Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov won the gold medal in the IIHF World Championships today. Varlamov made 29 saves on 31 shots against Slovakia in Russia’s 6-2 win.
Varlamov had an outstanding record of 8-0 in the tournament. His save percentage (.939%) was number one among goaltenders who were in the net for 40% or more of the team’s time on ice. His goals against average of 1.77 was second among all goaltenders in his category. He played 440 minutes throughout the tournament, and made 201 saves. Of the thirteen goals allowed, eight were power play goals. Varlamov earned one shutout entirely on his own, and was part of a joint effort for Team Russia’s second shutout.
You can read more about Varlamov and Team Russia here. (Also love how Varls looks in the victory photo.)
Overall, I think that this win is going to go a long way for Varlamov’s confidence. He proved in this tournament that he can win the big games. Granted, he did have some of the best offensive players in the world in front of him, but he routinely faced about 30 shots. If he faces around 30 during each game next season, and can keep his GAA under or at 2.00, the Avalanche should make the playoffs.
The only thing that makes me feel a little concerned is the number of power play goals against. I didn’t have an opportunity to catch his games, but it is often said that “the goaltender has to be the best penalty killer”. However, if the penalty kill unit in front of him did a poor job, I don’t think the blame can lie with Varlamov. Hopefully, it was a situation where the four players in front of him did very little to support him. (Also, five goals against during 5 on 5 play on over 200 shots is excellent. The Avs struggled to score goals at even strength last year, and allowed more than they scored. If Varlamov can consistently play at that high level, preventing the opposition from scoring 5 on 5 for the most part, it should go a long way for the entire team.)