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Berra, buried: Avs to start Pickard for three-games-in-four-nights stretch

Winnipeg Jets v Colorado Avalanche

Winnipeg Jets v Colorado Avalanche

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Colorado is going all-in on Calvin Pickard, per the Denver Post:

[Head coach Patrick Roy] said that rookie goaltender Calvin Pickard will play all three games on the road trip, including the back-to-back nights against the Sabres and Red Wings.

“In every game that he’s played, he hasn’t shown any signs of fatigue,” Roy said of Pickard. “If he does show signs of fatigue, we’ll talk about it. But right now, there’s no urgency for us to look at Plan B.

“He’s playing well, he’s giving us a chance to win every night. We’re certainly going to let him play.”

Pickard’s ascension to Colorado’s full-time No. 1 hasn’t gotten much publicity, but is easily one of the most intriguing goalie stories of the season. With reigning Vezina finalist Semyon Varlamov hobbled by a recurring groin ailment and backup Reto Berra losing Roy’s faith, Pickard has come out of nowhere to post some pretty stellar numbers this season, including a 2.42 GAA and .927 save percentage.

What’s more, he’s doing it in Varlamov-like fashion: playing all the time, and facing tons of rubber.

The Avs are still surrendering a ton of shots -- 34 per game, third-most in the NHL -- much like they did last year, when Varlamov finished with a league-high 1867 saves. Pickard has been up to the test, however; he’s faced an average of 33 shots over his last five games yet has posted a very good .920 save percentage. This includes his 39-save effort in a 3-2 OT loss to St. Louis on Saturday, in which he was named the game’s first star.

As for Berra, his last start came on Nov. 25, when he was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots against the Coyotes. It’ll be very interesting to see when his next start comes -- or if it comes at all.