Minnesota Wild v Colorado Avalanche - Game Two

Semyon Varlamov carries breakout season into playoffs


Colorado Avalanche rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon has stolen the show in Denver with seven points in two playoff games, but goaltender Semyon Varlamov’s role in the Avalanche taking a 2-0 series lead can’t be overlooked.

The Avalanche goalie turned aside 30 of 32 shots in Colorado’s 4-2 victory last night.

“Tonight, he was rock solid,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post. “He made some key saves at the right time, and that’s the type of performance I thought he was going to offer. I’m having so much confidence in him. He’s been our best player all year.”

Colorado took a big chance when they surrendered a first round pick (Filip Forsberg) and Boston’s second round selection (Mike Winther) in the 2012 Entry Draft to acquire Varlamov. For a while that looked like a questionable decision, but Roy and goalie coach Francois Allaire have helped the 25-year-old goalie live up to his potential.

Varlamov had a 2.41 GAA and .927 save percentage in 63 games in the regular season and led the league in saves. His breakout performance was one of the main reason the Avalanche went from being one of the worst teams in the league to one of the best and how far they get in the playoffs will largely depend on his play.


Yeo’s scouting report on Varlamov reveals: ‘This is a great goalie’

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

Torres apologizes to Silfverberg and Sharks


A statement from Raffi Torres:

“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”

A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:

“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”

Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.