Defining an athlete by their second of triumph is simple.
Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz is greatest understood when it appears the sky is falling.
Sixty minutes between the pipes every night time within the NHL for the unprepared is a chaotic nightmare with league netminders dealing with a mean of 31 photographs per sport getting into the weekend. Francouz — pronounced ‘FRAN-sohz’ and nicknamed ‘Frankie’ — has a eager understanding of managing goaltender turbulence with solely 5 NHL begins up to now.
Simply ask Avs defenseman Ryan Graves, an AHL Eagles teammate final season who witnessed Francouz’s rise from principally unknown European prospect, to AHL All-Star, to beginning in internet for the Avalanche with goalie Philipp Grubauer recovering from a lower-body damage.
“Frankie is tremendous quiet and really calm,” Graves stated. “You see even after they rating on him, there’s no response out of him. You don’t see any freak-outs. He’s a relaxing affect, and as a D-man, it’s very good as a result of there are goalies you see who’re sort of erratic in the best way they play and flopping across the internet. Frankie by no means actually strays.
“He’s in his set, he makes exhausting saves look simple, and everybody has a number of confidence in him.”
Upon first look, it’s not overwhelmingly clear that Francouz is an elite athlete. Amongst 55 NHL goalies this season with no less than 5 begins, Francouz is one among solely eight who stands 6-feet or shorter, per hockey-reference.com. It doesn’t restrict his capability. Graves stated: “Frankie is de facto good positionally. He reads the play. I don’t assume the dimensions impacts him by any means.”
But Francouz’s quiet on-ice demeanor extends to locker room interviews the place he speaks in a thick Czech accent glowingly about his time with the Avalanche.
“I’m residing the dream,” he stated.
Francouz’s path to the NHL was completely unorthodox.
He spent 5 years in Czech leagues and one other three seasons within the Russian KHL earlier than Colorado signed him to a one-year deal in Might of 2018.
“We’ve acquired our European scouts over there who recognized him as a man we should always have a look at and attempt to carry into the group,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar stated.
Francouz represented his native Czechoslovakia within the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and posted goals-against averages of 1.43 and 1.80 in his last two KHL seasons.
So, why did it take so lengthy to crack skilled hockey in the US?
“My complete profession I used to be simply taking small steps and didn’t actually dream too large,” Francouz stated. “Then I used to be pondering, ‘OK, perhaps I might go to North America and take a look at (the NHL).’”
Francouz, 29, starred within the AHL final season with a .918 save share, three shutouts and 15-11-5 file. When the Avalanche moved on from Semyon Varlamov, now with the Islanders, they re-signed Francouz on one other one-year contract with a wage improve to $950,000; a monetary dedication solidifying his position behind Grubauer in 2019-20 with the expectation of 25-plus begins.
“I confirmed them I tailored to the fashion of hockey right here,” Francouz stated. “I attempted to be a pacesetter with the minors and present the opposite guys it’s important to be skilled. That performed a job, too.”
Added Bednar: “Everybody recognized him as one of many prime goalies within the American Hockey League and he was a giant cause the Eagles made the playoffs. … It warrants a shot.”
Early returns on Colorado’s funding in Francouz, very similar to the staff’s total play, are blended. He carried a Three-2-Zero file into Saturday’s sport in opposition to Columbus with a .906 save share. However the rarity of right-catching NHL goalies and Francouz’s instinctive play have already given teammates issues in observe.
“It’s very distinctive and provides him a bonus,” ahead Tyson Jost stated. “He’s such a stud in internet, and also you throw that little impediment in there, it helps him for positive.”
Francouz’s capability to remain calm always begins with zen-like preparation. He politely declines media requests after morning skate the day of a begin and actively avoids desirous about the sport till he arrives on the area. It’s all enterprise from there. Francouz locks in initially. And when adversity inevitably strikes, the one response is wanting towards the subsequent play.
Francouz’s focus was on show early within the second interval in opposition to Nashville on Thursday when two fast targets gave the Predators a Three-2 lead and newfound momentum. Francouz didn’t flinch, and his teammates picked up the slack with a barrage of offense.
“I’m attempting to not present feelings within the internet as a result of it could hurt you,” Francouz stated. “Typically it’s tougher as a result of, after all, you’re a human being and going by means of powerful occasions. You continue to need to focus and work on it. If I present no feelings, nothing, it could create this sense of, ‘Alright guys. All the things is OK.’”
A deep postseason run and even hoisting the Stanley Cup? Now these could be trigger for some goaltender emotion.
For now, Francouz will hold a straight face as Colorado enters a essential stretch of the season.