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Semyon Varlamov gets nod in net for Russia against Finland

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Semyon Varlamov shut out Slovakia in his last start. (Getty Images)
Semyon Varlamov shut out Slovakia in his last start. (Getty Images)

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Between Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky, Russia has two very good goaltenders in these Olympics. That helps to explain why they can't seem to settle on a go-to guy.

After Bobrovsky started in the first of the knockout round games and shut out Norway 4-0, Russia is turning back to Varlamov for their quarterfinal matchup with Finland. The two have alternated started for every game in the tournament so far.

Words such as "disappointing" and other of that ilk have been used to describe Russia in this tournament but really that's only in reference to one half of the game; the offense. Defensively, there have been no complaints for Russia.

Both of the goalies have been very good behind a defense that has been surprisingly strong. Russia hasn't given up an even-strength goal since they played Slovenia, the first game of the tournament. They haven't surrendered a goal since playing the USA as Varlamov blanked Slovakia prior to Bobrovsky's shutout of Norway.

Conventional wisdom says that you select a goalie and go with him in a tournament like this but if you have two guys going well, what's the harm? It is a nice luxury when dealing with back-to-back games for as we have seen time and time again in the NHL, goalies on the average fare much worse in the second game. Splitting the starts isn't such a bad idea if you can do it.

Considering this matchup is Russia's biggest thus far and the fact that it would simply be his turn if the pattern continued, you could probably say that Varlamov has a slight edge on the top spot and would start in any potential medal game for Russia should they beat Finland.

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