It’s a Goalie Emergency for the Colorado Avalanche!!


Well, I had a couple of ideas for topics to write about today, but like the Colorado Avalanche primary goaltending duo, both are down and out. I would have liked to give rookie Dennis Everberg some praise for his outstanding contribution to the bottom six this season. He has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise unspectactular start for that group. But the Avalanche just sent him packing to Cleveland. More on that in a second.

I would have liked to jump into a weekly feature on “who’s hot, and who’s not,” but frankly, nobody on the Avs is hot right now. I think it would be generous to call a couple of player’s performances lukewarm, and there are a bevy of guys who are arctic glacier cold right now. I’m just not feeling it.

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What I am feeling is a bit of “Oh my goodness, where’s the popcorn?” Things are about to get very interesting for the Avalanche and head coach Patrick Roy. The narrative heading into yesterday was getting the offense and power play clicking, and shoring up a few things on defense to help out the most important player on the Avalanche roster, goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Then things decided to go all Game of Thrones for the Avs.

Varlamov was put on IR, with a groin issue. Okay, well sad to see you go Varly, you were a character I was really rooting for, but hey, the show goes on. Plus, backup Reto Berra has been playing fantastic lately. But for those of you who watch GoT, you know… nobody is safe. Berra was trucked early in the game yesterday, and suddenly the Avalanche were on to their third string goaltender, the young Calvin Pickard.

Pickard was flown in to Ottawa from Cleveland earlier that day, as an emergency goalie. Shockingly, that emergency happened. For those who are curious, if anything were to have happened to Picks, Erik Johnson would have donned the pads and went between the pipes, not Patrick Roy. Pickard played pretty well, all things considered, but he did let in two goals in the third that Varly definitely would have stopped, and Berra probably would have had.

With Varly and Berra out, the Avalanche announced they have also recalled Sami Aittokallio (eye – toe – call – io) from Lake Erie. Unlike Pickard, who made his NHL debut last night, Aittokallio has seen two NHL games in his career. Aittokallio posted an 0-1 record, 3.36 GAA, and 0.884 save percentage over those appearances. Pickard and Aittokallio have identical 0.910 AHL save percentages with Lake Erie, and their GAA are extremely close too at 2.70 and 2.77, respectively.

To make room, Dennis Everberg was sent down to the Cleveland based minor league affiliate of the Avs. Really stinks to see Everberg go. I thought he has played great, and was robbed of a goal with some spotty officiating in Boston. Unfortunately for Everberg, his two-way contract allows him to be sent to Lake Erie without any ramifications. Although Maxime Talbot, Cody McCleod, and Marc-Andre Cliche are all off to snail-slow starts this season, they would be subjected to waivers if the Avalanche attempted to send them down.

To recall, the Avalanche have now been blown out in Minnesota 5-0 on opening night, and outscored by their new rivals 8-0, in what was supposed to be a chance to get back at the Wild for bouncing them from the playoffs. The Avs have blown two straight third period leads (0-1-1), something they did three times all of last season (35-0-3). And now, for the foreseeable future, they will be relying on a pair of raw 22 year old goaltenders to stop the train that is wobbling dangerously on the tracks from flying off in spectacular fashion. Like I said, get that popcorn popping.

It will be fascinating to see how the kids respond in net, and how Roy manages the team to try and get them back on track. The offense needs to dig deep, and try and score a few extra goals in the upcoming games. The team needs to really focus on eliminating turnovers, and creating easy chances for the opponent. They no longer have Varlamov to bail them out.

Varly going on IR leaves him ineligible to return until the Vancouver game on the 24th. For the Avs’ sake, let’s hope that’s exactly when he is ready to go. No word yet on what happened to Berra, but speculation is that he may have suffered a concussion. Who knows when he’ll be good to go.

If the injuries seem to be long term, there are a few options on the FA market as far as veteran goaltenders. Martin Brodeur, Tomas Vokoun, and Ilya Bryzgalov being the most likely options. I’d go with Vokoun if given the choice. He has always been solid, and still might have something left in the tank. Brodeur and Bryz would generate the headlines, but those guys probably aren’t worth the circus they’d bring.

I know it’s early in the season, but if there ever was a time to push the panic button, this is probably it. If any of you Avs fans have some good luck charms, rabbit feet, or goodwill stored up with the “hockey gods,” now would be the time to use it. The Avalanche need to get things going. They are already facing an incredible amount of adversity, and it’s going to be a nightmare to qualify for the playoffs out west. Digging a hole too deep, even this early in the season, could end up turning into their grave if they aren’t careful. But hey, maybe this is just the type of moment needed to galvanize this team, and rediscover the magic of Avalanche hockey.