With preparation time already in short supply, goaltender Philipp Grubauer was unable to even be inside the building during the first three days of Colorado Avalanche training camp.
The “unfit to practice” designation shed, and with a pair of practices left before the Avs’ season opener — Sunday at the team’s training facility and Tuesday at Ball Arena — Grubauer said he’s feeling good.
“I’m really excited to get going again,” Grubauer said, “And can’t actually believe that we’re starting this.
“Today and tomorrow is going to be huge. There’s only (two) more practices and then we’re shooting real bullets here.”
Pavel Francouz took the lead in Grubauer’s absence and the two are expected to split time for the second straight season. Team skates before camp and scrimmages like the one Saturday will help shake off rust and get the shot numbers up as games approach.
“The last two days since camp has started, his intensity is up,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said of Grubauer. “You’re seeing the leadership out of him like I would expect to see, along with (Francouz). I think they’re getting better here as camp goes on and they’ll be ready.”
A lower-body injury ended Grubauer’s postseason in Game 1 of the second round of the 2020 bubble. Francouz battled worsening injuries as well and third-string goaltender Michael Hutchinson finished out the series. Grubauer used that scenario to bolster his assessment that depth at the position is crucial, in normal seasons and in this one.
“It’s definitely going to be huge to balance those games,” Grubauer said. “But I’m going to be ready to go for every game and so will (Francouz) and whoever’s in net.”
Notes: If defenseman Erik Johnson, who has been “unfit to practice” all of training camp so far, can’t go Wednesday in the season opener, Bednar said Conor Timmins is the most likely replacement after a “really good” camp. … Fresh off World Juniors silver, 19-year-old defenseman Bo Byram’s taxi squad potential is complicated by his participation in the Western Hockey League. Once the WHL is underway, “he has to be on our active roster or back in junior,” Bednar said was his understanding at this time. Byram can be on the taxi squad until play begins. The WHL on Friday committed to a 2020-21 regular season with a start date to be determined. … There could be a lot of coming and going from that taxi squad. Bednar doesn’t want players sitting around without playing, so the group “is probably going to be a bit of a fluid situation.”