Semyon Varlamov will get the start for Russia today as they take on Slovenia. While other squads in the 2014 Winter Olympics have interesting goaltending questions as youngsters challenge incumbents (United States) or top-end netminders challenge other elite goalies (Finland), the Russians have a unique situation on their hands with Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky.
@mfinewaxhockey Semyon Varlamov starts for Russia today. Bobrovsky is a back-up. Tikhonov and Svitov are scratched so Nichushkin is in.
— Antti Mäkinen (@sirmakinen) February 13, 2014
Both Varlamov and Bobrovsky are young. While the Canadians have never used a goaltender younger than 30 as their No. 1 guy in Olympic competition, both of Russia’s potential starters are 25-years-old. They’ve both been outstanding this season, and Bobrovsky was the NHL’s top goaltender last year.
Injuries derailed him during the 2013-14 campaign however, and Varlamov capitalized on the opportunity to impress Russia’s brass without a lot of competition. He’ll get the first shot at locking down the top job for the host nation, and a strong showing against Slovenia could force Russia to keep Bobrovsky on the bench for the time being.
Another option is to alternate the netminders. Usually in tournaments like this teams will roll with one goalie, but keeping them each fresh throughout the medal round might be something that Russia will consider.
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