Colorado Avalanche GM Greg Sherman caught a lot of heat this summer when he traded a 2012 first-round pick and a second-round selection in either 2012 or 2013 to Washington for Semyon Varlamov.
Months later, that heat seems to have cooled. Colorado is off to a great start and so far, Varlamov has been worth the investment. (Emphasis on the “so far” part.)
Tonight, the Avs were on the losing end of a 3-1 scoreline against Chicago — but the goaltending was stellar. Varlamov stopped 27 of 29 shots and earned first star honors, highlighted by this save on Marcus Kruger with five minutes to go in the third period:
With a .938 save percentage and a goals-against average hovering around 2.00, Varlamov is putting up similar numbers to those Craig Anderson posted during Colorado’s surprising 2009-10 campaign. The Avs came into that season with tempered expectations, but stunned the NHL by making the playoffs and giving top-seeded San Jose a fight in the opening round.
Varlamov’s got the talent to replicate that kind success, but will need to stay healthy to do so — and historically, that’s been a problem. A litany of groin and knee problems have limited him to just 57 starts over the last four seasons, not the kind of numbers you’d expect from a No. 1 netminder.
Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)
This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)
On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.
William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.
Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.
So far, it shows, too.
The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.
There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:
Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week
Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.
WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry
A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.
As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.
While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.
Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.
It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.