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All Varlamov: Avalanche send Pickard to AHL

Calvin Pickard

Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard blocks a shot during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


One of the best things to happen to the Colorado Avalanche this season has come to an end - or at least put on hold - and it was done by choice.

The Colorado Avalanche sent rookie goalie Calvin Pickard (pictured) to the AHL on Sunday. As head coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post, it’s all about avoiding merely planting Pickard to the bench, as the team seems to be going all Varlamov, all the time.

“Varly is 100 percent. And we’re going to play him a lot. Period,” Roy said.

As for Reto Berra? It sounds like he’ll be lucky to get into any action.’s Rick Sadowski reports that Roy said that Berra will have to “earn” any playing time he receives, which isn’t shocking since Pickard is being primed to possibly step in when Colorado has back-to-back games in the middle of January.

It’s all on Varly

On one hand, leaning on Varlamov makes a ton of sense.

The 26-year-old carried Colorado to a playoff berth in 2013-14 even as the Avs were bombarded with heavy shot disadvantages, so management likely believes he gives the team the best chance to repeat history.

Some puzzling elements

That said, there are some elements that make Colorado’s decision making seem a little questionable.

For one thing, Varlamov’s been good but not great so far this season; his 5-6-5 record isn’t that different from Pickard’s 6-6-2 mark, yet Pickard, 22, sports a fantastic .934 save percentage while Varlamov stands at a more modest .913.

It’s easy to see why Berra, 27, is in the doghouse. His .882 save percentage is dysmal by just about any standard.

Even so, the Avalanche gave up a significant asset in a second-round pick to acquire Berra during the 2014 trade deadline, so it’s odd that management isn’t being a bit more patient with a guy who’s only played 10 games so far in 2014-15.

The ideal scenario is easy to see: Varlamov carries the load at the NHL level while Pickard gets more seasoning in the minors. Still, for a team in a bind like Colorado, you wonder if the Avs might be better off seeing if Pickard can steal them a few games.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins