Earlier this week, we learned of the significant legal troubles that are on the way for Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov. He turned himself in to the Denver police Wednesday under charges of domestic violence and kidnapping. Though he was released on bail, and would be traveling with his team for the time being, it was just assumed that the Avs would start backup goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere for their game tonight against the Dallas Stars.
Turns out, that won’t be the case. Head coach Patrick Roy announced this morning that Varlamov will be getting the starting nod tonight.
It seems like a bit of an odd, possibly foolish call by Roy. This week has been quite a mess for Varlamov. He’s been getting bad publicity left and right, and despite his legal team’s claims that he’s innocent of his charges, Varlamov’s girlfriend has been giving detailed accounts of his violence towards her, and it hardly paints him in a good light. This was all in the span of the last 24 hours, and now Roy expects Varlamov to be focused enough to start in net tonight.
“Why wait?” Roy said after the team’s morning skate. “We’re all aware of what happened, but we just feel that he’s our guy. We have confidence in him and feel that it’s good for him to play tonight.”
This is a bold move that could pay off for Roy. That said, it’s also one that has a huge chance of backfiring on the rookie coach. Despite having talented young players like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, the Stars aren’t exactly blowing the doors off the league, currently sitting at last place in the Central Division. Still, a goalie’s mental focus is a big factor of his overall game, and it’s safe to say Varlamov’s is likely to be understandably off at the moment. Also, the game is at Dallas. Though the American Airlines Center isn’t known across the NHL as one of the more intimidating venues in the league, don’t be surprised if some fans attempt to rattle Varlamov by bringing up his legal struggles.
Again, this could pay off very well for Roy. Varlamov’s stellar play in net is a big reason why Colorado has won so many games. But a bad game could do a ton of damage to the Russian goaltender’s psyche, which is already shaky at the moment.