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Semyon Varlamov adjusts to Mile High expectations

Ex-Capitals goalie wants to improve game with Avalanche

- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 17, 2011

Semyon Varlamov enjoys life in Colorado.

"It's very comfortable for me. Weather [is] always nice," he said. "Every time every day, you wake up in the morning and see sun. I'm happy about it."

Now, Varlamov just needs more fortune in net for the Avalanche to make it even better. The former Washington Capitals goaltender has adjusted well since being traded to Colorado in July, though his stats and performance haven't been where he wants them.

Varlamov is 10-13-1 with a 3.14 goals-against average and .896 save percentage — a major departure from his 2.23 GAA and .924 save percentage last season with the Caps.

"Right now I'm a little bit struggling because my statistics [are] not that well and I'm not happy about my statistics, I'm not happy about my game," Varlamov said.

But Avalanche forward T.J. Galiardi called Varlamov a "bright spot" this season amid some difficult times.

"He's had some pretty amazing games for us," Galiardi said. "Some nights we don't give him enough support — that's the thing. He's getting a ton of shots against and even the nights when he doesn't have many shots against, some of them are from prime scoring areas. I wish we could bring a little better support for him."

Going into Saturday's games, Varlamov has faced the 10th-most shots of any goaltender in the NHL. But that in it of itself could be a good thing, as Varlamov has already made 24 starts after injuries limited him to 27 games for Washington last year. What coach Joe Sacco called a "minor" back injury Saturday isn't expected to be an issue.

Neither was moving West for Varlamov, who was not only worth first- and second-round picks to the Avalanche but a three-year deal that pays him $8.5 million to be the franchise goaltender. He lives in downtown Denver, just five minutes from Pepsi Center and on Friday night had dinner with the Caps' Russian contingent of Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Dmitry Orlov and director of media relations Sergey Kocharov.

"It was pretty fun time — we have a good relationship," Ovechkin said. "We have pretty good memories."

Now Varlamov is attempting to turn his season around and make new memories in Colorado.

"NHL is season is very long season and you're always trying to change your game," he said. "I just need to keep working and try to play well."

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