The NHL is reaching a fever pitch as the Feb. 24 trade deadline is less than a week away. One team may need to be on the lookout for a solution in net, as their starter is going to miss significant time.
Grubauer Out Indefinitely
In the third period of this weekend’s Stadium Series game at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, the Colorado Avalanche lost an important piece of their roster. Starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer collided with a retreating member of his own team, defenseman Ian Cole, and collapsed behind the net.
Pavel Francouz was forced into action, and the Avalanche ultimately lost the game. But the primary concern was Grubauer’s health. With just over a week (at the time) left until the trade deadline, would their starting netminder make a quick recovery? Or would they need to look for external solutions?
The Avalanche provided an update on Monday, but it wasn’t a positive one. They indicated that Grubauer would be out of action indefinitely. Head coach Jared Bednar was noncommittal when asked for specifics about his starting goaltender’s timetable.
I don’t really have a timeline on it. He’s still getting evaluated, he’s still going through some testing or training room or whatnot. I’ll have a better answer probably later in the week. Right now he’s day to day and could miss some time. We’re hoping it’s an injury where we can get him back skating and playing here in the next couple weeks, but it’s weeks, not days.Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar on Philipp Grubauer’s prognosis
Goaltenders are in short supply at the deadline, but the Avalanche have been linked to Henrik Lundqvist in the past. That seems like an unlikely fit, as Lundqvist would have to approve any trade away from his lifetime home. But anything is possible, particularly if the legendary netminder wants a final shot at the Stanley Cup.
The Avalanche could also potentially target another Rangers’ goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev. To Francouz’s credit, he’s been sensational this season, but could he shoulder the load if Grubauer isn’t ready for the postseason?
More Bad News for Avalanche
Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic’s agenda for the trade deadline wasn’t made any simpler by the devastating news that forward Mikko Rantanen would miss six to eight weeks after breaking his collarbone in Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Will the two devastating injuries force Sakic to make desperate acquisitions at the deadline? Or will they move the Avalanche to the sidelines, unwilling to take risks with the uncertainties surrounding these players? That’s what makes the NHL trade deadline so exciting: anything can happen.
Miller, Ducks Collapse
Usually, we try to focus on the positive face of goaltending in the NHL. But tonight, Ryan Miller of the Anaheim Ducks caught the other side of the equation. The net can be a lonely place when you’re struggling, and the Ducks certainly have this season.
Miller seemed to be in top form on Monday against the Calgary Flames, as he allowed one goal through two periods on 30 shots. Even better, his Ducks seemed to be in the driver’s seat, as they had a 2-1 lead that became a 3-1 lead with Nicolas Deslauriers’s goal early in the third. Then, it all came crashing down.
Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane scored his second goal of the game shortly after Deslauriers, and the Flames would go on to score four more goals in the third period. Mangiapane would brutalize Ryan Getzlaf in the final minute en route to an empty net for his first career hat trick.
The Ducks haven’t had much to smile about this season, as they have just 55 points at this juncture. Even so, this performance is one they’ll want to forget particularly quickly. For Miller, it’s just a minor blemish in a storied career, but it’s a good reminder of just how quickly things can change for the men behind the mask in the NHL.
This Date in History: The First Shutout
There are plenty of reasons the NHL’s trophy for each season’s best goaltender is named after Montreal Canadiens’ legend Georges Vézina. Tuberculosis claimed the Hockey Hall of Fame member far before his time, but only after he had already amassed an incredible resume. One of the bullet points on that resume came on this day in 1918, 102 years ago, when the man known as the “Chicoutimi Cucumber” recorded the first shutout in NHL history.
It was the League’s first season, and the game occurred about three months in. Vezina and his Canadiens were set for a matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Things worked out very well for Vezina, as his team scored nine goals and he didn’t allow any. It was the first shutout in NHL history and the first of 13 in Vezina’s too-brief career. So the next time you want to rub salt in the wounds of your friendly neighborhood Maple Leafs’ fan, remind them that the first-ever NHL shutout happened on their watch.
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Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.