With Roy at Avalanche helm, Varlamov takes game to next level

  • Article by: MICHAEL KELLY , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 20, 2014 - 11:42 PM
hide

Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov made a save on a shot by the Wild’s Mikko Koivu in the third period of Game 2.

Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– A year ago, Semyon Varlamov was a fledgling goaltender on a losing team. The Colorado Avalanche won 16 games, and he was 11-21-3 in his second season with the team.

The July 2011 trade that brought him to Denver looked like a bad deal for an organization that had struggled since 2003 to find a successor to Hall of Famer Patrick Roy.

The answer, strangely, was hiring Roy as the coach. When the four-time Stanley Cup winner came aboard, Varlamov’s fortunes changed. This season he led the NHL with a franchise-record 41 wins and, more important, he came up big in Colorado’s 4-2 victory over the Wild on Saturday that gave the Avalanche a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

“I have so much confidence in him,” Roy said. “He has been our best player all year, and [Saturday] was just a solid game from him.”

Varlamov rarely heard praise like that in the 2013 season, when a porous defense contributed to his 3.02 goals-against average. But when Roy was hired, he brought along his mentor, Francois Allaire, from his early NHL playing days. Roy and Allaire didn’t overhaul Varlamov’s style but made little adjustments.

Varlamov was a willing pupil after several heart-to-heart talks with Roy. Varlamov said Allaire — who rarely grants interviews — worked with him on lateral movement and persuaded Varlamov to hold his glove higher and at a slightly different angle, giving shooters less net.

The change was significant. His goals-against average dropped to 2.41 and his save percentage went from .903 to .927. His improvement has Roy plugging his goaltender to be the league MVP.

“He should be a candidate for the Hart Trophy,” Roy said. “That’s as high as I think of him right now. Varly has been our best player, he’s been phenomenal for us from the get-go.”

He was phenomenal Saturday. After letting in a tough goal to Wild forward Charlie Coyle at 4:18 of the first period, he blanked Minnesota for the next 54 minutes while his offense gave him a 3-1 lead. A beautiful shorthanded goal by Marco Scandella made it 3-2 before Paul Stastny’s empty-netter capped a 10-point night by Colorado’s top line.

It was a bounce-back performance for Varlamov after a shaky Game 1, and one the Avalanche needed.

“He was huge, but that’s stuff we expect from him,” Stastny said.

Roy agreed.

“A lot of people thought a lot about the first game but, hey, he played well enough to win,” Roy said. “I had no doubt in my mind he was going to play a really solid game.”

Duchene progressing

Colorado center Matt Duchene will take another step in his return from a sprained left knee when he takes the ice Monday morning in Minnesota. Duchene has been out since being injured March 29. Although Duchene is well enough to skate, Roy said the team will be cautious with him.

“We’re not going to push. We’re going to be very smart about when he’s going to come back,” Roy said. “He’s going to want to play soon, and it will be up to our doctors and [trainers] to determine if he’s ready to play. I know Dutchy might try to come back faster, but we’re not going to let him come back until our doctors are extremely comfortable to have him play in a game.”

Roy has all but ruled out Duchene, the team’s leading scorer, making a return during the first round.

Center John Mitchell (head) also is on the trip, but there was no update on his progress. Roy said Mitchell is day to day but there is no timetable for his return.

  • related content

  • Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov, guarding the post and making a save in Game 2 against the Wild, went from 11 victories in 2013 to a league-best 41 this season. “I have so much confidence in him,’’ coach Patrick Roy said. “He has been our best player all year.’’

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 107 FINAL
Golden State 125
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close