The Colorado Avalanche picked up a huge win on Friday night in their quest for a playoff spot, but it came with a pretty significant price.
The team announced on Saturday afternoon that starting goalie Semyon Varlamov will be sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a lower body injury. Varlmov was injured in the third period of the Avalanche’s 5-0 win over the the Chicago Blackhawks during a collision with Tomas Jurco.
Here is the play that took him out of the game and has now ended his season.
For as much attention as Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have received for Colorado’s turnaround this season, improved goaltending thanks to a healthy Varlamov and a great backup in Jonathan Bernier have been just as responsible (if not more so) for their improvement. In 51 games this season Varlamov has a .920 save percentage for the Avalanche, his highest mark since the 2014-15 season.
With him done for the season that means the workload will fall on Bernier to try and get the team into a wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Bernier has appeared in 33 games this season and has a .914 save percentage on the season. Together they have given the Avalanche a top-10 goaltending duo (based on save percentage), a massive improvement over what the team received a year ago when they were near the bottom of the league and ended with one of the worst records the NHL has seen in decades.
The Varlamov announcement is not the only bad injury news from the Avalanche on Saturday.
The team also announced that veteran defenseman Erik Johnson is going to be sidelined for six weeks (basically the rest of the regular season plus at least the first couple rounds of the playoffs, should Colorado make it and advance that far) due to a fractured patella.
Johnson did not play in Friday’s win.
He is Colorado’s ice-time leader this season, logging more than 25 minutes per game. He has nine goals and 15 assists in 62 games.
The Avalanche enter Saturday tied with the St. Louis Blues for 92 points in the standings, but the Blues currently hold the second wild card spot due to a tiebreaker. The Blues, after dropping an overtime decision in Vegas on Friday night, play in Arizona on Saturday. The two teams have one more head-to-head meeting remaining this season (the regular season finale for both teams) but Colorado’s path certainly gets a little bit tougher with this news.