Blackhawks Postseason Concern: Semyon Varlamov

Semyon Varlamov

While some might feel that the sky is falling, credit needs to be given where it’s deserved. And what Semyon Varlamov has done against the Hawks this season is certainly worthy of respect – and concern with the prospect of a first round series against the Avs on the horizon.

The Blackhawks have lost three of six game since the Olympic break, and now sit in third place in the Central Division.

In the Hawks three losses – at the Rangers and twice against the Avs (once in Chicago, once in Denver) – the Hawks have been outscored 9-5. That margin of four goals in three games includes an empty netter by Paul Stastny when the Avs won 4-2 in Chicago last week.

Over those three losses, the Blackhawks have out-shot their opponents 109-74; Henrik Lundqvist and Varlamov have combined over three games to post a .963 save percentage.

The Blackhawks have lost 14 games all season – four have come with Varlamov in the other net. Colorado’s netminder has a .960 save percentage against Chicago this season.

Is Varlamov the antidote to the Blackhawks’ potent offense?

Since the beginning of the 2009-10 campaign, only six goaltenders have won three games against the Blackhawks during a single regular season.

  • Antti Niemi – 2010-11 – 3-1-0, .907
  • Craig Anderson – 2010-11 – 3-0-0, .900
  • Kari Lehtonen – 2010-11 – 3-0-0, .942
  • Pekka Rinne – 2011-12 – 4-1-1, .909
  • Jonathan Quick – 2011-12 – 3-1-0, .967
  • Mike Smith – 2011-12 – 3-0-0, .959

In 2012, the Hawks were eliminated from the postseason by Smith and the Coyotes. In 2011, the Hawks were run out of the postseason by the Canucks and Roberto Luongo. During the 2011 season, Luongo had a 2-1-1 record against Chicago with a .938 save percentage.

If the Hawks face the Avs in the first round of the 2014 postseason, they will need to overcome a goaltender who has had their number all year.

35 thoughts on “Blackhawks Postseason Concern: Semyon Varlamov

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Reminds me of the 1993 playoff series with the Blues when Curtis Joseph had the Hawks number. I couldn’t find the numbers for CUJO in that series only but he posted a sparkling 938 SV% for the playoffs and 2 SO. Those high flying Hawks were a division winner and still had many of the core players in place for another cup run but a hot goalie stopped them cold, and the rest is history.

    Most Hawks fans remember the end of the series when Eddie the Eagle got interfered with and gave up the OT clincher and when absolutely ballistic. Back to 2014 my confidence level against the Avs in the playoffs isn’t high at all….

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Here is the wikipedia offering on that playoff series

    The Blackhawks, on an overtime goal in Game 4, became the second division champion after the Bruins to be swept in the first round of the playoffs. Chicago goaltender Ed Belfour complained that St. Louis star Brett Hull had interfered with him on the play, but to no avail as the tally stood as the game- and series-winner. Belfour famously went on a rampage after the game, breaking a hot tub, coffee maker, and television in the visitors’ locker room at the St. Louis Arena. In 1999, Hawk fans would be left to contemplate the irony of the situation when Belfour and Hull were teammates on the Cup-winning Dallas Stars, who in 1993 were known as the Minnesota North Stars. With the sweep at the hands of the Blues, Chicago saw their playoff losing streak extended to eight games, dating back to the Stanley Cup Finals of the previous year against the Penguins.

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I definitely dont think the sky is falling… we still have time to iron out the creases and straighten out our issues….
    Do we have a true 2C on the roster right now?… no… did we last year?… not really…

    We should be ok. Varlamov has been money, and as to what Tab said, I will give credit where it is due… but we should be able to win a 7 game series. It may take all 7, but it took a damn near miracle to survive DET last year… so if we did that… we can beat them.

    No panic here…. “yet”.

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Zero concern.

  • March 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    He isn’t the 2nd coming of anyone or anything…he’s a good goaltender who plays very confidently against the Hawks…and we HELP him out all the time…if anyone here has ever watched a COL game where Varlamov has given up a bunch of goals, it is usually because his crease is being crashed and he’s under duress…against COL we typically skate around the perimeter and give him easier angle shots with NO ONE in front screening him or bashing at rebounds…

    This is how you beat goalies like this…and unless the Hawks are prepared to pay a physical price to get in front of the net and start scoring some gritty/greasy goals, they aren’t going to beat this goalie any time soon…and we are destined to see them in the first round…

    Maybe Q could dress all 8 DMen and they could all take turns crashing the net…

    But believe me, Varlamov is not some magician…he’s a positionally sound goalie, who can be beat by making him uncomfortable.

  • March 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    If it bleeds…

  • March 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    “If the Hawks face the Avs in the first round of the 2014 postseason, they will need to overcome a goaltender who has had their number all year?”

    Ahh … yeah, if they plan on winning.

    I think the more pertinent question is can they overcome Varlamov. Also answered in the affirmative.

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Brad- “…where Varlamov has given up a bunch of goals, it is usually because his crease is being crashed and he’s under duress…”

    EXACTLY. What I posted earlier today was that the Hawks will not win unless they are willing to go back into beast/sacrifice mode on O and pay the price in front of the net. Further, Shaw is not going to get the job done by himself, he’s got heart but not the size to make it happen on his own. We will need 29 (who did it last year), 19, and 20 to be willing to pay the price in addition to Bollig dishing it out. As such, I like the following lines for the playoffs:
    29-19-88 (these guys need a body/net presence and Bicks is needed again)
    10-Regin-81 (best we’ve got for 2c at this point, need a healthy Hoss)
    20-65-11/26 (Saad make line 3 dangerous again w/ Morin-Zues rotation)
    28-16-52 (keep em cookin’)

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    to Negzz lines:

    We’ve seen that Regin not only isn’t working as Quenneville’s 2C, but he’s not been a healthy scratch in favor of Brookbank.

    I have liked what Saad & Shaw at wings has looked like, and wouldn’t mind seeing that w/ Regin as their center on the “3rd line,” but I’m not sold on Bickell being immediately effective if he’s pushed back to the top line. I would slot the lines this way:


  • March 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Saad and Toews playing together is almost a must for me. Their numbers together are insane. Something like 7% more CF% when together versus seperated. 20-19-88 would cause urine to run down opposing goalies legs.

    If TT is going to play here, having him on the ice with 10-81 seems almost perfect. If he struggles with draws, Sharp is there to jump in. They are both defensively responsible, and both capable of finishing the beautiful passes he’ll lay upon their sticks.

    I’ve given up on the Morin idea. I think it would make the Hawks tremendously better if he was playing regularly, but it just isn’t going to happen.

  • March 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    The Hawks don’t match up with speed teams, as ironic as that sounds. The Avs torch the Hawks up and down the ice. Give credit to Roy. He knows how to attack this team .

    I still say however that the Western Conference is St Louis’s to lose . They are in my estimation the best and most complete team in the entire NHL. If they don’t win a Cup this season then they will be considered chokes ala Vancouver several years back.

  • March 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Hawks are okay . . . as many say just need to get consistent traffic in front of the net, Hawks have a template for speed, stick and finesses type players, BUFF was the last consistent net presence we have, BICKEL can do it, BOLIG and maybe SHAW at times but he is easy to move . . . TOWES does it but he’s the last guy we need getting cheap shotted by the d-men. Ranta needs more time in the net.

  • March 13, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    What Rufus said…

    Brad- is right- Hawks need to get to net- to beat Avs…But that is Atypical Hawk’s hockey!!!

    Hawks- ain’t going to out skate/speed this Avs team… As Is!!! TT-could help… but probably not enough… “Handcuffs (29)” – will have to make an appearance for any chance of beating them!!!

    And to make matters worse- Avs are in better position Cap wise to continue to beat the Hawks for years to come… This New Playoff format is going to screw the Hawks!!!

  • March 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Varlamov has proven himself to be an incredibly solid goalie AND he has the Hawks #. Good feeling about the Hawks chances? Not so much.

  • March 13, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    The Hawks have the personnel to skate with the Avs but they are not currently being used. Q needs to wake up unless he is doing the rope a dope and allwoing the Avs to get over confident. As far as Varmalov he can be beaten. He looked pretty average in the olympics, so the big stage may be his achilles heal. Let’s see how well he plays under pressure. it’s not like the Avs are dominate in these games. Bottom line is that a Hawks goalie hasn’t stole a game for us since Emery last year against Calgary so thats pretty sad.

