The Colorado Avalanche lost in overtime to Pittsburgh last night, but goaltender Calvin Pickard can’t be blamed for that. He turned aside 47 consecutive Penguins shots before finally seeing his shutout bid end 62:24 minutes into the contest. The 22-year-old goalie did his job and then some, but how long will the Avalanche keep giving him work?
With a 2.27 GAA and .934 save percentage in 11 games, Pickard has been by far Colorado’s best goaltender this season, but Avalanche coach Patrick Roy isn’t about to abandon Semyon Varlamov. When the 2014 Vezina Trophy finalist has recovered from his groin injury, he’ll once again be the team’s starting goaltender and Pickard will likely head back to the minors, according to the Denver Post.
“Let’s not forget what Varly did for this team last year. Varly is our No. 1 goalie and he will be our No. 1 goalie,” Roy said. “We’ll see when he comes back and how he plays. But I understand everybody has seen how Pickard is playing and everybody is very excited about him. But we were all very excited about Varly last year.”
Then what about backup Reto Berra, who has a 3.57 GAA and .882 save percentage in 10 contests? He doesn’t have Varlamov’s history of success. In fact, Berra only has 30 more games worth of NHL experience than Pickard despite the roughly five year age gap between them.
It’s much harder to make the argument that Berra is more deserving of his depth chart spot than Pickard, but ultimately Berra’s contract (he’s in the first season of a three-year, $4.35 million deal) and a desire to see the younger Pickard play regularly, even if it’s in the AHL, makes Roy’s decision “easy.” At least for now.
“Next year will be tough,” Roy said. He later added, “The formula works really well and it’s got to be a wake-up call for Berra. He needs to see what’s going on right now and compete better in practice. We’re certainly never going to tell our players not to challenge the other players.”