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Top Shelf: Avs play wait and see with embattled Varlamov

By Dan Di Sciullo, NHL Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - In a scenario all too common in professional sports, Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov is the most recent athlete being accused of committing heinous acts of violence against his girlfriend.

They are only accusations for now but the Avalanche know this situation can go from bad to worse in a hurry. That's why Colorado is treading lightly at the moment, choosing to say little as it waits for the facts to come to light.

The team is hoping the very serious charges being levied against Varlamov are not true, but at the same time they must prepare for the worst. Unfortunately, we are all aware of the frequency in which violence is perpetrated against women, and the world of sports is no stranger to the ugly realm of domestic violence.

Varlamov was arrested Wednesday on second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault charges. The kidnapping charge is a Class 4 felony, punishable by two to six years in prison under Colorado statutes; the assault charge is a misdemeanor.

The 25-year-old Varlamov turned himself in to police Wednesday evening. He spent the night in jail before he could stand before a judge Thursday morning.

For now, Varlamov is free to go as he pleases. A Denver judge set Varlamov's bond at $5,000 and the goaltender was able to join his team in its trip to Dallas, where the Avalanche are scheduled to play the Stars on Friday.

In fact, Denver Post writer Adrian Dater is reporting Varlamov will not only be with the team in Dallas, but that he'll also get the start.

With Colorado also playing a home game Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens it was assumed Varlamov would have to play one of the two games while backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere would get the other start. Considering the Avs are set to retire Adam Foote's jersey in a ceremony prior to Saturday's home game, it seems wise to use Giguere rather than Varlamov in that contest. The optics of Varlamov playing on a night of celebration for the franchise would be less than ideal, to say the least.

Considering the crimes he's being accused of, however, the Avs should prepare themselves for life without their No. 1 goaltender and instead get used to seeing backup Giguere between the pipes.

Although they are only allegations at the present time while Denver police continues its investigation, the things Varlamov is being accused of is enough to make your blood run cold.

Varlamov's girlfriend tells the familiar story of a boyfriend in the midst of an alcohol-fueled rampage, but the fact that similar things happen every day in the world doesn't make her tale any less horrifying.

Her boyfriend, she claims, kicked her in the chest and dragged her across the room by the hair. The arrest warrant also claims Varlamov "pulled the victim's face to the floor and told her in Russia that if this were Russia, he would have beaten here more."

The Avalanche said in a statement Wednesday that the team "is aware of the allegations concerning Semyon Varlamov. At this time, and until the conclusion of this investigation, the Avalanche organization will have no further comment on this situation."

While the Colorado franchise plays wait and see, as it should, other folks close to Varlamov are making the potential mistake of championing his innocence before the all the facts are revealed. Varlamov's agent professed his client's innocence in remarks to the Denver Post, and the goaltender's father told a Russian newspaper that his son "is not facing any serious problems."

Sticking up for your client or son, however, is understandable compared to the outlandish remarks of Igor Ananskikh, head of the Russian Duma Committee on Physical Culture.

Ananskikh, as reported by RSport, took things a step further by venturing into the land of conspiracy theories.

"I'm confident of Semyon's innocence," Ananskikh was quoted as saying. "I think it is sports and political move, as Varlamov is a candidate for the Russian national team. The main goal is to suspend him from training and games so that he loses practice and misses the Olympics."

With the serious charges Varlamov could be facing, it's insensitive to even worry about what his predicament means to Team Russia's chances at the 2014 Sochi Games. Ananskikh does something even worse than that, however, using incredibly faulty logic to somehow turn Varlamov into the victim of an international conspiracy before giving a second of thought to the crimes potentially committed by his countryman.

Whether or not Varlamov is ultimately charged and tried for these alleged crimes, this story has cast a cloud over what had so far been a nearly perfect season for the Avalanche.

The club is off to a 10-1-0 start, matching the franchise's best-ever beginning to a season. As the team's No. 1 goaltender, Varlamov has been a huge part of that early success, going 7-1-0 with a stellar 1.76 goals against average and .945 save percentage. Giguere, however, has been even better over his three starts this season, going 3-0 with a 0.67 GAA and .981 save percentage.

Still, it's difficult to think of this situation in hockey terms. After all, if what Varlamov is being accused of is true then he doesn't deserve to walk the streets, let alone get paid millions of dollars for playing a game.

As always, the best we can do in a situation like this is hope that justice will eventually be served. If that means the Avalanche lose their No. 1 goaltender, then so be it.

11/01 14:05:22 ET

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2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
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NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
PHI 1
ATL 0
Final
DET 7
CLE 5
Final
MIN 7
TOR 0
Final
TEX 8
SEA 6
Final
SFG 1
LOS 2
Final
SDP 1
COL 3
Final
PIT 11
MIL 2
Final
WAS 0
STL 8
Final
TAM 2
NYY 10
Final
MIN 9
TOR 5
Final
CWS 1
BOS 3
Final
HOU 1
KAN 5
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
STL
 
7:05pm Tonight
CLE
TOR
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
ANA
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
KAN
MIN
 
8:40pm Tonight
COL
PHI
 
10:05pm Tonight
OAK
HOU
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
 
Final
NYR 4
PHI 1
2nd OT
STL 3
CHI 3
 
3rd
COL 3
MIN 4
 
2nd
SJS 4
LOS 0
 
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
DET
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR