The Washington Capitals, down 1-0 to the New York Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, may be making some lineup changes for Game Two, Saturday at 1:00 p.m. If you don't have tickets, the game will be broadcast on NBC as the national game.


Caps coach Bruce Boudreau is playing it close to the vest whether he will stick with veteran Jose Theodore, who by his own admission played poorly in the 4-3 Game One loss, or go to talented but largely untested rookie Simeon Varlamov.

In response to the question, Boudreau was coy yesterday, saying he had already made up his mind, but, "You guys [reporters] won't find out," Boudreau said. "You guys are asking, and I'm not divulging anything."

Boudreau went on to say that he has confidence in the rookie backup, should he find the need to go in that direction. "He has played in the [KHL] and he's played in the world championships in front of big crowds. So it's not like he's going to be a star-struck young guy if we went with that decision."

Theodore offered an honest assessment of his game, "For playoff hockey, obviously, [I was] not good enough," Theodore said. "They only had a couple of shots in the first, and after that, I tried to find a rhythm. I'm not happy with my game. I wasn't good enough."

"I've been around long enough that there's really no excuse," he continued. "When you're out there, you have to be ready to make a couple of key saves and key moments, and [Wednesday], that just wasn't the case."


It was revealed Wednesday before Game one that captain Chris Clark, forward Boyd Gordon and enforcer Donald Brashear were cleared to play by the medical staff. Gordon played while Brashear skated during warmups but watched the game from the press box. Clark and defenseman Brian Pothier were scratched.

Clark was practiced in full gear Friday, so he is ready to play.

These veteran options give Boudreau something else to think about as he makes out his lineup for Saturday's pivotal game.

Boudreau said, "I'll sit down with the coaches and consider everybody and see what would be the best fit. Chris Clark is always in that [discussion]. Even though I thought our forwards were pretty good. It's hard to sit and look and say, 'Which forward would you take out to make our team better right now?' I don't know."

As for his defensive corps, he may not have an option. Jeff Schultz did not practice Thursday or Friday, and there are reports that he is hurt. If Schultz can't go, Pothier would be the likely choice to replace him. But would Karl Alzner be a possibility? Hershey just started their playoffs as well, and while that would be a big hit to their Calder Cup hopes, the needs of the big club come first.


If Schultz is injured, it puts to rest questions about him being benched for his play, especially on the game-winning goal from Game One. Brandon Dubinsky, who scored all of 13 goals in the regular season, turned the big defenseman inside out, with Schultz crashing to the ice, arms and legs flailing.

For his part, Dubinsky was gracious, maybe in a back-handed manner though, about the play.

"I got the puck, and I was gonna go wide there," Dubinsky said. "And I just kind of saw [Schultz] cutting over, so I tried to put it between his legs. It's one of those plays where it doesn't happen very often. And fortunately enough for me, I got pretty lucky and found a way to get through, and found a way to score."

Why lucky?

"Because defensemen in this league are too good," Dubinsky said. "They don't get beat one-on-one, I mean, ever. So in order for them to get beat one-on-one, you've got to generally get a little bit of luck with the move you decide to make."


Despite falling in Game One, the Caps aren't running around with their tails between their legs. Alex Ovechkin was confident, but not cavalier, in his assessment of trailing 1-0 in the series, "What can I say? It's the playoffs. It's seven games. You can't concentrate on one game. It's seven games. It's one week. It's OK. It happens. We can't win all of our games right away."

Boudreau was equally as confident, "It's a loss in the loss column, but with seven minutes to go, it was a tied game," Boudreau said. "It's not like it was a 5-1 game and we were outclassed and we weren't ready. We were ready and we did a lot of good things. And we want to build on those things."

One of the good things the Caps did was to win 46 of the 66 faceoffs (70%) in the game, including Nicklas Backstrom going 13-for-18. Also, the Caps drew seven penalties, capitalizing on two of the resulting power plays. And they out-shot the Rangers 35-21, so overall the defense was fairly economical in the number of shots Theodore had to face.


The Rangers' Chris Drury was scratched, but he's been back at practice and could possibly give New York another lift in spirits, as if a Game One victory wasn't enough.

Also, the Sean Avery watch continues. The pesky winger insinuated himself into several plays, including New York's first goal where it appeared he interfered with defenseman Mike Green as Scott Gomez skated around the pair en route to the net. Avery also poked at Theodore toward the end of the game, a situation that drew the attention of rugged defender John Erskine.

The Rangers, owners of the league's next-to-last power play, were 2-of-4 with the man advantage in Game One. Washington's penalty kill got better as the season went along, but still finished only 17th in the league. For as much attention as the Caps power play (second in the league) and New York's penalty kill (ranked first) have received, maybe it's the other way around that should be meriting discussion.