Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Zack Smith

On the verge of record win streak, Avs roll with Giguere


The Colorado Avalanche are one win away from posting their longest single-season home winning streak since moving to Denver in 1995.

And they’re going to try and get it with Jiggy in goal.

Yes, veteran netminder J.S. Giguere will get his fourth consecutive start tomorrow against Tampa. This is noteworthy for two reasons: One, Giguere’s been playing inspired hockey as of late (1.62 GAA, .949 save percentage over the last three wins) and two, he’s relegated Semyon Varlamov to backup status.

And that’s noteworthy, because Avs GM Greg Sherman paid a small bounty for 23-year-old Russian netminder. It cost a unprotected first round pick (and a second-rounder in 2012 or 2013) to get him, then a three-year, $8.5 million deal to lock him up long-term.

While Varlamov’s $2.8 million annual cap hit isn’t huge, it’s a $2 millon raise from what he was making in Washington. It’s also double what Colorado is paying Giguere annually ($1.25 million) — and based on recent comments by head coach Joe Sacco, the team could have a goaltending controversy on its hands.

“Right now, it’s not too much of decision because Giggy is playing so well,” Sacco told the Denver Post. “We’ve won games, we’re getting results.”

Sacco’s in a precarious spot. His team has rallied to get back to .500 (earlier this month they were 13-16-1) and within spitting distance of a playoff spot, so wins are at a premium. In that light, it makes sense to roll with Giguere — but that only further buries Varlamov, who’s supposed to be Colorado’s No. 1 guy.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.