If I told you at the beginning of the season that the Avs would go into Minnesota the day after Thanksgiving, take one point and it would seem like a letdown, you’d have probably told me I was nuts. That’s what we’re looking at right now and it’s a pretty good sign. The Wilds got lucky in the skills comp yesterday and that was the difference, no big deal.
The Avs ended up +43/-32 at 5v5 shot attempts (57.3%), so that’s good. Looking closer they dominated the 1st (67%) and 3rd (56%) while just staying even in the 2nd. They also held the edge in SOG 30-27 overall and 20-18 at evens.
Special teams were ineffective going 0/3 on the PP and 1/2 on the PK, although Landy and JTC combined for a shortie. The Avs struggles on the road didn’t kill them this time but sooner or later they’re going to have to take a step forward away from the Pepsi Center.
EJ topped the Ds of course with Girard and Barrie right behind. Mark Barberio was overplayed at just 15 seconds back of Barrie and Big Z two minutes south of that. Andrei Mironov, who played well again, brought up the rear at 10 minutes.
Sam Girard’s PP time has been dwindling since returning from Sweden for reasons unknown. Starting with the Caps game last week he’s gone 6:18 (1st), 7:07 (2nd), 3:39 (2nd), 1:47 (2nd) and 1:18 (3rd). On the one hand I can understand the staff marveling at his 5v5 play and sacrificing PP time to keep minutes reasonable for their 19 year old rookie. On the other, I’m looking at team scoring taking a corresponding dive in the same stretch and thinking that move needs to be re-evaluated.
I’d like to give a shoutout to Miro too. Even tho’ he’s used sparingly he’s been a Corsi star the last couple of games and started to show signs he could be an NHL player. When Lindholm returns next week I’d sit Barbs and Bigras and leave the D alone for a few games.
For the forwards, the top line was a little overplayed and all over 20 minutes. Compher and Kerf were next at around 18 minutes and Soderberg came in at 16. Yakupov and Toninato were the low men.
The “Other 6 Guys” Conundrum
Right now the Avs have two lines that have defined roles and are producing expected results and a buncha guys that are a mismatched jumble. The Avs top line is rapidly becoming one of the better trios in the league, pretty much in all 3 zones on a good night. Carl Soderberg along with Blake Comeau and Matt Nieto have chemistry and play a stout shutdown role while also chipping in offense. Coach Bednar isn’t finding success with the other two, let’s take a look at why.
JT Compher – Getting better by the game after returning from a broken thumb, he’s an excellent center that can score by capitalizing on opponent breakdowns.
Alexander Kerfoot – A savvy playmaking center and underrated defensively, he’s been shuffled to the wing on Compher’s line and the two are either redundant or non-complementary together.
Sven Andrighetto – One of the Avs top scorers early in the year, once banished to the 4th line he resembles the guy the Habs traded for Andreas Martinsen. If the staff want production out of him, he needs TOI and skilled linemates.
Nail Yakupov – A pure shooter that can help in few other ways, he’s incredibly tough to find a 5v5 role for.
Colin Wilson – A solid forechecker with no defensive skills and little puck ability, if he’s higher than 10th in TOI then he’s being overused.
Dominic Toninato – Solid defensively and can win faceoffs as a rookie, he can grind out a few points here and there.
Gabe Bourque – Not a bad guy to have if you’re going to sit someone a lot. Adds little when in the lineup
Tyson Jost – Didn’t find a role in his 6 games before being injured and not looking ready at all down in San Antonio. I’m starting to think that going to WJC for Team Canada might be exactly what he needs rather than plowing through a December of 4th line minutes for the Avs. He needs minutes at a high level of competition and some confidence, I don’t think the Rampage or the Avs will provide that anytime soon.
AJ Greer – His most recent stint in the AHL shows he’s above that level, what remains to be seen is if he can stop being Mr Sandpaper in the NHL and start producing points there. Unfortunately I think as long as his tenure in the NHL is in doubt he’s going to use roughhousing to show he belongs, which is too bad because he could take Colin Wilson’s role and be an instant upgrade if he doesn’t.
– First of all, split up Compher and Kerfoot. They’re the 2 best centers out of the bunch and each can drive a specific type of line but not together.
– Get Sven his minutes. It’s pretty obvious that he can help good players and won’t do anything in limited minutes with grinders. He and Kerf have 0 points between them the last 3 games and neither have looked good at all. They play well together, do it.
– Send Bourque to San Antonio, call up Greer and for chrissakes play him. Taking AJ to Sweden and benching him was a shit sandwich. Make a commitment to putting him in situations with the skill guys once in a while and reap the rewards.
– Don’t be afraid to sit Colin Wilson. He’s not that good and doesn’t do anything noticeable 90% of the time he’s on the ice. Pretend he makes league minimum if it helps. If anything he should be taking Matt Nieto’s minutes once in a while, not one of the kids.
It’s imperative that the staff figure out 2 other stable lines and quickly. Since the Caps game, scoring has been ebbing to an alarming degree. That’s not going to get better on it’s own with the current mess, there needs to be some changes so that there are offensive threats lower in the lineup again.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) not a great night for the core
– Corsi gets a (+) and the trend is up
– Power Play gets a (-) 0/3, didn’t look bad but didn’t produce either
– Turtle gets a (+) tie game in the 3rd and Avs outshot someone, wow!
– Varly% gets a (n/a) hope he’s back tonight!
– Referee Oppression Index gets an (even) nothing horrifying for a change
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The Avs play Calgary ridiculously late tonight then are off until Wednesday.