The Avs have a 3 game win streak again and are out of the Central basement, yowza! Unlike the previous 2 wins over Toronto and the Isles, this wasn’t pretty. It was a case of doing what it takes to get the 2 points moreso than playing the right way and taking what the game gives.
After a choppy first, the Avs stole momentum for a while and let Nathan MacKinnon do his thing. Presto, two goals. After that, things got disturbing. Coming out of a commercial break we saw that Jon Bernier had replaced Varly in net and the Avs were on the PK for a Too Much Man penalty. They managed to kill that but as the 2nd wound down, Barbs took a boarding penalty that has to be called but ultimately was a screwup by the Jets player. They didn’t kill that. They also didn’t kill the 6v5 at the end and OT went almost as long as it can before EJ saved the day. Final shot attempts: +41/-58, 41%.
The 11 game PK streak came to an end, perhaps for the good since it might have been becoming a distraction. Once the worst in the league, this streak has left the Avs in 7th with a 83.8% rate. Not bad. The PP only had 2 chances but couldn’t convert. Sam Girard is adding something to the top unit for sure but it has yet to really pay dividends. They’re still 13th in the league at just under 20% so as bad as it feels, the power play is fairly effective.
The defensive regime was EJ, Z, Barbs, Nemeth, Girard then Lindholm at 5v5 and the same more or less overall. Top 6 forwards were Mack, Landy, Wilson, Mikko, Comeau, Jost at 5v5 and Landy, Mack, Soderberg, Mikko, Comeau, Wilson overall. AJ Greer was the low man at 6:13 but played a solid game and should earn a little more next time.
– I don’t need to tell you that MacKinnon is on his way to a special breakout season. With another multi-point night he’s on pace for over a 100. The cool thing was that Mikko had an even better game with a goal and 2 assists. The winning goal probably doesn’t happen without his effort. He’s on a 76 point pace.
– We all felt elation at the win but hanging over that was Semyon Varlamov leaving the game late in the 2nd with LBI. The great hope of course is that this is an athlete in tune with his body taking himself out before something tragic occurs and that a quick recovery is possible. Seriously, it could happen.
– AJ Greer played his first NHL game in 2 months and had a quietly effective night. The puck skills that we’ve seen improving in San Antonio worked in his favor and he ended the night with 2 shots on goal and a +8/-4 CF in 10 even strength shifts. No penalties either, and no Mr Sandpaper after every whistle. This has to be a solid first step towards sticking with the team permanently. Keep it up, kid.
– EJ’s game-winning goal was fantastic and more evidence that he along with the guys on Mack’s line have taken a major leap away from the play of the past few years. Johnson’s always been that guy that hasn’t quite put it all together at once but he has now. He’s tall, he’s fast and he’s got talent with the puck on display often. Unless he really ramps it up (which he could do for sure) he won’t surpass his career high in points but considering everything else he does and his average TOI that’s no big deal.
– Just a reminder that the Avs 4th, 7th and 10th leading scorers (Barrie, Andrighetto, Compher) didn’t dress last night. That’s 58 points in 102 man-games looking on from the press box. If you want to make the case that the top line is carrying the team it’s a good one, but take that into account as well.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) Is Mack a best guy in the league? Sure feels like it.
– Corsi gets a (-) they can’t all be zingers
– Power Play gets an (even) not bad, not good, just there
– Turtle gets a (-) this is creeping in more than I’d like to see
– Varly% gets an (oh shit) much more to this story coming soon I feel
– Referee Oppression Index gets an (even) I wish they hadn’t had to make the call on Barberio but here we are.
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The Avs face Columbus tomorrow night with some questions about the lineup I’m sure.