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“A lot of people counted me out when the season started, for different reasons,” Theodore said. “It was a big challenge for me to have a solid season.”

But Varlamov spent much of the season injured, and Theodore showed down the stretch why the starting job should be his.

“He did it in the face of a lot of adversity this year,” Boudreau said. “I give him full credit for everything he’s done.”

The series will take Theodore back to Montreal, where he played parts of nine seasons and won the Hart and Vezina trophies in 2002. When he made a relief appearance there in February, he was serenaded derisively with chants of “Tay-Oh!”

In his only start as a visitor in Montreal, he allowed eight goals as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in 2006. He is 2-0 against the Canadiens in Washington since joining the Capitals, and he has never faced the Canadiens in the playoffs.

Theodore didn’t have much to say about facing his old team and the chanting fans, and Boudreau shrugged it off.

“We like the song,” Boudreau said. “They can sing it all they want because they’re always in unison. … As a player that never affected me. I don’t think it should affect him. He should be excited to play there.”

Notes: Washington C Nicklas Backstrom missed practice with an illness. Boudreau said Backstrom is questionable for Thursday. … Montreal’s goaltender will be an unfamiliar face: Carey Price was in goal for all four Canadiens-Capitals game this season, instead of top goalie Jaroslav Halak. “It’s different,” Boudreau said, “but we’re still going to shoot the puck.”