This may be the most fun you have reading an article about the Colorado Avalanche all season.
The Avs’ surprising run from the bottom of the Western Conference to becoming serious contenders has been centered on the performance of goalies Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. At 13-7-0 and with a .923 save percentage, Varlamov is one of the league’s most impressive goaltenders; with a perfect 7-0-0 record in spot starts, Giguere may be its best backup.
This article is all about them. More specifically, it’s about the highlight plays that they’ve been making all season long.
Simply put: Colorado doesn’t have 20 wins without these guys. They wouldn’t be 9-1-0 in one-goal games through Sunday (including overtime and shootout victories) if not for Varlamov and Giguere. The truth is, these kinds of plays are happening every night with this goaltending tandem, and this is a mere selection of the highlight-reel-caliber work that they’ve been doing in net.
GAME RESULT: Avalanche 5, Capitals 1
SYNOPSIS: Already up 2-0, the Avs went on to win this matchup with Washington in a blowout. But that didn’t mean that Varlamov didn’t work for the win; forwards Martin Erat, Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson all had a chance to cut the lead in half on this play, to no avail.
GAME RESULT: Avalanche 3, Stars 2
SYNOPSIS: With the puck dumped into the Avalanche zone, Antoine Roussel fires on Varlamov to produce a rebound. Shawn Horcoff charges the net, but Varlamov remains focused and makes the second save.
GAME RESULT: Avalanche 4, Hurricanes 2
SYNOPSIS: Eric Staal sets up a one-timer to Justin Faulk, who fires the slap shot with heavy traffic in front of the net. Alexander Semin aims to pot his fourth goal of the season, but Varlamov’s glove hand denies him with a flourish.
GAME RESULT: Hurricanes 2, Avalanche 1
SYNOPSIS: Carolina would exact revenge on Colorado and even the season series in this game, but this play wouldn’t contribute to the win. Radek Dvorak thought he could beat Varlamov on this play, only to meet the Vezina candidate’s pads.
GAME RESULT: Panthers 4, Avalanche 1
SYNOPSIS: The entire Panthers power play unit—Marcel Goc, Jesse Winchester, Tomas Kopecky, Brian Campbell and Tom Gilbert—can’t solve Varlamov to extend a 2-1 lead. Florida eventually solves him twice more to win the game, handing Colorado its third consecutive loss.
GAME RESULT: Avalanche 5, Blackhawks 1
SYNOPSIS: Everything went right for Colorado in a 5-1 drubbing of the defending Stanley Cup champions, even when it didn’t. A scrum against the boards outside of the faceoff circle eventually leads to a point-blank opportunity for Brandon Bollig, but Varlamov stones him.
GAME RESULT: Avalanche 3, Wild 1
SYNOPSIS: After losing 4-1 to division rival St. Louis three days earlier, the Avalanche went into the weekend playing the Wild in a home-and-home series on back-to-back days. Giguere got the call in the first game and led the team to victory with saves like these on Kyle Brodziak and Charlie Coyle.
GAME RESULT: Avalanche 3, Wild 2 (SO)
SYNOPSIS: After winning the first game of a home-and-home series on Minnesota’s ice, this save in the shootout earned Colorado the home win as well. Varlamov got the nod for the home game and held the Wild scoreless in the shootout.
Chris Leone has written for Bleacher Report since 2008 in multiple capacities. Follow him on Twitter @christopherlion.