Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper has full use of his right eye and was a full practice participant on Thursday. He is expected to start in Game 1 in the second-round series against the Blues or Wild.
“Got through to practice today so everything looking positive in that,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.
Kuemper, who was poked in his right eye by the stick of Nashville forward Ryan Johansen in Game 3 of a first-round series and was not able to play in Game 4, was not made available to reporters on Thursday. It was difficult to see his eye through his goalie mask.
But Bednar said the swelling around the eye has decreased each day and no medical procedure was required.
“He’ll be good to go, let’s put it that way,” Bednar said. “We might not play until Monday, Tuesday. I don’t know. He’s good to go.”
The Avs, who have now swept their first-round series for the second consecutive year, will face the Blues if they defeat Minnesota in Game 6 on Thursday night in St. Louis. Game 7, if necessary, is scheduled for Saturday in St. Paul, Minn.
Veteran Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson said he has never seen a goalie get poked in the eye by an errant stick. And at first, he didn’t believe what had happened.
“I thought he was selling it to try to get a penalty, and then I saw his eye and I was like, ‘Jesus,’” Johnson said. “He was not selling it. It’s crazy. I don’t know if Johansen has a thinner blade — some guys shave their stick down on the toe there. I don’t know if that had something to do with it but sounds like it’s happened to him before. Luckily it was just on his eyelid. So he’s pretty lucky.”
Following two off days, the Avs had 100% player participation in Thursday’s practice. Nobody is on the injured list, which is how the team began the postseason.
Johnson, 34, who is Colorado’s most senior member, said the Avs’ mental makeup to begin the postseason has been remarkable. The Avs outscored the Preds 21-9 in the series and only trailed once — for less than five minutes in Game 4.
“Our mindset from the start was, we were all so dialed in and our focus was so sharp,” Johnson said. “Everybody knew their job and what they had to do. The collective buy-in from every guy was so high, you could just feel it in the room with guys talking — just the desire that we had to get the job done. You could just feel it resonate through our locker room, through every guy.”
The Avs are scheduled to practice on Friday at Family Sports Center.
Footnote. Avalanche 2021 first-round draft pick Oskar Olausson had two assists in his professional debut in the Colorado Eagles’ 10-1 victory over the Ontario Reign on Wednesday in Game 1 of a Pacific Division semifinal series. Olausson, a 19-year-old forward, recently signed his three-year entry-level contract after completing his major-junior season with the Oshawa Generals. He is expected to vie for an Avalanche roster spot next season.
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