Yesterday, we wondered how Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin would handle the letdown of Team Russia’s Olympic failure once the NHL resumed play next week. He’s not the only one who might be feeling the heat of his home country’s criticism.
Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov had been having a stellar year coming into the Olympic break, as his play in net is a major reason why the Avs are contending. He continued this into the Sochi games, at least until the loss to Finland on Wednesday. After allowing three goals on 15 shots, Varlamov was pulled, forced to watch his team fail to medal from the bench.
Like the rest of the Russian team, Varlamov was most certainly feeling the disappointment, receiving his fair share of criticism for not being solid enough in net against Finland. However, when it comes to whether or not the letdown will affect Varlamov’s game for the rest of the season in Colorado, head coach Patrick Roy isn’t concerned at all.
“I think that’s going to make him a better hockey player,” said Roy. “It’ll prepare him even better for the next time. It’s going to help him in his approach to the games he’s going to play until the end of the year to the playoffs.”
Roy is right to believe in Varlamov in this situation. The loss Russia suffered will undoubtedly be a bit of a distraction for the Colorado goalie for a while, but he’s already proven he can handle distractions this year. Remember, it wasn’t long ago that Varlamov was dealing with issues on a completely different level.
Back in October, Varlamov surrendered to authorities on charges of domestic violence towards his girlfriend. At a certain point in the investigation, he was facing up to two years in prison. It doesn’t take a genius to realize the difference between losing an Olympic hockey game and possibly going to jail. One of these may weigh on someone’s mind a little more than the other.
And yet, Varlamov’s game stayed on course. He told the press he wouldn’t let the criminal issues affect him, and then proved it. He’s currently boasting a 28-11-5 record, as well as save percentage of .924. When some thought Varlamov’s run-in with the law would derail Colorado’s impressive start to the season, the Russian goalie went out and showed the exact opposite.
Use this as evidence to show that, at least this season, Varlamov is an incredibly mentally strong goalie. Despite facing a potential prison sentence, he remained a solid netminder, and a huge reason why the Avs are in the middle of an stunning bounce-back season. Russia’s Olympic defeat, while upsetting for Varlamov, shouldn’t have much impact either.