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Avs place Varlamov (groin) on IR

New York Rangers v Colorado Avalanche

at Pepsi Center on April 3, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.

Doug Pensinger

The Colorado Avalanche have had three losses already this season, but none bigger than the one they suffered today.

Semyon Varlamov, the runner-up to Tuukka Rask for last year’s Vezina Trophy, injured his groin during Thursday’s skate and was subsequently placed on IR, the club announced. It was thought Varlamov first tweaked his groin during Tuesday’s OT loss to the Leafs, but he was scheduled to start this evening against Ottawa and took the morning warmup, only to (apparently) re-aggravate the issue.

In his place, ex-Calgary goalie Reto Berra will assume the starting duties, while Calvin Pickard has been summoned from AHL Lake Eris to serve as the backup.

How Colorado adjust to life without Varlamov will be key. He was the club’s MVP last season -- heck, he finished fourth in Hart Trophy voting -- and thrived under a heavy workload; Varlamov was the only NHL netminder to eclipse the 1,800-save plateau last season as Colorado’s well-documented poor possession metrics meant the Avs were routinely getting outshot.

So, tall task ahead for Berra, though the Swiss ‘tender has looked good in limited action this season, stopping 37 of 38 shots faced for a .975 save percentage.