Goalie nods: ‘Now it’s time for Varly to step up’

The Colorado Avalanche are fighting for their playoff lives, and have a crucial tilt tonight when they host the Coyotes at the Pepsi Center.

As such, they’ll go with Semyon Varlamov in goal.

After Calvin Pickard started each of the last two games, Varlamov gets the nod for the first time since getting hooked against Minnesota last Tuesday.

More, from the Denver Post:

“We knew he was going to play eventually,” Roy said of Varlamov after Monday’s morning skate at the Pepsi Center. “I thought he had really good practices (while) Pick played really well in those games. Now it’s time for Varly to step up.”

Varlamov is 1-3 in his last four starts and trailed 3-1 when Pickard replaced him after the first period last Tuesday against the Wild. The Avs ended up losing 4-3 and Pickard absorbed the loss.

It’s been a difficult year for Varlamov, who’s failed to find the sort of consistency Roy’s been seeking. Stretches of good play — during the club’s winning streak in December, Roy called Varlamov “our best player, no doubt” — have been matched by equally poor stretches, resulting in mediocre numbers overall.

Heading into tonight’s action, Varlamov is 22-17-3 with a .912 save percentage and 2.79 GAA.

For the Coyotes, Louis Domingue is likely to start.

Elsewhere…

Ben Bishop gets the night off for the Bolts as Andrei Vasilevskiy starts in Philly. Steve Mason is back in goal for the Flyers after shutting out Columbus on Saturday.

— It’s Chad Johnson versus Garret Sparks as the Sabres take on the Leafs in Toronto.

— Good matchup percolating in Florida: Roberto Luongo‘s confirmed for the Panthers, while Tuukka Rask is likely for the Bruins.

— After James Reimer lost in his Sharks debut on Saturday, Martin Jones is back in goal as San Jose plays in Calgary. Joni Ortio will make his second straight start for the Flames.

John Gibson gets a big start for the Ducks, as they host NHL-leading Washington. No word yet on a Caps starter.

— No starters confirmed from either side for the Vancouver-L.A. tilt yet.

 

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