Goalie nods: Stalock starts third straight for Sharks


All the latest from the blue paint…

San Jose looking forward?

All but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, San Jose will sit veteran — and soon-to-be UFA — Antti Neimi for the third straight game tonight, and once again start Alex Stalock in goal when it takes on the Avs.

Stalock, who’s started three straight only one other time this year, inherited the net after Niemi fell ill two games ago and has performed reasonably well, helping the Sharks gain three of a possible four points by stopping 47 of his last 51 shots faced.

It’ll be interesting to see how much the Sharks play the 27-year-old over their final six games of the regular season. Stalock is under contract for next year and while there are doubt he can be a full-time starter in the NHL, he will (presumably) be with the organization in 2015-16 whereas it’s unlikely Niemi will be back.

For Colorado, Reto Berra gets the nod.


Leafs at Sabres: Jonathan Bernier vs. Anders Lindback

Flyers at Pens: Steve Mason vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Oilers at Ducks: Ben Scrivens vs. Frederik Andersen

Avs ‘absolutely not’ shutting down Varlamov (groin), says Roy


The Colorado Avalanche are seven points out of a playoff spot with 15 games to go, but they’re not letting that alter their course of action with No. 1 netminder Semyon Varlamov.

Varlamov, who’s struggled with groin injuries all year long, missed Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to Los Angeles while dealing with, you guessed it, a groin injury.

Despite that, Avs head coach Patrick Roy said there’s no chance he shuts down Varlamov for the rest of the year.

From the Denver Post:

Roy said Varlamov’s injury is not as serious as it was earlier in the season and that the team is “absolutely not” thinking about shutting him down for the season and watching Berra and Pickard audition for next season’s backup job.

“I just don’t want to go into detail — and it’s not like I want to keep it for us — but I’m not a doctor,” Roy said of Varlamov’s injury. “I can’t give you the exact term and exactly how it is, but, no, it’s not as severe as the first times.”

While Varlamov hasn’t been as good as he was during last year’s Vezina finalist campaign, he’s still posted pretty solid numbers in 2014-15: 22-17-7 record, .921 save percentage, 2.56 GAA and five shutouts.

News that Varlamov will continue to play this season — he’s expected to start Thursday against New Jersey — puts a pinch on Calvin Pickard and Reto Berra, who are essentially battling for the backup gig in Colorado, but now won’t have as many opportunities to win it.

Pickard is a RFA at season’s end and looks to have the upper hand given his body of work this season (6-7-3, .932 save percentage, 2.35 GAA), but Berra will be in the mix as well mostly because of his contract, which is of the one-way variety and pays $1.4 million.


Video: Avs’ playoff hopes fade as Kings inch closer to wild card


Brayden McNabb had a career-high three-point night chasing Calvin Pickard in the L.A. Kings’ 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night.

McNabb’s second of the season at 14:15 of the first period stood to be the winner. The goal, which gave the Kings a 3-1 lead, ended Pickard’s night early.

The Avs’ rookie goaltender allowed three goals on the game’s first eight shots and was replaced by Reto Berra. Berra made 20 saves in relief.

With the win, the Kings (32-21-13) move to within one point of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. L.A. also has a game in hand on Winnipeg. The Kings are now 3-0-1 in their last four.

L.A. is tied with Calgary (77 points) in the Pacific Division, but the Flames hold the tie break.

The loss drops the Avs (30-26-11) seven points back of a wild card spot.

Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter had first period goals for the Kings. Kyle Clifford, who had a goal and an assist in the win, scored in the second. Jake Muzzin added his seventh of the season in the third.

Justin Williams had a pair of assists.

Tyson Barrie and Alex Tanguay had the Avs’ goals.

Jonathan Quick improved to 28-17-11 on the season with a 21 save performance.

Goalie nods: Pickard replaces injured Varlamov; Roy says start would be ‘unfair’ to Berra


All the latest from the blue paint…

Pickard starts, Berra backs up

Having gone 8-3-0 in their last 11, the Avs are on the fringe of playoff contention and —  with a win against Los Angeles and a Jets regulation loss in St. Louis tonight — would be just five points back of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

As such, Patrick Roy is replacing injured No. 1 netminder with AHL recall Calvin Pickard, rather than backup Reto Berra.

“It’s very simple. Reto’s been practicing really well and the three games he came in for relief he did a good job for us, but he hasn’t started a game since Nov. 25,” Roy explained, per the Denver Post. “It’d be unfair to put him in a situation like this, such an important game for us.

“All the games Calvin played for us, he played really well. He’s one of the reasons why we’re in the position today of still having a chance to make the playoffs.”

Pickard, 22, is 6-6-3 this year for Colorado, posting  a .936 save percentage and 2.18 GAA. Berra, who has spent most of the season in Roy’s doghouse, had a couple of decent relief outings in February — stopping 22 of 23 shots against the Coyotes and Predators — but didn’t look great in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Minnesota, allowing one goal on four shots after Varlamov left with a lower-body injury.

No word yet on who’ll start for the Kings tonight.


Rangers at Isles: Cam Talbot vs. Jaroslav Halak

Stars at Flyers: Kari Lehtonen (probable) vs. Steve Mason

Jackets at ‘Canes: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Cam Ward

Bolts at Habs: Ben Bishop vs. Carey Price

Bruins at Sens: Tuukka Rask vs. Craig Anderson

Jets at Blues: Michael Hutchinson vs. Brian Elliott

Devils at Wild: Cory Schneider vs. Devan Dubnyk

Avs recall Pickard in case Varlamov can’t play Tuesday


The Colorado Avalanche recalled Calvin Pickard in case Semyon Varlamov (pictured) decides he can’t dress after taking Tuesday’s morning skate.

Actually, it sounds like it goes beyond just being the backup against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, as the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports that Pickard will start if Varlamov cannot.

(Sorry, Reto Berra.)

Varlamov, 26, was just named one of the three stars of the past week. He’s a huge reason why the Avalanche are on a three-game winning streak and a nice tear since mid-February.

On the bright side, Pickard played well in his brief opportunities with the Avalanche. The 22-year-old should have Colorado’s confidence if Varlamov is out, which apparently can’t be said for Berra at this point.