TAMPA — Unsurprisingly, after the morning skate Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar stopped short of confirming that Darcy Kuemper will start in goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“Possibly,” Bednar said.
Yet all indications — including that Kuemper was in the starter’s net for the skate — are that Bednar is sticking with Kuemper rather than switching to Pavel Francouz.
So that’s one bit of news. The other, coming from the morning skate here at Amalie Arena: Nazem Kadri did a full “practice” with teammates and got reps on the second power-play unit. That, along with Nicolas Aube-Kubel skating long after the regulars had left the ice, gives a strong indication that Kadri will make his return to the Avalanche lineup tonight. Is he definitely in? We still don’t know that. But it’s looking more likely.
On his Altitude radio show Wednesday morning, about 80 minutes before the skate, Bednar said he talked with several players about the goaltending situation and indicated he had made his choice, without revealing what it was.
However, he did answer a follow-up question in the availability after the skate about Kuemper’s resilience and ability to rebound from sub-par games.
“Yeah, he’s done it, the same with the rest of our team,” Bednar said. “I feel like he’s done a nice job of that. He’s followed up good performances with better performances. He’s elevated his game when he’s needed to.”
The goalies’ playoff stats aren’t markedly different.
Kuemper is 8-3 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage. After allowing five goals, he was yanked in the second period of the 6-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 3 Monday night.
Francouz checks in at 6-0, 2.81 and .906.
Asked about Kadri’s status, Bednar said: “He’s getting better every day.”
What does Kadri need to show to be back in the lineup?
“Well, if he can do all the functions it takes to play hockey,” Bednar said. “And feel comfortable with it.”
Bednar confirmed that Andre Burakovsky, who appeared to suffer a hand or finger injury when blocking a Victor Hedman shot in Game 2, still was in Denver skating and getting treatment.