The Colorado Avalanche are about as complete a team as you would want for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The squad has a solid core of top-notch talent. The Avs also boast a defense with some newly-acquired toys to shore up the penalty kill and faceoff wins.
There’s also a special man between the pipes.
Fans have swooned for Darcy Kuemper about as much as teen girls going gaga for *Mr.* Darcy in the English countryside.
As for NHL bettors in Colorado, not so much.
And for good reason.
New goalie, who dis?
When Colorado’s front office released former goalie Philipp Grubauer into the expansion draft (you’re welcome, Seattle?) this past offseason, there were rumblings that it was a mistake.
Gru had a solid year last season, ranking in the top 10 in multiple statistical categories.
But something went amiss in the month of June.
Grubauer plummeted to the bottom of the playoff goalie pack. And the Avs were bounced in the second round.
Yes, other key players on offense also Houdini’d and were memory-holed like Howler the mascot.
So the Avs went after Kuemper in the offseason, offering Connor Timmins, a coveted first-round draft pick, and a conditional pick.
They freed him from the suffering of the Arizona Coyotes.
It’s been sublime ever since.
He’s second in the league in total wins (35), tied for third in save percentage (.926) and has five shutouts (also third in the league).
You truly cannot ask for more, or reasonably hope for much better.
Kuemper deserves to be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
At DraftKings Colorado Sportsbook, the Avs’ net-minder has the third-best Vezina odds at .
Light the lamp, make money
The playoffs are nearly here, and the Avs have to reckon with the reality that they have underperformed when the lights are the brightest and the stakes are hot.
For the regular season, Colorado has hit its overs at a 56 percent clip.
That ranks 11th in the league. But given the context that Avs game totals are usually set at 6-6.5 goals as a starting point, it’s an absurd standard.
And they keep meeting it.
Colorado online sportsbooks expect domination and high scoring by the team. Which leaves Kuemper (in the minds of oddsmakers) as the “game-manager quarterback” afterthought.
In fact, though, he’s an unsung backbone of this squad.
Prep the playoff beard, babyface
But what does Kuemper’s playoff history look like?
The Yotes, of course, didn’t qualify last season, so we go back to 2019-2020.
Kuemper got crushed. And by very familiar opponents.
He gave up 10 goals in Arizona’s final two decisive games, being pulled from the net as his team lost back-to-back 7-1 decisions.
That was against the Colorado Avalanche.
Now, there’s a galactically-massive gap between the Coyotes of 2020 and the Avs of 2022.
So watch the odds for Colorado’s first-round series.
Potential over/under scoring trends bode well against high-fliers like the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights.
That’s not to say the books will adjust to the usual 6.5 O/U range.
The Avs are returning to full strength with the impending return of center Nazem Kadri and captain Gabe Landeskog.
The scoring machine is humming.
And that makes Kuemper’s exceptional year even better.