Varlamov to Start in Sochi?

At one point not too long ago, the Russian national team had multiple candidates for the number 1 spot at next years Winter Olympics.

Now a combination of injuries, dips in form and other circumstances may have left one man in sole possession of the starting job – Semyon Varlamov.

The 25-year old has some very public domestic troubles right now (to put it mildly), but on the ice is playing perhaps the best hockey of his career.

Varlamov is 12-5-0 on the upstart Avalanche, posting a .934 save percentage whilst giving up barely two goals per game.

The introduction of Francois Allaire to the Avs coaching staff seems to have added some much needed balance and control to the Samara natives style; giving the naturally athletic Varlamov a more rounded game as a result – and the improvement is plain to see.

Countryman Sergei Bobrovsky on the other hand has suffered something of a dip in form through the opening weeks of the new season.

Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy last season, and received Hart consideration despite the Blue Jackets ultimately falling short of a play-off spot. Over the summer he was the consensus pick to back stop Team Russia in Sochi.

But the former Flyer has struggled to find the same form that propelled Columbus up the standings last season, averaging nearly 3 goals against per game as the Ohio club have slid towards the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.

Nikolai Khabibhulin is out indefinitely with a lower body injury, and has also struggled for form, but the X factor in this could be everyone’s favourite cosmonaut Ilya Bryzgalov.

The one time Duck spent a brief period with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers, after being bought out by Philadelphia this summer, as new NHL opportunities were thin on the ground.

He has found a new home however, joining the Edmonton Oilers recently.

Whilst the Oilers leave much to be desired defensively, the addition of Bryzgalov gives the club a fighting chance at rejoining the play-off race as well as an opportunity for the 33-year old to showcase his ability ahead of Sochi.

Whether Bryzgalov can seize the Oilers starting role and make his case remains to be seen. But with Bobrovsky struggling, the Russian starting job seems to be Varlamov’s to lose right now.

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on November 25, 2013, in Colorado Avalanche, Hockey, NHL, Olympics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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