Semyon Varlamov

Varlamov on losing Avs starting gig: “It’s going to be tough”


The Colorado Avalanche acquired two goalies this offseason: Semyon Varlamov and J.S. Giguere. The former cost the Avs a first- and second-round pick (and $8.5 million); the latter cost them no picks and $2.5 million.

So it was no surprise that, heading into the season, Varlamov was the starter and Giguere the backup.

But heading into the All-Star break, it’s Giguere that’s the No. 1 guy…while Varlamov tries to keep a positive frame of mind.

“J.S. is playing well right now, and it’s good for the team,” Varlamov told the Denver Post. “I just have to keep working. I know it’s going to be tough, but I just have to be ready — always.”

Giguere started making headway back in mid-December. His strong play coincided with the Avs emerging from a funk to climb back into playoff positioning — during one especially strong stretch, Giguere ripped off four straight wins against Washington, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Tampa Bay, allowing just six goals.

Varlamov didn’t help his cause any with a string of poor January performances. There was a 4-1 home loss to Nashville and a 6-1 bombing in Phoenix — two stinkers which, coincidentally, were Varlamov’s only two appearances in the last nine games.

“That’s why I’m not playing right now, I think,” Varlamov said of the lopsided losses. “But it’s a long season. We still have 30 games after the break.”

All told, Giguere has been the goalie of record in 13 of Colorado’s last 19 games. His numbers on the year are outstanding — 2.15 GAA (eighth in the NHL), .921 save percentage — and there’s a good chance head coach Joe Sacco will keep riding him down the stretch (gotta be a better way to say that.)

Despite the fact Giguere’s 34 with plenty of tread on his tires, he was tabbed for back-to-back starts last weekend in Los Angeles in Anaheim, then got the nod again on Tuesday as the Avs lost 3-2 to Minnesota.

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?

We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.

Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.

Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks


Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks


Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.


Royal pain: Kings’ Greene to have shoulder surgery, out indefinitely

Jiri Hudler, Matt Greene
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The Los Angeles Kings lost one of their most veteran defensemen on Tuesday, as the club announced Matt Greene would be out indefinitely following shoulder surgery.

Greene, 32, had only appeared in three games this season, missing extensive time with the ailment. He had recently resumed skating with teammates and looked to be on the way back to a return, but never got to the point where he was participating in drills, or taking contact.

With Greene out of the lineup, the Kings have primarily gone with a six-man defensive unit of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Christian Ehrhoff, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb. Derek Forbort and Jeff Schultz have also been in the mix, but sparingly.

If Greene misses extensive time, L.A. could be in the market for a defenseman come trade deadline day, like they were last year before acquiring Andrej Sekera from Carolina. Greene is one of the most playoff-tested players on the L.A. roster, with 79 games and two Stanley Cups on his resume (and another Stanley Cup Final, with Edmonton in 2006).

Looks like the Canucks will have an interesting lineup tonight

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The Vancouver Canucks got banged up last night in Anaheim. As a result, it looks like they’ll have an interesting lineup tonight in Los Angeles.

Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed this morning that wingers Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen were hurt and wouldn’t dress against the Kings.

In game-day line rushes, AHL callup Andrey Pedan, a defenseman, was skating on the wing with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata.

But hold on, that doesn’t necessarily mean Pedan will make his NHL debut tonight. This morning, the Canucks announced they’d called up d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. Theoretically, inserting Biega could allow the offensively inclined Yannick Weber to move up to forward. Biega and Weber both shoot right. Pedan shoots left.

But wait, there exists another possibility — that both Pedan and Biega could play. That will depend on Chris Tanev‘s status. He got banged up yesterday as well, though he was able to skate this morning.

Confused? It’s OK. So is everyone.

As an aside, the Canucks not only got banged up last night, they also got pushed around and embarrassed in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

On that note, here’s what Pedan did to Jarred Tinordi in a Utica-Hamilton game last season: