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Varlamov starts for Russia vs. Slovenia

Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men

Russia goaltender Semyon Varlamov sprays water on his face during a training session at the Bolshoy Ice Dome at the the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Julio Cortez

Russia had quite the debate over who to start in goal for their opening game of the Olympics and they’ve made their choice.

Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov will get the call to start against Slovenia on Thursday (7:30 a.m. ET on MSNBC). Varlamov gets the nod over Columbus Blue Jackets goalie and 2013 Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky who will back him up.

Varlamov enters the Olympics with a bit more experience than Bobrovsky in international competition. The Avs starter has played in three out of four of the past World Championships and was a member of the 2010 Russian Olympic team.

Bobrovsky, on the other hand, last competed for Russia at the 2008 World Junior Championships. Both goalies are having strong seasons in the NHL and it was a virtual toss-up as to who started.

Varlamov struggled at Worlds last year, but his play this season with the Avs has shown him to be one of the better goalie in the NHL.

Follow @JoeYerdonPHT