Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov takes a break during a Sept. 9 practice. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
After spending more than hour on the ice at KCI,
goatlender (thanks to our sharp commenters for the amusing typo catch) goaltender Semyon Varlamov said he "feels great" and that he's getting closer to coming back. Coach Bruce Boudreau has definitely noticed how eager Varlamov is to get back in the mix after missing the past seven games with the latest flareup of a groin injury, but wouldn't specify where the goaltender could see action this weekend.
"If I was Varly I'd be ready to go after seeing the other two goalies, too," Boudreau said. "He's working hard and hopefully he'll get into a game this weekend somewhere. He's eager to go, just the fact that he's taking shots and staying out long after practice means he's getting closer to a return I don't know if he's 100 percent healthy yet."
When asked if he meant Varlamov might play in Hershey, Boudreau said: "I don't know what I mean....Might be a scrimmage that we have, but he's going to be in game situations, at least."
For what its worth, Hershey plays at home on Friday and Sunday against the Toronto Marlies and Binghamton Senators respectively, and travels to Syracuse to face the Crunch on Saturday.
--Boudreau said Tom Poti (groin) and Brooks Laich (upper body) are expected to make the trip to New York. Poti took part in all of practice this morning while Laich did not, and holding the latter off the ice whether in games or practice is not an easy task for the Capitals.
"Believe me, it's something you don't want to do every day," Boudreau said of keeping Laich off the ice. "He wants to play, and give him credit; he'll play on broken bones, as he's done in the past. He's not an easy guy to sit out."
--Michal Neuvirth told CSN's Corey Masisak he's starting against the Rangers Tuesday.
--The Capitals have trended upward in close games this season. They're now 5-0 in overtime and 6-1 in one-goal games, and gaining experience that doesn't do much to lower stress levels but can help the team prepare playoff-style games, Boudreau said.
"We don't want to win every game by one goal, but it's great practice," Boudreau said. "If you're lucky enough to make the playoffs, one-goal games and how you play in them is a real important factor, because in the playoffs every game is so close. Believe me, as coaches you'd like to have a 4-0 win every now and again, but when you're playing these one-goal games and you're having success, it means the players are buying in to what you have to do all the time. Hopefully, it continues."