The Hockey News: Caps Will Turn to Simeon Varlamov for Playoff Run

Allen PopelsCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2009

Let the rumors begin.  Brian Duff recently published this gossip, which he heard while attending the All-Star festivities in Montreal last weekend:

"The most intriguing rumor around Montreal last weekend involved the Capitals and what their plan may be come playoff time. Various sources close to the team suggested Simeon Varlamov (16-5-0 with Hershey) will be recalled and assume the No. 1 role heading into the post-season."

First, let me start off by saying that I cannot stand when reporters put out rumors like this with so little to back it up, the main reason being that anybody can do it. 

What's to stop me from saying, "According to sources I've heard Ilya Kovalchuk really wants to play in Washington with his best friend Alex Ovechkin.  In fact he's willing to take a Marian Hossa-like deal when he becomes a free agent after the '09-'10 season in hopes of winning a cup with the Caps."

There you go, this is something I've heard from sources close to the Caps.  How close though?  Only I know.

If you're going to publish a statement like this, you have to at least back it up with a little more substance.  That's what makes this rumor from Duff so frustrating to read.

Jose Theodore has been outstanding over the last month, posting a 2.20 goals against average and a .918 save percentage.  Those solid numbers have allowed him to secure the No. 1 job that he was brought to Washington for when he signed a two-year, $9 million contract last summer.

Don't get me wrong, Simeon Varlamov is having a great season in his first year in North America.  He's put up All-Star caliber numbers in Hershey, going 16-5-0 with a 2.43 goals against average to go along with a .913 save percentage. 

Varlamov was also excellent in the two games in which he saw action with the Caps, winning both, including a sparkling debut in Montreal.  He's definitely shaping up to be Washington's goaltender of the future, but he's still young, adjusting to the rigors of the NHL/AHL schedule, and he could use the extra seasoning in the American Hockey League.

Plus, with Theodore playing so well right now, why would you even consider messing with a good thing?  He has a history of performing much better in the second half of the season and that's exactly what he is setting himself up to do again this year.

This Capitals team has a chance to do something very special in the postseason.  Now is not the time to jeopardize that by making a rash move.