1.How will Varlamov respond?/How will Theodore play in front of the home crowd?
Boudreau has not made an announcement for tonight's game as I'm writing this, so we'll look at both possibilities.
Varlamov is a very good goaltender. But, in the past few outings, his play has been very enigmatic. If Bruce gives him the nod, what does that say about Theodore? Varly lets in a few softies, gets pulled, but is back in the lineup the next game? So if Varly is named starter and he lets in a goal he should have stopped early on, do the home fans boo him for a lackluster start to the game? Probably not, unless he played for that other D.C. sports franchise up in Landover.
Coach may be pushing the kid too much, which is why I think he'll revert to Theodore for tonight's game. If Theo was in fact named 'starter' at the start of season, then he should hold that position until he is out-performed. Boudreau will eventually go with the hot hand, and right now it's Theo. Go with Theo.
2. Is a good defense a good offense?
No, it's not. So while it might seem like all fun and games, goals-against are quickly becoming a major problem. Be it a rough start for Varly, or questionable defensive pairings, something needs to be done. The next few opponents look like: NYR, @DET, NJ, and SJ...all playoff teams from one year ago. Four goals should win a hockey game, if we need to score six goals to defeat an opponent, we're doing something wrong.
3. How will Sloan play
I have to imagine he will be skipping on some shifts and helping out the D-men. A 7-man rotation is risky (what if a forward goes down?), but it has its benefits. If a pairing is not working out like Boudreau envisioned, changing partners will be a sinche. Sure Sloan will play forward, and as long as he does not take any unnecessary penalties or have any glaring mistakes, keep him in there until Fehr returns.
4. Who will be the referees?
Not really. My only gripe is if a player (Example: Chris Clark, last game) is pushed from behind into the goalie, is that really a penalty? Like in football, the refs might let a roughing-the-passer penalty go if the player has no control and is forced into contact. Apparently in hockey, if you have no control and you are forced into contact, it is still your fault. Ba humbug.
5. How many goals will the Alexs' score?
We already know Ovechkin will score two goals, the real question is how many will Alex Semin score? If it's also assumed that Brooks Laich/Mike Knuble gets a tip-in and Nicklas Backstrom records at least three assists, that leaves an extra goal for either Brendan Morrison or Mike Green. Green has yet to score, let's give it to him. /knock on wood