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McPhee and his staff did their due diligence, learned all they could and discovered no major red flags. But mainly, Theodore was the best goalie available after negotiations broke down with Cristobal Huet, who helped lead the Caps’ memorable surge to the playoffs last year. Hours after Theodore agreed to a deal with the Capitals, Huet left for Chicago.

After a shaky start, Theodore has played to mostly positive reviews from Caps management. But some of the fans, less enthused, have mockingly called him “Jose Three-or-more” since early in the season.

He was pulled from his first game, a 7-4 loss to Atlanta in the season opener, and wound up sharing the job with Brent Johnson. When Theodore injured his hip in December, the Caps temporarily called up Simeon Varlamov, the Russian phenom and their goalie of the future. But when he returned, Theodore reclaimed the No. 1 job from Johnson, who remains a fan favorite.

Before Tuesday’s game against Edmonton, Theodore had allowed just 10 goals in six games. But against the Oilers, it took less than 44 minutes for him to yield four goals in a 5-2 loss. Afterward, coach Bruce Boudreau blasted the team’s effort, and he and McPhee said at least some of the goals were not Theodore’s fault. The next night in Pittsburgh, Theodore helped the Caps beat the Penguins 6-3. He has a 15-8-1 record and a 2.94 goals-against average.

“We didn’t know him, and he didn’t know us,” Boudreau said. “There’s a learning curve - me getting used to him and him getting used to me and the team. Sometimes we forget. We look at what we perceive to be a bad game and we blow that out of proportion and think that’s the way it’s been.”

Theodore said, “It obviously takes time to adjust. Sometimes you try to do too much. I remember the first game of the season I tried to do too much, and I put that extra pressure [on myself]. It takes a couple of games to feel comfortable and be yourself. And [Johnson] was playing well, and we were kind of splitting games, which is kind of tough to get a rhythm going. But it’s all good. It’s all part of the learning process.”

On Dec. 23, Boudreau pulled Theodore after he yielded three goals on five shots against the New York Rangers. But Johnson was fighting an injury, and Boudreau quickly put Theodore back in. The Caps won in overtime, and from that point Theodore improved.

“I think it had a profound effect,” Boudreau said.

“I had some solid games early on,” Theodore said. “But the Rangers game was definitely a turning point because being able to come back is good for your mental approach and confidence, to show everybody you’re tough enough mentally to forget about those three or four goals and make big saves when it’s a tie game in the third.”

His Montreal experience made a distinct impression on Theodore, a native of Laval, Quebec, a Montreal suburb. As a French Canadian, he was idolized when he played well. When things soured, the fans acted betrayed.

“I saw the two sides of playing in Montreal,” he said. “For most of my career, I think it was great. I had some great years there, obviously. The fans were really supportive. But when things are not going well, it’s the other way around. It’s tougher to kind of focus. There’s a lot of distractions around the game, and the last year I was there I had a really tough time because it seemed like everything was falling on my head.”

There is less pressure here, the critics more a source of motivation than a hindrance.

“People who didn’t believe in me, I like to show them wrong,” he said. “And after a while, they might change their opinion.”