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Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 01/15/2010

Theodore to start, Semin might be sidelined

Coach Bruce Boudreau said he plans to tap Jose Theodore to start tonight against the Maple Leafs as a reward for the veteran's impressive performance in relief of Michal Neuvirth on Wednesday night.

The rest of the Caps' lineup, though, is unclear because of Alexander Semin's undisclosed injury. If the winger is indeed sidelined, that will force Coach Bruce Boudreau to scramble his lines.

The 'D' pairings, however, will be the same as they were in the second and third period of Wednesday's come-from-behind win in Sunrise, Fla. Boudreau broke up the Mike Green-Shaone Morrisonn tandem in that game after the first period, which saw the Caps' top pair struggle for the second straight night and the team go down 2-0. (In Tuesday's 7-4 loss in Tampa, Green was on the ice for six goals and Morrison was on for all seven.)

So tonight, Green will be paired with the league's plus/minus leader, Jeff Schultz; Tyler Sloan will skate with Tom Poti; and Morrisonn will play with Brian Pothier.

"I liked it because they didn't scored on," Boudreau said when asked what he likes about the Green-Schultz pairing. "And Morrisonn and Green got scored on [for] eight of the previous nine goals. Obviously, there was something wrong in those two games. We'll probably go back to it because Mo has played with Greenie for two years and they've done quite well."

Some other notes and quotes to get you ready for tonight's tilt against the Leafs, who are in 28th place overall but are coming off a 4-0 win over Philly last night:

*The Caps' goaltending situation remains as murky as ever after Neuvirth was pulled in consecutive games. He'll watch from the bench at Verizon Center as Theodore makes his first start in five games and third in 12.

While that might signal a little turmoil to those on the outside, Boudreau said (again) that he's not worried.

"Everybody wants to look for a weakness with our club because we're good offensively," said Boudreau, whose team has won four of five. "So they pick on the goaltending and the defense. We'll go seven or eight games with two goals or less and then we'll give up a bad game like in Tampa or give up four like we did last game, then [everyone] is worried about our goaltending. I think our goaltending is pretty solid."

"Neuvirth is a young guy and he's going to learn," Boudreau said. "And Varly will be ready in a week to 10 days, and he was playing outstanding when he got hurt. So I think our goaltending is in good shape."

*The goaltending situation could become a lot more clear/stable when Semyon Varlamov returns from his groin/knee injuries. The 21-year-old, who skated on his own after practice, told me he thinks he needs two more days before returning rejoining the team for a full practice.

*Alex Ovechkin laughed off an article that suggested he would consider bolting the Caps for the KHL because he is upset with the escrow payments players are required to make under the current collective bargaining agreement.

"What?" he said. "Yeah, I'm leaving today. I have a private plane. I heard it for the first time [now].

"Yeah, I'm upset, but there's nothing I can do right now," he added. "Of course we don't want to lose our money for escrow."

Boudreau added: "Was it out of Canada or out of Toronto? I don't know. I've never heard that. Who knows what's going to happen? He has a [13] year deal."

*John Erskine will miss his third straight game with an "upper-body injury," according to the team, but he appears to be getting closer to returning after skating this morning. Boudreau said he expects Erskine to practice fully tomorrow.

"We'll see how he is, and if he's ready to, we'll play him Sunday," Boudreau said.

*Tonight starts a three game homestand and a stretch in which the Caps play seven of nine at Verizon Center. To this point, they've played the fewest home games (20) of any team in the Eastern Conference. In all, 21 of the remaining 36 are at home.

By  |  12:04 PM ET, 01/15/2010

Tags:  Alexander Semin, Jeff Schultz, Jose Theodore, Michal Neuvirth, Mike Green, Semyon Varlamov, Toronto Maple Leafs

 
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