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Avalanche-Oilers Game 2: Kuemper out, Smith back in

Avalanche Oilers Game 2

DENVER, CO - MAY 31: Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) skates during a Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on May 31, 2022. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Some significant goalie news for Game 2 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday night as the Colorado Avalanche will be forced to go with a new starter, while the Edmonton Oilers are sticking with their guy.

Let’s start with the Avalanche who will not have Darcy Kuemper for Thursday’s game.

Kuemper was injured in the Avalanche’s 8-6 Game 1 win, leaving with an upper-body injury. It is the second time this postseason that Kuemper has been sidelined, having also missed time in Colorado’s First Round sweep against the Nashville Predators with an eye injury.

Pavel Francouz will get the Game 2 start. He is a very capable goalie, recording a 15-5-1 record during the regular season with a .916 save percentage. He is 1-0 in three appearances this postseason with an .889 save percentage.

[The Wraparound: Oilers looking to bounce back in Game 2]

Meanwhile, at the Edmonton end of the rink, the Oilers will be sticking with veteran goalie Mike Smith after he allowed six goals in the Game 1 loss before being replaced by Mikko Koskinen.

It has been an up-and-down postseason for Smith. He came into the playoffs on a hot streak that saw him playing his best hockey of the season, a trend that continued through the First Round where he recorded two shutouts against the Los Angeles Kings. But his play has started to tail off in recent games as he has now allowed 13 goals over his past three starts. Going back even further, he has allowed at least three goals in five of his six starts since the beginning of the Second Round.

Given the goalie situations, as well as the firepower both teams have on offense, this could end up being a very wild series.