Caps goalie? Varlamov seems ready

Updated: April 19, 2010, 6:42 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MONTREAL -- Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said it would be obvious who his starting netminder would be for tonight's Game 3 in Montreal -- and all signs point to Semyon Varlamov in goal.

Varlamov
Varlamov

In his media availability, the coach didn't literally say whether it would be Varlamov or Jose Theodore. Usually the starting goalie leaves the morning skate first, while the backup stays on the ice to take additional shots. On Monday morning at the Bell Centre, Varlamov was off the ice first, while Theodore stayed on.

The Capitals and Montreal Canadiens are tied at 1 in their best-of-seven series.

The Associated Press reported that Boudreau said the choice of the goaltender was made by the coaching staff and general manager George McPhee. He did not offer reasons for the move.

In Saturday's 6-5 overtime win over the Canadiens, Boudreau pulled Theodore just 7:58 into the game after he allowed the first two Montreal shots to go in. Varlamov relieved Theodore, and after the Capitals fell behind 4-1 in the second period, they rallied to tie the game before Nicklas Backstrom won it 31 seconds into overtime.

Boudreau had selected Theodore to be his playoff goalie, but after an overtime loss in Thursday's Game 1 and two quick goals Saturday, he was replaced.

Theodore ended the regular season on a club-record 23-game streak without a regulation loss (20-0-3), but Boudreau has been known to change goalies. A year ago, he benched former league MVP Theodore after just one game in the playoffs and replaced him with playoff neophyte Varlamov, who anchored the Capitals until a Game 7 loss in the second round.

Neither Washington goalie speaks to the media on game day, so Varlamov was unavailable for questions. But captain Alex Ovechkin expressed confidence the young goalie would replicate his playoff successes of last season.

''Last year, he stepped up for us and he won the series against the Rangers and he has experience. He knows how to play in playoffs, so it's good," Ovechkin said. "Last year, he stepped up for us, and even this year, he's again trying to do something."

So, what went into the thought process for the Washington coach?

"I don't know. Well, I know," Boudreau said. "Eventually I will share it. I think last year when I shared it, it was at the end of the playoffs not during."

Information from ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and The Associated Press is included in this report.