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Boudreau’s Instincts Were Right – Caps Win Game 3, 5-1

By Rodger M. WoodUpdated: Coach Boudreau’s last minute decision to start goalie Semyon Varlamov in the nets, Boyd Gordon on the fourth line and penalty kill, and change the second line to Erich Belanger, Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleishmann at hostile Montreal Bell Center for Game 3 of the playoffs paid huge dividends tonight.

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Varlamov stood on his head in the first period stopping several point blank shots, keeping the Caps in and taking 22,000+ rabid Montreal fans out of the game. He had a 26-shot shutout until the Canadiens power play tally late in the third period.Boudreau decision to put 2nd game healthy scratch Boyd Gordon on the penalty kill and fourth line also paid dividends when Gordon opened up the scoring early in the second period with a short handed goal to put the Caps ahead 1-0.

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In rapid succession after Gordon’s goal, Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr and Alex O scored, making the score 4-0 at the end of the second period.Matt Bradley finished off the Caps scoring in the third period to give the a Caps a 5-1 win and a 2-1 game advantage going into Game 4 at the Bell Center Wednesday night.First star Game 3, Coach Boudreau, second star, Semyon Varlamov, and third star Boyd Gordon with honorable mention to Eric Fehr and Brooks Laich.

Do The Caps Have A Goalie Controversy?

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By ThomJust eight minutes into game, the Capitals found themselves dominating the Canadians, but strangely with a two goal deficit on two Habs shots. Both shots went glove side with nary a reaction from Caps goalie Jose Theodore. Fraught with the risk of losing the teams motivation and confidence, coach Boudreau made the change and in went Semyon Varlamov in a delayed repeat of last season’s first round against the New York Rangers. The move last year sparked the Caps and allowed a hard fought series win, but will Boudreau mirror last year’s change and keep Varly in the crease for the duration of the playoffs or was yesterday’s move only temporary? Are this years circumstances different?

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Clearly, something was afoul for Jose Theodore in last nights first eight minutes. In game one, he appeared to be right on with fluid saves and a resilience or groove that had thrilled the Capitals fans throughout the regular season. That is up until the overtime game winner by Tomas Plekanec. Last nights game made it three goals in the last three shots against Theo and arguably three that could have been stoppers. Was it nerves? Who knows, but Theo’s season may give him a pass for last night and see him in the nets again tomorrow night. Varley was good last night, but still hasn’t blossomed into last seasons playoff form. What do you think? A goalie controversy or a temporary setback for Theo?Bookmark and ShareCreative Commons images by are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

This Time Caps Win in Overtime 6-5!

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By Rodger M. WoodThe Caps suddenly start playing their kind of hockey after the Canadiens went ahead 4-1 in the third period of Game 2 of the playoffs.They started passing the puck and skating up middle ice, played hyper aggressively in the offensive zone, and put heat on and wore down the elder Habs defensive crew of Hamrlik, Bergeron, Gill, and Spacek.In rapid succession, Backstrom, Ovechkin, and Backstrom again beats Montreal goaltender, Jaroslav Halak on high shot goals to tie the game up 4-4.After the Canadiens went ahead 5- 4 late in the 3rd period, the Caps didn’t let up. 20 – year old Caps defensemen John Carlson scored the equalizer with less than 3 minutes to go in regulation and at 31 seconds of sudden death overtime, Niklaus Backstrom won the game with a hat trick goal, 6-5.Hey Montreal soothsayers! Do you still think you should bring your blooms to the 4th game Wednesday because you’re not going to sweep our young Caps in 4 games like you predicted. And I always thought Montreal writers and fans were the expert hockey folks, but now I am having second thoughts. See ya Monday in Montreal!Bookmark and Share

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Caps Lose Game 1 in Overtime 3-2

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By Rodger M. WoodThe Caps ran into the worst of all possible playoff scenarios tonight against the Montreal Canadiens in Game #1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.They faced a hot goalie, Jaroslav Halak who stopped over 50 shots, a couple big tough veteran defensemen, Hal Gill and Roman Hamrlik, who held their top goal scorer, Alex O, to no shots on net, and a forward, Tomas Plekanic, who feasted on them all season and scored the cheap winning goal from near the blue line to win the game in overtime.Caps defenseman Joe Corvo tied the game up 1-1 in the first period, Niklaus Backstrom put the Caps ahead in the third period, only to have savvy vet forward Scott Gomez score the tying goal to force the game to overtime.The game script wasn’t supposed to end this way, but until the Caps forwards figure out how to shoot high on Halak, play better offense between the blue lines, and get faster breakouts from their end, the result will be the same.But the Caps have rebounded from bad games all season so let hope they do it again.Bookmark and Share

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Don’t Take The Montreal Canadiens Lightly! (or Better Yet, Don’t Count Your Chickens Until They Hatch)

By Rodger Wood

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I don’t want to jinx our Capitals but they’re heavy favorites going into their first preliminary Stanley Cup playoff series against the eight seeded Montreal Canadiens tomorrow at the Verizon Center.Why not? They won the President’s Trophy with the best overall record in the NHL this season, finishing 33 points ahead of the Canadiens in the final standings.They scored 103 more goals than the Canadiens and lost only 15 games in regulation during the regular season.The Caps had an awesome offense and balanced scoring getting 20-goals from 8 different forwards and a good share more from their defense too.During the regular season series, the Caps beat the Canadiens twice, lost a game in regulation and won one in overtime.

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But anything can happen in the Stanley Cups Playoffs. There is always an upset in the first series. Montreal is a hellacious place to try to win a hockey game and the home team has the 2nd best power play (next to Washington) in the league.The Caps cannot take any stupid penalties, need strong goaltending from Jose Theodore and/or Semyon Varlamov, and need to come out of the gate the first period on the run. They must finish their checks and Alex O. must continue to play the game with abandon.While the Washington Post, and USA Today and other hockey soothsayers predict a Capitals series win in 5 or 6 games, I think you have to take one game at a time and think about the next series, only after you have won four games.As an old hockey philosopher once said, “You don’t pack the equipment bag before the game is over and you don’t start celebrating until the buzzer rings and your team is ahead. And as his contemporary, the old farmer said, “You don’t count your chickens until they hatch!Bookmark and Share

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