One area the Colorado Avalanche aren’t particularly stressed out about is in goal. With Semyon Varlamov locked in as the No. 1 guy and Jean-Sebastien Giguere backing him up, they’re all set there.
The question is: What version of Varlamov is the real one? Fans in Colorado have seen two different performances from him during his two seasons in Denver.
Take a look at Varlamov’s numbers over the last three seasons (one with Washington) and you’ll be left wondering the same thing.
2010-11: 11-9-5 .924 SV% 2.23 GAA (Washington)
2011-12: 26-24-3 .913 SV% 2.59 GAA
2012-13: 11-21-3 .903 SV% 3.02 GAA
Neither season with the Avalanche is overly inspiring but the work he’d done in Washington was enough to inspire GM Greg Sherman to give up a first-round pick for him. His save percentage numbers in the ’11-’12 season don’t even crack the Top 20 in the league and he was outplayed by Giguere.
Last season was a disaster all around for the Avs and was highlighted by the terrible play of their defense. It’s difficult to be hard on Varlamov for that, but his meager numbers from the previous season took a further beating.
That’s cause for concern, but the Avs may have addressed that by hiring Patrick Roy as their new coach. You’d have to think if anyone can help a goalie figure out their game it’d be a Hall of Famer of Roy’s ilk. After all, Varlamov is still young at age 25 and headed into his sixth NHL season.
If Roy can help Varlamov out, the Avs won’t have to sweat out goaltending at all. If not, 21 year-olds Sami Aittokallio and Calvin Pickard will be waiting in the AHL for an opportunity. Colorado is hoping it doesn’t have to come to that.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: