Nearly a month into this season, the Colorado Avalanche stumbled from the gate with a 2-4-4 record. Poor defensive play is a significant factor behind their sputtering start, as they rank among the worst teams in shots-against and goals-against per game.
This poor start is a far cry from last season, when they topped the Central Division with 112 points and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years. With their depth in young talent and 2013-14 Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy behind the bench, the Avs entered this season seemingly poised to build upon that success. Read more
The spotlight shone on Kings blueliner Slava Voynov last week after he was arrested on domestic violence charges, but it’s shifted back to Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov now. Varlamov’s ex-girlfriend, Evgeniya Vavrinyuk, has slapped him with a civil lawsuit stemming from last year’s domestic violence incident.
Last fall, misdemeanor assault charges against Varlamov, which could’ve resulted in jail time, were dropped. Denver prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the charges because they believed they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt Varlamov assaulted Vavrinyuk Oct. 29, 2013. District attorney spokeswoman Lynn Kimsborough insisted “that’s not to say we don’t believe our victim,” however.
Now, Vavrinyuk will look for justice a second time against Varlamov, as TMZ Sports has learned of the lawsuit, in which she will seek more than $1 million, according to TMZ’s sources.
The suit, filed in Colorado by attorney Keith Fink, contains scathing and serious allegations. Stick tap to Pro Hockey Talk, who obtained a copy of the lawsuit, which can be read here. It corroborates TMZ’s reports and alleges Vavriynuk “feared for her life.” The suit describes the alleged assaults in disturbing detail. Here’s an excerpt chronicling the first alleged assault. To warn you, the content is graphic:
As the saying goes in statistics, there’s an exception to prove the rule. The Colorado Avalanche and their incredible success in 2013-14 were just that – the exception – for statistically inclined hockey fans.
From the top down, it was the kind of year that baffles the mind. It seemed like each and every night the Avalanche would be outshot, pinned, and scrambling in their own end. Each night, it also seemed like the games would have the same result: an Avalanche victory. Read more
Prior to the start of the season, pundits were projecting a return to earth for the Colorado Avalanche, who won 52 games in 2013-14 despite having some of the worst advanced statistics in the NHL. They leaned on goalie Semyon Varlamov and a superb shooting percentage on their way to finishing second in the Western Conference, and more than a few observers were expecting that couldn’t last again.
About five percent of the way through the season, at least, both those projections have come to pass. The Avs were shut out in back-to-back losses at the hands of the Minnesota Wild to start the year and only managed four goals in their next two games. And now, worse news: Varlamov has been placed on Injury Reserve thanks to a wonky groin, and there’s no timetable for his return. And in Colorado’s first game without him Thursday – a 4-3 loss to Ottawa that saw the Avs blow a 3-1 lead after the first period – they sure looked like they missed him, especially when backup Reto Berra left the game after being hit by Kyle Turris in his crease and third-stringer rookie Calvin Pickard had to step in.
And now they’re potentially facing a serious quandary: if Varlamov’s injury is serious, do they go out and acquire veteran help? Read more
According to the NHL’s director of hockey operations, linesmen Greg Devorski and Scott Driscoll acted of their own accord when they decided to intervene before Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf could start fighting Tuesday night, and were not following a league edict.
And that’s because there isn’t an edict for them to follow.
There was no shortage of consternation from fans and television analysts when the two linesmen intervened in what everyone assumed would have been a doozy of a fight between Phaneuf and Iginla, former teammates and friends who have attended each other’s weddings. This was not a staged fight, they argued. It was more of an “organic” fight that is much more palatable because it arose from the high emotions of the game. And to be fair, there was a lot of contact and some questionable hits prior to the incident. Read more
There was a time when I watched a hockey game and if there wasn’t a fight I felt ripped off.
I loved a good scrap; so much so that when Steve Dryden offered me a position at The Hockey News in 1992, I took the job on the condition I would never have to write an anti-fighting story. I was well-aware of Dryden’s stance that there is no place for fighting in hockey and I did not share the sentiment.
How the times have changed. I have not yet completely sided with the anti-fighting movement, but I am close. Very close. I no longer have a thirst to see two huge men pound on each other even though the dinosaur in me understands why the game needs such an outlet.
How soon is too soon to sound the alarm bells? Looking around the NHL right now, you’ll see unlikely teams such as Boston and the New York Rangers struggling early, but with such a small sample size, that seems like more of a blip than a pattern.
On the other hand, seeing Colorado with one win in four tries seems a little more harrowing.
With NCAA hockey officially in full swing, there is action aplenty to watch for in the prospect world. Boston University’s Jack Eichel and Erie’s Connor McDavid already seem to have a fantastic game of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better going on, but who else should you be watching this season? Here are some of the other names making noise right now.