7:05pm: At this rate the Avalanche aren’t going to get through the game with a team. Cale Makar has also been placed in the protocol just as the game is starting. The team will be short a defenseman, a forward, and a goalie.
6:41pm: Less than 30 minutes before their game is set to begin, the Colorado Avalanche have announced that Darcy Kuemper won’t be in the net as expected. The goaltender has been added to the COVID protocol, leaving Pavel Francouz to make the start.
Kuemper joins J.T. Compher and Andre Burakovsky who were placed in the protocol just two hours ago, and Devon Toews who went in a few days ago. The team was already expected to play shorthanded upfront, but now appear to need a last-minute replacement to serve as the backup for tonight’s game. They faced a similar situation earlier this season when Kuemper was a late scratch due to injury; Justus Annunen showed up partway through the game that time, but it’s doesn’t look like that’s the plan here. An EBUG–Dustin Smith, according to play-by-play broadcaster Marc Moser–will be the backup.
Not only that, but Francouz himself hasn’t even played in an NHL game since the 2019-20 season. The 31-year-old played four games at the AHL level on a conditioning stint, but was only activated off long-term injured reserve four days ago. He’s now the team’s only option tonight, and perhaps moving forward. If Kuemper has tested positive and is symptomatic, he’ll have to quarantine (on the road) for a minimum of ten days.