Varlamov remains saving grace for Avalanche (and Roy)

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When he’s on his game, few goalies save like Semyon Varlamov.

As in, literally.

No goalie made more saves or faced more shots during the 2013-14 season,* so Varlamov likely deserved as much – if not more – credit for Colorado’s surprise playoff berth as Patrick Roy received in grabbing the 2014 Jack Adams.

What was clear a few days ago is only clearer now: Varlamov is the catalyst for Colorado’s recent winning streak of five straight games and an 8-2-0 December. The Avalanche probably ask too much of Varlamov at times, yet he succeeds to a surprising degree.

Red-hot run

Varlamov is now on a six-game winning streak in which he’s allowed a total of six goals. Saturday’s performance ranks as one of his best in 2015-16, as he befuddled the Edmonton Oilers in a 5-1 win that was lopsided mainly because of his brilliance (he stopped 39 out of 40 shots).

As you can see in this post, Gabriel Landeskog called Varlamov Colorado’s best player, and he really might just be their saving grace.

Fittingly, a goalie who carries arguably the biggest workhorse role in the modern NHL will only be asked to pull off these difficult feats more as the Avs to inch their way up the mountain.

Even with this winning streak, the Avalanche are ranked sixth in the Central Division, and firmly so. Still, it’s amusing that Roy threw Varlamov under the bus when he’s the guy who keeps saving his bacon.

At least he’s not oblivious to Varlamov’s strong play, judging by what Roy told the Denver Post.

“Varly is playing so well right now,” Roy said. “When you’re looking at him, it seems very easy. He’s under control. He’s moving well. He sees the puck big. He’s in a zone right now and we feed off him.”

The Avalanche flat-out need this kind of work from their goalies most nights, so fair or not, it all hinges on Varlamov (and occasionally resurgent Reto Berra).

* – Varlamov also tops all goalies in shots faced and saves made since 2013-14.