Semyon Varlamov, Tomas Hertl off to quick starts

Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov has played a key role in the team's 5-0 start.
(Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)

Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the previous week:

+ A 40-save performance Saturday by Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov against Washington — his former team — improved the Avalanche’s record to 5-0 for the first time since the franchise moved to Denver from Quebec in 1995. Varlamov’s game has been sharpened by goalie guru Francois Allaire and Coach Patrick Roy, a goalie of some note himself.

+ San Jose rookie Tomas Hertl led the NHL through Sunday’s games with seven goals, including a spectacular, between-the-legs shot in a four-goal performance against the New York Rangers. Bravo to Hertl for using his talents to show his personality. With eight points in five games he heads an impressive class that also features Calgary’s Sean Monahan (four goals, six points in five games) and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (one goal, six points in five games).

+ New York Islanders captain John Tavares lost a few teeth when he took a shot to the mouth last Friday, but he didn’t want to wait to see a dentist. So he pulled a loose tooth out of his mouth while sitting on the bench and handed it to a team trainer. Tavares didn’t miss a shift. Of course.


- After a 1-4 start and being outscored, 25-9, the Rangers placed goalie Martin Biron on waivers Monday. His 7.61 goals-against average and .763 save percentage were the worst among goalies who had appeared in two or more games through Sunday. The Rangers are expected to recall Cam Talbot to back up Henrik Lundqvist.

- The New Jersey Devils have yet to win a game, at 0-3-3. As expected following Ilya Kovalchuk’s retirement, they’re struggling to score. They’ve produced 11 goals in six games and have been shut out twice.

- The Ottawa Senators, touted as a Stanley Cup contender, are 0-2-2 since a season-opening win over Buffalo. San Jose took 50 shots against them Saturday and the Ducks took 56 on Sunday; the Senators are yielding a league-high 43 shots per game. “I hope these two games are an eye-opener and we tighten things up defensively because you’re not going to survive playing like that,” team captain Jason Spezza said.