Capitals hope to even series vs. Rangers

NY Rangers at Washington, Eastern Conference quarterfinal, Game Two, 1:00 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bruce Boudreau implied, hinted and insinuated
that Jose Theodore will be in goal Saturday afternoon when the
Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers in Game 2 of their
first-round playoff series.

The only thing the coach didn’t do is say it outright.

“You’ll see it in the warmup,” Boudreau said. “But look at me.
It’s not a big surprise. Theo’s our No. 1 goalie.”

So it’s safe to assume Theodore is playing, right?

“It’s never safe,” Boudreau replied, “to assume anything.”

Boudreau hadn’t informed either goalie of his decision as of
Friday’s practice, saying he’ll do when he feels it’s
appropriate. Theodore interpreted the no news as good news.

“He didn’t say anything,” the 2002 league MVP said, “but I’m
assuming I’m in.”

It would be a stunner for Boudreau to pull Theodore after one
narrow postseason loss. The 32-year-old goalie did not have the
best of games Wednesday night when the Rangers won 4-3, but he
played over the second half of the season as Washington secured
the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

Besides, with Brent Johnson out with a hip injury, the
alternative is 20-year-old rookie Simeon Varlamov, who made his
NHL debut Dec. 13 and has played in only six games.

Still, the Capitals need a better game from Theodore than they
got in Game 1, when he allowed four goals in 21 shots. The
Southeast Division champs, who consider themselves serious
contenders for the Stanley Cup, would be in a big hole if they
have to go to New York down 0-2.

Boudreau inadvertently gave more fodder to the Theodore-bashers
Friday when asked about the play of his defensemen.

“We allowed 21 shots, eight scoring chances, no seconds shots,”
the coach said. “That’s about as good as a team can do in the
NHL. I thought we played as good as we can play, and we didn’t
come up with it.”

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Translation: The Capitals defense absorbed most of the Rangers’
attack before it ever reached the goalie.

Boudreau was unquestionably on message when discussing another
developing saga from Game 1: the gamesmanship between the two
coaches over the officiating.

Rangers coach John Tortorella got it started Thursday when asked
about a hit left wing Fredrik Sjostrom took from Capitals
defenseman Mike Green. Tortorella answered by referring to the
holding penalty that sent defenseman Dan Girardi to the box in
the game’s first minute.

“You’ve got the Dan Girardi penalty at the beginning of the
game, and was that a non-call? I believe it was,” Tortorella
said. “I just don’t get it sometimes.”

On Friday, Boudreau responded by saying he felt the Rangers got
off lightly.

“I thought if everything was done properly, they should have had
12 or 13 penalties instead of the seven they had,” Boudreau
said. “In my humble opinion, the Mike Green thing was a penalty.
They scored their second goal when they slashed (Shaone)
Morrisonn’s stick and broke it. It’s tough for referees to get
them all, but I definitely think they got the benefit of it.”

A couple of hours later, after the Rangers’ practice, it was
Tortorella’s turn. Asked about the Capitals’ dominance in the
face-off circles — Washington won an astonishing 70 percent (46
of 66) of the draws in Game 1 — the coach said he noticed a few
no-nos in his review of the tape.

“I just want to make sure the faceoffs are legal,” Tortorella
said. “The tying up and kicking can’t be done until the puck
hits the ice.”