Both teams are entering today’s game fairly healthy. Milan Jurcina is
out for the Capitals after undergoing hernia surgery and Adam Burish
and Brent Sopel are most likely out as well.
Here’s where it gets
interesting: the goaltending matchups. Both teams are facing some
goaltending issues — the Blackhawks much more so than the Capitals —
and who they have in net today will be a great test of who they hope to
be riding once the playoffs begin.
Chicago, after Cristobal Huet’s
breakdown last week against Detroit, will start Antti Niemi in goal.
It’s really the only option they have left at this point, as they
certainly can’t turn back to Huet if Niemi fares no better can they? The
Blackhawks have maintained that both goaltenders will get a shot down
the stretch to earn the starter’s spot in the playoffs, but you just
know that we’re most likely going to see both at some point in the
postseason. Today’s game against the Capitals will certainly be the
In net for the Capitals will be Semyon
Varlamov, who may not be under the same pressure as the Chicago
netminders but certainly has some doubters of his own to quiet. The
Washington defense is not at the same level as the Blackhawks’ and
Varlamov will be under fire for much of this game. Can he out-duel Niemi
on the other end of the ice?
[Update:] It’s Jose Theodore in net for the Caps. So ignore what I said above.
I will say this: if this game turns
into a goaltending battle with both netminders standing on their heads,
then I’ll turn to the sky and start looking for the Horsemen. If there
is one thing this game will not be, is low scoring.