Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Colorado Avalanche Community!

Philipp Grubauer's strong start is exactly what the Avs need

AJ Haefele Avatar
January 23, 2021

“He was definitely our best player on the ice.”

When the guy who scores the game-winning goal in overtime has that definitive of a statement about your night, you know it’s been a good performance.

There weren’t a lot of incredible, highlight-reel saves made by Philipp Grubauer as he stopped 36 of 38 shots from the Anaheim Ducks, but when Grubauer is at his best, there rarely are.

That’s when you see him elevate his game to earn such high praise from the man of the hour, Gabe Landeskog, whose overtime goal gave the Avalanche a hard-fought 3-2 victory in overtime.

“He was our best player on the ice, I thought,” Landeskog said. “No doubt about it. I thought Grubi made some key saves on the PK. For the most part, there weren’t a whole lot of rebounds laying around.”

There were some notable saves, of course, including a double-dipper on poor Jakob Silfverberg as Grubauer made a great toe save on the initial attempt and got enough of the rebound for Bowen Byram to gather the puck in the crease and skate it out of danger.

The rest of the game, however? Grubauer credited the team in front of him for making the difficulty of saves pretty low even as the number got higher than they would like.

“It was an easier game to read, for sure,” Grubauer said. “Some games are easier to read, some games are a little more difficult to read. I think we did a great job keeping a lot of shots to the outside for the most part. I think we had a not-so-good start compared to yesterday. The second period wasn’t great either but we battled hard in the last one.”

Grubauer’s strong performance pushed him to 3-1 on the season and earned a whole heap of praise not only from his captain but his head coach, too.

“I see a whole new level of determination from Grubi this year,” Jared Bednar said. “I think he’s really gone to work in the offseason to…maintain or strengthen his body to make sure that he’s ready to go through the rigors of the season as a starter and a guy we can lean on in a real busy schedule. He’s had some injury troubles in the past and he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and done research on his own on how to get stronger and be able to stay healthier. He missed the first couple days of camp because of COVID protocol but from the day he’s been back, he’s been outstanding. He’s strong, confident, he looks determined, he’s battling on every puck in practice, games. He’s confident. I think he’s going to have a great year for us and he’s certainly started out that way.”

Right now Grubauer’s line after four games sits at:

3-1, .931 sv%, 2.00 GAA, 1 shutout, and he added an assist for the hell of it.

Coming into the season, Grubauer was arguably Colorado’s biggest question mark. After trading a second round pick to acquire him, the Avs gave him a three-year contract to prove he was their guy. The first two years were roller coasters with exceptional highs and incredibly frustrating lows.

Not only is Grubauer key to Colorado’s status as a Stanley Cup contender, but he’s also in a contract year. His financial future very well could hinge on what he’s able to accomplish this season. This is, as science classes taught me, a symbiotic relationship.

Grubauer lives up to his potential as a legitimate starter and he puts himself in line for a major extension from Colorado…potentially as the man who led them to their first non-Patrick Roy championship.


  • Bowen Byram, welcome to the moment. What a play he made for his first NHL point tonight. That was great and exactly the kind of aggressive play we’ve seen him make his entire WHL career. He’s the real deal offensively. What I loved was his willingness to mix it up physically defensively. The Ducks have always been full of…let’s call them “agitators” and Byram wasn’t intimidated by their shenanigans at all despite it being just his second game. The kid is unflappable. We saw the goods tonight. There will be a tough night soon enough but that it took exactly two games for him to look like he belonged in the NHL forever is a testament to what a special ceiling he has in this league.
  • It got lost in the shuffle a bit but Cale Makar’s play in overtime to help create the game-winning goal was awesome. Ducks goaltender John Gibson came out to aggressively play the puck in order to catch the Avs in a line change but Makar read the play perfectly and stepped up to snag the puck and drive into the zone. It created the two on one and he made a perfect pass to Landeskog, who for the second time in two nights got stuffed by a goaltender getting across perfectly. That aggressive read and react is part of what makes Makar so special.
  • Funny how we talk about players underperforming sometimes despite the points showing up for them. Makar right now feels like one of those guys even though he has five points through five games. Last year, it was Mikko Rantanen’s entire year to “look off” but still produce points. There’s none of that nonsense this year, however, as Rantanen looks downright awesome. He has six points through five games and is playing physically dominant hockey. His play this year has reminded all of us why we were so eagerly calling him “Baby Jagr” at the start of last season. When he decides to, he completely dominates the best competition in the world.
  • Nathan MacKinnon is so special that even when things aren’t going his way, he’s still incredible to watch. He smoked a shot off the crossbar tonight and then was stopped by Gibson on a penalty shot in the third period. That close to another multi-point night.
  • Colorado’s special teams units were much-maligned by people like me coming into the season. After five games, their PP has been fantastic and their PK is solid-but-unspectacular. There will definitely be stretches of futility, especially on the PP where they’re converting at a ridiculous 40% clip right now, but if they can more or less keep the process where it is right now, they will be tough to beat.
  • In order for that to matter, however, Colorado has to figure out their problems scoring at even strength. The entire team is just not generating offense the way we saw last year where the depth would just chew up and wear down the opposing squad’s defense. Right now, it’s just MacKinnon’s line putting pressure on other teams.
  • A frustrating start to the season but still 3-2 and just two points behind division co-leaders Vegas and Minnesota. A win Sunday against Anaheim and their first road trip of the season is a resounding success.


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?