Change of plans: Avs send Pickard to minors, keep Berra

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Last week, Colorado backup Reto Berra looked like a man on borrowed time when head coach Patrick Roy suggested the club would stick with Calvin Pickard once Semyon Varlamov came back from injury.

Today, Berra remained safe.

The Avs sent Pickard back to AHL Lake Erie this afternoon, news that coincided with Semyon Varlamov’s pending removal from IR (groin). Varlamov is expected to play for the first time since Nov. 15 when the Avs take on the Flames in Calgary on Thursday.

But the bigger story might be the state of the backup spot, where Pickard looked to have bested Berra last week. From the Denver Post:

Roy said the other day the Avs will not carry three goaltenders (I think they learned last year that was a bit awkward and counter-productive for everyone involved) when Semyon Varlamov comes back off the injured list -which should be Monday night against Les Canadiens De Montreal.

He also said on Friday that, if he had to decide right then and there, he would choose to keep Pickard as the backup to Varlamov and send Berra to Lake Erie.

In the end, though, logic won out: Pickard can go up and down freely between Colorado and Lake Erie and, to be honest, is probably best served getting as many games as he can at the American League level. Just 22, Pickard has a fair bit of professional experience but is still only three years removed from WHL Seattle, and needs all the reps he can get.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Berra now. He got yanked in each of his last two outings and his numbers on the year — 2-2-1, 3.57 GAA, .883 save percentage — aren’t very good. Expect Colorado to give Varlamov a healthy dose of playing time, even though he’s suffered two groin injuries already this season.