The Avs picked up right where they left off before the bye week and played a solid game vs a tough opponent for a 4-1 win. In years past this situation was a loss looking for a place to happen but coming out strong after laying around on the beach for a few days reinforces that these guys are focused and motivated in ways we haven’t seen in many seasons.
The Stars came out hot in the first and buried the Avs in 5v5 shot attempts 20-11, but that’s pretty much all they had. From then on Colorado was +33/-25 and other than a late push in the 3rd before the insurance goals, Dallas had no consistent answers to the Avs play. Since Ken Hitchcock has taken over behind the bench the Stars have shifted to more of a defense-first, close-off-the-middle type team from where they were under Lindy Ruff, which was basically all-night track meets. I’d say the Stars managed to slow down the Avs a bit, but 99 total Corsi events in the game is higher than their season average so the Avs were able to dictate play when they needed to. That’s a good sign.
Despite ending the night -1 in the Corsi battle, when score adjusted the Avs had this one handily at 53%.
Thanks to Tim Peel the Avs had to kill 4 penalties, which they did, and only had one power play somehow. Nice job, fella. The Avs weren’t being saints out there by any means but neither were the Stars. This was poor game management and inevitably players on both sides boiled over several times in the 3rd period. The Avs PK is now a thing of wonder in the NHL, they sit in 2nd overall at 84.3%.
The defensive regime went Big Z, EJ, Girard, Barbs, Nemeth and Lindholm at 5v5 and EJ, Z, Barbs, Nemeth, Sam & Lindy overall. Interesting to note that Barbs had more than a minute and a half more PK time than Nemeth and was 2nd on the D corps there.
On the forward side it was Mack, Landy, Mikko then a big gap (over 3 minutes) to Carl, Jost and Comeau. In all situations the top 6 was Landy, Mack, Carl, Mikko, Comeau and Nieto thanks to copious PK minutes. AJ Greer was once again low man but higher still than his last game.
– It was nice to see Sam ending up in the top 3 in 5v5 time, although I don’t think that was the plan. He had the fewest overall shifts of the Ds but they were long. That’s something he needs to watch out for but in this case he was quite effective so nbd. He was also 3rd of the Ds in CF% at 52% but the shining moment was the excellent steal and outlet pass in the d-zone that led to Kerfoot’s circus goal.
– AJ Greer played perhaps his best game in the NHL to date. His progress is deliberate but noticeable. Getting the callback after the bye is a great sign and the increase in minutes as well. He was +9/-6 in 8:40 so he along with his linemates weren’t buried as usual. The next step is for him to generate shots individually and spend more time in the offensive zone. Getting the assist on Kerf’s goal went unnoticed perhaps but it was a key part of a fantastic end to end play from he, Girard and Kerf.
– You have to love the thought that Mack only scoring one goal puts a drag on his points per game. The two players with multi-point nights were Alexander Kerfoot, with the highlight reel goal and assist on Mack’s GWG, and Nikita Zadorov, who also assisted on the GWG as well as Comeau’s insurance score. Kerf moved clear of Tyson Barrie for 4th on the team with 29 points in 39 games, a 59 point pace if he stays healthy. Big Z moved out of a 3-way tie with Barbs and Nemo with his 2 assists and now sits 3rd among Ds with 13 points. If he stays healthy he’ll end up in the high 20’s.
– Is this becoming Jon Bernier’s team? I think it is. With Varly out for the next few weeks and Berns on a 5-game win streak things could definitely be worse. Last night he let just one by on 28 shots and in the last 5 he’s only seen the red light 6 times on 148 shots. He’s not going to be Mr 96% indefinitely but for now it’s a helluva ride.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) but really this was a night for the depth guys
– Corsi gets a (+) outside of P1 they had this one in control
– Power Play gets a (n/a) since they got Peeled
– Turtle gets a (+) they were going for it in the 3rd, so nice to see
– Varly% gets a (n/a) but the Bernie% was strong once again
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (-) the non-goal was debatable but probably the right call. Other than that this crew was a bunch of total jokers all night
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The Avs are back in Denver already and hit the ice for a matinee tomorrow vs the Duck