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29 сентября 2002 года
Varlamov has opportunity to make good on potential - Post-Dispatch

By Derrick Goold

The only Blue to appear in all five preseason games, winger Sergei Varlamov is getting a coveted chance to "put his game in order," coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Blues believe the crafty Ukrainian with the unexpected feisty streak can be a top-tier scoring winger. So they're giving him shifts. Lots of them.

Because, as displayed Saturday, no unestablished forward is safe.

"When coaches told me what they wanted they said my game comes and goes in waves," Varlamov said. "I guess, they want to play me as many games as possible to level myself out. I have some good periods and others I feel like I can't get anything going."

The Blues didn't give winger Eric Boguniecki a last-chance audition in Saturday's game before cutting him late Saturday night. The reigning American Hockey League MVP, expected to push for a role with the Blues this season, probably will go through waivers. Varlamov, 24, is expected to have a role and push for more ice time. But Boguniecki's departure shows that the Blues are willing to lose a forward to use a better one.

Varlamov, acquired in the summer 2001 trade that sent goalie Roman Turek to Calgary and also brought Fred Brathwaite south, was somewhat of a surprise in 2001's training camp. He sizzled in scrimmages, but the crackle diminished during preseason. Knowing they would lose him through waivers, the Blues held on to the league's lowest-paid player. He paid off, playing in 52 games last season and producing 12 points.

His performance earned him a spot on the Ukrainian Olympic team, something he didn't expect. And it hinted the Blues had found a gem.

Coming in stronger and "more confident," Varlamov has had a similar refrain this season. Among the top scorers in the Blues' scrimmages - four points to tie Al MacInnis for their team's lead - Varlamov has cooled off. He had an assist in each of the first three preseason games and was part of the Blues' best new line, Petr Cajanek centering Jamal Mayers and Varlamov.

But he's been a minus-1 in each of the past two games and has failed to score a goal on 11 preseason shots. Even two wraparound attempts didn't sneak through in Saturday's 3-2 loss to Minnesota.

Given great opportunities, Boguniecki didn't score either, and while that didn't automatically send him back to Worcester, Quenneville said he believed missed chances undermined the rest of Boguniecki's game. Justin Papineau, meanwhile, hasn't put a shot on net in his past two games but remains on the roster with his NHL-best six goals.

"You don't just measure these guys around the net," Quenneville said. "It's who comes up with loose pucks. Who turns an offensive situation for them with a turnover going the other way. Who wins the battle. Who has the emotion. Who has the intensity from shift to shift. Those are the type of things we monitoг."

Страничка Сергея Варламова на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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