The goaltending uncertainty surrounding the Colorado Avalanche entering the Stanley Cup Final appears to be resolved. Darcy Kuemper, who is now 100% healthy after leaving Game 1 of the Western Conference Final with an injury, took the morning skate today in the starters’ crease for the Avalanche. While head coach Jared Bednar declined to officially name Kuemper the starter, all signs at this juncture point to Kuemper regaining the starter’s net for Colorado tonight.
Kuemper has struggled somewhat in the playoffs up until this point, but despite his .897 save percentage, he still boasts a 6-2 record in the postseason in 10 starts. Backup Pavel Francouz, in four starts and six games played, has yet to lose a game this postseason with a 6-0 record and .906 save percentage. Kuemper’s shown the ability to elevate his game more consistently than Francouz though, and with Kuemper hopping in and out of the playoff lineup due to injury, it’s been hard to make a real judgment call on his playoff performance. With such a close margin separating the two goalies right now with Francouz’s undefeated record, expect Colorado not to hesitate to make a switch if Kuemper’s goaltending performance is subpar in Game 1. However, the 32-year-old Kuemper has had a fantastic season as a whole and has earned the right to keep his net.
- Andre Burakovsky left the morning skate early today, but Bednar says the winger is still expected to be available tonight for Game 1. Burakovsky’s had a tough playoff, missing four games due to a combination of injuries and healthy scratches, but he’s still managed five points in 10 games despite limited ice time. The 27-year-old pending free agent had a career-high 22 goals and 61 points during the regular season. Burakovsky’s expected to slot in alongside Mikko Rantanen (playing center) and Artturi Lehkonen on the second line in the absence of Nazem Kadri.
- Speaking of Kadri, Bednar notes that he and Andrew Cogliano are both listed as day-to-day after suffering injuries during the Western Conference Final. Neither is expected to play tonight, but as the Tampa Bay Lightning get healthier with the return of Brayden Point, the team is anxious for them to return.