Semyon Varlamov might just rise to the challenge


If Semyon Varlamov’s goal was to prove that the Colorado Avalanche didn’t over-pay to get him, it’s unlikely that his life has been very pleasant this season.

Ultimately, the Avalanche just want the young netminder to be their go-to guy, which hasn’t happened often enough this season. When Jean-Sebastien Giguere went down with a groin injury, many believed that Colorado’s playoff run would die with it.

As it turns out, the injury instead opened the door for Varlamov to play his best hockey when his team needs it the most.

The athletic Russian goalie shut out the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets on 28 shots in a 5-0 win tonight, giving him a two-game winning streak in which he’s allowed a single goal.

Two games is far from a trend in an 82-game season. In fact, his record remains below .500 at 17-18-2 with pedestrian individual stats. Still, he could redeem himself – and two some extent, Avalanche GM Greg Sherman – if Varlamov can guide the Avs to a playoff berth.

Colorado in the thick of West playoff race

It’s certainly not out of the realm of feasibility, either, as the Avalanche are in a four-way tie for eighth place with 66 points. Sure, they’re technically in last place among that quartet because they’ve played an extra game, but they also are tied with eighth-ranked Dallas with the most wins of the four at 31.

Those details matter, but ultimately it’s all about how they play through April 7. Right now, the Avalanche have to feel a lot better about their situation in net – and the potential redemption of their seemingly failed No. 1 goalie – which probably makes them more optimistic about the postseason as well.

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.