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Former Washington Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov returns to the Verizon Center tonight for the first time since he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on July 1, 2011.

While Varly told The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater that he was “so excited to be coming back,” he also faces a tough challenge in his former teammate and captain, Alex Ovechkin.

“In the NHL, I’ve never played against him,” Varlamov said to Dater. “I played against him one time back in Russia, when he played for Dynamo and I played for Lokomotiv. I’m looking forward to playing against him. It’s going to be a tough game, for sure. He’s a great player.”

The game Varlamov speaks of was actually during the lock-out last season on October 22, 2012. He fails to mention a few tiny details. Dynamo would win 3-0. And Ovechkin totally scored on him.

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Varly and trainer Steve Saunders. (Photo credit: Power Train Sports Institute’s Instagram page)

It seems like such a long time ago, but a few years back the Washington Capitals would almost always have a Russian on the ice. Not Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Viktor Kozlov, or Sergei Fedorov. It was Semyon Varlamov. At least, when he wasn’t struggling with groin injuries.

Varlamov, who at times looked more like an Olympic gymnast than a traditional NHL goaltender, had the talent to become the franchise’s long-term solution in net. After replacing Jose Theodore and dominating in the 2008-09 playoffs, Varlamov failed to lock down the starting position the next season. Because of injuries.

Varly’s injuries were made worse after rehab starts in Hershey. The next season, Varly battled with Michal Neuvirth for the number-one spot and again would was plagued by the same issues, again making another rehab trip to the Capitals’ AHL affiliate.

The Caps eventually dealt Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for draft picks during the summer of 2011, allowing the Avs to take all of the risk with Varly after his cheap entry-level contract expired. Since then, the Samara, Russia native has found his groove. After averaging 30.7 NHL-AHL appearances from 2008-11 with Washington and Hershey, Varlamov played in 53 games with Coloardo in 2011-12 and 51 in 2012-13 combined with Colorado and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. So what changed?

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On January 13th, the KHL will host their fifth annual All-Star game at Cheylabinsk’s Traktor Sport Palace and two Washington Capitals players (that we wish were in DC right now) have been voted into the starting line-up by fans: Team West’s Alex Ovechkin and Team East’s Evgeny Kuznetsov. The exhibition, which is set to be played in Kuznetov’s hometown, will mark the first time that the Caps legend and his protégé have suited up against one another — well, that is if the NHL lockout rages on for another month. And if there’s a just and loving God, it won’t!

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Semyon Varlamov Plays Sumo Suit Hockey With Kids

Photo credit: yarreg.ru

The last time we visited former Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov on this site, he was showing off his gracefulness by falling on his heinie after winning the World Championship with Russia. Since then, Varly signed a lockout contract with his old Russian Super League team, Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, and has been a total stud. He currently leads all KHL goaltenders in GAA (1.63) and SV% (.951). He’s also got a scintillating 7-2-3 record.

Those superstar numbers, however, hasn’t stopped Varly from being one with his people. Last night, in Yaroslavl, Varlamov participated in a charity circus performance, hosting over 1,000 kids from orphanages around the area. He signed autographs, answered questions from fans, and… dressed up in a sumo suit. That’s not a typo.

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Photo credit: dynamo.ru

On Monday Nicklas Backstrom, sporting his new #99 jersey, made his debut for Dynamo Moscow and returned to a familiar spot: centering Alex Ovechkin on the top line. The BFFs clicked instantly.

Backstrom assisted on the first goal of the game, a snapshot by Ovechkin past Lokomotiv Yaroslavl goaltender (and former teammate) Semyon Varlamov on the power play. Ovechkin would add an assist in the third period (and also challenge half of Lokomotiv’s roster to a fight). Dynamo won 3-0.

To the video!

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Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth spoke to the Czech website iSport.Cz on Monday, and boy oh boy did he have some fascinating opinions to share. Talking with František Suchan, Neuvirth departed from the meek personality he’s cultivated since joining the Capitals in ’08-’09 and spoke with remarkable candor about a wide range of topics. We’d like to direct your attention to his quotes on the goalie situation in D.C.— both last season and in the future. Neuvy says he considers Braden Holtby his “weakest competition” since he’s been in D.C., expresses his frustration over always being the “bridesmaid” in net, and admits that he urged Tomas Vokoun to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Get ready to have your mind blown.

UPDATE: Read our statement on interpretation and translation.

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Photo via: photo.khl.ru

The entire Russian national team was clearly elated to win World Championship gold this year, dominating their competition along the way and winning their final game 6-2. While there was a lot of the expected hugging and jumping around, former Cap Semyon Varlamov was especially overexcited, which led to a small mishap when he was handed the trophy.

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Alex Semin has been relatively quiet since joining the Russian national team for the World Championships, recording only assists in his two games played before the final gold-medal round. Semin showed up for Team Russia in a big way today, scoring twice and recording one assist to lead the team to a 6-2 win, securing their first World Championship gold medal since 2009.

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Ovi celebrates his goal. (Photo credit: Championat.com/Getty Images)

Despite allowing the first goal, the Russians dominated the Finns for almost the whole game, winning 6-2. Evgeny Malkin scored a hat trick, while Alex Ovechkin, Denis Kokarev and Sergei Shirokov each added a goal of their own.

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Photo credit: ria.ru

Top-seeded Team Russia defeated Team Norway today with a score of 5-2 to advance to the semifinals of the World Championship being held in Stockholm. Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin joined their national team on the ice for the first time and had an immediate impact, with Ovechkin scoring the first goal of the night and Semin providing two assists.

Ovechkin broke a World Championships pointless streak stretching back through all five games of last year’s tournament, scoring nearly eight minutes into the game. His tally began with teammate Alex Semin going strong to the net with the puck, allowing the Russian superstar to collect a rebound behind Norwegian goalie Lars Haugen. Ovechkin then knocked the puck in when he attempted to center the puck.

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