Every now and then, Semyon Varlamov showed why the Colorado Avalanche made such an expensive deal to acquire him.
Sure, the Russian netminder stumbled badly after a hot start, playing three mediocre months of hockey.
Yet the Varlamov people saw after the All-Star break reveals hints of something special.
Varly put up substandard numbers in the 30 games before that break, but he went 12-9-2 with an outstanding .932 save percentage and a 2.06 GAA in the 23 games afterward.
In a way, those numbers paint a picture of his career so far.
He’s been an up-and-down goalie since he stormed into the general hockey consciousness with some strong work in the 2009 playoffs.
His 53 games played in 2011-12 matches his combined regular season appearances from the previous two seasons with the Washington Capitals.
At 24, he’s just now entering his prime years, so there’s added reason for optimism.
Ultimately, if Varlamov wants to justify the heavy price Colorado paid for his rights in the 2011 offseason, he’ll need to be healthier and more consistent.
Despite having a strong backup in Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the Avalanche’s goaltending – and team, really – will go as far as Varlamov can take them.