Back from the morning skate, as the Avalanche went through the paces for the final home game of the season tonight against the Minnesota Wild.
Semyon Varlamov, out since Jan. 17 following hip surgery, talked to the media. There is video shot by yours truly, but to summarize: Varly is feeling better, should resume skating by the end of this month, but probably won't put pads and other equipment on until the end of May or start of June.
Varlamov, who went 6-17-0 with a 3.38 GAA and saves percentage, might be exposed by the Avs in the June Expansion Draft. He's "heard the rumors" regarding that, and knows it's out of his control. He said he wants to return to the Avs and believes he and the team would rebound with solid seasons if he does. We'll see.
My view: I think Varly will be exposed, but I'm not at all confident about that either way. I think there is lots of deliberation ahead for Avs management. I think it makes more logical sense, with his big contract and potential for other health problems, etc. etc., but he does have proven talent and it would not be good if he were to regain his old form in another uniform without the Avs having gotten anything for him.
DUCHENE ON HIS FUTURE
I asked Matt Duchene whether his "whatever happens, happens" attitude about remaining with the team beyond this season has changed. Here was his answer:
I think this will be Duchene's final home game with the Avs, but you never know.
Mikko Rantanen, who had his right foot in a cast Tuesday, will not play tonight. Coach Jared Bednar said Rantanen is "day-to-day", however, and will accompany the team on the final two-game road trip. ... Calvin Pickard in net tonight. ... I asked Bednar where, if he had to name one particular time or instance or event or whatever, where the season went wrong: "It's a tough question, because I think it's a culmination of things with us. Injuries are something every team goes through, so we won't talk about that. For us, the resiliency though the down times is (something) we need to work though, so that the valleys don't turn into big craters." Bednar said the culture has to keep evolving, so that the team doesn't hang their head too much after a loss. "Attitude" was a word he used a couple of times, i.e., it has to be more of a "we" atmosphere and not as much of a "me" atmosphere. ... Nathan MacKinnon said he is undecided whether he will play for Canada at the World Championships. Duchene said he would play for Canada. Gabe Landeskog will play for Sweden.