Jose Theodore will be between the pipes tonight against the Red Wings, and by making his third straight start, the veteran appears to have regained the No. 1 role in Semyon Varlamov's absence.
"He was relegated to the backup role because the kids were playing so good, [but] now it's his turn," Boudreau said of Theodore, who has posted three straight wins with a 1.55 goals against average and .948 save percentage in that span. "You go through peaks and valleys in a season. He was going through a valley at the time and the other guys were playing great. Now he's playing pretty good."
Varlamov, meantime, did not skate for the second straight day while recovering from knee and groin injuries. And for the second straight day, Boudreau insisted that Varlamov has not suffered a setback.
"He skated for the last seven or eight days and we wanted to give him two days to make sure the leg is totally fine," Boudreau said. "Yesterday he worked really hard off the ice, so we wanted everything off today. I'm under the assumption, at this stage, that he'll be on the ice tomorrow, not with the big team, but on the ice skating, making sure he's okay."
Boudreau said that if Varlamov "feels good" after two days of skating on his own, he could join the team after that. Asked for a realistic target date for Varlamov's return, Boudreau said: "January 1. But that target is already gone. I don't know."
Some other notes and quotes from the morning skate:
*Karl Alzner was recalled from Hershey and will indeed suit up tonight. Looks like he'll simply replace John Carlson on the right side of the third pairing with Shaone Morrisonn.
Although he was sent down earlier this month so that he would eligible to play in Hershey, Alzner's ice time was also on the decline before he was returned to Hershey.
"I'm looking at consistency, that's what I want out of him," Boudreau said. "It's not game to game -- there's some shifts he's fabulous and you say, 'Wow, what a great play.' Then all of a sudden there's a goal going in on him. We want to eliminate that and for him to do what he did in junior and the American league so successfully, [which is] be such a responsible player that we can count on him in all situations."
*The forward lines don't appear to have changed.
*Boudreau said he hopes John Erskine will return from what the team is calling an "upper-body injury" on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Erskine will miss his fifth straight game tonight.
*Brian Pothier, who has been sidelined the past two games, won't face the Wings and is starting to look doubtful for Thursday, too.
*When Boudreau was asked about the limited number of power-play chances his team has received in recent games (the Caps had one power play against Florida, one against Philadelphia and rank 18th in the league in total number of power-play opportunities), he responded, in part: "As for why we're not getting calls, I don't know. I see them but they're not getting called."
Boudreau then added: "It goes in cycles. At one point in the season we're getting four or five [power plays] a game and we're only giving up two or three a game. Now, we seem to be giving up four or five a game recently and only getting one or two a game. I mean, hopefully the cycle changes."
The Mike Green-led power play went 1 for 1 against Philly and leads the league at 25.1-percent. Green's 24 power play points lead the league.
But there's a good chance we won't see the unit much tonight. Detroit has taken the third fewest minor penalties in the league behind Nashville and New Jersey.