Colorado Avalanche: Semyon Varlamov and Colorado's Playoff Hopes

Gary LlewellinCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2011

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 10:  Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche clears the puck against the Boston Bruins on October 10, 2011 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The trade for goaltender Semyon Varlamov left fans wondering: “What was Colorado thinking?”

If things keep up, they’ll be wondering: “What was Washington thinking?”

In two games for the Avalanche this season, Varlamov has stopped 66-of-68 pucks that he has seen. Many of those saves were of the spectacular variety.

The native from Russia was traded in the offseason for a first-round pick in next year’s draft and a conditional second-round pick.

The consensus is if the Avs are a lottery team, that trade will prove to be costly. Rebuilding teams just cannot afford to trade away high draft picks.

The season may only be two games old, but it’s looking less and less likely Colorado will be a lottery team and it starts with Varlamov.

Colorado has won one of their two games, despite only scoring one goal this season. Last season that would likely have resulted in two losses. That can be attributed to Varlamov’s play.

In the season opener against Detroit, he kept the Avs alive for the majority of the game. It was the same story in Boston on Monday, where he single-handedly won the game for Colorado.

His quickness and his reflexes have given him the ability to makes some of the outstanding saves we have seen from him so far.

Some of the failure from last year could be attributed to injuries, but it was the poor goaltending that led to Colorado’s collapse in the second half of the campaign last year.

The former first-round pick is giving Colorado the kind of goaltending they received two years ago from Craig Anderson. They wandered around at the top of the standings for a portion of the year before finishing the season in eighth that year.

Head coach Joe Sacco likes to ride hot goaltenders. That would not be the ideal situation for Varlamov considering his history of injuries. If Sacco decides to play him 55-60 games this season, there’s no reason to think he can’t keep up his play and steal games for the Avs every once in a while.

With an improved, more physical defense in front of him, Colorado may surprise this year. If they slide into the playoffs this year, no one will care that a first-round selection was lost, considering they just filled one of the most important spots on the team for the foreseeable future.