- The Washington Times - Friday, November 20, 2009

Jose Theodore practiced with the Washington Capitals for the second straight day Thursday, but when he will return to game action remains to be determined.

Theodore left the team after Monday’s practice in Newark, N.J., and did not dress for Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers because of a personal matter in Arlington. General manager George McPhee said Wednesday that Theodore might miss this weekend’s games, but no further timeline was revealed a day later.

“Something personal happened that I had to attend to in D.C., so I came back here,” Theodore said. “From there, I am just trying to get the focus back and working hard.”

Theodore’s infant son died this summer from complications dating to his premature birth. The game Tuesday was the first he missed this season that wasn’t related to injury.

“Everybody knows what has been going on,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Sometimes you go through a rough break mentally. He wants to play so well and work so hard for the team. But sometimes everything adds up and we say, ‘Take a step back for a couple of days. We still think you’re a great goaltender. Physically, you’re doing everything right, but sometimes it is a drain mentally.’ We want him to basically take a couple of days back and get ready to start again.”

Theodore began this season with some of his best goaltending since he won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 2002. After stopping 41 of 43 shots in a 4-2 win Oct. 27 over the Philadelphia Flyers, Theodore sported a .922 save percentage and had a firm grasp on the No. 1 job.

Since then, Theodore has allowed at least three goals in five of six appearances - including eight goals on the past 28 shots he has faced.

Semyon Varlamov, meanwhile, has strung together three strong performances.

“I was back yesterday, back today working on getting the focus back to where it was like the first 10 games of the season,” Theodore said. “Obviously, my last couple of games I have not been happy, so I am just back working hard and trying to get that focus back.

“I think it is more about just getting back on top of the details. I don’t think it is anything technical - I think it is about being focused for 60 minutes and making the key saves at the key times. Those are the things that I am not doing the past couple games.”

Michal Neuvirth was recalled from Hershey and backed up Varlamov against the Rangers. Neuvirth also was at practice Thursday, and McPhee said he might play in one of the team’s back-to-back games this weekend.

Boudreau said he expects Theodore to accompany the team to Toronto and Ottawa but didn’t say when he might be in net again.

“I just expect that I have a 10 a.m. practice tomorrow, and I am going to come here and be back with the team and practicing hard,” Theodore said.

• Corey Masisak can be reached at cmasisak@washingtontimes.com.

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