In Tuesday’s game against the Ducks, Hunter Miska was the starting goalie, but he wasn’t the one that finished the game. Miska allowed four goals on seven shots faced in the first period. Grubauer would go on to replace Miska for the second and third period. Grubauer went on to post a shutout in the two periods he played, but he shouldn’t have had to play in the first place.
Hunter Miska started Tuesday’s game because it was supposed to be a rest day for Phillip Grubauer. A rest day that he sorely needs. Grubauer has started 23 of the 27 games for the Avalanche this year. He’s on pace to start 85% of the Avalanche’s games this year, which comes out to about 46 games started. And that’s a lot more than head coach Jared Bednar said he would start. To put this into perspective Phillip Grubauer has never started more than 37 games for the Avalanche in a full season. So yeah, the Avalanche are utilizing their number one goalie, a lot.
Although the Avalanche should be starting Grubauer a lot. He’s on pace to set new career highs in Goals Allowed Average (1.85 GAA) and Save Percentage (.925 SV%) and has been the MVP of the Avalanche season through the first half. Grubauer should be getting all the Veniza Trophy votes. But the guy is not a robot. He needs some rest. Especially when the team is playing a game every other day. That’s why teams need a solid second goaltender, to give their main guy some rest. Unfortunately, Hunter Miska hasn’t been the backup goaltender the team needs.
Granted, Miska has been put into an extremely tough situation. Even tougher when you remember that he is still a developing goalie. Miska shouldn’t have to be the backup goaltender for the Avalanche. That should be Pavel Francouz. It’s just too bad Francouz has been hurt all season and hasn’t been able to log a single game. Francouz can’t even practice. So Miska was forced to step up and be that second guy. While Miska has shown flashes of brilliance that still makes me think he can be a solid NHL goalie, it’s clear he needs more time to develop in the minor leagues. But coach Bednar said it best.
I thought Jared Bednar was both honest and fair when discussing Hunter Miska today. #Avs https://t.co/7VnVumkWzk pic.twitter.com/kCofuHSjel — Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) March 17, 2021
Coach Bednar isn’t going to crucify Miska for a couple bad games. He’s a great teammate who’s willing to learn and wants to get better. Plus he’s a young goalie and it takes a lot of time for goalies to develop. Miska can and will get better. But even Bednar admits he’s not sure if Hunter Miska is ready to be a backup goalie in the NHL yet.
Even though Miska has the potential to be a great backup goalie he’s not there quite yet. It couldn’t be more apparent after Tuesday’s game. Letting in four goals on seven shots is unacceptable and Miska was rightfully pulled for it. Miska hasn’t shown that he can be a reliable backup, yet. He very well could flip a switch and be that trustworthy second goalie the Avalanche need. But he hasn’t shown that yet.
And the Avalanche desperately need a trustworthy second goalie. Because Miska has only started and finished four games, and he has a 1-1-2 record, a 4.16 GAA, and a .838 SV% to show for it. That’s not good enough to win games. The Avalanche need a goalie who can come in and play well enough to give Grubauer some rest. So either Hunter Miska needs to play a lot better, or Joe Sakic has to go out and trade for a reliable backup goaltender. That or he can give Pavel Francouz some Russian Gas so he can come off the long term injured reserve already.