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Varlamov, Avs aim to build on solid start vs. Bruins
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Latest Line: Boston -120 O/U: 5.5
 
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After their worst season since moving to Denver in 1995, the Colorado Avalanche have started this campaign winning two of their first three on the road.

The team isn't getting overly excited. After all, Colorado started 2016-17 with a 3-1-0 record before losing 59 of their last 78 games.

The difference this year could be a healthy Semyon Varlamov. The Russian goaltender, coming off double hip surgery in January, is 2-0, including a 4-0 shutout of the Boston Bruins on Monday afternoon. They will likely get a shot at revenge on Varlamov when the teams meet Wednesday night for Colorado's home opener.

If Varlamov plays close to how he did in Boston, the Avalanche have a great chance to match last year's quick start.

"It's a good start for me. I didn't play for a long time," Varlamov told The Denver Post after stopping 29 shots Monday. "Came back and started the season with two wins. It brings confidence to the team."

Some of Boston's issues have to do with injuries. Forward Patrice Bergeron is on the team's three-game road trip that starts Wednesday but he won't play against the Avalanche. In addition, Boston (1-1-0) will be without David Backes (diverticulitis) and Noel Acciari (broken finger) probably until November, according to the Boston Globe.

The Bruins' lack of depth at the forward position prompted some roster shuffling. They called up Danton Heinen from Providence and signed Ryan White to a professional tryout agreement. Both players are with the team on the trip.

White, who had a tryout with Vancouver during training camp and was cut Saturday, has a reputation as an NHL grinder. Boston is familiar with him from his time with the Montreal Canadiens.

"I'm just going to play my game wherever I go," White told the Boston Globe. "I'm probably here for a reason. Just play physical, straight up-and-down, north-south game. Chip in where I can. Pretty self-explanatory the way I play. Can't change it now."

Colorado opens its home schedule with some drama attached. Center Matt Duchene, who expected to be traded in the offseason, is playing but clearly wants out. He reported for training camp a month ago and said he was doing so only to honor his contract and teammates.

He has played solidly for the Avalanche, scoring the first goal of the season and tallying three points in the first three games. Despite his professional approach, former Colorado star and Hockey Hall of Fame member Peter Forsberg told Swedish TV on Saturday the Avalanche should bench Duchene and trade him.

Duchene took the high road, expressing admiration for Forsberg over the weekend.

"I don't think it was meant to be anything personal. He and I have a great relationship. So I'm not taking it personally," Duchene told The Denver Post. "I think he's just commenting on the situation. A lot can get lost in translation."

The Avalanche are trying to recover from an NHL-worst 48 points last season, so winning in Boston and at Madison Square over the New York Rangers on Thursday was a good start. Wednesday is their only home game sandwiched between five on the road, so they want to make a good impression on the fans.

Starting out well on the road helped with the confidence.

"It feels good to come home 2-1," Avs defenseman Erik Johnson told The Denver Post. "We haven't come home from a road trip with a winning record in a long time. So it feels good to have that. But you can't rest on anything you've accomplished so far. We have to reset and not be satisfied and continue to push forward."

 


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