  • March 13, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    varlamov deserves credit. he’s played well. but he’s not a better goaltender than quick or rask, who we beat last year.

    varlamov’s knock is rebound control. as many have correctly pointed out, if we get bodies in the low slot/crease, some will be potted.

    the avs have weaknesses on defence. our transition game needs to be faster so their forwards don’t have time to backcheck, then our world-class forwards need to make some plays against their porous and slow defencemen. colorado’s forwards may be able to skate with ours, but their defencemen cannot, and NO team can transition as fast as we can. if we play to our capacity on the counterattack, and crash the net for rebounds, we’ll win a best-of-7.

  • March 13, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Regarding the lines posted by Negzz and Tab – was Versteeg omitted on purpose or just forgotten? I’ve read criticism of Versteeg (not necessarily from you guys) but if you look at his numbers since rejoining the Hawks – 8g/15a/23pts in 47 games, which extrapolates to 40 points in 82 games. Getting 40 point production for $2.2M is pretty good. He’s getting only 13:28 TOI and doesn’t get a lot of PP time. Back in his rookie season (2008/09). he had his best year with 22g/31a/53pts in 78 games, but he also got 17:02 TOI and played a lot of PK (4g/3a on the PK). The next season he averaged 15:44 TOI and had 20g/24a/44pts (3g/1a on PK). So for all the complaining about Versteeg not being very good – the stats say he is pretty much the same player but with less time on the ice, most noticeably no PK time. He may be a half step slower than he was 5 years ago – but he’s still a much better skater than Handzus is and Morin will ever be.

  • March 14, 2014 at 9:00 am

    ER- I feel like there are a lot of people complaining about production for certain Hawks. However, if these guys were playing to the level that the fans think they should, the Hawks would need to score 6 goals a game for all of the points to go around. Those penalty kill numbers sure are nice, though. Good thing he’s gotten less time on the PK than Brandon Bollig this year.

  • March 14, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Oh, and apparently Q said that Versteeg will be on the top line today with Shaw moving back to 3C. If this means that Brookbank is going to play forward again I might cry real tears.

  • March 14, 2014 at 9:23 am

    What does Edzo say? You need to get to the front of the net and elevate pucks! Kane’s goal the other night was where? Over his shoulder and under the cross bar.
    This guy is beatable! My concern is us always giving up the first goal. Ranta gave up a softie the other night, but I think on any given night until Crow gets his head out of his you know what Ranta’s our guy! Our goaltending is still to me a HUGE ? mark!
    Without our defense in front of them our goaltenders are not superstars by any means, Crow needs to stop letting in the five hole shots. He makes those saves it boosts the teams confidence. The last game he played when he let in that first goal, did anyone see the glare of Q’s eyes when he looked at Crow? Unfortunately they paid Crow this past off season so we are stuck with him. And we paid Bickell to, what a waste! Is he going to come alive in the playoffs?

  • March 14, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Crawford last 5 games:

    W 1GA .952
    W 1GA .957
    L 3GA .850
    W 1GA .969
    L 2GA .917

    Totals 1.62GAA .933%
    February totals 1.60GAA .938%

    Seriously tell me how Crawford has his head in his ass or what else he is supposed to do? Congratulations are in order for a silly unfounded and ridiculous comment because those numbers are quite good.

  • March 14, 2014 at 9:51 am

    2nd goal on Wednesday night came from traffic in front as well.

  • March 14, 2014 at 10:00 am

    My big concern about Tabs line 1st line (10/19/88), is who is going to crash the net? Yes, this is a great line skill-wise and has had success, but in the PO’s teams beat on Toews when he’s down low and we risk losing his FO ability to injury (like last yr.) Kane gets pounded in the PO’s unless someone is there to occupy the bad guys and Sharp is a sniper.. so how do we get to Varlamov? Putting Bickell with 19/88 turned the momentum last year and propelled us to the Cup- yes? I am also concerned about 29’s ability to re-emerge after a slow reg season, but his stats are actually very similar to last year pre-playoffs and we need that $4mil to kick into gear NOW. That’s why he earned the contract!

    I get JS point on Corsi when pairing 19/20, but still think 20 is too valuable as a 3rd line weapon to a balanced team line approach. I also like Tab’s 2nd line of 20/TT/81 but that would mean (at least in my line-1 scenario w/Bickell), that 10 goes to line 3 (and that’s a not.) that also assumes TT can handle the 2C role on day-1 (another big IF.)

