Alexandar Georgiev and a different Avalanche identity entering 2023


Before the final 2022 stroke of midnight, the Avalanche finally yanked a starting goaltender.

Not out of situational necessity or injury precaution; it was a performance-based change. Jared Bednar pulled starter Alexandar Georgiev late in the second period Saturday after Georgiev allowed a fifth Toronto goal in an eventual 6-2 Avalanche loss.

Hard as it is to believe this was the first time Colorado (19-13-3) has pulled a goalie this season, that it took until the 35-game mark is both a testament to Georgiev’s exceptional start in his new role and a commentary on the Avalanche’s direction entering 2023.

Facing increased demand with backup Pavel Francouz injured, Georgiev said he feels fine physically. “Obviously a couple tough games,” he said after the loss. “But I feel like there are just a few tweaks that I need to work on in practice.”

The snag with Georgiev at this juncture is a streaky tendency. The hot streaks have outlasted and outweighed the cold ones, but a trend has developed nonetheless. In his last three games since the Avs returned from the holiday break, he’s 0-2-1 with 14 goals allowed on 83 shots. That’s an .831 save percentage.

In his last six games before Christmas, he allowed barely half that many goals (eight) on twice as many shots (160), good for a .950 save percentage and 4-1-1 record. It culminated with the NHL naming him second star of the week, only behind another Alex who had just reached 800 goals. Georgiev was the hottest goalie in the league.

But the four games before that stretch? He conceded 17 goals on 121 shots, an .860 save mark with 4.25 goals allowed per game. The Avalanche went 1-3-0.

The seven games before that: A .947 SV%, 32.9 saves per game vs. just 1.9 goals allowed on average, and a 6-1-0 record.

The question left by those peaks and valleys is whether there’s a reason one bad game can snowball into more bad games. The team isn’t concerned.

“He’s pretty good at shaking things off, I think,” Bednar said the day after Colorado’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Kings last week. “I think after the game, there’s going to be frustration…I think it takes a little while to get through it. And then we’ve got to turn the page and move on. I’m the same way as a coach.”

In the game of salary cap gymnastics, Colorado took a chance on a goalie without everyday starting experience in the NHL. It has mostly paid off beyond expectations — Georgiev still sits at a .915 SV% and 2.66 goals allowed per game — but these occasional rough patches had to be anticipated. It’s part of the risk. As Bednar puts it, “some games he’s sharper than others, just like any other player.”

“It’s just how the last few games developed,” Georgiev said. “We’ve played a lot of skilled teams. … I feel like there are a couple things I wish I could have done differently, but also, they scored pretty good goals.”

Which brings up the broader state of the Avalanche in the new year. Their identity has flipped. They won the Stanley Cup with rapturous offensive chemistry and avalanches of goals. They averaged 3.76 goals per game (fourth-best) and only got shut out once, including the playoffs.


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