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.
Immediately after earning their first win of the season — a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks — the Columbus Blue Jackets made a roster move by calling up one of their top prospects, forward Sonny Milano, from the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League.
To make room for Milano on the roster the Blue Jackets sent Oliver Bjorkstrand down to the AHL.
The 20-year-old Milano was the Blue Jackets’ first-round draft pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2014 NHL draft. He spent most of the 2015-16 season playing for Lake Erie (now Cleveland) during their Calder Cup winning season, recording 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) during his first full season of pro hockey. He also added another eight points (four goals, four assists) during the Calder Cup playoffs.
His 2015-16 season also included a brief cup of coffee in the NHL with the Blue Jackets where he appeared in three games and recorded one assist near the end of the seasonHe had one goal in two games with Cleveland to start this season..
Milano is a highly skilled player that can do some pretty incredible things with the puck and should bring a little bit of excitement to a team that could really use some fresh talent up front.
It turned out to be a tough Friday night for the Chicago Blackhawks in Columbus.
Not only did they lose the game to the Blue Jackets, 3-2, thanks to another rough night for their penalty killing unit, but they also lost a defenseman to injury.
Trevor van Riemsdyk had to leave the game in the first period with what was described as an upper body injury when he crashed into the net. After the game coach Joel Quenneville said that van Riemsdyk could be “out for a bit” due to the injury, via Eric Lear of Blackhawks TV. He appeared in all 82 games for the Blackhawks a year ago and played nearly 20 minutes a night.
Before Friday he had appeared in only one game this season, while his name had been being mentioned in trade rumors. With van Riemsdyk getting back into the lineup on Friday there had been some speculation that it could make veteran defenseman Brian Campbell a healthy scratch, but the Blackhawks instead opted to dress seven defensemen. Even with the injury to van Riemsdyk, Campbell only played 12 minutes on Friday.
In other Blackhawks injury news, Quenneville said that injured forward Marian Hossa — who did not play on Friday — is questionable for the Blackhawks’ game on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There will be no 0-8 start in Columbus this season.
The Blue Jackets were 3-2 winners against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night to earn their first win of the season thanks to goals from Zach Werenski, Nick Foligno and William Karlsson. The first two of those goals came on the power play as the Blue Jackets were the latest team to feast on Chicago’s dismal penalty killing unit this season. Those two power play goals came on Columbus’ only two power play opportunities of the night.
Right now everybody is scoring against the Blackhawks on the power play.
With the two more goals against on Friday, Chicago’s penalty kill has already given up 11 goals through the first five games of the season, becoming just the 18th team in the past 30 years to do that.
Their early season penalty kill success rate has been so bad that as Daily Herald beat writer John Dietz pointed out on Friday that even if they successfully kill off their next 20 shorthanded opportunities their PK would still only be at 71.8 on the season. The worst penalty kill in the NHL a season ago was 75.5 percent. In other words: That is not ideal.
After falling behind 3-1, the Blackhawks attempted to rally thanks to a goal from Richard Panik (already his fifth of the season) to cut the deficit from one. They pretty much took over the game in the third period and threw everything they could at the Blue Jackets’ net, but Sergei Bobrovsky was sensational and holding down the fort and helping the Jackets get their first win of the season.
It was a costly win for the Blue Jackets in some ways though as they lost defenseman Ryan Murray to an upper body injury in the first period. Injuries have been a problem for him throughout his young career.
As for the Blackhawks, the loss drops them to 2-3-0 on the young season. There are a lot of new faces on this year’s team, and a lot of young players filling out the bottom half of the roster. Early on it has been a struggle for pretty much everybody.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray had to leave his team’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night with an upper body injury, the team announced.
He will not return to the game.
Murray, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, seemed to be injured when his arm was pinned against the boards when trying to finish a check on Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook behind the net.
Murray played only 4:38 on Friday night before exiting the game.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Murray played in 81 games for the Blue Jackets a year ago, scoring four goals to go with 21 assists.
He had played in one of the Blue Jackets’ two games this season entering Friday and did not record a point.