Avalanche will try to sweep the Predators without one key player
The Avalanche will look to sweep the Predators on Monday night without their starting goalie.
After Colorado’s morning skate in Nashville, head coach Jared Bednar announced that Darcy Kuemper’s right eye is still swollen and backup Pavel Francouz will be in net.
Jared Bednar confirms: Francouz starts tonight, Annunen the backup. Darcy Kuemper eye still swollen @ColHockeyNow
— Adrian Dater (@adater) May 9, 2022
Kuemper took a stick to the face in the first period of Game 3, and immediately went down to the ice. It was a scary situation, as Predators center Ryan Johansen got his stick inside of Kuemper’s mask and left it near his eye for a long time.
Darcy Kuemper was forced to leave the ice after Ryan Johansen's stick accidentally got through his mask and into the right eye area.
Pavel Francouz has come on in Kuemper's place. pic.twitter.com/9dIBwaYLMY
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 7, 2022
Luckily, it appears Kuemper avoided major injury and him sitting out Game 4 is more of a precaution. The Avalanche should take care of Nashville regardless, as they’ve dominated this series thus far. Colorado scored seven goals in Games 1 and 3 and won Game 2 in OT, 2-1, after Predators goalie Connor Ingram played the game of his life.
Francouz was good during the regular season, going 15-5-1 in 21 games (18 starts) and posting a save percentage of .916. He gave up 2.55 goals per game. The Avalanche recalled goalie Justus Annunen from the Colorado Eagles on Sunday and he’ll serve as Francouz’s backup.
While it’s a bummer Kuemper can’t go, the more important thing right now is getting him time off to make sure the eye is fine before Round 2. The Blues and Wild series is currently tied 2-2, so the absolute earliest the Avs could start that series would be Saturday. If St. Louis and Minnesota go seven games, the series wouldn’t get rolling until next Monday.
Bednar would have had a lot tougher decision for Game 4 if this series was 2-1, but given how dominant the Avs have looked, rolling with Francouz and playing it safe with Kuemper is the smart way to go. The puck drops at 7:30 MST on ESPN.