Chambers: Avalanche trade-deadline focus still on backup goaltender – The Denver Post

Recently acquired goalie Jonas Johansson made his third appearance with the Avalanche on Wednesday night in Minnesota, and for the third time, he allowed a goal on the first shot he faced.

Granted, Johansson came in cold in the third period, replacing Philipp Grubauer in a rare off night for the German, and the goal Johansson allowed came on a Wild power play.

But a dangerous pattern of spotting the opposing team a goal on its first shot continued.

Is this really the backup the Avs want as insurance entering the stretch run and the playoffs — given there is no evidence Pavel Francouz is anywhere close to returning from long-term injured reserve? Do the Avs dare bet on Johansson and not make a move for a proven veteran ahead of Monday’s trade deadline?

Credit the Avs for being proactive last month by acquiring Johansson from Buffalo for a sixth-round draft pick. They needed to move on from Hunter Miska (1-1-2, .838 save percentage) and they did so more than three weeks before the trade deadline.

But Johansson (1-0-1, .883 SP) has been as shaky as Miska. The experiment was a good idea but it hasn’t panned out, and because Johansson is on a two-way contract the Avs can send him to the minors and pay him based on a $200,000 salary, burying his $700,000 cap hit.

So the Avs could use that $700K toward another roll of the dice on goaltending insurance.

Four of the five veteran goalies and pending unrestricted free agents I identified as trade targets last month are still available. And the fifth, Devan Dubnyk, could be a target if San Jose (17-17-4) believes it can’t make the playoffs. Detroit’s Calvin Pickard ($750,000), New Jersey’s Aaron Dell ($800,000) and Anaheim’s Ryan Miller ($1 million) make the most sense financially.

Colorado has too much to lose by not improving its goaltending depth. This team is too good — too capable of winning the Stanley Cup — to pin all of its hopes on Grubauer remaining healthy.

Grubauer, despite giving up seven goals to the Wild in Wednesday’s 8-3 loss and four in Monday’s 5-4 win, still has a league-best 2.00 goals-against average and is tied for 10th in SP at .919. He’s good enough to lead Colorado to the Cup. But the Avs could be doomed — again — if he goes down like last season.

Unsuspecting elements. The final two games of the Avs-Wild eight-game, regular-season series were strange from a power play/penalty killing perspective.

Minnesota scored a combined six power-play goals on 11 opportunities in the two games, after entering the set with the league’s 30th-ranked power play (10.8%). The Wild is now ranked 27th on the power play (14.8%).

The Avs’ penalty killing has been strong all season and entered Monday’s game ranked second at 87.1%. After Wednesday’s game, they stood sixth at 83.5%.

A penalty that many of us have never heard of led to Minnesota’s third goal on Wednesday. The Avs were called for delay of game for an illegal line change on icing, and the Wild’s Kevin Fiala struck on the power play.

Colorado coach Jared Bednar didn’t like the penalty — which he, too, had never seen called.

“Normally when the puck is going down the ice like that and they signal the icing, one of the linesmen is coming to the bench to make sure you’re not cheating (changing) on these situations,” Bednar said postgame. “We never got any indication that we had to leave guys on the ice. Their coach complained and (the referee) came by and rung us up for a bench minor and they scored on it.”

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