To keep both his goalies somewhat happy, Bruce Boudreau has to sound undecided.
But he has to go with Semyon Varlamov in Game 3 against the Montreal Canadiens.
It's not that Jose Theodore was horrible in Game 2 even though the numbers - two goals on two shots in less than eight minutes - were ugly. The first by Brian Gionta was a weird knuckler that Theodore probably should have got his body behind to be safe, and the second was a wrist shot off the post from between the circles by Andrei Kostitsyn with both Washington defencemen backing up into Theodore's lap.
Boudreau's decision to yank Theodore at that point was less about goaltending and more about momentum. It didn't look like it was going to pay off, but ultimately the Caps did storm back to win.
Varlamov was fine. Not brilliant, but not really at fault on the three goals he allowed. But starting in Montreal would be a lot easier for the Russian than for Theodore, the former Hab who, if he plays, will have the Bell Centre crowd all over him from the opening faceoff to the final whistle..
Given that there's no a great deal of difference between Theodore and Varlamov, better to let the lightning rod sit this one out. Boudreau said he's undecided, but it would be a shocker if Theodore returned without Varlamov first doing a serious faceplant.
And what about the Habs? Alex Ovechkin said on Sunday he saw Jaroslav Halak's hands shaking while drinking from a water bottle after giving up a goal to Eric Fehr, and Halak certainly showed signs of nervousness in giving up six goals in Game 2.
The dynamics of the Carey Price/Halak netminding rotation aren't particularly clear to anyone. But Halak was terrible against the Leafs in the regular season finale, very good in Game 1 against Washington and very mediocre in Game 2. He's facing more firepower than either Washington goalie, but another so-so performance Monday night might see coach Jacques Martin turn to Price.
These debates are going on in quite a few playoff cities these days, at least in towns where there's a viable choice. San Jose might like to sit Evgeny Nabokov, but not in order to turn to Tomas Greiss. Ditto for Marc Andre Fleury and Brad Thiessen, Martin Brodeur and Yann Denis, Roberto Luongo and Andrew Raycroft, etc.
But Chicago has some tough choices. Detroit, meanwhile, might need to turn to veteran Chris Osgood after Jimmy Howard had a very difficult time in a Game 3 loss to Phoenix yesterday.
The two-time defending Western Conference champs are suddenly in deep trouble against the Coyotes. Osgood might be a settling influence, but he hasn't won a game since Dec. 12th.
Then again, Price hasn't won a game in more than six weeks. So maybe the Habs don't have as much as a choice as they'd like.