Saturday, November 15, 2008

Riding The Hot Hand

What has been clear in the new regime (Bruce Boudreau celebrates his first full year has head coach this month) for the Washington Capitals is that they are not afraid to use one goaltender over the other to get wins. While that makes it hard for analysts and media to figure out just who is the number one goaltender for the Capitals, it may make for a better Capital team.

Brent Johnson lately has been the hot hand. Playing incredibly smooth and calm in the crease, his numbers have jumped to an impressive 5-1-2 with a .931 save percentage. The month of November has been good to Johnny, who has been credited with the win in four straight games and only allowing two goals in every game he has played this month. Add a third star performance to that resume and Johnson looks like the Caps number one.

But a slight hip injury opened the door for Jose Theodore, who has been sitting on his rump for the previous four and a half games before coming in relief for the injured Johnson in Carolina. Since then, in 5 periods of play, Theo has only allowed one goal in 46 shots (if you were wondering that is a .978 save percentage). His last game versus the Devils, Theo played spectacular, easily his best game as a Cap.

While it's nice for the Caps, who now seem able to put either goaltender up and get good performances, some may see it more of a weakness than a strength when it comes to the job in the crease. The Capitals will have to endure that kind of questioning all year, if they were losing that is.

But the Caps are win streak. That makes a huge difference. If they were losing and grasping for the hot goaltender, it may be more of a hindrance rather than confidence that putting either goaltender in the net. The way both goaltenders are taking advantage of the starts bodes well for the Caps... for now.

For tonight's game in New Jersey, I would assume Brent Johnson is back in the net. But with the way Theo has played the last couple of games, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jose Theodore in the net either.

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