The Colorado Avalanche’s playoff chances took a big hit as the team announced today that starting goalie Semyon Varlamov will be out for the season after sustaining a lower-body injury Friday night, while defenseman Erik Johnson will miss the next six weeks with a fractured patella. The two injuries figure to be a huge blow to team who many felt had a good chance of reaching the playoffs this year.
The irony is that Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier made history Friday after the two combined for the first combined shutout in franchise history (Nordiques as well). Varlamov saved 30-of-30 shots before Chicago’s Tomas Jurco collided with Varlamov on an attempted shot late in the third period, forcing the goaltender to be helped off the ice. Bernier finished the game. Varlamov was having a solid season as he has a 2.68 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 51 games. Bernier will have to take over as starter. He has a 2.82 GAA and a .913 save percentage in 33 games this year.
Johnson did not play in Friday’s game with no explanation, but is just as likely done for the year unless the Avalanche can not only reach the playoffs, but make an extended run in them. The oft-injured defenseman has been having a solid season, but has never played an entire 82-game season ever. His 62 games this season are the highest in two years.
Despite the disappointment, the Avalanche who finished with the worst record last season, have put together a remarkable season and considering they made no moves at the trade deadline, the team should look at this season as a positive regardless of whether they make the playoffs or not.