Amid the early season inconsistencies that the Capitals have encountered so far, there has been one constant (well, other than you-know-who): the play of goaltender Jose Theodore, who says he's feeling better and seeing the puck better than at any other point since the lockout.
Talk, of course, is one thing. But how does his production in this young season compare to other post-lockout hot streaks?
To find the answer we went back through Theodore's game logs for the last four seasons, looking to see how the netminder had performed when he was 'locked in'. The criteria were pretty simple, and designed to replicate the 2009-10 season: seven consecutive starts were considered (we threw out his relief appearance because, really, that's completely different ballgame). Theo's best seven-start stretches of the past four-plus seasons:
|1/15/08 - 2/6/08
|10/1/09 - 10/27/09
|3/6/08 - 3/20/08||COL||396||3||4||0||2.12||181||167||.923||1|
|11/11/06 - 12/2/06||COL||381||2||4||0||2.36||193||178||.922||0|
|2/18/08 - 3/4/08
|1/17/09 - 2/05/09||WSH||421||4||2||1||2.42||212||195||.920||0|
|3/5/09 - 3/17/09||WSH||402||4||2||1||2.24||185||170||.919||0|
As you can see, the numbers stack up quite well with other seven game stretches (and on a side note, 1.64/.942? Wow.) So far Theo certainly looks like he's putting his money where his mouth is.
It'd be easy to look at the numbers, turn on our inner cynic, and dismiss Theodore's 2009-10 performance as just another one of his trademark hot streaks which, to be fair, it very well may be. But the fact that Theo came out of camp looking good and sounding determined, that this seven game stretch encapsulates all his starts this season rather than just his best stretch, that he's had only one game with a sub-.900 save percentage and no real stinkers hint that maybe his hot start is, well, more than just a hot start.
Realistically Theodore's never again going to be the guy who posted a .931 save percentage and won the 2002 Hart Trophy. But he has the skill to be one of the league's better starting goaltenders and, although this season is still very young, it looks it might be one where Theo lives up to his potential.