Apr 5, 2014 10:37 PM by Posted by Greg Smith
Semyon Varlamov is in a place where only one Avalanche player has gone before: his head coach.
The Avalanche goaltender stopped all 31 shots he faced Saturday afternoon in the Avalanche's 4-0 victory against the Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues and tied the franchise record for wins in a single season with 40.
Patrick Roy was the only other goalie in Avalanche/Nordiques history to win 40 games in a season. That came in 2000-01 when the Avs went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Varlamov will have the chance to take sole possession of the record Sunday night as he is scheduled to get the start in the Avs' home finale against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"I'm very happy," Roy said of his goalie after the game. "Like I said before, records are there to be broken. I'm just happy to be apart of it. Varly has been our best player, he has been phenomenal for us from the get go."
Varlamov can also pass his coach's record for the most home wins in a season on Sunday. The Avs' current goalie is 24-9-3 at Pepsi Center this year, matching Roy's record for home wins from Colorado's last championship campaign.
Roy and the rest of the Avalanche players have often said this season that the team wouldn't be where it is- second in the Central Division and fourth in a tough Western Conference with a 50-21-6 record-without the play of their starting goalie.
With a 40-14-5 mark this season, Varlamov leads all NHL goaltenders in victories and saves (1799) and entered Saturday ranked fourth in save percentage (.925). He also owns marks of 7-1-1 when facing 40 or more shots this season and 6-0-1 when making 40-plus saves. He is 24-6-1 in his last 31 starts.
While Varlamov's latest win was only his second shutout of the season, the Avalanche goalie has been great is close games all year. He has especially been good in overtime and the shootout where he is 13-5.
Roy has said Varlamov deserves to be in the Vezina Trophy conversation as the best goalie in the league and should be up for MVP honors as well.
"I'm not in a position, it's biased by me, but he deserves to be in the Hart Trophy candidates," Roy said.
Varlamov's 13th career shutout came after a strong first period that allowed the Avs break out in the second with three goals in nearly 10 minutes.
The Blues came out firing in the opening stanza but couldn't get any of their 14 shots past Varlamov. Colorado's offense opened up and its defense tightened up after the first 20 minutes, scoring four goals and only allowing 17 shots in the final two periods.
TALBOT A SWISS ARMY KNIFE
Forward Maxime Talbot did it all on Saturday afternoon for the Avalanche.
Talbot played on the Avs' third line with Marc-Andre Cliche and Patrick Bordeleau during five-on-five play and was also a factor during power-play and penalty-kill situations.
More known for his play when the Avs are down a man than up one on special teams, Talbot had an assist on Paul Stastny's power-play goal at 1:14 of the second period. Talbot moved the puck over to rookie Nathan MacKinnon, whose shot rebounded off the netminder and to Stastny on the left side.
He also created traffic in front of the net on the scoring sequence as he moved to the top of the crease after he passed the puck to MacKinnon, disrupting the sight line of Blues goalie Ryan Miller.
Talbot played 5:43 on the Avs' penalty kill, which went a perfect 4 for 4 against the fifth-best power-play unit in the NHL. He finished with 12 penalty minutes, two shots, a takeaway and a blocked shot.
STASNTY'S RETURN HOME
Paul Stastny seems to enjoy playing against his hometown team.
Stastny, who grew up in the St. Louis area after being born in Quebec City, had a goal and two assists on Saturday afternoon against the Blues.
He now has 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 24 career games against St. Louis. Those totals are one of his highest against a specific NHL team, especially versus one that he hasn't played in the same division with until this year.
Stastny started the game at center for the Avalanche at Scottrade Center, where he has scored five goals and eight assists (13 points) in 11 career contests.
"We wanted him to start the game, and Pauly had a solid game," Roy said. "It means a lot to him to come here. At the same time he is a great leader for our team, and he has been performing well for us."
With his three-point outing, Stastny also extended his point streak to six games; marking his longest such stretch of the season. He has two goals and seven assists during the streak.
D-MAN WILSON RETURNS AS FORWARD
Defenseman Ryan Wilson played in his first game since February, and he was doing it as a forward.
With Cody McLeod unable to play Saturday with an ankle injury, Wilson moved from the back end to a playing up front in his first NHL contest since Feb. 26 against Los Angeles. The Avs only have 11 healthy forwards with McLeod get injured Friday against the New York Rangers and Matt Duchene (roughly four weeks) and PA Parenteau (4-6 weeks) both out with knee injuries.
The defenseman by trade mostly played wing on Colorado's fourth line with Paul Carey and Brad Malone. He had two hits in 12 shifts and 7:37 of ice time against the Blues.
Wilson had been a healthy scratch in the Avalanche's previous17 games. He had also missed 20 games this season with knee and back injuries.
MORE POSTGAME NOTES
- The Avalanche tied its franchise record for the most road wins in a season with 24. The 1992-93 Nordiques and 2000-01 Avalanche both won 24 games away from home. The Avs are 24-10-3 on the road, which includes a 13-4-1 mark in their last 17 road contests.
- With the victory, the Avs earn their second 50-win season in franchise history (52 in 2000-01).
- The Avs now have 106 points this season. It is the third most points in franchise history behind 107 points in 1996-97 and 118 points in 2000-01. The Avs have surpassed 100 points for the seventh time in franchise history and first time since 2003-04. Six of Colorado's seven 100-point campaigns have come since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.
- Colorado is now on a six-game winning streak, tying its season long. It is the Avs' third six-game winning streak of the season, with the previous two coming part of Colorado's 12-1 start (Oct. 2 to Oct. 15 and Oct. 18 to Nov. 2).
- The Avs are in the midst of playing their ninth of 10 back-to-back sets this year. Colorado is now 6-2-1 in the first game. The club enters tomorrow's game against Pittsburgh with a 4-3-1 mark in the second contest.
- Patrick Roy has guided the Avalanche to a 50-21-6 record in his rookie season as a head coach. He is the fifth coach in NHL history to win 50 or more games in his first season behind the bench.
SEASON COACH, W-L-T/OT
1970-71 Tom Johnson, Bos., 57-14-7
1984-85 Mike Keenan, Phi., 53-20-7
1988-89 Pat Burns, Mtl., 53-18-9
2008-09 Todd McLellan, S.J., 53-18-11