ARLINGTON, Va. -- Like the nylon mesh enclosing the goals that they strive to protect, Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov and Washington Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth are intertwined.
Selected 11 picks apart by Washington in the 2006 NHL Draft, the two were heralded as the future of the Capitals' crease. They made their respective League debuts nearly two months apart during the 2008-09 season, both allowing one goal in victories. Varlamov wowed with acrobatic saves, explosiveness that Neuvirth balanced with a more conservative approach.
In the summer of 2011, following a season where Neuvirth earned 27 victories while Varlamov spent most of his time languishing on injured reserve, the Capitals traded Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for a first-round draft pick and a conditional second-round pick.
Varlamov and Neuvirth stood at opposite sides of the ice countless times during practice, but for the first time the two will do so in a meaningful game as they will start against one another when the Capitals host the Avalanche Saturday at Verizon Center.