What is going on with Avs goalies, can Georgiev save the Cup champs?

Mar 6, 2023, 6:32 AM
Alexandar Georgiev...
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Somebody getting dressed in the dark could’ve arranged a better color-coordinated outfit than Colorado Avalanche goalie Keith Kinkaid donned during the team’s drubbing in Dallas on Saturday—and the Avs needing to play their fourth-string goalie, is just the tip for a team with possible looming questions between the pipes.

His Boston Bruins-themed gold goalie pads along with his trapper and blocker, blended with the burgundy and blue of his new team made a fashion statement worse than the 7-3 loss. It’s not all Kinkaid’s fault, he was a last-minute addition to the team and wasn’t sure he was even going to be with the NHL squad.

“I was at Panera bread and didn’t finish my meal,” joked Kinkaid after practicing with the Avs for the first time on Friday. “It’s a whirlwind. I’m still getting used to everything.”

The journeyman keeper was given a hotel near Broomfield as his intended target was with the Avs minor league affiliate Colorado Eagles in Loveland. However, after the six goals plus an empty netter allowed by youngster Justus Annunen against the Devils on Wednesday, Kinkaid and his gauche gear were summoned to the big team.

Even then, nobody was really supposed to see the ugliness on display, never mind on national TV. Alexander Georgiev who has been having a superior season had been given significant rest as head coach Jared Bednar was prepping his number one goalie for back-to-back game action against the Stars and then Seattle Kraken on Sunday.

That plan went haywire on Saturday as Georgie made Justus look like a brick wall by allowing five goals on only 19 shots. He was yanked mid-way through the second period. While this seemed hard to comprehend for a player who was named the NHLPA Player of the Week on Friday. It’s great that Georgiev hadn’t lost a game since Valentine’s Day, but take heed hockey lovers, there may be some cracks that need fixing.

The Avs seem to miss the shy smile and competent goaltending of backup Pavel Francouz. Frankie has been missing for the better part of a month and no certain timeframe has been laid out for his return. It’s expected that we see him relatively soon as he recovers from his mysterious LBI (lower-body injury,) but in hockey parlance soon could be tomorrow or next season.

Francouz has been seen roaming around the corridors of Ball Arena after games, so his incapacitation seems to be on the mend. But even with his return, there’s no guarantee of relief. He has gone 7-7-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage which gives you an overall feeling of…meh.

For Avalanche worry warts, there’s enough ammo to give you sleepless nights. According to ESPN, the Avalanche have never given up seven goals in back-to-back games. The last time it happened in franchise history was when the Avs were the Nordiques in 1990. GULP.

To recap—the Avs backup goalie is hurt, and we don’t know when he’s coming back. The Avs third-string goalie just got sent down to the minors and as far as we can tell, the situation is so desperate, the best solution is to go with a guy whose pads don’t match his sweater and has played for six pro teams in just over two calendar years. Oh, and the starter, who management deemed better thanDarcy Kuemper, who won the Stanley Cup for you last year with a ton of rest, imploded against a team you are very likely to meet in the playoffs.

“Obviously, you know our goalie situation, so I wasn’t going to keep him (Georgiev) in the net if the game was getting out of reach,” head coach Jared Bednar defended his keeper after the Stars game on Saturday. “I just felt like we can give him a little bit of a rest, plus we can look at Keith (Kinkaid) now and figure out what we need to do when we need a start from someone”

Hey coach, a little advice, with those horrific pads, nobody needs to look at Kinkaid.

“Yeah, it’s in the making, ” Kinkaid replied when asked about his atrocious colored equipment. “It takes time, so they can’t just (snaps fingers) snap be here. (The right colored pads) should be here (soon) that would be nice.”

Sunday night at Ball Arena, the Avs Bednar obviously wasn’t happy with his team’s previous effort. With the return of Valeri Nichushkin, Bednar shook things up moving Matt Nieto to the second line, demoting Evan Rodrigues to the fourth line with Alex Newhook while Lars Eller centered Andrew Cogliano and Logan O’Connor for the first time.

As the game opened, Nathan MacKinnon stayed on fire and while the rest of the team looked discombobulated, Mac took matters into his own hands netting the first goal of the night on only the Avs second shot.

While the Avs didn’t push the pace offensively, they defended well only allowing six first-period shots on Georgie.

In the second, Georgiev built on his confidence by stoning Brandon Tanev on a breakaway.

Halfway through the period, the Kraken’s Alexander Wennberg hit a laser from the point that traveled through traffic and was deflected. It was unlikely Georgie even saw the puck that whizzed by his head and tied the score at one. Thankfully, moments later, mighty mite Denis Malgin got loose on a breakaway and buried the puck behind ex-Avs goalie Philipp Grubauer making the score 2-1 good guys.

Despite only facing 18 shots through two periods of play, you could feel Georgie’s confidence growing with the 2-1 lead.

Mikko Rantanen and Jack Johnson both ended up with penalties at the very end of the second giving the Kraken a two-minute five-on-three to start the third.

Save after save the crowd built up support. GEOR-GIE, GEOR-GIE, GEOR-GIE chants reigned down and as the penalties expired Georgiev had a puck find him in the chest. The crowd exploded in applause. It felt like the knowledgeable crowd knew they could lift the beleaguered keeper.

The Avs had been brilliant all year on the back end of back-to-backs specifically Georgie as he has started on back-to-back nights three times this season, going 3-0 with a 1.34 goals against average and .962 save percentage in the second game.

The final eight minutes would be the ultimate test.

The Avs continued to be out-shot and out-hit. Cogliano had a solid chance, but his wrist shot was easily gloved by Grubauer. It was inevitable this one was going to come down to defense and Georgie.

The defense broke allowing Tanev to stand unencumbered in front of our redemptive hero untouched, as he snapped home the game-tying goal with just 2:30 left.

In overtime, the Avalanche just didn’t have it. They never gained possession of the puck and a minute and a half into the extra period, Seattle got a breakaway pass to Yanni Gourde, who buried the game-winner over Georgie’s right pad.

Afterward Bednar was disappointed with everybody EXCEPT Georgiev, “I didn’t think our top guys had a good night. We were fried. It didn’t look like we had our stuff that’s for sure. It was just slow and sluggish.”

“I thought he was fantastic,” replied Bednar about his goalie, taking a slight break from ripping the top lines. “I don’t put any of those goals on him yesterday (5 goals allowed on 19 shots) and today I thought he was our best player.”

As he sat dripping with sweat in his locker you could see Georgiev was equally frustrated.

“I appreciate the chance to play right away. It is what it is. I don’t know what to say,” the goalie said. “I’m kind of frustrated with the loss. There were some good things. I just have to take out the good and not focus on not getting the win today.”

The Avs have their next three games all at home this week. What you couldn’t predict was a night when the Avs best players played their worst. This seesaw ride of a season rolls on and you can only hope the one position that has been relied on the most continues to stand strong. If not, the dream as repeating as Cup champs may be as discolored as Kinkaid was on the ice.



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What is going on with Avs goalies, can Georgiev save the Cup champs?