The Colorado Avalanche began the NHL season as favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
They were given this tag despite having question marks hanging over their goaltending. Early signs suggest those question marks are beginning to go away though, putting the Avalanche in an even stronger position.
While much of the talk surrounds the young studs on this Avs team, German netminder Philipp Grubauer could well prove to be one of the most important factors in any success they have.
Philipp Grubauer Stats Show Exceptional Start
There are just five netminders ahead of Grubauer in the GAA stats, and only one of those has played a similar number of games. That is Marc-Andre Fleury, who Grubauer has been up against for the last two games.
In terms of stats, Grubauer is currently posting a GAA of 1.67, conceding just 20 goals in 12 starts. His excellent save percentage of .936% is right up there with the best too.
Perhaps the most impressive part about this has been that Grubauer has not had a back up for the entire season. An injury to Pavel Francouz has left the Avs turning to AHL netminders behind Grubauer, leaving the German to play a game or two more than the Avs would have liked at this stage.
The Unsung Hero
As Nazem Kadri said in the quote above, Grubauer is driving the bus for the Avs right now. However, he’s not getting much of the praise from the outside.
When you look at the roster, names such as Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen and new young stud Bowen Byram are getting the column inches.
The Avs cannot win a cup without those players, but perhaps it is time to realise that Grubauer is just as important to this team.
Anyone questioning whether Grubauer was good enough at the start of the season will more than likely be moving away from that now. Yes, injuries are a concern, but if Grubauer can stay healthy and show anything like his current form, he gives the Avs better goaltending than anyone ever imagined.
Favorites before all of this, the form we are seeing from the German in goal is certainly solidifying their position right now.