now the talented kids can stop worrying about their goalie and go put the puck in the net.