“He’s got to be better” – The Denver Post
Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz got pulled after five Stars goals on Sunday, and Colorado coach Jared Bednar’s plan for net duty in a must-win Game 5 was suddenly clouded.
“I don’t want to talk about tomorrow night’s goaltending yet,” Bednar told reporters after the Avs’ 5-4 loss against Dallas. “I’ve got to go back and look through this (game).”
All signs point to Francouz, now 2-4 in the Edmonton bubble, staying in goal Monday with Avalanche starter Philipp Grubauer (lower-body injury) out indefinitely. The Avs’ current backup, Michael Hutchinson, made his postseason debut Sunday in relief of Francouz. And Colorado teammates have raved all year about “Frankie” and his calming influence.
Bednar’s pause to name Francouz the starting goalie, though, is indicative of the team’s growing issues defending wave after wave of Stars offense. Dallas continues to score in bunches — four goals over 9:20 (Game 1), three goals over 6:05 (Game 2), and three goals over 4:27 (Game 3).
A common denominator between bursts is silly Colorado penalties and Dallas bully tactics.
The Stars sprinted out to a 3-0 lead Sunday after Avalanche forwards Nazem Kadri and Vladislav Namestnikov entered the box at the same time for roughing. Dallas capitalized with a pair of power-play goals aided by heavy traffic in front of the net.
“We’re letting their big bodies stand in front of the net and tip pucks, unharmed, right now,” Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon said. “I think we can win more battles and be (meaner) in our crease to help.”
One additional option for bolstering protection around Francouz is to drop Colorado’s defensemen farther back in coverage. Bednar said: “That’s something to contemplate.” But not at the risk of reinventing the Avs’ identity out of panic.
“I would call them tweaks more than major adjustments in your game during a series,” Bednar said. “We haven’t defended our best in the series. I’ve seen our team defend better. I would rely on that rather than just going into some shell that we’re not used to playing in. We’re a better team and we defend better when we’re on our toes … making it hard on them with our quickness and our puck pressure all over the ice.
“We haven’t been at our best in this series and we’re going to have to be at our best to win the next game.”
All eyes will be on Francouz in Game 5.
“He’s got to be better, for sure,” Bednar said. “They’re making it hard on him, on the power-play especially, but we’ve seen Frankie be way better.”