Reto Berra (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Avalanche are trying to fight their way out of the Central Division basement, but will have to do so without goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Thankfully backup Reto Berra has been great in his past two outings, which he’ll need to continue for the Avalanche to close the gap in the Central.
The start to Semyon Varlamov’s season hasn’t quite gone how the 27-year-old netminder would have hoped and he hit another road block Thursday as the Colorado Avalanche have announced Varlamov be out on a day-to-day basis due to a groin injury.
Varlamov, who hasn’t played since Nov. 5 in a 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, has struggled at the best of times thus far. Through 10 games, he has a 3-6-1 record, has allowed 31 goals against on 281 shots, has a 3.26 goals-against average of 3.26 and a .890 save percentage, which is the fifth-worst mark in the NHL of all goaltenders to suit up in at least five games.
The picture doesn’t get any better when looking at Varlamov’s play at 5-on-5, either. Of the 31 netminders to play at least 350 minutes at 5-on-5, Varlamov has the third-worst SP at .893. Only Calgary’s Karri Ramo and Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky have a worse SP.
There’s no telling just how long Varlamov will be out, either. He missed 13 games due to a groin injury in 2014-15 and an additional 22 games due to groin ailments since 2009. It’s been an injury that has followed Varlamov throughout his career.
With Varlamov sidelined, it’ll be up to Reto Berra and call-up Calvin Pickard to take over goaltending duties for the extent of the Avalanche starter’s absence. Thankfully for the Avalanche, who are in the basement of the Central Division and trying to climb out, Berra has been playing stellar hockey in place of Varlamov.
Berra has a 2-3-0 record this season, but both of his wins have come via shutouts and he has a much more favorable 1.50 GAA and .952 SP, both of which currently sit atop the league leaders. The 28-year-old Swiss netminder spent much of last season watching from the sidelines behind Varlamov, but Berra has made the most of his opportunity this season. In his past two games, Berra has turned aside 56 of 58 shots and nearly helped Colorado steal a contest from the New York Rangers before shutting out the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday.
As for Pickard, the 23-year-old had an outstanding run for the Avalanche in 2014-15. He was called up by the Avalanche around this point last season and rattled off two straight shutouts and three wins in four games. All told, Pickard turned in a record of 6-7-3 with a 2.35 GAA and .932 SP in 16 appearances for Colorado in 2014-15.
No matter whose between the pipes, though, the Avalanche need someone to step up and start helping the club string together victories. Through 15 games, Colorado has the league’s worst shot attempts for percentage at 5-on-5 at 43.1 percent. The club has been boosted by a stellar shooting percentage, but if the offense dries up and goaltending doesn’t hold, the Avalanche could hit a tailspin.
(All advanced stats via War-On-Ice.)