Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov has had a rollercoaster of a season so far. He has spent much of the year struggling with his confidence as well as a lingering groin injury that kept him out of several games in November. Midway through December he  appears to have mostly recovered from both. Now that he has seemingly solved his personal issues, Varlamov needs to regain the confidence of his coach and teammates. Colorado’s current three-game road trip is going to be pivotal in Varly’s ability to completely recapture the trust of coach Patrick Roy and has the potential to revitalize a struggling Avalanche squad.

After the November 25th loss to the Ottawa Senators, coach Roy lost some belief in his starting goaltender. Roy criticized Varlamov in his postgame press conference that night, saying Varly had single-handedly taken momentum away from the Avalanche and that his goaltender needed to be better. At that point, Varlamov hit a season low in self-belief and had to find a way to bounce back. He was able to do so, playing exceptionally well in four of his next five starts, a stretch where he posted a .935 save percentage. Coach Roy’s damaged confidence in Varly was vastly improved but still had some more recovering to do.

Heading into this past Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Roy was asked about his decision to play Reto Berra in goal against one of the NHL’s more talented offenses. His response was that a game against the Penguins was not as important as the upcoming road trip against divisional opponents. “We play three of four within our division,” Roy said pregame. “Pittsburgh is not in our conference, it is not a four-point game for us.”

Playing Berra against the Penguins, ahead of a crucial three-game stretch, seems to mean that Roy hopes to play Varlamov in all three of the division matchups. Doing so would be unorthodox, considering two of the games are on back-to-back nights (Saturday in Nashville and Sunday in St. Louis). Although, Varlamov was played in back-to-back nights in the 2014-15 season six times. Coach Roy seems to be more assured that Varly can win these important games, but is not completely convinced. “Im going to start with Varly tomorrow night, and we’ll see from there,” Coach Roy said Friday. “Let’s see how many shots we are giving him and how fresh he is.”

Reading between the lines, it seems that Roy believes in Varlamov’s ability to get the job done, but is still not 100 percent confident that he will be up to the task. Having played Berra against Pittsburgh has set up the possibility of Varly playing the three divisional games, but Roy’s reluctance to guarantee the starts shows his uncertainty. Roy has said several times in the past few seasons that Varly needs to be the team’s best player, but doesn’t seem convinced that he can or will be at any point soon. If Varlamov can maintain his recent form, he will replenish the trust of Coach Roy and, more importantly, the rest of the team. This season, when Varlamov gives up his three goals or less, which is just above his average, the Avalanche are 7-3. Varlamov’s ability to steal games will be crucial in facing upcoming opponents from the Central Division, the highest scoring division in hockey.

In the 2014-15 season Semyon Varlamov had an 11-9-3 record against the Central Division. Varlamov is currently buried deep within the NHL’s goaltending statistics with a 7-8-1 record. He is 54th in the league in goals against average with 2.90, and 59th in save percentage, posting a .900 rate up to this point. During his Vezina candidate season, Varlamov had a 41-14-6 record with a .927 save percentage and 2.41 goals against average.