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Grubauer has tested positive; Dubnyk, Soderberg expected to play

April 14, 2021, 3:00 PM ET [0 Comments]
Rick Sadowski
Colorado Avalanche Blogger •Avalanche Insider • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Avalanche canceled their morning skate after tweeting that an unidentified player tested positive for COVID-19 even though team staff and players were vaccinated this week.

Goalie Philipp Grubauer has since been listed on the NHL COVID protocol list. Not good, obviously.

Defenseman Bowen Byram tested positive a week ago and remains on the protocol list.

Goalie Devan Dubnyk, acquired Saturday from the San Jose Sharks, will make his Avalanche debut on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues in this one-game trip.

Forward Carl Soderberg, who was acquired Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, joined the team in St. Louis on Tuesday and is expected to play.

Defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who was acquired Friday from the Detroit Red Wings, is nursing an upper-body injury.

Here are the GAME NOTES.

General manager Joe Sakic on Monday said the trades for Nemeth and Soderberg filled needs without disrupting locker room chemistry since both players were popular during their previous stints with the team.

“We know them really well, they know our system, both of them were popular guys in the dressing room when they were here and I know excited they are to come back,” Sakic said. “Our dressing room’s excited our guys are excited to have them back. They both fill the needs that we wanted to get accomplished. We were looking to getting a defending defenseman, a PK guy, and Patrik did a great job for us before.

“(Erik Johnson) is out at least for the rest of the regular season (with an upper-body injury) and we wanted to make sure we had that big body, defending body, who can eat up some of the penalty killing minutes so we can rest some of the other guys.

“Carl, same thing. We wanted to add some depth and we know what Carl brings. (He’s) another popular guy and he can come in and penalty kill, he’s a big guy and can definitely help our bottom six.”

Sakic said that acquiring goalie Jonas Johansson from the Buffalo Sabres last month was a stop-gap measure, and that he always intended to pick up another goalie with more experience to back up Grubauer.

Sakic didn’t change those plans even though Johansson, who struggled big time in Buffalo, has gone 3-0-1 with a shutout, 1.87 goals-against average and .929 save percentage with the Avalanche.

Grubauer and Pavel Francouz were injured in the playoffs last season, forcing the Avalanche to turn to Michael Hutchinson for the final three games against the Dallas Stars in the second round.

The Avalanche had needed an experienced backup since the season began as Francouz has been out with a lower-body injury. Sakic said Monday that Francouz won’t be available until next season as he recovers from surgery similar to what former Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov had in 2017 (procedures on both hips).

“We just decided instead of trying to battle and rehab it for six weeks and have to get the surgery we might as well have him get the surgery and have him fully ready for next season,” Sakic said of Francouz.

“JoJo has done a tremendous job for us, but we always wanted -- we saw last year, we got to our third goalie (in the playoffs) and we wanted to have an experienced backup as well with JoJo.

“We love the way the team is coming together, we love the way they’re playing. Management, fans and everybody in the dressing room believes this is the time we need to compete for the Stanley Cup.”

The Avalanche assigned defenseman Keaton Middleton to the Colorado Eagles and recalled defensemen Dan Renouf and Conor Timmins.

The projected lineup:

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen
Brandon Saad -- Nazem Kadri -- Andre Burakovsky
Valeri Nichushkin – Carl Soderberg -- Joonas Donskoi
Tyson Jost -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – J.T. Compher

Devon Toews -- Samuel Girard
Ryan Graves -- Cale Makar
Dan Renouf -- Jacob MacDonald

Devan Dubnyk
Jonas Johansson

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