    ER- My bad on 23, he’s gotta be on the ice on 3rd/4th lines. That means for me:
    (Zus/Regin rotate where needed.)

  • March 14, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Harry is quite right…against the top teams, the Hawks need to play with a lead…get on top of COL and watch how differently they play…both Raanta AND CC have been guilty of too many soft goals to open up scoring in games, and it has to stop…goalies can’t stop everything, but they need to stop the ones they see…

  • March 14, 2014 at 10:51 am

    No time to get down on are guys. The game will come. We have a great team & very good goaltending. We have outplayed & outshot the Avs in most of the games this year. With a bounce off a post or one less dumb penalty we have the win. Dont forget are guys know how to win when the time counts. Go Hawks

  • March 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Find me a goalie that you typically beat without elevating the puck and I’ll give you a cookie. Stand up goalies don’t exist anymore, the butterfly eliminates most of the bottom of the net. If it was so easy to elevate the puck to score a goal, don’t you think more people would be doing it?

    Neggz- I wouldn’t mind seeing Bickell on the top line, but if it isn’t him I would prefer it to be Saad.

  • March 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Although Bollig is playing the best hockey of his career, I would not mind seeing the 3d and 4th lines like this for a 3-4 game stretch

    29 / 65 /28 Give Smith a shot with Shaw
    11 / 16 / 23 Give Versteeg a little change of scenery on the 4th line.

    Saad has earned his spot in the top 6 and I think he will stay up there.

  • March 14, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I like the Negzz lines the best, providing TT can play effectively at 2C – not a guarantee. But if he can, (at this point somewhat unlikely) and Q can repress his impulse to change the lines during the game (VERY unlikley) – then I like Bickell on the top line because that will mean he’s getting somewhere in the 16-18 mins TOI range which will be good for him, AND it puts Saad on the 3rd line to make that line much more effective.

  • March 14, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Negzz, gotta disagree a little bit. Although I love 19 and 88 together, I think 81 needs 19 more. 81 needs a center who will go to the tough areas, behind the net and in the corners. Where as Kane can excel with a center with vision and speed, that would be TT.

    I would like Saad on the 3d line as well……just don’t think it is gonna happen

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Mike, With ya on the upside of pairing of Hoss/19, but my concern is that the TT/88 combo is a mini-mite line that will get shellacked physically in the playoffs. I’m with JS that 19/88 need to be together with either 29 or 20 to withstand the grueling style of the “second season.” Further, my thinking was that 81 brings D responsibility to a TT line as the kid tries to figure it out in the show. Despite my personal thoughts on how to pair these guys, the fact is I seriously doubt 29 gets put back up with 19/88 unless Q feels desperate and that the series is in jeopardy.

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    The simple solution to getting the 3rd line rolling again is giving Shaw, Bickell and Versteeg as his wingers…that means you can go back to Toews centring Hossa and either Saad (which I prefer) or Sharp…and then Regin, until TT arrives, centring Sharp and Kane…obviously the 4th line stays the same…

    Now, look at that lineup, and if TT can handle the NHL rigours right now, very, very few teams could beat this lineup…



    That’s an impressive lineup…we just have to hope that TT can take the hits, sticks, etc, that the NHL game will throw his way…

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    And get rid of Handzus from the 2nd PK, he’s so slow…and start using Versteeg…and you can’t say that Zus stays because he’s a natural centre, his FO% this season on the PK is 42% and its 47.5% overall. If Zus just won that draw, in the Hawks zone Wed. against COL with only 8 seconds left in their 2 man advantage, COL doesn’t score and it stays a 2-1 hockey game…

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    5th in west and deservingly so. The depth of this team is overrated. Shaw bickell bollig regin handzus are all bad this year. That’s two lines of forwards. They are so desperate for depth we gotta deal with brookbank. Anyone not worried should watch stl, sj, col, ana play a little more often. We look behind all these guys.

  • March 14, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    I like Negzz lines but agree that 20 deserves (and is ) a top 6 player on this team. Or any team in the NHL. But the flip side is anything that can elevate 29s game is worth the gamble-we need him in the playoffs and 20 can play anywhere and contribute.

    IMO Kane and TT shouldn’t play together. (Although it would be fun to watch)

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