Colorado did not start their season off particularly well. In fact it was one of the worst starts ever. However it’s not because they are playing bad hockey. The one area that was supposed to be unquestioned has caused them the most problems, goaltending.
The defense is improved, their puck possession is improved, shots against are improved, they are one of the best teams offensively, but where is the goaltending? Semyon Varlamov has not played well enough, bottom line.
The good news however, is there’s plenty of time left to get him playing at the level he always plays. Varly doesn’t need to carry the team any longer, but he does still need to play like we all know he can.
Where is Varlamov?
Russia’s number one goalie(along with Sergei Bobrovsky) hasn’t had his way like he’s used to through the first 25 games. Up until this rough patch, he has been nothing short of amazing since arriving in Denver, having to stand on his head numerous times, and he seemed to thrive on that.
This year though, Colorado’s defense is better all around, thus cutting down the shots allowed per game by quite a bit. This, normally, would be a good thing for a team and it’s goaltender. Varly though, has just not been himself whatsoever, letting in soft goals, and ultimately costing the team points in the standings.
Coach Patrick Roy came out and stated that Varlamov IS Colorado’s number one man in net, and that to me, was a big relief. I was relieved because not only do I believe Varlamov can get back to his very best, but Reto Berra has been knocking on his door with solid numbers all year, making it increasingly wondrous.
Those words from Roy, even when Berra had been playing better of the two, had to give Varlamov a nice boost in confidence. Every player goes through ups and downs, goalies are no different. With Berra allowing just 1 goal against the New Jersey Devils the game before, what does Varlamov do with perhaps the biggest game of his career? He comes out and allows just 1 goal against Stanley Cup favorites, the New York Rangers.
You could just see it during the game, Varlamov is back.
Reasons for Optimism
Despite starting off terribly, the Avalanche and their fans definitely have reasons to be optimistic about saving their season. If Varlamov starts playing like Varlamov, the Avalanche will start climbing the standings much faster. It’s as simple as that.
If the game in New York was any indication, Colorado are back in safe hands. To the surprise of many perhaps, the Avs are one of the best offensive teams in the league. Sitting tied for 5th overall in goals scored in the entire NHL. Every other team around them in that category is pretty much certain to at the very least battle for a playoff position.
Now you can start to see how the Avalanche are not far off from where they want to be in the standings, if they can just get that consistent solid goaltending Varlamov can provide. The time is now for Varlamov and the Avalanche to get on a roll and show the league exactly who they are. Tonight was a huge step forward.
Sebastian Noble is currently in his third year with The Hockey Writers covering the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Liverpool, England, and of course Colorado Avalanche & Florida Panthers supporter. You can follow him on Twitter @SebastianHNoble