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Numbers Game: Caps Get a New Goalie

Scott Cullen
7/11/2008 1:31:21 AM
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While the Washington Capitals lost out on keeping their goaltenders from the 2007-2008 season, the Caps addressed the issue quickly by picking up a former Vezina winner.

Numbers Game looks at the Capitals' decision to put their goaltending faith in Jose Theodore.

The Capitals Get: G Jose Theodore.

Theodore, 32, had struggled for two-and-a-half seasons before kicking his game back into gear when handed the Avalanche starter's role in January last season. 

Theodore's strong finish (21-13-2, 2.24 GAA, .919 SVPCT after January 1) does indicate he's capable of being a number one goaltender but, given his play since the lockout, there's plenty of risk involved with this signing.

If the Avalanche can get 55-60 games out of Theodore, at statistical levels near his career marks of a 2.65 goals against average and .909 save percentage, that's an upgrade on Olaf Kolzig's numbers over each of the last four seasons. 

However, it's impossible to predict Theodore producing at the level established by Cristobal Huet (1.63 GAA, .936 SVPCT in 13 games) in his short time with the Caps, so it's going to fall on Theodore's supporting cast to keep improving in order for the team to build on their 2008 playoff appearance. 

To that end, the Capitals do have a decent group of young defencemen who will at least provide adequate defensive play in front of him.

The Avalanche will go into next season with a goaltending tandem of Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft -- one of the least imposing tandems in the league -- so they will miss Theodore. 

At the same time, it's understandable that the Avs wouldn't like the idea of dropping two years and $9-million on a goalie who, through December 2007, looked like he didn't have the goods to play in the league, let alone start for a playoff contender.

So, full credit to the Capitals for sticking to their budget and letting Cristobal Huet go when his price was deemed to be too expensive, but there's a nagging suspicion that the Caps are putting too much faith in a goaltender whose play over the last three seasons -- not three months -- hasn't necessarily warranted that kind of confidence.

Scott Cullen can be reached at scullen@tsn.ca

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