-- Signed as a backup on July 1, Jean-Sebastien Giguere
will make his third consecutive start in goal tonight when the Colorado Avalanche
play the San Jose Sharks
at the Pepsi Center.
Giguere, 34, is coming off a 3-0 win against Dallas on Friday when he made 24 saves, and he's stopped 41 of 42 shots in his past two starts.
"He's played very well the last two games and he deserves to get back in there," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said after the morning skate.
The Avalanche sent first- and second-round draft picks to Washington on July 1 to acquire Semyon Varlamov
and signed him to a three-year, $8.3 million contract, but he's struggled after getting off to a hot start. Varlamov, 23, is winless (0-5-1) in six starts since a 3-2 victory against Los Angeles on Oct. 30.
"It's a situation where he played very well for us early on and he's going through a tough stretch," Sacco said. "Sometimes the best thing for a young goaltender is to see what's going on."
Giguere has played well in each of his seven games -- six starts and one relief appearance -- and is relishing another chance to return to the crease.
"You always want to play as many games as possible," said Giguere, who has a 4-2 record with a 1.68 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. "(Varlamov) is the guy they see as their future, the future of this team. It's normal to go through a slump, especially when you're young. He had a lot of emotion at the beginning of the year and that kind of slowly dies down as the year goes on. He just has to recapture that somehow.
"Everybody knows what he's capable of doing. He's working extremely hard in practice. Until then, as a backup, you have to be ready for situations like that."
Giguere's role includes being a mentor and sounding board for Varlamov, who owns a 5-8-1 record with a 3.30 GAA and .890 save percentage.
"I'm here to be a good teammate, too," Giguere said. "I've been through what he's going through many times. If anybody in this room knows what he's going through, it's me. I talk to him as much as I can and try to keep him positive, try to keep him smiling. That's what they wanted me here for. They know that with a young guy sometimes things can go wrong. It's always good to have a good veteran presence helping the young guy along."
The Avalanche will be trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since a five-game winning streak on the road from Oct. 10-17. It won't be easy against the Sharks, who are on a 5-1-1 roll and have gone 10-2-1 since Oct. 21.
The Sharks won their second game in a row with a 4-1 victory Saturday night in Dallas and didn't skate this morning.
"They're one of the powerhouses in the Western Conference and in the league," Sacco said. "They play a real strong cycle game, have a lot of big, strong power forwards and a big defense corps. They play a pretty straightforward game. They try to spend time in the offensive zone and wear you down. They're going to be a great test for us."