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Varlamov shuts out Blues, Avalanche back at .500

Despite having a clear disadvantage of numerous missing players and $16 million in unspent cap space, the Colorado Avalanche have been finding a way to gut out wins and scratch out 15 points for a 7-7-1 record, breaking .500.

In a hard fought game against the St. Louis Blues, David Jones and Semyon Varlamov carried the Avs to the win as Varlamov shutout the Blues on 33 shots and Jones -last seen on the back of a milk carton- netted the game winner with less than a minute remaining in overtime, his second of the season. The Avs lumbered through the majority of the game before coming alive in the third when they finally found their speed and puck handling.

Without their captain and other key players, the Avs have managed to not play themselves completely out of a playoff spot despite being five points behind the Vancouver Canucks in the division, but only two behind tying for the eighth seed. I haven’t given enough credit to Varlamov in this effort, but the guy is guarding those posts as best as he can without the best defense in-front of him. Without Varlamov, I’m sure J.S. Giguere would do fine –he is 3-0-0 in relief- but the former Washington Capital is 4-7 with a .905 save percentage.

He isn’t to blame for his own record as much as his defense is.

Varlamov shutouts Blues, Avalanche back at
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche shutout the St. Louis Blues in OT with 33 saves on Wednesday.
(Getty Images)

The Avalanche could be a threatening hockey club on any night, but they could also show up flat which has been a recurring problem opening games. They come up with great multi-goal performances but give up almost the same in kind. Colorado is keeping some pace with the contenders, but is still amongst the pretenders 14 games in with 34 to go.

Gabriel Landeskog is making progress towards returning to the Avalanche bench and he could be the difference maker for them being in or out come April 27th, but everybody else on the roster are going to have to do their part to keep them in contention. It all starts with keeping Varlamov’s net as clean as possible.

Follow me on Twitter @CoryWhitmer

Cory Whitmer

Cory Whitmer

Cory is a 27-year old aspiring sportswriter and Convergent Journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Some could call him a cynic, he likes to think of himself as a sports realist. An avid Denver sports fan, he doesn't hold back, even on his home teams. Check out his Colorado Rockies blog: http://throughthefencebaseball.com/author/cory-whitmer/
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