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.
Patrick Roy helps Varlamov change style
Talk about getting thrown into the fire.
Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.
Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.
Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.
We’ll start to find out tonight.
Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
— Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.
— Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.
— Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.
— Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.
— Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.
— Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.
Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.
“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly.
So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.
That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”
The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.
“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”
That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.
Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen