Colorado Avalanche Still Feel Backup Goalie Woes

The Colorado Avalanche do not seem to have solved their issue with backup goal tending. How much will it cost the team?

The Colorado Avalanche still have their goalie issue. While Philipp Grubauer has been on fire lately, you can’t play just one goalie all season. Your starter needs a backup.

The Avs started out weak in this position to begin with. Their goalie tandem of Grubauer with Pavel Francouz may have been good enough for the season, and maybe even the playoffs. However, they didn’t have enough beyond that — only untested rookies.

They should have known better. Andrew Hammond stole a playoff game for the Avs a few years ago because both their starting goalie (Semyon Varlamov) and backup (Jonathan Bernier) were out with injuries. They know better than anyone that injury can take out anyone at any time.

Sure enough, Francouz suffered an injury in practice right at the beginning of the season. He was put on long-term injured reserve in February. While he was seen at a practice recently, he’s not expected to return any time soon.

That injury exposed the Avalanche’s Achille’s heel — lack of backup backups. With Francouz out, they relied on one of their green youngsters to back Grubauer up — Hunter Miska. Unfortunately, Miska wasn’t up to snuff.

Side rant: Miska ended up having to delete his Twitter account because so-called fans were harassing him about his play. Tyson Jost did the same thing for the same reason. That behavior from so-called fans is completely unacceptable.

So, GM Joe Sakic did go out an make a trade. Unfortunately, other GMs aren’t stupid, so they know the Avalanche desperately need a backup goalie. It seems that the best Sakic could do was trade a sixth-round draft selection to the Buffalo Sabres for goalie Jonas Johansson.

Johansson didn’t come highly recommended. Coming to Colorado, he had a 1-8-2 career NHL record with a 3.40 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage. That’s not great.

The team stated, “He’s been on a steady progression and getting better and on a good development path.” That sounds like a goalie for the future, not the backup we need now. Colorado already has three goalies who might have a future with the team.

Johansson didn’t exactly inspire confidence in his debut with Colorado yesterday. He made 28 of 32 shots for a save percentage of .875. He let in a couple of soft goals. The team lost in the shootout to the  Arizona Coyotes.

That’s not all on Johansson, of course. Indeed, the team’s defense should have shut down around their new goalie and never allowed 32 shots. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen enough.

So, what are the Colorado Avalanche going to do? Well, we’ve probably seen it — the Johansson trade. The trade deadline is April 12, and Sakic hates to be idle on that day, but it’s unlikely he’ll find an adequate backup goalie.

Most likely we’ll watch the team rely heavily on Grubauer and relegate games to losses when they have to rest him. It shouldn’t cost the team the playoffs, though it might cost them positioning. We just have to hope Grubauer stays healthy.