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Depending on Dubnyk, Johansson to hold West lead for now

April 15, 2021, 3:58 PM ET [2 Comments]
Rick Sadowski
Colorado Avalanche Blogger •Avalanche Insider • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Definitely weird that Devan Dubnyk, for the short term, is now the Avalanche’s No. 1 goalie.

As unpopular as he was with Colorado fans, especially while playing for the Minnesota Wild, Dubnyk could be in for some mixed reaction Friday (probably mostly positive) when he’s expected to make his first home start against the Los Angeles Kings at Ball Arena.

Philipp Grubauer, who is having a Vezina Trophy-like season, will miss at least seven of the final 13 regular-season games after testing positive for COVID-19, putting a crimp in the Avalanche’s chances of finishing first in the West Division.

Grubauer will have to quarantine for 10 days and could resume team activities in two weeks after passing cardiac tests. In the meantime, he will be unavailable to practice, travel or play in games.

“It’ll be at least 14 days before his next game,” coach Jared Bednar said. “Not ideal, but I know he’ll be hungry to get back in the net when he’s healthy.”

The Avalanche (30-9-4) have gone 17-1-2 in the past 20 games and 12-0-1 in the past 13 at home.

Here's the NHL.com RECAP of Wednesday’s win in St. Louis.

They have a four-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights, who have a game in hand, and they’ll play two more times, both games in Vegas.

After this weekend’s two-game set with the Kings, the Avalanche will play the St. Louis Blues three straight times – all in St. Louis – before facing the Golden Knights.

They’ll finish the season with four games against the San Jose Sharks (two home, two away) and two games in Los Angeles.

But the next seven (at least) without Grubauer will go a long way in determining if they can hang on, win the West, and have home ice for a minimum of the first two playoff rounds.

Dubnyk, acquired Saturday from the Sharks, got off to a decent start Wednesday when he made 31 saves in the Avalanche’s 4-3 win in St. Louis.

"I just wanted to go out, and it's a new thing for me, it's a new thing for them feeling me back there, and that's just things you have to get over and get through after a trade for a goalie,” he said. “It was nice to work back there behind that group, and it's a pretty scary group, how good we can be when we play."

Dubnyk went 3-9-2 in San Jose with a 3.18 goals-against average and .898 save percentage in 17 games (13 starts).

Jonas Johansson, acquired last month from the Buffalo Sabres, also will get his share of starts. He’s been surprisingly effective, posting a 3-0-1 record, his first career NHL shutout, and a 1.87 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in five games (four starts).

Carl Soderberg, acquired Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, played left wing on the second line with Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky. He logged 15:02 of ice time, 1:20 killing penalties.

Soderberg eventually will play on the third or fourth line.

Forward Joonas Donskoi was scratched Wednesday because he wasn’t feeling well, apparently experiencing side effects after being vaccinated.

Defenseman Patrik Nemeth remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He was acquired Friday from the Detroit Red Wings.

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