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What Goaltending Controversy? Why There Is No Question Who The #1 Is On The Avalanche



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Since Patrick Roy retired, it’s been a yearly tradition to question whether or not the Colorado Avalanche are strong enough in net to win the Stanley Cup. Even a guy like Darcy Kuemper, coming off a Vezina-calber regular season in 2022 where he won 37 games and posted a .921 save percentage, hadn’t quite convinced everyone he was good enough to get the job done.

This year is certainly no different. If anything, there are more questions than ever. The Avalanche are built to win. When healthy, their forward core is as talented and deep as any team in the league. The same can be said about their defense. All of Colorado’s superstars are in their prime, having (statistically) the best seasons of their career. This core has won before, and they’re ready to win again.

The only question is whether or not Alexandar Georgiev can elevate his game to get this team over the hump. After a breakout campaign in 2022-23 for the Avalanche, his play this season has been erratic, to say the least. In 23 of his 60 starts, he’s given up four or more goals. That’s not good enough. On the flip side, since earning the backup job with the Avalanche, Justus Annunen has won seven of his 11 starts and put up a dazzling .931 save percentage, leaving fans to wonder whether or not he should take over the starting job heading into the postseason.

Make no mistake, there is no goaltending controversy in Colorado.

Until proven otherwise, it’s Georgiev or bust for the Avalanche.

It would be difficult to dispute that Georgiev has been good enough this season to make Avalanche fans feel fully confident in his abilities heading into the playoffs. While his play was trending up after the All-Star Break (he was .914 over his last 16 starts until that Nashville game), three of his last four starts have done nothing to alleviate fans concerns. If anything, they’ve raised them. Those games have bumped his save percentage back down to .899. Not a pretty number to look at.

After that Nashville game, Jared Bednar was asked if there are any decisions that need to be made in net ahead of the playoffs. His response?


Not a, “not at the moment.” Nope, just a hard “no.”

After the loss to Dallas over the weekend, Bednar took his frustrations out on the “dumb” play in front of Georgiev, defending his goaltender by saying he played “great.” I think “great” might be a bit of a stretch, but the team was just not good in front of him. Either way, it was another opportunity for Bednar to leave the door open and feed into the controversy narrative, but he didn’t do it.

If his words aren’t enough to make it clear there’s not a controversy, maybe his actions will settle the debate. Just take a quick peek at the teams Justus Annunen has been trusted to start against – Ottawa, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Chicago (x2), Calgary, St. Louis, Montreal, Columbus, and Minnesota. How many playoff teams do you see in that group? Annunen relieved Georgiev in the Nashville game and shut the door, but that was definitely not the plan.

His numbers are fantastic, there’s no disputing that. Annunen has come in and done exactly what he needed to do, but that usage says a lot. While the confidence Bednar and the Avalanche have in Annunen is growing on a daily basis, it’s clear they’re not close to handing the reigns over to him. On the radio this week, Chris MacFarland said they believe Annunen has starter potential in “4 or 5 years.” Doesn’t sound like someone they’re ready to throw into the fire unless they have absolutely no other choice a week from now.

Annunen will likely add another start against a playoff team to his resume over the next week, but I don’t think that will change anything. Whether you like it or not, it’s Georgiev’s job.

Goaltending controversy? Not in Colorado.

For better or for worse.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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