Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov went 28-20-8 this season, which is essentially 500 hockey. That’s not quite the record he earned in the 2013-14 season when he went 41-14-6 and was a Vezina Trophy finalist — yeah, that was a great season. However, we’re not going to focus on the difference between the two seasons. Instead, let’s look at how Semyon Varlamov did against the Avalanche’s Central Division rivals specifically.
Semyon Varlamov went 11-9-3 against the Central Division overall.
Teams That Owned Semyon Varlamov
Feb 28, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) defends his net in the first period against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Semyon Varlamov faced the Winnipeg Jets three times, and he didn’t best them even once, going 0-2-1. Overall his save percentage was .863.
To be fair, the first game against the Jets came at the end of October, when it was obvious the team was more than starting rough. The Jets put 28 shots on Varlamov, and two of them went in, including the overtime winner scored by Bryan Little. Avs fell 2-1 in OT. The December game was so frustrating. Colorado got only 22 shots on net compared to Winnipeg’s 37. Varlamov let in five goals on 30 shots before head coach Patrick Roy put back up Reto Berra in. The Avs lost 6-2. The February game was another ugly one for Varlamov as he allowed five goals in 29 shots en-route to a 5-3 loss.
The Colorado Avalanche needed Varlamov to be strong against their burgeoning rivals, the Minnesota Wild. In truth, he did backstop their one win against the team. However, he was in net for all five games, so that means he lost four times.Semyon Varlamov went 1-4-0 against the Minnesota Wild with a .929 save percentage.
Except for the first two blowouts, the games were close. Nonetheless, Varlamov allowed five goals in 38 shots in the first game before Berra relieved him and three goals in 33 shots in the home opener. The third game of the series, in February, was hardly his fault when the Avalanche recorded only 18 shots to the Wild’s 29 yet lost only 1-0. The March 1st, game was a similar match. The final game of the series was a great match that saw Varlamov stop 29 of 30 shots.
St. Louis Blues
Semyon Varlamov faced the St. Louis Blues in four of their five meetings, going 1-2-1. Varlamov put up a very respectable .927 save percentage — it’s just he faced a lot of shots (110, or almost 2 per game.)
Definitely the highlight of the series was his 26-save shutout in December in front of the home crowd — a little early Christmas present. Unfortunately he followed that up less than a week later with a stinker, allowing three goals in 25 shots. The overtime loss was tough – Varlamov was strong in net, but a shootout goal by Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko won the game.
The Nashville Predators were a tough team to beat this season, but Varlamov backstopped the Avs to two wins and an overtime loss. Combined with only one regulation loss, that made Varlamov 2-1-1 with a save percentage of .927. (Pretty good consistency there.)
The lowlight was definitely the regulation loss, with Varlamov stopping only 25 of 29 shots. However, the two regulation wins were spectacular. He shut the Predators out at the end of January. He also backstopped that feel-good final run at the end of the season, stopping a ridiculous 40 of 42 shots for the win in April.
Teams Semyon Varlamov Owned
Semyon Varlamov denied the current Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks all three times he faced them. He recorded a masterful .965 save percentage that included a shutout. By the way, to earn the shutout, he had to stop 54 shots. That’s right, it was one of those games, and Varlamov showed why he was a Vezina finalist that night.
Jan 27, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) faces the Dallas Stars attack during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Avalanche defeated the Stars 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Avalanche as a team owned the Dallas Stars, sweeping the series with them. Varlamov was in net for four of those five games. Now, the February 27 game was not a great win for him as Varlamov allowed four goals. The Avs won 5-4 in the shootout, though, with Varlamov stopping all three Dallas shooters.
Overall Varlamov earned a .928 save percentage against the Dallas Stars. In addition to the February 27 shootout, Varlamov was in net for the ridiculous 11-round shootout at the beginning of February.
Semyon Varlamov was not the stud in the 2014-15 season that he was in the previous year. But then, neither were the Avalanche as a whole.
Varlamov was consistent with all the teams except the Winnipeg Jets. That team gave him trouble in the 2013-14 season, too. Maybe he could study a little extra video… whatever it is that goalies do to improve against a team. Or, he could do whatever makes him so great against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks — that seems to be working pretty well.
Varlamov spent the majority of this season injured or recovering from injury. The Avalanche are a big shots-differential team — they’re just too busy trying to create offense to focus a lot on smothering defense. That means Avalanche goalies need to be sharp. Here’s hoping Varlamov can get healthy and showcase the skills that earned him a Vezina nomination in 2014.
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