As is customary in pre-season, the Avs brought a fairly depth-heavy lineup on the road to the Xcel Energy Center last night, with only a handful of players who were full-time NHL last season. The Wild had a reasonably solid part of their NHL squad highlighted by their captain, #1 defenseman and starting goalie. On paper this should have been over quickly but it wasn’t. Minny squeaked by with a 2-1 win and dominated approximately 0 minutes of the game.
The money stat of the night was power play effectiveness. The Wilds scored on a 6v4 and the winning goal happened on a regular PP. The Avs went 0-for-8, and there you have it. About a third of the night’s 53 SOG by both teams happened on the 13 power plays. So much for the refs backing off calling everything in sight.
Time On Ice
David Warsofsky led the team both at even strength (13:21) and overall (27:31). More than a third of his minutes were spent on the PP (9:22), which is insane. Big Z made his pre-season debut and was 2nd at evens and overall. Jared Cowen only played 6:43 at evens and 13:18 overall. That’s last on the D by a wide margin so it’s safe to say the coaches have seen what they need to see from him at this point.
Agozzino and Grimaldi led forwards with nearly 19 and a half minutes each, Rocco with 9:17 on the PP and Aggz at 7:46. The Avs NHL guys (Carl/Comeau/Nieto) had nearly identical TOI at around 18;35 each. Brady Shaw brought up the rear at 6:21 (and no special teams). Biggest surprise for me was Alex Belzile getting 5:11 on the PP, nice to see a big part of the Eagles Kelly Cup run getting a legitimate chance to show his skills in his first NHL training camp.
The top line of Aggz/Carl/Rocco were very solid and all over 70% shot attempts for. All of the Ds were over 50% except for Warsofsky at +11/-12. The nice thing to take from the game was all the metrics were positive: corsi (57%), shots on goal (56%) and scoring chances (59%). This team is legitimately suppressing shots this year so far. If this carries into the regular season it’s going to be a major factor on where they end up in the standings. Fix the (not) scoring thing and we’re in business.
Nikita Zadorov looked a little rusty plus the Wilds goons were hounding him all night until finally he played pattycake with CGDS. I figure he’ll play again tonight or tomorrow and in Vegas of course, by then he should be back in the groove.
Carl Soderberg was in a weird role as the 1C and top PP center but he handled it well. Led the team in SOG and had a stout CF at 72%. I don’t know what this says. Is he headed for top 6 time with the Avs? Were they hinting he would be a great addition to San Antonio centering Rocco and Aggz? Like I said, weird.
David Warsofsky played over 27 minutes and over 9 on the PP. Sunnyside Pete was hyping him up in the pre-game as the top guy in the battle for NHL D spots but I’m not seeing it. He’s very sketchy in the d-zone, both with the puck and without, and the PP took an o-for with him running it most of the time so that’s not helpful. I think he is what we thought, a solid AHL scoring D that San Antonio badly needs and the Avs don’t.
I’m, a big Reid Petryk fan so I can’t help but give him a shout out for playing a quiet but very solid game last night. He had 2:42 in PK time and basically nothing bad happened when he was out there. Injury put a damper on last season for him and I’m looking for a big bounce back this year. He’s my stealth pick for a late callup.
Jon Bernier looked good in a game where he was rarely tested. Both goals against were defensive breakdowns that shouldn’t have happened and gave him no chance. Saved 22/24 and made it two (!) solid goalie performances in a row for the good guys. He’ll be back in net tomorrow at Big D.