The Colorado Avalanche are rolling, winners of seven of their last eight contests, they find themselves back atop the Central standings. Just after Thanksgiving, the Avs have compiled an impressive 15-6-0 record. Much of this success has been aided by the solid play of starting goalie Alexandar Georgiev. Georgie currently leads the NHL in both starts (18) and wins (13). These are quite obviously promising stats, the kind you want from a primary netminder.
But any hockey fan knows how key a reliable backup goaltender can be to championship aspirations. In fact, the last two teams to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup have done so in large part because they had a capable backup ready to step in when it mattered most. Last year’s Las Vegas Golden Knights saw Adin Hill become a hero when he came on in relief of an injured Laurent Brossoit in Game 2 of the second-round series against Edmonton. Hill went on to post an 11-4 record en route to VGK’s first cup.
Then of course there is the more cherished memory of Avs fans: their own successful 2021-22 run. Colorado’s backup, Pavel Francouz, more than earned his name being etched among hockey’s immortal when he stepped in for an injured Darcy Kuemper not once but twice during the magic playoff run. The first injury occurred in round one, in Nashville when current Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan Johansen’s stick hit Darcy in the eye (I forgive you RyJo). After which Frankie went on to help close out the Preds. The second exit came in game one of the WCF against Edmonton, and the Avs didn’t miss a beat, sweeping the Oilers in four. Frankie collected a perfect 4-0 record in starts but also notched two extra wins when appearing in relief. That is what it means to be playoff-ready.
Enter new Colorado Avalanche backup Ivan Prosvetov. The 24-year-old Russian-born goalie was signed off waivers in October as a precaution. Unfortunately, two weeks ago it was determined that Frankie is done for the season. Given his expiring deal, Francouz may have regrettably played his last game in an Avs sweater. So, the lingering question is – how do we feel about the new #2 in the net?
Prosvetov hasn’t been bad, posting a 2-1 record so far, beating the Blues and most recently the Flames last Saturday. That was a back-to-back for both clubs and while a 3-1 win is nice, everyone looked a little tired that night to my eyes. Prosvetov has his toughest test ahead – that is if my guess is correct and he gets the nod this Sunday against the Kings in L.A. What makes it likely is that it will again be the second night of a back-to-back for Colorado. Los Angeles by contrast should be very well-rested. They are scheduled to play tonight, hosting Washington, and then get three full days off. The Kings are playing pretty strong, so far sitting at a record of 13-3-3, which has tallied 29 points, one fewer than Colorado. They are also riding their own hot streak now winning five in a row and possibly six pending tonight’s result.
Prosvetov will need to bring his A-game to get the win, but it’s just the kind of opportunity that could solidify him as a quality backup. Georgiev’s pace suggests he wants more starts than your average priority goaltender. I believe that Prosvetov may only get a dozen games in, barring injury. But as history shows, when you make your living between the pipes, your time to shine could come at any moment.