The Colorado Avalanche has a 3-0 lead against the Nashville Predators in the first round of this year’s playoffs. And that doesn’t come as a surprise. With Juuse Saros injured and David Rittich being not-that-great, the team has to use Connor Ingram, their third-string goalie. And, even though Ingram has been playing incredibly well, Nashville is still missing their number one. Plus, their offence can’t get more than three goals past the Colorado Avalanche goaltending.
Colorado Avalanche Goaltending Getting Overlooked Due to Great Offence
After having a stellar career-high season, Darcy Kuemper kept the regular-season success entering the playoffs. The 32-year-old goaltender has been nearly perfect for the Avalanche. And, even though defence is also doing pretty well, he’s not getting enough attention.
Throughout the series, he’s had a .934 save percentage, saving 57 out of 61 shots faced in three games started. Nashville hasn’t given him much work, as in Game 1 they only had 25 shots and in Game 2, only 26. However, Kuemper is always collected and does not panic often – even though he has to make crazy saves sometimes.
The bad news for him and the team is that he left the first period of Game 3 with an injury and did not return. Head coach Jared Bednar didn’t rule him out of Game 4 and said his injury isn’t serious. However, it is still unknown if Kuemper will play on Monday.
In Kuemper’s absence, their backup Pavel Francouz took the net. He saved 18 out of the 20 shots faced, getting a .900 save percentage at the end of the night. Francouz hadn’t played since the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the bubble due to injury. However, he returned this season to help Kuemper in net. In the regular season, he had a 15-5-1 record with two shutouts and a .916 save percentage.
Avalanche Goaltending Gets Help From Offensive Defenceman
There are fewer things that are more accurate about the Avalanche than saying they suffocate their opponents offensively. And their defencemen have a lot to do with that too. Their forwards, as always, are producing like crazy with their top line having most of their offensive power. But their defencemen are also responsible for a lot of it.
The possible future Norris finalist Cale Makar has seven points in three games, two of those being goals. He’s averaging 25:31 minutes per game between even strength, power play and penalty kill. His partner, Devon Toews, has four points and an average of 24:17 minutes. Samuel Girard and Erik Johnson both have two assists and are key players in their penalty kill success, having 72.7% success in three games.
However, there’s been some struggle with the Toews-Makar pairing in the defensive part of the game. They’ve been on the ice for 28 out of the 81 shots the team has faced so far. The Josh Manson-Girard and Johnson-Bowen Byram pairs only allowed 24 shots combined. This is something they’ll need to clean moving on to keep helping the Colorado Avalanche goaltending. But if their offence keeps hustling and defence keeps helping produce, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Nashville Needs to Figure Out Their Offence
To try and not be swept on Monday, Nashville needs to take their rest day and try to figure out what’s gone wrong. And they have to do it quickly. Their offence is scrambling, having scored only six goals in three games – while the Avs have 16. And only four players have scored so far, with Matt Duchene leading the way with three goals. This needs to change. Colorado is a hurricane – or even better, an avalanche that doesn’t stop coming. If they don’t find a way to put a few past the Avalanche goaltending whenever they can, things will get even worse. And their playoff hopes will die without even starting.
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