With Semyon Varlamov out until at least the All-Star break, Calvin Pickard has stepped into the starting role once again for the Colorado Avalanche. Despite playing strong in their most recent contest, a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, Head Coach Jared Bednar has opted to give the 24-year-old Pickard the night off against the San Jose Shark.
Instead, rookie Spencer Martin will be making his first career start in the NHL. The 21-year old rookie is in his second professional season, and has been recalled on four separate occasions this season, but had yet to get into any game.
That’s going to change tonight and will do so against the defending Western Conference champions.
Martin spent three seasons with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), posted average numbers throughout. Through the three years with Mississauga, Martin posted a 3.24 GAA and a .906 save percentage, to go along with a losing record (56-67-10).
Turning pro last year he would split time in between the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and American Hockey League (AHL), posting better numbers with the San Antonio Rampage of the latter league.
In the first 45 games of his AHL career, Martin has posted a 2.63 GAA and a .917 SV%. His 15 wins this season is 4th in the AHL and he was selected to the league’s All-Star game.
Martin steps in a difficult situation in Colorado. The team has been far from good, currently owning the fewest points in the league.
What little nights they have gotten good goaltending, has been ruined by inconsistent scoring, highlighted by Thursday night’s loss to the Ducks that saw the Avalanche outshot heavily early on, with Pickard bailing them out. Though they launched their own surge, taking a 1-0 lead, they couldn’t hold onto yet another third-period lead and lost the game.
In an ideal world, having Varlamov, Pickard and even Jeremy Smith in the professional ranks, Martin would have been allowed to take his sweet time in developing in the minors. With Varlamov out again, and Pickard needing a night off, Colorado opted to go with Martin over Smith instead.
So for at least a night, and depending on how he performs, the Avalanche’s get even younger with having Martin in the lineup.