Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers might’ve been the best performance as a team for the Avs. From back to front, the Avs simply gave no high danger chances to the highest-scoring offense in this postseason. This was even through some losses in the team.
Before the puck even dropped, there were questions about the health of Andre Burakovsky, but more importantly about netminder Darcy Kuemper. He exited Game 1 halfway through the second period with an upper-body injury. It has been reported since that he had blurriness in his eye, including fluid coming out from his eye, and couldn’t see the puck.
Kuemper pulled himself reportedly because of blurry vision and he said he couldn't see the puck— AJ Haefele (@returnofaj) June 1, 2022
It forced back-up Pavel Francouz to come into the rest of Game 1 and eventually start in Game 2 last night. In the games he’s played, Frankie was outstanding. He was crucial in stopping the 24 shots the Oilers put his way to shut out them out 4-0. Safe to say, considering the reactions on Twitter and in the arena before and after the game that it worked out well.
How are we feeling if it is indeed Pavel Francouz in net for game 2? #GoAvsGo— z - Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) June 1, 2022
Francouz was calm, cool, and collected all night long. There was a little scare when he came out of the crease to the blue line to play the puck but even stopped it then at the circles. He didn’t give up many rebounds, and if he did they were to the sides away from danger. Deservingly, Frankie was the first star of the game and the calm in the chaos of the night.
This might very well put Francouz over Kuemper for the starting job from here on out. Now, take this with a grain of salt - if Kuemper is healthy enough to return to the playoffs, he will be the goalie of choice. He will be the man to lead them to the Stanley Cup, not Frankie. However, starting on opening night in 2022-23, Francouz should be the starting goalie.
Kemps is only on a one-year deal after being traded from the Arizona Coyotes. As the year has gone on, there were wonderings on how or whether he would return in an Avs jersey in ‘22-23. Even as the Avs sit two wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals, he still is not re-signed by Joe Sakic.
Frankie’s performance this season overall, let alone in Game 2, might’ve just pushed himself over the top. Kuemper has been up and down, and more recently on a downward trend at the toughest of times. Keep in mind as well, that Kuemper is one of several UFA’s at the end of this season. Meanwhile, Francouz is signed until 2025 with only a $2 million dollar cap hit. He is cheaper and has ultimately been better than Kuemper as of late.
His performance in Game 2 compared to Kuemper’s in Game 1 was all that’s needed to show the difference. Even when he entered in Games 3 and 4 against the Nashville Predators, he was solid. Kuemper just hasn’t looked the same since his eye injury - literally and figuratively. With Sakic having to sign multiple players who are UFA’s, he might just be letting No. 35 go for Francouz to come into his own as the number one going forward for the Avs.