The Colorado Avalanche have a fine goalie in Pavel Francouz. Is he the goalie for the playoff run, though?
Colorado Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz has been a life-saver for the team. Earlier this year, he stepped in when Philipp Grubauer was injured. The same has happened again since the February 15 Stadium Series game when Ian Cole rear-ended Grubauer, injuring him.
Last week, Francouz earned the NHL’s third star of the week honors. He went 3-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .946 save percentage. He made 31 saves against the Buffalo Sabres, 30 saves against the Nashville Predators, and 45 saves against the Carolina Hurricanes. That last feat represents a career high.
The previous week, Francouz was the NHL’s first star of the week. He went 3-0-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. He also recorded his first NHL shutout. In that week, he recorded 23 saves against the Tampa Bay Lightning, 27 saves against the New York Islanders, 26 saves against the Anaheim Ducks (shutout) and 20 saves against the LA Kings.
Meanwhile, this season Francouz has gone 19-5-3 with a 2.24 goals against average and .929 save percentage. It’s hard to argue with how well he’s been playing, and how that’s helped the team to victories.
And it would be hard to argue he deserves to go back to the backup job.
There is no real timeline for Grubauer’s return. The coaching staff said they expected to have the full lineup back by mid-March. Presumably, that would include the goalie.
At that point, what do the Avalanche do about their goalie situation? Do they reward the 29-year-old first-year player, Francouz, or do they return to their erstwhile starter, Grubauer?
Because it’s not like Grubauer has played badly when healthy. He’s gone 8-3-1 since the beginning of the calendar year. And he’s won the Stanley Cup, though as the backup.
The question all comes down to experience. Francouz has plenty of big-game experience, but it was all in European play. He has just 31 NHL games to his name. Grubauer, meanwhile, has 174 NHL games to his name, plus 16 in the playoffs.
However, conventional wisdom sees teams ride the hot goalie into and through the playoffs. Why shouldn’t Francouz be the goalie for a deep playoff run? If he’s in the zone, he’s there.
Here’s the problem: Pavel Francouz is going to falter. He’s going to have a stinker of a game. All goalies do — even the greatest goalie of all time, Patrick Roy, had games he’d like to forget. What do the Avs do when Francouz has his?
The knee-jerk reaction will be to immediately return to the old tried-and-true goalie, Grubauer. This fact becomes truer the closer we get to the actual playoffs.
What about in the playoffs? Goalies win you the Stanley Cup. Which Colorado Avalanche goalie has that potential?
The Avs would have to make that decision before the playoffs even began. Another bit of conventional wisdom is that you only have one goalie change in the playoffs.
So, Colorado couldn’t start with Francouz, switch to Grubauer if Pavel faltered, and expect to switch back to Francouz later down the road.
You can’t jerk goalies around like that. The hope is that the coaching staff would know that.
Well, the goalie conundrum is a pleasant one to have. The Colorado Avalanche have two strong goalies, and that should help them with their run to and through the playoffs.