Mystery rookie Simeon Varlamov makes a name for himself
The Washington Capitals signed a name free-agent goalie last summer, but will enter the second round of the 2009 playoffs on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins with the goalie that was named later.
With 2002 Hart Trophy-winner
The new pronunciation of the goalie's name, like the netminder himself, is a work in progress. Capitals coach
Sitting in his office in the Capitals practice arena, McPhee recounted a story to SI.com about Varlamov's performance at the NHL combine. The goalie had done the VO2 Max test, one of those conditioning torture drills that leave some teenagers wanting to faint or retch or both. When Varlamov finished, he was winded, naturally, but didn't look like he would need a cot or a bedpan. This was fortuitous because there was a calculation error on his test results. Unfazed, Varlamov hopped on the bike five minutes later and did the test again.
"He was drafted because we thought he was going to be a good one," McPhee said. "The question was when. The answer might be right now because he made it through the first round, but that's just one round. Then again, he might be even better than he was in the first round because he'll have more work."
Certainly. While Varlamov's 4-2 playoff record, 1.17 goals-against average and .952 save percentage were swell, they were compiled against the offensively humble Rangers. As Boudreau delicately noted, New York's firepower is not quite up there with a team that can throw out
The young Russian looks and plays a style that is startlingly similar to Pittsburgh's
"He reacts hard," said
Before he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1971, Montreal rookie goaltender
The past may not be prologue, but a Game 1 win over the explosive Penguins would help Varlamov continue to make a name for himself -- even if most of us need diacritical marks to pronounce it.