Simeon Varlamov is really starting to freak me out.
Coming in to the league at twenty years old and playing lights out in your first few starts is impressive, but not unheard of. If you're talking about rookies, even goalies, who come to forefront and play prominent roles in their team's postseason without a ton of NHL experience under their belt, you're talking about fewer players, but there is some precedent. But to be barely twenty-one years old and facing your team's biggest historic rival, and to recover from a soft goal that ties the game to stand on your head and be the single biggest reason your team wound up victorious....that's something that just doesn't seem right. Something that just doesn't seem humanly possible - although you can say the same of his highlight reel save on Sidney Crosby, a stop that might be the best I've ever seen.
Still, we're not quite completely sold on Varlamov yet. Why? It's hard to say. It could be that it simply seems too good to be true. It could be that to get our hopes up too high only to have them dashed by our perceived savior's struggle against our team's biggest rival would be almost too much to bear. It could be that even the guys who have done the seemingly impossible and whom Varlamov now seeks to emulate - Cam Ward and Ken Dryden - struggled at points while leading their respective teams to postseason success. No matter why exactly, we're still sticking with the position that it would be a mistake to assume young Mr. Varlamov is clearly the final missing piece that's going to one day take the Capitals to Stanley Cup glory. But it's getting awfully hard to say it and mean it.
- Whether it's nerves, over-excitement, confusion over the game plan, some combination of those factors, or something else altogether, the Capitals have got to figure out a way to start their games with more jump.
- The Capitals have struggled to find chemistry and production out of their third and fourth lines for much of the season, but Bruce Boudreau seems to have captured something special with the Laich-Steckel-Bradley and Clark-Gordon-Fehr combinations.
- Speaking of David Steckel - we're not the only ones who think he might be ready to break out and become a 15-20 goals scorer next season, right?
- Tomas Fleischmann's decision to let several seconds bleed off a potential five-on-three by not touching the puck was, well, not good.
- As well as he played against the Rangers in the first round, it's hard not to be concerned about John Erskine's weakness when it comes to skating ability moving forward in this series. To his credit, though, Erskine did have eight hits.
Mike GreenAlex Semin's slap pass to Alex Ovechkin on the five-on-three goal: a thing of beauty.
- The Capitals had ten giveaways in the first period, including six in the game's first eight and a half minutes. They also had 22 for the game, and 15 by defensemen. Not good.
- Nicklas Backstrom went all November-style on the Capitals, winning only four of 15 draws.
- Mark Eaton now has three goals in the 2009 playoffs, which is one fewer than he's had in his last 143 regular season games - a span of more than three full seasons.
Win one game. Do it
four three times.