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Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Kuemper’s Game 4 Gem For Avs Sets Up Big FA Payday

  • Kuemper turned away all but two of 39 shots — the most he’s seen in these playoffs.
  • He’s in the final season of a two-year, $9 million deal.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It was fair to wonder whether Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper should start in goal for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, but head coach Jared Bednar’s trust paid off — and the Avalanche are a win away from a title.

After being torched for five goals in Game 3, Kuemper made 37 saves in the Avs’ 3-2 overtime victory over the Lightning — and also became the first goalie to assist on an OT goal in a Final.

Despite posting a .897 save percentage in earlier series, missing four playoff games to injury, and weathering stiff competition for the starting role, the 32-year-old journeyman has proven he can backstop a potential Cup winner.

  • Backup Pavel Francouz has largely outplayed Kuemper this postseason, with a .920 save percentage over three starts against Edmonton.
  • But Kuemper turned away all but two of 39 shots Wednesday — the most he’s seen in these playoffs.
  • He saved 1.49 goals above expected — significantly higher than his -3.9 average in these playoffs.

The clutch performance could provide all the leverage Kuemper needs when he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer — he’s in the final season of the two-year, $9 million extension he signed with the Coyotes in 2019 before joining Colorado last summer.

His $4.5 million AAV currently ranks just 19th among NHL goalies, but he’ll move up quickly if he’s in the crease when the Avs win their third championship and first since 2001.

Colorado (-1200) is now the runaway favorite to lift the Cup.

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