Of all the goalies in the NHL — and there were 97 that saw action this season — not one of them made more saves than Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov.
In total, the 25-year-old Russian stopped 1,867 shots, which was 132 more than the Stars’ Kari Lehtonen, who finished second in the category.
With all due respect to the Avs’ dynamic group of young forwards, goaltending was the biggest reason Colorado finished first in the Central Division. And beating Varlamov will be the biggest challenge for the Wild starting tonight at the Pepsi Center.
“We’ve done a scouting report. We’ve watched a lot of video. This is a great goalie,” said Minnesota coach Mike Yeo, per the StarTribune. “He’s very athletic, great side-to-side.”
Varlamov went 3-0-1 versus the Wild during the regular season, stopping 117 of 126 shots for a .929 save percentage. According to Yeo, time will be of the essence for Minnesota’s shooters.
“The one thing I believe with any great goalie is the quicker you shoot the puck, the better off you are,” he said. “He does a very good job of coming out and closing angles and making himself big in the net. The quicker you get the puck off your stick, the more net there is to shoot.
“We have to have a strong focus of making sure we’re putting a lot of traffic in front of him, making it difficult for him to come out and be aggressive on those shots.”
Related: Get your game notes: Wild at Avalanche
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.