For the better part of three years, Semyon Varlamov had several opportunities to commandeer the Washington Capitals' goal crease, but several injury setbacks had him sitting on the bench at the end of last season. Both sides were looking for a fresh start, so the Caps sent Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche in July for two draft picks and on Saturday in Denver, they could face their former teammate when the two teams face off.
Varlamov is struggling this season for Colorado; he's 10-13-1 with a 3.14 GAA and .896 SV% even after a strong start that saw him allow only four goals in his first three games. Avalanche back-up Jean-Sebastien Giguere has better numbers than Varlamov, but the latter has played twice as many minutes. Even after allowing three goals on 11 shots in the third period of Thursday's 5-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks, Varlamov could be back in net again.
If Varlamov does start, facing him on the other side of the ice will be his former partner, Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth made 26 saves in a 1-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets Thursday. Last season, Neuvirth appeared in 48 regular season games to Varlamov's 27 and started every game during the postseason. The Caps drafted both goalies in the 2006 NHL Draft.
The Caps will have more motivation to beat the Avalanche Saturday. In exchange for Varlamov, Washington received Colorado's first round draft pick in this summer's draft. The Avalanche are currently ranked 25th in the NHL, meaning that the Caps currently hold a lottery pick.
Washington is 0-2-0 against the Northwest Division this season, losing to the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers.