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Semyon Varlamov: Trying to Shake Off the Rust

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"The first two periods he was good. He was stopping the puck and he was smooth." - Bruce Boudreau on Semyon Varalmov's performance against Dallas, 3/8/10

Since returning just prior to the Olympic break from a two-month absence due to a groin injury, Semyon Varlamov hasn't looked much like the goalie that was on a four-game win streak (highlighted by a pair of shutouts) during which he sported a sparkling 1.23 goals against average and a .951 save percentage at the time he was sidelined. In fact, his 1-1-1/4.24/.843 post-injury line is downright ugly.

Even uglier, perhaps, is the way in which those numbers have been compiled - take away his first period back in the NHL (a rough three-goal frame in Ottawa) and he's sported an outstanding 1.80 GAA and .930 SV% over five first and second periods, but has a woeful 6.46 GAA and .750 SV% in three third stanzas (allowing at least two goals in each). Semyon Varlamov, it would seem, is not presently conditioned to be able to give the Caps sixty minutes of quality goaltending. (Might his February have been better spent in Hershey than in Vancouver?)

And yet, it's this very same split that provides reason for optimism - as Varly returns to game shape, presumably so to will his game.

Due to his play and that of the guy in front of him, Varly is clearly the number two goalie in town right now. Whether he regains the top spot - or slips to third - remains to be seen.