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Varlamov Is Big In Chicago

The Colorado Avalanche earned a really big win tonight in Chicago. Semyon Varlamov played like a goalie possessed, with 54 saves in order to earn his third shut out of the season. In the first minute and 17 seconds, the Colorado Avalanche scored two goals, and that was all she wrote when it came to scoring for this game. In the past few games for the Chicago Blackhawks, goaltender Corey Crawford and the team have allowed numerous first period goals. It appeared as though the Avs did their homework, because they rushed the net repeatedly in the first few minutes of the game. Nathan MacKinnon scored 53 seconds into the game, and 24 seconds later Nathan MacKinnon drove the net again, giving Max Talbot a simple tap-in for the second goal of the game. While the Avs kept pushing in the first period, a late penalty overflowed into the second period, and from there on out, the Blackhawks has the majority of the offensive opportunities. There was one moment late in the third period when it appeared as though the Varlamov’s shutout bid was over, but the puck trickled back from between his legs and over the line after the whistle had already been blown, so there was no way for the goal to count. I’m sure some Blackhawks fans would argue that the whistle was blown a bit early in that situation, but in the referee’s defence, it was late in the game, and things were getting pretty gnarly around the net, so quicker whistles tend to be the norm at that point.

Even though the Avs were completely outshot (54-24), the Avs were on the winning side of most of the other statistics. The Avs were dominant in the faceoff circle (67%), managing to keep even All Star Jonathan Toews to only a 30% winning percentage, the Avs outhit the Hawks 37-17, and they blocked more shots (21 versus 12). Even when Chicago was completely cycling in the Avalanche zone, the Avs were doing a good job defensively to push people out of the front of the net, and allowing Varlamov to see everything that was coming at him.

Now the team is back to a .500 record, and they can hopefully continue their good play and string together some more wins here. The Avs need to win probably about 65% of the remaining 42 games if they want to make the playoffs. It’s a lot to ask of the team, but it’s at a point now where it’s not completely unreasonable-if they keep delaying however, the team is going to be in too deep. I believe in this team, and I hope they can do it.

Other Thoughts

-Nathan MacKinnon and John Mitchell each had 2 points tonight.

-Gabe Landeskog played less than 15 minutes, which was a bit odd, but the line with Iginla-O’Reilly-Tanguay has the top line minutes in tonight’s game, each with between 16 and 17 minutes of ice time.

-Nathan MacKinnon and Johnny Oduya of the Hawks were jawing at each other for most of the game. We’ll see if that continues in the remaining games of this season series.

-Semyon Varlamov’s 54 saves were the most saves in a shutout in franchise history for a regular season game…Varly’s all about breaking the records.

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