10. Semyon Varlamov makes a glove save on the doorstep, denying Dwight King. (Also, I’m taking pride in the fact that the Avs beat the LA Kings in all four regular season games, and one preseason game. Seeing as the Kings are up 3-0 in the Stanley Cup final…going 4-0 against them, even in the regular season is pretty special.)
9. Semyon Varlamov uses the knob of his stick to stop the puck, after it deflects off of his body and heads towards the goal.
8. J.S. Giguere makes a diving save against his old team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
7. Semyon Varlamov stops Jamie Been on a shorthanded breakaway.
6. Semyon Varlamov denies Jack Johnson on what looks to be a sure-fire goal.
5. Semyon Varlamov with a wicked glove save.
4. Semyon Varlamov save on Milan Lucic.
3. J. S. Giguere makes a desperation save against the Dallas Stars.
2. Semyon Varlamov makes a crazy save on Dany Heatley.
1. J.S. Giguere- save of the year on Cal Clutterbuck, even after being knocked over.
I award Jiggy the award for best overall mask this season (on the Avalanche). I love the simplicty of it. Photo: Bridget Samuels/Flickr.
Games Played: 32
Games Started: 30
Win/Loss/OT record: 15/11/3
Goals Against Average: 2.27
Save Percentage: .919
Shots Faced: 850
Saves Made: 781
J.S. Giguere played his first season with the Avalanche this year. He signed as a free agent on the first day of last summer’s free agent market. Initially, I was a bit skeptical. Giguere was a fantastic goalie in Anaheim, but his past couple of years in Toronto he struggled. However, Giguere underwent two groin surgeries over the summer, and returned a different player. While he was brought in as a backup, and a mentor, there were stretches wherein he held down the fort in net. When Semyon Varlamov was struggling, Giguere took over the workload, and kept the team going.
Due to the fact that Giguere had sports hernia surgery on his groin, he was able to play a much more structurally sound, butterfly style. I think the strongest parts of Giguere’s game were his “compete level” (as Coach Joe Sacco phrases it) and his rebound control. Giguere never gave up on the play, which resulted in some spectacular saves. As for his rebound control, even if he did not cover the puck, he was usually able to send the puck into less threatening areas of the ice.
Giguere played in the last game of the season, and it was undoubtedly his worst game of the season. Had he been on the bench, this season his save percentage would have matched his career high of .922 (instead, he let in six goals and it went down to .919). Discounting that last game, which was an overall lackluster effort from the entire team, he really had one of his strongest years, and proved that he is still very capable of taking on about a third of the workload for his team in the NHL.
Giguere’s leadership should also be applauded. He worked very closely with Varlamov, and the two became good friends. I believe that he was instrumental in helping Varlamov regain his confidence after he seemed to lose it in December. Giguere was also a leader in the lockerroom, his fiery disposition inspiring his teammates. (If you go to my Ryan Wilson review, Giguere shows up in the “defending teammates” video. In it, he has perhaps the best line: “We need to send a message that these things cannot happen to this team. We’re all very proud of OB [O'Brien], and I am sure the message has been received.”) His disposition also earned him one minor penalty this season (I believe the call was for tripping, when he got sick of Matt Cooke running into him.)
Giguere did not have a lot of bad this season. However, he was out for a few games with a “slight groin strain”. If he continues to have problems with his groin, it could really affect his play. The other concern was his capabilities during shootouts. The team lonly suffered two losses during the shoot out last season, and both came with Jiggy in net. (He did earn one win, during a game in which the Avs scored on all three attempts and the Flyers scored two goals and had one miss. Interestingly, one of his losses came against the Devils. Due to the fact both he and Brodeur pitched shutouts through 65 minutes of play, he was awarded his second shut out of the season, even though the team lost.)
Giguere’s biggest concern should be maintaining his health, agility, and flexibility this summer. If he has a chance to work on one-on-one attempts, that would be good too. He did let in several breakaway goals, and it would help the team’s confidence if they get the game into a shoot out with him in net.
These two brilliant saves- which one is better?
In my opinion, Giguere is one part of “The Best Goaltending Tandem Accent Combination” in the league. Also, Giguere Baby #3 is on the way!
Giguere has one more year left on his contract. I expect the Avalanche to keep him for the entire year. If the team is successful, and Giguere wants to continue playing, I would not be surprised to see him stay with the Avs longer.
That is me^. I started watching the Colorado Avalanche when I was still learning how to walk and talk. My cat is named after Alex Tanguay (the man who scored the two goals in game seven of the 2001 Stanley Cup Championship). I am terrified of tornadoes, and the Vancouver Canucks winning the Stanley Cup.
Todd Mathias, Lake Erie Monsters Contributor
Native Clevelander all my life, avid hockey, baseball and motorsports fan in that order. Always willing to talk hockey with anyone who will listen and gladly introduce anyone who wants to the game of hockey. Twitter: @MetalTodd