Joe Sakic says Avalanche will stick with Philipp Grubauer, Pavel Francouz in goal, reveals latter was injured vs. Stars

SEDALIA — The Avalanche intends to stick with goaltenders Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz next season, assuming both recover from injuries that knocked them out of the Western Conference semifinal series against the Dallas Stars.

General manager Joe Sakic and coach Jared Bednar both supported another season of the Grubauer/Francouz tandem Thursday before playing in a foursome at Sanctuary Golf Course as part of Sakic’s 23rd annual golf tournament to benefit the Food Bank of the Rockies.

The Avs’ two leading decision-makers said Francouz played hurt after replacing the injured Grubauer in Game 1 against the Stars. Francouz, whom Bednar said had hip and knee injuries, finally joined Grubauer on the Avs’ long injury list for the last three games of the series.

“They both had good years. Unfortunately, they both got hurt at the wrong time,” Sakic said. “But neither of those injuries are injuries you have to worry about. Train hard in the summer and make sure it doesn’t happen again. You can’t predict injuries, but no, they both had good stretches and we expect that next year.”

Francouz relieved Grubauer midway through Game 1 against the Stars, a 5-3 loss, and also lost Games 3 and 4 with uncharacteristically poor play. He allowed 15 goals in four games against Dallas and his save percentage dipped to .808 in Game 4.

The Avs’ season ended with a 5-4 overtime loss in Game 7 with third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson in net.

“He was battling through his issues once he came in,” Sakic said of Francouz, who began the playoffs with a 27-save shutout against Dallas in round-robin play Aug. 5. “He’s an athletic goalie and he wasn’t able to push. I give him credit. He tried. He battled. He just couldn’t do it anymore.”

Among NHL goalies with 25 games played in the regular season, Francouz finished tied for fourth in save percentage (.924) and was sixth in goals allowed per game (2.41) in his first season in the league.

“You look at what Frankie did last year for the Eagles and this year for us, and how well he played in a bunch of different situations coming in — even at the start in the bubble round-robin — he was excellent and we’ve seen that all year long,” Bednar said.

“I think it was uncharacteristic, the way he played in the series (but) you have to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was dealing with hip and knee problems — muscular problems that were giving him some weakness and some pain and he just didn’t play the way we had seen him playing (and) eventually he couldn’t keep going. It was obviously getting worse as the series went on.”

The Avs will begin an offseason training program for Francouz and Grubauer to strengthen the areas where the goalies were injured.

“I have a lot of belief in those guys. We’re going to evaluate some things and make sure that we’re doing everything we can to keep those guys healthy and get them strong and get them on daily routines, weekly routines,” Bednar said.

Even if the Avs had won Game 7 of the Western Conference series in Edmonton last Friday, none of the seven players on the injured list were close to rejoining the lineup, Bednar said.

Colorado left wing/team captain Gabe Landeskog, who was cut above the right knee by a teammate’s skate in Game 6, would have missed a week to 10 days. Bednar said the other six guys — Francouz and Grubauer, defensemen Erik Johnson and Conor Timmins, and forwards Matt Calvert and Joonas Donskoi — were “weeks” away from returning and would have missed most or all of the conference final.

“Landy came in the day after he got cut and he was pretty sore. That was going to take some time,” Bednar said. “Calvert was looking like he was getting close and he had a setback. The goalies were weeks away. Same thing with Donskoi, EJ.

“When you go through that list, we didn’t have any help coming. So hopefully we can take some now and get all those guys healthy for the start of the season, whenever that is, and we’ll come back stronger than ever.”

Sakic anticipates all seven players to recover before next season — currently scheduled to begin Dec. 1.

Footnote. Avs defenseman Mark Barberio, an unrestricted free agent who was a healthy scratch throughout the playoffs, has reportedly signed Lausanne HC in Switzerland. Barberio, 30, played three-plus seasons in Colorado since he was acquired off waivers from Montreal 2016-17. He saw action in just 21 games this season.