Strike 1: It’s true. Oftentimes, we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone.

So where have you gone, Darcy Kuemper?

Of course Colorado hockey fans already know that Mr. Kuemper has gone to Washington, where he’s currently performing okay for the Washington Capitals. The Caps are tied for 10th place in the Eastern Conference, and Kuemper has nine wins in 20 games, with a goals against of 3.25 and a save percentage of .891. The numbers are below his career average.

Of course one of those years was in 2021-’22, when Kuemper played a key role in helping the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup. That season he had a goals against of just 2.54, a save percentage of .921 and went 37-12 as the Avs netminder. He also won 10 more games in the playoffs.

Deemed too expensive for the Avs to resign, he took his talents to D.C., and neither side has been quite the same since. Too bad.

This is not to say Darcy Kuemper is at the caliber of Hall of Famer Patrick Roy or anything, but they are the only two goalies to win Cups with Colorado.

This season, goaltending has once again been a sore point for the uber-talented and otherwise Cup-ready Avalanche, with overworked Alexander Georgiev struggling, and backup Ivan Prosvetov (3.16 goals against) failing to provide any sort of boost when he’s been called upon. Against Florida on Saturday, Prosvetov was not very good.

Already this season, the Avs have yielded seven goals at Las Vegas, and eight in home games against St. Louis and to the Panthers on Saturday (two were empty-netters late.) More importantly, in seven of their 25 wins, they’ve had to score five or more goals to get the W. Only six times have they been able to win, scoring three goals or fewer.

Putting that kind of strain on the offense will not work in the postseason.

Overall, Georgiev’s stats aren’t that bad: 21-9, with a 2.98 goals against and a reasonable .895 save percentage. But more recently, the Avs have had to rely on the offense to put up five goals or more to pull out victories, especially against the league’s better teams, and there are a whole lot of those straight ahead on the schedule. It’s pretty obvious at this point that this Avalanche team, loaded with skilled offensive players and boasting several very talented defensemen, isn’t going to be able to depend on their goaltender “standing on his head” when crunch time arrives, which it always does in the playoffs.

As usual, there doesn’t appear to be any help down on the farm. The Avs horrid history of drafting and developing goaltenders has never been more apparent than it is at this moment. Having NEVER drafted a top shelf netminder EVER in the organization’s long history, they have only one – young Justus Annunen – available in the minors. Currently minding the net for the Colorado Eagles of the AHL, Annunen is 9-4 with a nice 2.65 goals against and a solid save percentage of .906. The 2018 third round pick did play some for the big league team last season, posting a 3.92 goals against. Clearly the Avs front office feels like he’s not ready yet.

He joins a not-all-that-distinguished list of Colorado draft picks who have (so far) failed to become difference makers between the pipes: Marc Denis, Philippe Sauve, Peter Budaj, Calvin Pickard and the best of the bunch, David Aebischer. There are a lot more, including names you don’t remember, like Tyler Weiman, Ian Keserich, Billy Sauer, Trevor Cann, Spencer Martin, Adam Werner and more. Some were okay, others total flops. But all have this in common: None did what Darcy Kuemper did.

The Avs brass needs to eventually draft someone who can.