Sports Outside the Beltway

Stanley Cup playoffs begin- NY Rangers beat Washington 4-3

The Eastern Conference’s #7 pulled off the surprise of the night.

If goaltending wins in the playoffs, the New York Rangers’ Game 1 victory over the Washington Capitals might be worth more than an early series lead.

There was nothing but praise for Henrik Lundqvist’s performance following the Rangers’ 4-3 win Wednesday night. The New York goalie made 32 saves, and the three shots that got by him were hardly his fault.

Around the corner, in the home locker room at the Verizon Center, there was plenty of finger-pointing at Jose Theodore — by himself. And his coach didn’t exactly disagree. “There’s times when you sit there, you need the save, and he didn’t make the save when we needed it,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said.

“Just wasn’t good enough,” said Theodore, who stopped only 17 of 21 shots — and was unable to get his glove on Brandon Dubinsky’s winner with 8:17 remaining.

Theodore having a bad night should come as no surprise. Florida pummeled him 7-4 in the regular season finale. His play wasn’t very good during the rest of the regular season, as I noted in posts here, here, and here. Jose Theodore is not a championship quality goalie. I’m not the strongest of NHL experts but the Washington goalie situation is common knowledge to those who follow the sport.

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN writes-

There’s an extra off day before the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals resumes Saturday afternoon.

An extra day for Washington coach Bruce Boudreau to contemplate the biggest decision in his short NHL coaching career.

Jose Theodore or Simeon Varlamov?

A little early, perhaps, for that kind of drastic decision, and maybe some would see it as a sign of panic. But when you outshoot a team 35-21 and lose 4-3 to a New York team missing Chris Drury on four goals that should have been stopped, it’s the kind of decision you have to consider, even if 20-year-old Varlamov has all of 329 minutes of NHL experience under his belt.

“There’s a chance anything can happen,” Boudreau responded when we asked him about a change in goal for Saturday. “I said earlier: When you lose, you make changes. I’m not saying in goal [necessarily], but there’s a possibility of changes in a couple of positions.”

Boudreau has to sit down and think this through carefully. The stakes could not be any higher. If Theodore goes back in and delivers another stinker, the Caps could be down 2-0 headed into Madison Square Garden. Season over. But if rookie Varlamov isn’t ready for this kind of task, what’s your next move after that?

My answer- Make plans for the off season. Washington was dumb not to address their Goalie need before the trade deadline. I think they will come back and beat New York but they won’t advance past the next round.

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