Colorado Avalanche Playoff Hopes May Rest with Spencer Martin

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Spencer Martin
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Spencer Martin /
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The Colorado Avalanche playoff hopes may come down to how well Spencer Martin can play in one, or two, spot starts at the conclusion of the season.

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Arizona Coyotes by the score of 5-2 on Saturday afternoon. Despite the victory, not all was well with the Avalanche. Jonathan Bernier, who was making his first start since February 16, after entering the NHL’s concussion protocol, again left a game early with an apparent injury. He picked up the win, but it is unclear when, or if, he will return.

With Andrew Hammond also on the shelf with an injury, Spencer Martin has again been recalled from San Antonio. Unlike his previous stint as Semyon Varlamov‘s backup, it seems likely that Martin will need to make a start, or two. The Avalanche have three games in four days this week. It seems unwise for Varly to start all three games.

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The perpetually injured Varlamov has already appeared in 13 games in a row, starting 11 of them. Varly has looked tired in recent games, especially his most recent start against the Blue Jackets. In that game, Varly was bombarded with 44 shots. He made 39 saves, which was good enough to get the game into overtime. However, it was clearly time for Bernier to start against Arizona.

Now, with only 13 games remaining in the season, it is fair to ask, how far Jared Bednar can ride Semyon Varlamov before he becomes too fatigued to be effective, or worse yet, breaks? The Avs have two sets of back to backs remaining on their schedule. The first of them is this week. I think Spencer Martin should get the start in one of those two games.

Spencer Martin

I’m not suggesting that Spencer Martin gives the Colorado Avalanche a better chance to win a game than Semyon Varlamov. Instead, I am suggesting that a somewhat rested Varly would be better in 12 starts than an exhausted Varly would be in 14. The team must rely on a backup, at least once or twice. If Bernier will be out, Martin is the best answer currently in the organization.

Spencer Martin has spent the majority of the season playing for the San Antonio Rampage. He has a record of 14-12-4 in 30 decisions. He has a 3.05 GAA and a save % of .895. All of his stats have taken a step back from last year. None of his numbers inspire a ton of confidence. However, Martin still has the talent to keep the Avs close in a couple games.

I also think that giving Varly a few games to recuperate is necessary to keep him as sharp as possible. It would be great if Bernier only misses a short time, but if he enters the concussion protocol for the second time in less than a month, I would think that he would miss a substantial amount of time.

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After Martin’s most recent NHL call up he started one more game with the Rampage. He stopped 32 of 35 shots in a shootout win over the Iowa Wild. So maybe there is some cause for optimism. If he gets a game into OT for the Avs, I think we would be happy as a fan base. In any case, even if Martin gets completely lit up for the Avs, I think it’s better for this year’s playoff run to give Varly a night off later this week.