While the hockey world sits back in enjoyment of Alexander Ovechkin's nightly human highlight reel, sitting at the other end of the rink is goaltender Jose Theodore.
Much like Mickey 'The Wrestler' Rourke, Theodore fell prey to drugs (okay, Propecia) and women; but then again, who hasn't been caught in the slimy grips of a famed socialite? (Though the Washington Capitals goaltender also failed to navigate a slippery stoop.)
When the Cristobal Huet deal fell through for the Capitals, they penned Theodore to a two-year, $9 million deal and fans were ready to turn in their season tickets, feeling that after such a momentous year that the team took a step back. Sure, Theodore was inconsistent since the 2001-02 season when he took home both the Hart and Vezina trophies, but in his final year with the Colorado Avalanche there were signs that he'd turned a corner -- despite his continued lack of success in the postseason.
Some questioned whether or not Theodore's performance was the result of an Avalanche team, troubled with injuries, playing a much more defensive style around him as well as he playing out a contract year. After beginning this season splitting time with Brent Johnson, Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has given the reigns to Theodore, thanks in part to how his goaltender recovered from a poor performance on Broadway back in December.
Back on Dec. 23 against the New York Rangers, Theodore was shelled for three goals on five shots in the first 11:15 of the game and pulled in favor of Johnson, who was nursing a sore hip and cold. Boudreau went back to Theodore to start the second period and the Capitals wound up coming back to win 5-4 in overtime.
As Japers pointed out on Sunday, since that game, Theodore is 15-4-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Jose's has been so good, he's even figured out something about the time-space continuum and is able to disappear at a moment's notice.
With the regular season a possible sign of career resurgence for Theodore, Capitals fans have to worry about what he will do once the postseason comes. As DMG points out, history hasn't been kind to Theodore in the playoffs, despite some regular season success:
Still, Theodore's save percentages both for the season and for February hover right around .900. Since the lockout the playoff save percentages of the goalies who have led their teams to Stanley Cup Finals berths have been .933, .930, .927, .922, .920, and .907. For what it's worth, Theodore's career playoff save percentage is .915, but only .904 since his glory days with the Canadiens.
The Capitals are sitting comfortably atop the Southeast Division and creeping up on the struggling Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference, thanks in part to their offensive exploits. Surprisingly it's goaltending, a presumed weakness in October, that has developed into a strength and backbone of their success as well.
Something Avs fans are still a tad bitter about.
(END NOTE: Let me assure those National Hockey League insiders that this is the real Sean Leahy. Not "Sean Leahy" or ‘Sean Leahy'. I know there's been some confusion in the last few days, but I just feel the need to point that out ... in case the obvious doesn't stare certain people right in the face.)