The Colorado Avalanche have a long season ahead of them, but so far they’ve defied expectations. Under rookie head coach Patrick Roy, they won their third consecutive game on Tuesday and the key was once again was stellar goaltending.
Semyon Varlamov was near perfect against the Toronto Maple Leafs and you could argue that the word “near” is unnecessary in that statement. He turned aside 27 of 28 shots and the one he missed was borderline as an argument could be made that play should have been called dead.
You can judge that for yourself though:
Either way, Varlamov stayed strong and with a little help from his teammates, earned a 2-1 victory. He’s now allowed just one goal in each of the Avalanche’s first three contests.
“He made a big commitment this year to come in ready, right from training camp,” Roy said, according to NHL.com. “Right now what I like about his play is that it’s simple. Every time you look at him, it looks easy.
“He’s always square to the shooter. He’s at the right place and he plays a simple game. I think that’s the reason he’s having so much success.”
It wasn’t always this way for Varlamov. The Avalanche saw his promise when they acquired him from the Washington Capitals, but his first two seasons with Colorado produced mixed results at best. So far though, it seems like Roy has been a positive influence on the 25-year-old goaltender.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’ve both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone:
On paper, you’d think even a wounded Dallas Stars team would handle its business against a tired Columbus Blue Jackets squad at home.
Instead, the Stars didn’t have much to show for their efforts on Saturday night beyond Jamie Benn fighting Brandon Dubinsky. They lost 3-0 and left their head coach shaking his head.
“That was as flat as flat could be,” Lindy Ruff said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “There’s no disguising it. For me there’s some concern because that’s really two games in a row where we were outskated …”
Ruff added that “there was no emotion inside that game.”
After falling to 2-2-1 on this young season, Ruff admits that he has concerns about the Stars’ “whole defense right now.”
While the Stars are picking up the pieces, the Blue Jackets beat the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and Dallas on Saturday. Those teams are off to tough starts, but that’s still an impressive haul for an embattled Blue Jackets group.
Considering the sour feeling for Dallas and the renewed spirits for Columbus, it’s remarkable what a difference two losses or wins can make.
But, hey Stars fans, a Benn fight at least gives us an excuse to recall this great photo of his bout with Joe Thornton: