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2011 Colorado Avalanche Blogger Roundtable Day 11: The Goalies

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The only question mark about the Avalanche goaltending going into last season was whether Craig Anderson would play 60 games or 70 games. Things didn't quite work out as expected and the Avalanche have gone in a different direction between the pipes. How confident are you in the tandem of Varlamov and Giguere and how many games do you see each playing

Yes, yes, the goalies again. Looking back, we probably had one too many goalie questions and perhaps could have had one more about the forwards. But, damn, the goalie position is just so vital and the Avalanche have been trying to replace Patrick Roy for so long, and having Craig Anderson do his Lucy-pulling-the-football-away trick just makes everyone crave a competent goalie all that more.

Adrian Dater, Denver Post: I'll say 52 for Varly and 30 for Jiggy. People forget it was only four years ago that Jiggy led a team to a Stanley Cup. He says he's healthier than he's been in years after sports hernia surgery, so I think he'll be good. I cannot say either way on Varlamov until I really see him play a few games. You just never really know a player until you see him live for a while. You simply can't know a guy by watching tape - it has to be in person. It's weird that way in hockey - you only really watch the guys on "your" side. Everything else is a blur.

Brett Shumway, Mile High Hockey: In the wake of the Avs saddest tandem ever in Budaj/Elliot, I'm so confident in the new additions that I went out and got a tattoo covering my entire back of Varly and Giggy tending creases opposite of each other with a grave stone in between them that reads: R.I.P. Craig Anderson 2009-2011. [Thankfully, photos weren't provided]

Matt Muzia, SBN Denver: I like this tandem quite a bit. Everything you hear from Varlamov makes me as a fan scream "Yes! I want this kid on my team!" His stats in limited play are off the charts good, and he's genuinely exciting to watch. I'd love to see him start 55 games this year, but will be happy with 45. Giguere is Giguere. Still good enough to be a quality backup, but if he starts more than 25 games next year there could be trouble.

Ryan Boulding, The Avalanche Guild: I'm confident that Semyon Varlamov will work to stay healthy and that he'll easily beat his career high in games played. I could see him somewhere in the 50's to start. It will be interesting to see where Jean-Sebastien Giguere fits into all of this as he's had offseason surgery. He also apparently has a water absorption issue, which could hinder him in stretch games. The beauty though is that the Avalanche have a secret weapon with Cedrick Desjardins down in Lake Erie now. Depending on how he has rehabbed his surgically repaired shoulder, he could easily pick up any slack left behind. I'm less concerned about games played because I know that, between the two or three of them, the Avs are far better off in goal than they have been in years.

Mike Verminski, Put It On Ice: I'm fairly confident, but nervous because both have a history of injuries. If both remain healthy throughout the season, which isn't likely, I want to see Varly play 50-55 games and Giggy get the rest.

AJ Haefele, Mile High Hockey: I'm extremely confident in the ability of both players to fill the roles I believe the team envisions each guy in with Varly as the starter and Giguere as the veteran backup. The health is the only real question for me and my confidence there is pretty shaken. A lot of talk has been made of Varly's issues with the Capitals training staff and that being a big reason for his prolonged injuries but with Colorado's injury history over the last...5-10 years or so, I'd say coming to Colorado isn't likely to be a magical elixir for him. Ideally I would say 50-55 starts for Varly and the rest for Giguere. Realistically...well, I hope we have Ray Emery's number lying around...

I'm very confident in the goaltending tandem for the Avs going into next season. I think both goalies are determined to prove themselves: Varlamov wants to show he's an elite goaltender in this league, while Giguere wants to remind everyone he still has it. How many games they play depends, obviously, on health. This is the beautiful part of this tandem, though. If either one goes down, I feel certain the other will be able to pick up the ball and run with it. Er, wrong sport. But you meant what I knew.

Cheryl Bradley, Mile High Hockey & Avalanche Breakaway: Varly brings that swag and killer instinct Avs fans love so much. He's able to make those acrobatic, highlight reel saves that leave you wondering how the hell the puck didn't hit twine. Giguere brings a solid veteran presence that calms the nerves. I can already hear myself saying, "It's cool. Jiggy's got this." Either way, the team in front of these goaltenders will feel secure, knowing their boys will be there to help them out and steal some games when needed. I predict, injury free, Varlamov will play 55 games, and Jiggy will man the net for 27.

Angélique Murray, Colorado Avalanche Prospects, Mile High Hockey & Chicks Who Give A Puck: It's hard to imagine the Avs goaltending situation being worse than last season. My biggest fear with the new duo is injuries. I'm also not sure how much Giguere has left in the tank. Nonetheless, I expect he'll start at least 25 games this year with the remaining starts going to Varlamov. If Giguere plays more than 25 games, that's probably not good news for the Avalanche when it comes to Varlamov's condition or performance.

Jaye Horbay, Mile High Sticking: I think based on last years' numbers; a wet mop could have stopped more than the Elliott/Budaj/NotGiveAShitAndy trio. This being said, I'm pretty confident the overall Goals Against will be less than last year.  I see Varly playing about 60-65 games this year and Jiggy cleaning up the mess at 15-20. All of the above of course hinges on someone not tweaking this or pulling that and sending yet another year into a free falling tailspin of doom. Did I say I was confident a couple sentences ago? What I really meant to say was I'm slightly concerned that all these ‘experts' are right and we have two lame duck goalies - again. /starts erecting shrine to hockey gods.

Sandie Gauthier, Mile High Hockey: I'm cautiously optimistic. I think it'll be a fairly even split, perhaps 45 games for Varlamov and 37 games for JS Giguere. 

David from Slovakia, Eurolanche: Firstly, I remember how everybody was mad about Varlamov´s trade. But then when Giguere was added, most of fans had started to like our new goalies. I like them too - on the one side is still young goalie and on the other side veteran and the Stanley Cup winner. If everything goes good, Varlamov will play 60 games and Giguere the rest.

Pavol from Austria, Eurolanche: : As I said before, we have two very balanced goalie tandem, so I am very confident with that. Management said that Varlamov will be the goalie number one and I like that idea. I think Semyon can play like 50 - 60 matches, the rest will be taken by Giguere. Anyway, everything will depend on Varlamov's form.

Aaron Musick, HockeyBuzz: Cautiously optimistic. They have talent but it's either unproven or appears to be in the past. Both have injury problems as well. Assuming health, Varlamov should play 55-60 games and Giguere 25-30 games.

Mike Chambers, Denver Post: I think it's a good youngster/veteran rotation and they'll go around 52-30 in starts if both remain healthy.

Geoff Rosenthal, The Avs Factor: As a friend/Caps fan told me yesterday, "Varly will be good as long as he can stay healthy." The Avs seem to be cursed when it comes to medical issues; thus, my overall level of optimism is just one step above sea level. But I think if Varlamov CAN stay healthy, he's looking at playing 50-55 games.

Andi D, Mile High Hockey: Despite their injury records, I'm very confident in Varly and Giggy.  Varlamov is the future of this franchise - after what we gave up to get him, I doubt we'll be trading him for another Brian Elliott.  Besides, the "Colurahdo Havalanche" were his favorite team growing up and he seems positively thrilled to be wearing the burgundy and blue.  That attitude, combined with his buckets of talent and (from what I can tell) his desire to put all this "he was the Caps third goalie" nonsense to bed should help propel him to the starting position.  Giggy will be a backup, but could easily be one of the best backups in the league.  Even at 35, he's still a Conn Smythe winner with years of experience.  Despite his recent run-ins with injury, I'm hoping he still has a few more years left in the tank.  Tim Thomas is 37 and still awesome - there's no reason why a 35 year-old Giggy can't be at least decent at his age.  I expect around a Varly 52 / Giggy 30 or so split this year because Giggy will constantly be pushing Varly for that top job.  This is the best goalie tandem we've had since Roy left. 

Derek Bell, Mile High Hockey: This is the most excited I've been about a goaltending tandem since Roy and Aeibischer during the 2000-01 season, and we all remember what happened that season. Now let's be 100% clear here, this team is NOWHERE near as talented as that team was. As a matter of fact I don't think another Avs team will ever boast that kind of lineup again, but I digress.  I believe that Varlamov will be the starter on opening night being that the Avs paid as much as they did for him. I predict Varly to start somewhere between 55-60 games with Giggy starting the remainder of the games.

Austin Snow, Avs Chill Zone: I am quite confident, but how can't you be when the team finished last season with Budaj and Elliott?

I think Varlamov stays relatively healthy through the year, and he plays 50-60 games. Giguere will be able to play 20+ games competently, and maybe even pretty successfully. 

Mike @ MHH, Mile High Hockey: In a perfect world, pretty confident. In a world filled with exploding groins, not very.  25, and 35, respectively.

Stephen Crociata, Mile High Sticking and SBNation New York: I'm quite confident, maybe too confident, but I believe the Avalanche have a tandem who complement each other well. Varlamov will have a great teacher in Giguere and the fact neither guy will have to over work will allow for both to stay healthy. I see Varlamov starting 48 games and Giguere 34.

David Driscoll-Carignan, Mile High Hockey: In three of his four years as a coach, Joe Sacco has evenly distributed the goaltending duties. Other than Anderson's 71 start freakazoid season in '09, no other goalie has seen 50 starts under Skipper Joe. Meanwhile, J.S. Giguere has never had less than 30 appearances in a season since turning pro and Semyon Varlamov has yet to make 35 appearances as a pro. I think the split is going to surprise people. It says here that Giguere has a comeback season and starts 60 games.

Of course, I'll look like a genius if I'm right. If I'm wrong, I can always come back and edit it. Either way, we close things up tomorrow with some final bold season predictions.