Here's a quick update from Post reporter Gene Wang, who got Coach Bruce Boudreau on the phone for a bit today to chat about the goalie situation and tomorrow's game against the Leafs:
The Capitals are coming off consecutive road games in which their goaltending was spotty. In Tuesday night's 7-4 loss to Tampa Bay, Michal Neuvirth started in net and was pulled after a first period in which he surrendered four goals on 15 shots. José Theodore came in to start the second period and yielded three goals on 21 shots. Then last night in a 5-4 shootout victory over Florida, Neuvirth started but got pulled again after giving up four goals on 15 shots.
"He had a bump in the road," Boudreau said of Neuvirth, 21. "Young guys have bumps in the road. It's just more noticeable if you're a goalie."
Boudreau said he pulled Neuvirth against Tampa Bay not because he felt he had played especially poorly but rather "to give the team a lift."
"So am I worried about the goaltending? No," Boudreau added.
The Capitals, meantime, continue to await the return of top goalie Semyon Varlamov (12-1-2, 2.21 goals against average) who is "day to day," according to Boudreau, after spraining his right knee during a rehabilitation start in Hershey on Dec. 3.
"Every day it's getting better," Boudreau said.
The Capitals got a key goal from Jason Chimera (plus an assist and a fight to complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick) in Wednesday's comeback win against the Panthers. With the Panthers up 2-0, Chimera scored unassisted 18 seconds into the second period. It was his second goal since joining the Capitals in a Dec. 28 trade from Columbus.
Alex Ovechkin also scored a clutch goal, this time 27 seconds into the third period, to cut the Panthers' lead to 4-3. Ovechkin had missed all three previous games this season against Florida, twice because of injury and once because of suspension.
The Maple Leafs have lost four straight games, including a 4-2 defeat against Carolina on Tuesday, but Boudreau said he was mystified as to the reasons.
"I don't know how they keep losing," he said. "They play very hard. They lead the league in shots on goal. They just haven't had success recently. I just hope they don't have success on Friday."
Update from Tarik: Caps senior VP Tim McDermott, who was at the helm of the team's marketing department as it became one of the hottest tickets in town, is leaving for the Eagles, where he'll be reunited with brother Sean, the team's defensive coordinator.