AVS SURVIVE WILD NIGHT
The biggest news of the night hit a few hours before the puck dropped: the Avalanche officially inked goaltender Semyon Varlamov to a 5-year, $29.5 million extension. This is obviously enormous news for the club, as their fortunes between the pipes have been inconsistent at best for years. There’s no question Semyon has improved this season under the tutelage of Patrick Roy and goalie coach Francois Allaire, and this new deal firmly establishes him as the guy for the foreseeable future. The AAV matches up with other elite goaltenders around the league, speaking volumes about just how confidently Roy & Co. believe in the 25-year-old going forward. I’ll have a full post analyzing the numbers, improved performance, and other opinions on the Varlamov extension very soon.
The Avalanche endured another nail-biting finish last night, beating the Minnesota Wild 5-4 at home. After a 1-1 first period (20th goal from Ryan O’Reilly) featuring three unsuccessful power plays, the Avalanche offense caught fire in the second, jumping out to a commanding 4-1 lead. Mr. Do-It-All John Mitchell broke the tie to start things off early in the 2nd. An unrestricted free agent this summer, Mitchell showcased just why the team needs to keep him around as a glue guy with a strong offensive performance (1 G, 1 A). Paul Stastny and Max Talbot also got in on the fun during the 2nd, and it seemed like the Avalanche were on their way to a blowout…
…Until now-healthy Zach Parise (2 G, 2 A) and his Wild teammates emphatically disagreed with that outcome. The Avalanche have not been a strong finisher of late, and barely put down a 3rd Period Stars Revolt last game. This one would follow a similar format, as Parise scored his second of the game eight minutes in. When Mikael Granlund (1 G, 2 A) zipped one by Varlamov a few minutes later, the momentum had officially swung in favor of Minnesota.
Luckily for the Avs, rookie scoring leader Nathan MacKinnon inexplicably got open at the top of the Minnesota zone, took an entry pass from Benoit and beautifully potted his 19th goal of the season. (Full disclosure–The Kid is so fast it literally makes me lol sometimes–the wife thinks it’s weird. I’ve officially entered severe/creepy man-crush territory.) He makes it look so easy sometimes, folks; and he’s only 18! Not to be outdone, Granlund sets up Jason Pominville with a gorgeous crease pass for a goal just 11 seconds later. The Avalanche would thankfully hold on to survive the comeback attempt.
With the win, the Avalanche improved to 34-14-5 (73 points), and maintain their third place standings in the Central Division. With the ink barely dry on his new deal, Varlamov made 35 saves in route to his 27th win on the season, which is a new career high. He was an astounding 10-1-1 in January.
In the meantime, here’s a few Avalanche-related material:
- After the win, Varlamov speaks up about signing his new deal.
- The first person to know about the Varlamov extension: a clerk bagging groceries for Patrick Roy. In related news, Patrick Roy is awesome.
- Mile High Hockey looks at who the Avalanche could be trade partners with at the deadline.
- Lastly, here’s some trade rumors for your Friday.
Colorado’s next game is on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the Buffalo Sabres to Pepsi Center. Keep your eyes peeled for our full preview of that game, along with some weekend links.
Enjoy your weekend, everybody!