Simeon Varlamov will make his NHL debut tonight and start for the Caps against Montreal here at Bell Centre.
UPDATE: Varlamov joined the team in Washington last night, and the team isn’t waiting long to throw him in the fire. He was a first-round pick in 2006, and was 10-3-0 for the Hershey Bears so far this season.
Bruce Boudreau on the 20-year-old Varlamov’s reaction to the news:
“Good,” Boudreau said. “He said, ‘Good.’ You don’t always get a lot of emotion out of some of the Russian guys that aren’t Alex Ovechkin.”
Varlamov’s English is spotty — he didn’t want to do an interview without a translator last night after the game — but it is probably a little better than he lets on.
“He has been communicating with the guys in Hershey just fine,” Boudreau said.
The lineup will remain the same otherwise. Sean Collins is here with the team, but only as a precaution in case any of the defensemen couldn’t play tonight.
As for the Canadiens, they have plenty of injury problems as well. Carey Price hasn’t played all week. Marc Denis has been recalled and he will back up Jaroslav Halak, who will start opposite Varlamov. Orginially the team said he was out with the flu, but a lower body injury has been added to his list of ailments. The Canadiens are also missing captain Saku Koivu, forward Christopher Higgins, puglaist Georges Laraque and defenseman Mike Komisarek.
Here were the lines from Montreal’s morning skate:
Finally, Alex Kovalev will be wearing the ‘C’ toinght for the Canadiens. He hasn’t scored a goal in 18 games and has only five this season. Robert Lang on Kovalev’s struggles:
“I’m sure he’s frustrated,” Lang said. “At least he’s still putting up points [12 assists in this span] and getting on the board almost every night. His goals will come.”
Lang played nearly two full seasons with the Caps before being traded to Detroit during the Fire Sale of 2004 in what could be remembered as one of the best deals in team history. The Caps got Tomas Fleischmann and a first-round pick back in that deal. That pick turned out to be some defenseman from a bad team in the WHL named Mike Green.
UPDATE: Just caught up with Varlamov as he was getting undressed after the optional morning skate. His feelings right now — “Good. Very excited.”
This is the second time playing in Montreal for Alexandre Giroux. The Quebec City native was able to play here during his 10-game stint with the Caps in 2005-06. He said he will have 10-15 friends and family members here in the building. Some will be coming from Quebec City, a couple are from here in Montreal and a couple are coming from Ottawa.