Can Avalanche win Stanley Cup if goalie Darcy Kuemper doesn't pick up his game?

Can Avalanche win Stanley Cup if goalie Darcy Kuemper doesn’t pick up his game?

Question: Can Avalanche win the Stanley Cup Final if goalie Darcy Kuemper doesn’t pick up his game?

Mike Chambers, Avs beat reporter: Yes they can because Pavel Francouz is the backup. I think Kuemper is on a short leash. He wasn’t great in Game 1 and Francouz has played in 314 minutes in this postseason and has a better save percentage than Kuemper (.906 to .895). And the Avs like the tandem—an edge they have over the Lightning. What happens if Andrei Vasilevskiy goes down? Tampa would not feel comfortable with 37-year-old Brian Elliott in net. Colorado has counted on its tandem throughout this postseason and it will again in the Final. If Kuemper allows a couple early goals, Frankie will get the call.

Mark Kiszla, sports columnist: OK, they don’t call me Mr. Sunshine for nothing. So let me start by drawing a smiley face on this delicate situation. After a 15-day layoff, Darcy Kuemper shook off the rust from injury and was good enough to beat the world’s best goaltender in Game 1. But I would be shocked if Andrei Vasilevskiy surrenders three goals in a period again. Heck, from here on, Colorado could struggle to put three pucks past him in a game. Either Kuemper will have to step it up … or Jared Bednar will have to decide when is the right time to go with Pavel Francouz. And that could prove to be the most crucial choice of Bedsy’s coaching career.

Ryan O’Halloran, sports reporter: No, the Avalanche can’t win the Cup if Kuemper plays like he did in Game 1. He seemed like a goalie who hadn’t played in two weeks. Oh wait. Just as I expect him to be better in Game 2, the Lightning have won two consecutive championships because of an uncanny ability to make between-games adjustments and not panic when the opening game is a loss. The choice should remain Kuemper so long as he continues to win. If Pavel Francouz was collecting dust during rounds 1-3, my commitment to Kuemper would be stronger, but Francouz’s 6-0 playoff record gives coach Jared Bednar the option of an in-game or between-games change, knowing Francouz won’t need a game to find his rhythm.

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