Avalanche will name starting goalie prior to Stanley Cup Playoffs - NHL.com
|NHL.com 14 Jul 2020 at 10:56|
The Colorado Avalanche won t decide on a starting goalie until the first game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coach Jared Bednar said Monday.
Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz each spent time as a starter before the NHL paused the season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Colorado will evaluate them in training camp, scrimmages, an exhibition and three-round robin games.
"I think both guys are potential starters for us, and we ll make our decision as we enter Game 1 of the playoffs and not before then," Bednar said. "I think our team s confident in both guys. I think both guys have been really hardworking over the break to get themselves in top condition."
The Avalanche opened camp in Denver on Monday in the start of Phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play Plan. The 24 participating teams -- 12 in the Eastern Conference that will play in Toronto and 12 in the Western Conference that will play in Edmonton -- will begin Aug. 1 with the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, which is Phase 4.
The Avalanche (42-20-8, .657 points percentage) will travel to Edmonton on July 26, where they will play the St. Louis Blues (42-19-10, .662) on Aug. 2, the Dallas Stars (37-24-8, .594) on Aug. 5 and the Vegas Golden Knights (39-24-8, .606) on Aug. 8 at Rogers Place for seeding in the playoffs.
Grubauer, who won the Stanley Cup as a backup for the Washington Capitals in 2018, went 7-5 with a 2.30 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and one shutout in the playoffs for Colorado last season.
Bednar said that carries some weight with him, but "the bulk of the decision when it comes to netminding is going to come between today and Day 1 of the playoffs."
Grubauer battled injuries this season and went 18-12-4 with a 2.63 GAA, a .916 save percentage and two shutouts, opening the door for Francouz, who went 21-7-4 with a 2.41 GAA, .923 save percentage and one shutout.
While Grubauer missed the final 13 games before the pause, Francouz went 8-2-2 with a 2.37 GAA, .919 save percentage and one shutout.
"I don t know how much value there is to looking back at our season months and months ago from the start and then sort of nitpicking at guys and when they played well and when they didn t to try and make a decision," Bednar said. "We re confident in both of our guys. We ve seen both excel at different times of the year, and we ve had our ups and downs with injuries in there as well, so I like the options that we have."
Bednar will use this time to evaluate the rest of the lineup as well.
Injuries plagued Colorado before the pause. Among the skaters who missed significant time were forward Mikko Rantanen (28 games), forward Matt Calvert (20), center Nazem Kadri (19), forward Gabriel Landeskog (16), defenseman Cale Makar (13), forward Andre Burakovsky (12) and defenseman Erik Johnson (11).
Bednar said forward Colin Wilson is unfit to play. But otherwise, all the regulars are healthy.
Rantanen reunited with Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon on the top line Monday, according to media reports. Burakovsky, Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin skated on the second line. Vladislav Namestnikov, J.T. Compher and Joonas Donskoi skated on the third.
"We re going to have some scrimmages in training camp," Bednar said. "We ll test some matchups both in the scrimmages and in exhibition and in the round-robin. Things may be pretty fluid in there, but we ll just see how they go. I want to explore some options so I know what some of the best-case scenarios are going into the playoffs."