Kuemper will be ready for Avalanche for start of second round

DENVER — Darcy Kuember practiced Thursday and will be ready to play for the Colorado Avalanche against the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Second Round.

“He’ll be good to go,” coach Jared Bednar said. “Let’s put it that way. He’s on the ice today. We might not play until Monday, Tuesday. I don’t know. He’s good to go.

“He got to practice today, so everything’s looking positive in that.”

Kuemper missed a 5-3 win against the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of the first round on May 9 after leaving in the first period of Game 3 when the stick of Predators center Ryan Johansen hit him in his right eye through his mask.

Pavel Francouz made 18 saves in relief in a 7-3 win in Game 3 and made 28 saves in a 5-3 win in Game 4, when Colorado completed the first-round sweep and became the first team to advance to the second round.

The Avalanche, the top seed in the Western Conference, will face the Blues, who eliminated the Minnesota Wild with a 5-2 win in Game 6 of their first-round series Thursday.

Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said Tuesday that Kuemper was fortunate the injury was not as serious as it could have been.

“His spirits are good. He looks good,” Landeskog said. “I’m not going to give you the full report, but his eye is at least a little bit open. So that’s good, and he’s got some nice coloring on there. I think we all told him that same night, ‘Just kind of count your blessings. That could have been bad.””

Kuemper won the first two games against Nashville with a 1.63 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 147:29 of ice time. Francouz is 2-0 with a 2.97 GAA and .902 save percentage in 100:57.

“Proud of the way ‘Frankie’ stepped into Game 3 and shut the door, and Game 4 as well,” Landeskog said. “He played great. It’s huge to have two goals of that caliber at this point of the year. We’re going to need them moving forward.”

This is not the first time Kuemper has taken a stick to the face through his mask; on April 2, 2019, with the Arizona Coyotes, Kuemper was helped off the ice with an eye injury after Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Lewis‘ follow through on a shot slipped through his cage.

“I know it’s happened to him once before, and he ended up getting lucky again in terms of it not being more serious,” Landeskog said. “This will also be a good opportunity for him to rest up and get back.”

NHL.com independent correspondent Ryan Boulding contributed to this report

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