PITTSBURGH -- Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau spoke to the gathered media Saturday morning and announced his choice for tonight's goalie, Semyon Varlamov, the decision facilitated in part by Michal Neuvirth's injury in the morning skate before last Sunday's game in Carolina.
Also discussed were the effect a returning Jordan Staal would have on game preparations and the significance of the Winter Classic relative to its place in the standings.
Q. Can you tell us who is starting for you tonight in goal?
COACH BOUDREAU: Varly.
Q. Are you looking at this stage of the season for someone to emerge and say I want this job, and they both played well and they both maybe had some bumps?
COACH BOUDREAU: Well, I think they both want this job. And I mean, if Neuvy hadn't have got hurt the day after Christmas, he would still be playing. But he got hurt and then all of a sudden Varly gets a chance, and he plays a great chance against Carolina and he shuts out Montreal, how can you not give him the start.
Q. I think early in the season you said ideally they'd play four games, one game each and something would happen in the Playoffs. Do you want one of them to have identified himself to the rest --
COACH BOUDREAU: By the season's end I would. I think it's a little bit like when we made a trade for Huet a couple of years ago, there was Kolzig and Huet and I played them the first 10 games, just alternated, and then eventually Cristobal won the job and he played the last seven games.
And I just assume or I'm hoping that something like that is going to take over here, and it doesn't have to happen anytime soon. I think they're both really competitive guys having a friendly competition of who wants to be number one. But it will happen in the last quarter of the season, I would think.
Q. Bruce, with Jordan Staal playing tonight, not just tonight, but big picture playing in venues, how does he change the dynamics of that team?
COACH BOUDREAU: Well, they've always got one of their big centers on the ice. I mean, they can go to the power play and have Malkin and Crosby off, and then they come back with Staal.
And it seems that when he's been in the lineup, in the past against us, if Sid or Malkin aren't having a good game, Staal's having a great game. And he can be sometimes not having a great game, but the other two guys are having a great game.
So it's hard to shut down all three of them, because they're all three great players.
Q. Big game like this and all the buildup in the middle of the season, how much of a distraction is that to the next game and the rest of the season?
COACH BOUDREAU: I don't know. We haven't got to the next game yet. But the next game is against Tampa, and I think we're tied with them for division lead. So hopefully it's not a distraction. But we won't know until we get there.
Q. Coach, what's Tom Poti's status for tonight?
COACH BOUDREAU: He's not playing.
Q. With all the buildup, with the HBO and everything we've been talking about now for weeks, the buildup of this game, do you guys have to keep reminding yourself it's two points, or is it just you have to keep reminding us that it's two points?
COACH BOUDREAU: In the scheme of things it's two points. But I think in the whole thing, it's a big thing for hockey. And I think players that are grown up that want the game to grow all realize this, that it's a big game for the sport.
And that's why we're hoping the weather cooperates and we get it in and all the hype that's been there, they get to see a great game and the potential chance to see, for people that were casual viewers or people that didn't look at the game at all, get a chance to see it and say: Geez, I might want to watch this sport a little bit longer or get my children involved in that.
We understand the whole two points thing, but I think anybody that plays the game, like I said, understands what we're trying to do or what the NHL is trying to do is build the game up, understands also that it's more than just two points.
Q. Do you think your guys in that room are the type of guys to respond well to kind of that intense pressure?
COACH BOUDREAU: I hope so. We'll soon find out.
Q. Knowing that TV's a part of growing this sport, do you think having this game move to prime time because of the weather might end up being long term, something that could be a blessing in disguise?
COACH BOUDREAU: Well, you always hope so. You're always trying to put a positive spin on something that happens negatively.
I mean, with the forecast and even looking at if it was sunny, as it was yesterday when we practiced at that time, that sun was coming out, that ice was melting faster than Frosty the Snowman, I'll tell you.
The sun was so bright in that one spot that you couldn't freeze the ice. So we're hoping it's a blessing. We're hoping it's not something that's turned negative on us.