Penguins-Capitals: Beating Simeon Varlamov the Key to Victory In Game Four

Ryan VlasicContributor IMay 8, 2009

WASHINGTON - MAY 04:  Sindey Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins scores a second period goal against Simeon Varlamov #40 of the Washington Capitals during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 4, 2009 at the Verizon Center in Washington,  DC.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals present the greatest challenge for the Penguins in the playoffs thus far for one reason: Simeon Varlamov. 

Varlamov has been nothing less than outstanding since taking position between the pipes. 

Dan Blysma's gameplan of an aggressive forcheck and playing the majority of the game in the offensive zone allowed Pittsburgh to outshoot the Caps 42-23 in Game Three.  To say Varlamov was tested is an understatement. 

The main key to a Penguin victory tonight is to keep the pucks flying at Varlamov, and put some of those juicy rebounds in the net.  Varlamov also seems to effortlessly handle pucks shot at ice level, as the shots that got past him have been up high. 

Containing Ovechkin is another key.  Ovey always seems to position himself for a shot, that is, unless he is going after another player to make a hit.  The key to containing him is to go after him and knock him off his game.  Let him make retaliatory moves to take him out of the play.  The Penguins did a great job of this in game three. 

Game three was the most dominating performance by the Pens in the playoffs thus far. If they can stick to their game plan of playing the majority of the game in front of Varlamov and continue to "test" him, this series will be 2-2 after tonight.