‘Unbelievable’ Varlamov a worry for playoff-hopeful Flames

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Bob Hartley has looked at what the Colorado Avalanche have done lately, and the Flames’ head coach has one big worry heading into tonight’s game in Calgary.

“Varlamov,” said Hartley, per the Calgary Herald. “He has been unbelievable.”

Indeed, Semyon Varlamov has been just that. The 26-year-old has a .956 save percentage in March, with six wins against just one 37-save overtime loss in seven starts.

“He’s an elite goalie,” Hartley said. “There’s not much that you can do, except traffic … put quick pucks at the net and get hungry on those rebounds.”

While Hartley also maintained the Avs have “been playing great as a team,” the puck-possession stats don’t really back that assertion up.

In fact, the Avs have been winning (11-4-1 in their last 16) much the same way they won last season — with great goaltending at the top of the list, but also opportunistic scoring from their dangerous group of forwards. Colorado, like Calgary, has one of the highest five-on-five shooting percentages in the NHL.

Top and bottom five-on-five shooting percentages:

1. Tampa Bay — 9.2
2. NY Rangers — 8.8
3. Minnesota — 8.7
4. Colorado — 8.7
5. Calgary — 8.6
….
26. Detroit — 7.1
27. Edmonton — 7.0
28. Chicago — 7.0
29. Carolina — 6.3
30. Arizona — 5.6

Related: Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do