Backup goalie Brian Elliott didn’t hold back from sitting on the bench, perhaps because he knew what was on coach Jon Cooper’s mind.
Pulling down defending playoff MVP Andrei Vasilevski was never seriously considered as the Tampa Bay Chargers were beaten 7-0 by the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals .
“Listen, it’s the playoffs and we’re here to win the hockey game,” Cooper said later, knowing that the chance to win that game was gone long before the final horn. “Vasi gave us our best chance of winning a hockey game, he’s our guy. He’ll be in there for a few nights. No, he’s the best goalie in the world, we win together, we lose together.”
That unwavering confidence was accentuated two nights later when Colorado head coach Jared Bedner conceded five balls in a 6-2 loss to D’Arcy Cumpper, which gave the Avalanche a run for both. The reigning champions’ lead narrowed to 2-1. Seven series.
Colorado has relied on two goalkeepers throughout the playoffs, but uncertainty over who starts Game 4 on Wednesday night — and going forward — has become the biggest question mark for the high-performance Avalanche. After all, their offense was never a problem. It’s all about who is in the network.
This is Colorado’s familiar turf, those problems in the target. Philip Grubauer has long gone to Seattle, and general manager Joe Sakic tried to fix that last summer by acquiring Kumper in a deal with Arizona. If the problem persists, it could destroy the club’s hopes of ending the series after a 2-0 lead.
When asked why he chose Kuemper or Pavel Francouz for Game 4 on Wednesday night, Bednar told reporters, “I always make the same decision” and chuckled.
Bedner admitted that Cooper “didn’t have a good night.” Then he sounded a lot like Cooper, the coach who had two Stanley Cup rings in his fourth final appearance, and Bedner seemed to be following.
“We win as a team and we lose as a team,” he said. “You can group him with other guys. It’s just not as good as we need to be.”
Bednar’s choice could tip the balance of the series. Of course, it’s also possible that Vasilevskiy could turn that into Tampa Bay’s favor. He was outstanding in Game 3, making 37 saves after conceding seven for the second time in his NHL career.
“You know he’s going to bounce back and play well, he’s playing well,” Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson said. “We still play a lot in their zone. We still have chances.”
It probably won’t matter if Vasilevskiy reverts to the form that earned him the Kommers Trophy as playoff top performer last year and the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie in 2019. Game 2 for a player who is becoming a face of the Chargers who is perfectly capable of stealing the series if necessary, and he hasn’t even stolen it against the Avs – when he’s likely to. .
Cooper or Franz? Neither is likely to do so. They carried Avalanche to the final with save percentages of 0.897 and 0.906, respectively, by being consistent rather than spectacular. They support a team that doesn’t pass up a lot of quality opportunities because it uses the puck a lot and doesn’t usually let opponents push the game.
The second game is a good example. Manson called Cumper “rock solid”, even though the Avs goalie has faced just 16 shots in the box and has been tested rarely.
That changed dramatically in Game 3, when Cooper gave up at least two goals he wanted to get back. In true hockey fashion, players blame themselves for letting Cooper take the bait.
“It’s definitely on us,” striker Miko Rantanen told reporters. “There are three A’s (chances) in the slot, so when you give chances like that, you really can’t ask the goalkeeper to make every save.”
That’s true, but disturbingly for Colorado, the Avalanche outscored the Chargers 107-71 — including 39-32 in Game 3 — and in this 7-0 win The victory came with a blowout loss and a tight overtime win. .
Colorado’s chances for a win from the Stanley Cup depend on Cooper’s rebound — or Francuz’ lock — both of which are against the ball that’s been there for the past two years with a goalie winning the championship Team’s great assumption.
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