With Varly back in goal, Avs start string of key games tonight in Calgary

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If the Colorado Avalanche are ever going to go on a hot streak, tonight in Calgary would be a good time to start one.

Last season’s Central Division champs, the Avs of 2014-15 own a disappointing 9-11-5 record and sit seven points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Speaking of those Jets, Colorado plays in Winnipeg tomorrow. Then, after the Avs return home to host Nashville Tuesday, they have another game against the Jets on Thursday.

First things first though, the surprising Flames — a team, like the Jets, that the Avs surely have in their sights, so far as fighting back into a playoff position is concerned.

“We’re not going to quit,” forward Daniel Briere said after Monday’s 4-3 loss to Montreal. “We have to go right back at it, get a win in Calgary and give ourselves another shot.”

The Avs, after a disastrous start to the season, have actually been playing better hockey of late. They’ve won five of their last eight, and, save for one game against Chicago, have either outshot their opponents or kept it close to even during the eight-game stretch.

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The Avs will also get goalie Semyon Varlamov, their MVP from last season, back against the Flames.

“I’m ready to play,” Varlamov said. “I feel really good. I don’t have any problems in my groin anymore. The pain is gone. I’m ready to play.”

Per the Denver Post, head coach Patrick Roy believes if Varlamov had been healthy all season, his team would “be in the playoffs right now.”

Maybe, maybe not. But regardless, the goaltending excuse is gone now. It’s time for the Avs to start digging out of the hole.