Philipp Grubauer had one of the best seasons of his NHL career and finished among the league leaders in several of the main goaltending categories in the 2020-21 campaign.
The Rosenheim, Germany, native posted a 30-9-1 record in 40 games (39 starts) last season, finishing second in wins, tied for first with seven shutouts and was third with a 1.95 goals-against average--the second-best mark in franchise history behind Patrick Roy's 1.94 in 2001-02--all personal bests in his NHL career. He also produced a .922 save percentage, his best mark since joining the Avalanche in 2018.
Grubauer's performance was enough for him to be named a nominee for the league's Vezina Trophy, given to the best goaltender of the season--the first time he had been up for the award and the third Colorado player to be named a finalist for the honor. He ended up finishing third in the voting by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, but he did finish with more wins and shutouts and a better goals-against average than the winner, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights.
"I never thought in my life I would be a part of that group, sitting on that table with [Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay] and 'Flower,' so it's a huge honor," Grubauer said at the time of being named a finalist for the award. "It's not only an honor for myself, but I think it represents the organization. It's an honor for the coaching staff, for (goaltending coach) Jussi (Parkkila), for everybody who's put in the time and effort into it behind the scenes."
The netminder was just the sixth goalie in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history to reach the 30-win plateau in a campaign, and his seven shutouts were tied for the second-most in a single season in franchise history, with only Roy's nine in 2001-02 being better. It was the most clean sheets by an Avs netminder since Craig Anderson also had seven in 2009-10.
Grubauer was named the West Division's First Star for the month of March after posting a 12-2-1 mark, tying the NHL record for wins in a single month (fifth goalie to do so). He posted two new career-high shutout streaks during the campaign, which included his current best of 147:30 that he set from March 18-22, and he also hit several personal milestones in the month as well.
He appeared in his 200th NHL game on March 22 at the Arizona Coyotes and played in his 100th contest as a member of the Avs on March 25 against Vegas. On March 29 versus the Anaheim Ducks, he joined some elite company among his countrymen, becoming just the third German-born keeper to win 100 NHL games. Olie Kolzig (303) and Thomas Greiss (145) are the only other goalies on the list, with Kolzig once being his goaltending coach when he was with the Washington Capitals organization.
Video: LAK@COL: Grubauer picks up seventh shutout of season
Helping Colorado win the West Division title and the Presidents' Trophy for having the best regular-season record, Grubauer did not lose back-to-back games in regulation during the main campaign and allowed two goals or fewer in 28 of his appearances.
'Grubi' already made his presence known in the team's record book in his three seasons in Colorado, as his .918 save percentage is tied with Roy for the highest mark in franchise history.
That's good company to be in.