Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week on Monday morning. What a wild year it’s been already for Washington’s young goalie tandem. Michal Neuvirth was October’s rookie of the month while Varlamov desperately tried to shake a groin injury.

The two split the starting job when Varlamov finally made it back in late November, but Neuvirth played well enough that Varlamov appeared in just four of 11 games between Dec. 2 and Dec. 23. But then an apparent injury during the morning skate kept Neuvirth out of the lineup for a game Dec. 26 against Carolina – a contest he was expected to start – and Varlamov hasn’t looked back since, stopping 90 of 93 shots on goal in his last three starts. Varlamov shut out Montreal last Tuesday on 25 shots. He gave up two goals on 35 shots in that game against Carolina. In the Winter Classic against Pittsburgh on Saturday he allowed countryman Evgeni Malkin’s breakaway goal, but stopped the other 32.   

According to Nate Ewell, Washington’s vice president of communications, the franchise last had a goalie earn NHL first star of the week honors on Feb. 22, 2004 when Olie Kolzig did it.

“It’s great. About time one of our players got recognized. So I thought that was good,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “As long as one of them can stay healthy and stay hot at the same time that’s all we need really.”

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