Grading the Week: How do you like Philipp Grubauer now, Avalanche fans? – The Denver Post
Some call them “haters.” Others, “doubters.”
Whatever the preference, Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer had plenty coming into this season. (Perhaps even a few folks inside the Grading the Week offices.)
Philipp Grubauer — A
Well, Avs fans, how do you like ‘ol Gruby now?
Fair or not, the 6-foot-1, 188-pound goalie was considered one of the big question marks for a team expected to contend for the Stanley Cup. So far this season, however, he’s been among the Avs’ most steady players.
Entering Saturday’s outdoor game at Lake Tahoe, Grubauer was No. 2 in the NHL in save percentage (.936) and goals against average (1.64), and led the league in goals allowed adjusted.
Suffice to say, ol’ Gruby has been exceptional in his return from a leg injury that limited him to just one start in last year’s playoff run inside the Edmonton bubble. And he appears to be getting better.
The German netminder’s worst start of the season — four goals allowed vs. St. Louis — came in the Avs’ first game. In the 10 games after that, Grubauer kept opponents to three or fewer goals while going 8-2 with a .944 save percentage. That included a five-start stretch prior to Saturday that saw him go 4-1, with a .959 save percentage, one shutout and three one-goal games.
Avs general manager Joe Sakic rankled a few feathers when he declared days after the end of the 2020 season that he had “a lot of belief” in Grubauer and backup Pavel Francouz.
While the latter has yet to see the ice this season, the former has proven Sakic’s faith to be well-placed — so far.
Jamal Murray — A-
Bubble Jamal, why did you ever leave us?
What a delight it is to watch the Nuggets’ guard knock down clutch shots from the edge of the half court logo and drop a 50-piece on unwitting defenders.
A week removed from his fourth single-digit scoring game of the season — and hopefully his last — Murray submitted the sort of four-game stretch over the past six days we previously hoped would become the norm in the wake of his legendary Orlando bubble run.
The stats: 33.8 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 61.7% shooting (55.3% from 3), one ridiculous game-tying bomb in Washington and a 50-point masterpiece Friday night in Cleveland.
Player development does not always occur in a straight line. There are often stops and starts. Ups and downs. And Murray, who’s been banged up most of the season, has always been something of a slow starter.
That likely cost him a spot in next month’s NBA All-Star Game. Keep playing like this, and it will end up looking like a terrible snub.
Bud Black — B
Bless Bud Black.
Anyone who can be so positive in the face of so much misery deserves a pat on the back. Or a hug.
He may have lost his star third baseman, and his all-star shortstop is likely soon headed for the door as well — and maybe even one of his starting pitchers — but the Rockies manager refused to be doom and gloom as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Arizona this past week.
“The sum of our parts is how we will move forward and how we progress,” Black said Wednesday, providing Rockies fans with his best Baghdad Bob impersonation.
Always look on the bright side of life, Bud.
These days, we need it.
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