Plenty of boosters leapt to defend Kuemper even after he gave up five goals and was pulled by head coach Jared Bednar in the second period. Their main argument: While Kuemper had hardly been impenetrable, the defense in front of him was equally culpable, giving up thirty shots on goal, nearly twice as many as the sixteen surrendered in the Avs' 7-0 dismantling of the Lightning in game two. Moreover, Francouz promptly let in a goal of his own after taking over — and that he blanked Tampa Bay during the third period was more about the state of the game at that juncture than a spectacular performance on his part.
Kuemper is an average goaltender at best. He's good at stopping typical scoring chances and will occasionally make an impressive save, but he's also prone to giving up soft goals on occasion. And when his teammates need him to bail them out after making a mistake (a Vailevskiy specialty), he fails to do so all too often. That puts an extreme amount of pressure on the Colorado defense, whose members must know in their heart of hearts that if they don't prevent shots from reaching Kuemper, some are going to get past him.
That was certainly the case in game three. The Avs jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to the way Gabriel Landeskog responded to a goal being waved off minutes earlier because of an (accurate) offside call. But the Lightning charged back with three goals of their own — from Anthony Cirelli, Ondrej Palat and Nicholas Paul. And while a second-period repeat of Landeskog's feat temporarily stopped the bleeding, Tampa Bay cashed in three more times after that, with Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon and Corey Perry doing the damage.
The Avs retain a 2-1 advantage, and they're more than capable of winning game four in Tampa Bay on Wednesday, June 22. In the meantime, fans are still hashing over the Kuemper-versus-Francouz choice — and whether it makes any difference at all.
Here are picks for the twenty most memorable post-game takes on Twitter:
The ice is noticeably slow, plays to home advantage for sure, Kuemper let in a couple real soft goals, and the refs were hard on the Avs after letting the lightning T off on them last game just trying to get under the skin. Perry is a punk and deserves to get smashed.— FatherMcFeeley (@PadreMcFeeley) June 21, 2022
Did you see the chances the lightning had? Not many of those fall on Kuemper. Avs defense laid an egg last night, or several eggs.— ツ Chris ッ (@Lblax31) June 21, 2022
kuemper loyalists on suicide watch right now— Avs in 4 (@GoatnerMinshew) June 21, 2022
If you'd been watching the previous Avs series', Kuemper has been an absolute sieve. Francous better.— ross (@karmapics) June 21, 2022
Either way, it's another Edmonton situation, high scoring covering up a weak G.
Looks like Cooper just needed a couple games to solve the Avs' D.
Can he now shut down Avs O?
Kuemper gets pulled and some media automatically ask who the Avs should start in the next game. It’s the Stanley cup finals. Start the best goalie available in games 1-7. Your options arent Ty Conklin and Jussi Markennen. Play your starter till you believe the other guy is better— Clint P (@GoalieClint) June 21, 2022
There’s a difference between a fan and an objective critic of your favorite team. This team carries Kuemper, period. When he’s off, everything else in front of him is off. Guys start overthinking cuz there’s no confidence in him. It leads to mistakes.— Noname needed (@mtnavaholic) June 21, 2022
Lol the Avs defense and offense has bailed him out every game. I can think of maybe 4 games all yr where Kuemper was the only reason the Avs won but you can keep pumping this top 5 goalie thing if you want.— Zzz (@rodjob21) June 21, 2022
All they have done all playoffs is bail him out. There hasn't been one game where Kuemper has bailed out the Avs. Not one.— Zzz (@rodjob21) June 21, 2022
Whether it’s Francouz or Kuemper between the pipes the rest of the series, Avs just need to have quality goaltending, and a few big saves at crucial junctures. Avs team should come out very hungry the remainder of the Cup Final— Paul Knoepke (@Knoepke84) June 21, 2022
Probably not a popular stance, but right now I think the Avs have to go back to Kuemper next game ( w a short leash). Tough morale scenario if they switch too soon or Frankie struggles.— Puck Ferguson (@FergusonPuck) June 21, 2022
People complaining about Kuemper! Stop. The defense left him out to dry! Like leaving Stamkos alone in the slot. He scores on any goalie in the league from there! Avs are still up 2-1 in the series! Are 14-3 in the playoffs. They will adjust. They will #FindAWay #GoAvsGo— PK (@PKAvaholic) June 21, 2022
Kuemper will play game 4, it is why he was brought in. The team as a whole didn’t play well and will hopefully make the necessary adjustments with possibly Kadri returning on Weds. Trust the process. #GoAvsGo #FindAWay— Mark - Battle Born Avs Fan (@smith06_e) June 21, 2022
Haha this is wild! Kuemper easy choice. Avs had terrible puck management and left him to dry. Sure he could have been better but so could the boys in front.— Eric Weidner (@World_Weid) June 21, 2022
I’m not fraying from Avs in 5! That was a must win for Tampa and they went balls out in that one, and buried every one of our defensive mistakes, and Kuemper leaked. That’s more what I was expecting from them, But at what cost? I admire the resiliency, let’s see game 4 play out— Nate (@Escape_Artist19) June 21, 2022
I expected a game like this eventually. especially cause we were on the road. they do need to play better but it has so little to do with kuemper. I'm just so confused at that pull & the avs fans who are so harsh over one bad game.— z - snowy 13-2 (@makarfornorris) June 21, 2022
Kuemper’s shutout was more of a credit to the team in front of him. Faced less than 20 shots and wasn’t really tested. That’s my knock on him tho, when the Avs need him to step up these playoffs he hasn’t.— Stanley Cup Finals Team Appreciator (@StrictlyRandy) June 21, 2022
Neither Bednar or the Avs players are gonna throw Kuemper under the bus publically. Even if he let if five goals on five shots they wouldn't do that.— Robin on the Avs 🇺🇦 (@AvsRobin) June 21, 2022
Prediction for next game:— z - Cordzall (RIP88) (@H1nt0nSZN) June 21, 2022
LOC: Gordie Howe Hat Trick
Newy: 1 goal 2 Assists
Compher: Hat Trick
Naz(If he's back: 1 Assist
Francouz/Kuemper: .932 SV% 2 GA
Avs win 5-2.
(This has no backup or evidence, just a dream lol)
Before I go: I deleted my Kuemper tweet because I reject fairweather fan discourse. That said, I see some of you have brought that bs to instagram and are attacking him on his wedding photo. Please know anyone doing that absolutely sucks as an "Avs fan" and I actually hate you.— c and the (@andlalune) June 21, 2022