Alternating goalie plan puts Beaupre on bench

January 17, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

MONTREAL -- When Washington goaltender Don Beaupre shut out the Quebec Nordiques, 4-0, Saturday, he dropped his goals-against average below 3.00 for the first time this season.

But tonight, when the Capitals challenge the Montreal Canadiens here in the Forum and attempt to keep building on a positive performance, Beaupre expects to be sitting on the bench.

One player who won't be on the sidelines tonight, for the first time since breaking his hand Dec. 21, is Kevin Hatcher, who said after practice yesterday he feels ready to play.

The shift in goaltenders may seem strange -- but when Rick Tabaracci shut out New Jersey, 4-0, Jan. 9, coach Terry Murray started Beaupre in the next game against Tampa Bay.

"I don't think anymore," said Beaupre. "Now I just play when Terry tells me to, whether it's at the start or in the middle of a game."

Last Friday, in the middle of a 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils at USAir Arena, Beaupre came on in relief of Tabaracci and played 27 solid minutes.

Both goalies have been lifted more than once this season. But with Capitals management giving Tabaracci every chance to win the No. 1 job, it has been a somewhat more difficult season for Beaupre, who has found his starting calls down.

"When Rick came back from his knee injury at the start of the year and it became apparent that I wasn't going to play a whole lot, I really didn't know how it would work out," Beaupre said. "I'm pretty happy. I think now I've made the adjustment, but that doesn't mean that's what I want to do. I want to play all the time. I still think I play better when I play all the time.

"But I feel confident coming off the bench now. I guess it's mind over matter. Just go out and stop the puck and don't worry about what you can't control, as far as warm-ups and stuff."

Murray traditionally does not tell the media who his starting goalie is before a game. He does, however, tell his goalies, and yesterday, Beaupre said he was told Tabaracci will start tonight.

But even after informing Beaupre of his status, Murray was busy singing his praises.

"Donnie has really battled back," said Murray. "His play [Saturday] was as good as I've seen him this year. He was on top of the puck, moving, square to the puck. He had a very big save against New Jersey. The way he played that particular breakaway was excellent. He just carried it over.

"He's got a lot of confidence and feels good about himself, and that's why his numbers are improving."

Murray continued to talk about having nearly all his players healthy and the options it gives him. He pointed out with Hatcher returning and with Todd Krygier having returned Saturday, it creates needed competition for starting spots.

"The key is not to let anyone out of the lineup too long," Murray said.

And while he didn't point to his goaltenders when he said it, the same applies.

It evidently is Tabaracci who will be in net tonight, working hard to regain his confidence and redeem himself after being pulled Friday.

Certainly Beaupre would like to be in net, but he didn't seem too unhappy yesterday. He was the goalie of record in four of Washington's season-opening six losses, and his GAA ballooned 7.00.

"It has been a long time coming back," said Beaupre. "After my GAA got to 7.00, all I wanted to do was get it down to a respectable level. It's a good feeling just being where I am."

CAPITALS TONIGHT

Opponent: Montreal Canadiens

Site: The Forum, Montreal

Time: 7:35

TV: None

Radio: WMAL (630 AM)

Outlook: Washington comes in off a 4-0 victory in Quebec, and Montreal lost, 5-2, to the Florida Panthers Saturday. But the defending Stanley Cup champ has the second-best record in the Northeast Division (21-17-7). D Kevin Hatcher (broken hand) is expected to play, leaving only D Jason Woolley (torn abdominal muscle) on Washington's injured list. Montreal reports RW Mike Keane (back spasms) and D J. J. Daigneault (sprained wrist) as day-to-day. LW Pierre Sevigny (knee ligaments) is out.

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