Breaking Down: Avs/Jackets, Game 67
The excuses are piling up fast for the last 3 games but the bottom line is that the Avs have left a handful of points on the table. A win in any of the 3 would have them in a playoff spot, wins in all 3 would have them solidly in the 1st wildcard by 2 points. What bothers me is that the process seems to be suffering here late in the season as decisions trend towards playing not to lose.
The Avs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but immediately gave one back. They seemed to shell up after that while Columbus pushed the play. The second period was dead flat, no skating, no winning puck battles, and the refs did what refs do, call soft penalties on the team that isn’t moving their feet. The Jackets racked up a couple of soft goals to take a 4-2 lead into the 3rd where they would control the puck easily. Despite that, the Avs managed to tie it on a nice PPG from Landy and a howler from Carl Soderberg. As in the previous 2 games OT was quick and painful with Colorado unable to contain or cover their 1v1 assignments.
Final tally was +36/-50 thanks mainly to a +11/-22 3rd period. Scoring chances told a grim tale at +14/-32 and +8/-15 high-danger. Take out the relatively even 2nd and it’s even more horrifying at +5/-21 and +2/-9 HD. Stats like that usually get you a blowout loss so luck was entirely on their side just to escape with a point.
The best way to a great PK is to stay out of the box, which the Avs have done well for most of the season. Not last night. They took 5 dumb penalties in a 23 minute stretch and that gave the lowly CBJ power play a free goal. The Avs PP looked both crappy and amazing in their 3 chances but did get them back in the game with Landy’s goal.
The defensive regime was Barrie, Zadorov, Girard, Nemeth, Lindholm, Siemens at 5v5 with Nemo/Sam and Lindy/Duncan swapping overall thanks to PK time. Nemeth played 8 minutes on the PK and Duncan 5.
Top 6 forwards were Mack, Landy, Mikko, Compher, Jost, Kerfoot at 5v5 with Carl taking Kerf’s spot in all situations. Sven Andrighetto returned to the lineup initially on the 4th line but ended up 7th in ESTOI and had a couple minutes on the 2nd PP unit. Dominic Toninato barely played with 8 shifts and none in the 3rd.
– Carl Soderberg scored 2 goals giving him 14 for the year, which matches his point total from last season. Nice job! Coach Bednar has put the other 3 lines in the blender but stubbornly refuses to give Carl offensive help. It’s wasting what’s turning out to be a pretty special late-season performance from the big Swede. We saw one shift that had Carl with Andrighetto and Compher and it looked quite promising. I can see the argument for not breaking up his regular line full-time but taking advantage of his skills with some offensively inclined players occasionally could pay some dividends. Think about it, Coach.
– Tyson Jost’s promotion to the top line in Landy’s place didn’t go as planned. He wasn’t terrible but didn’t stand out either. A careless breakout pass at the end of the 2nd caused an odd-man rush and a rally-killer penalty. I think this move could work given some time but I’m not sure the time is available right now. Sven Andrighetto slotted in on a few shifts with Mack & Mikko and the old chemistry was there right away, that might be the short-term fix.
– Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov played far more than any other defensemen, but really got smoked on the shot board. Z was low man on the team at +8/-24 and Barrie wasn’t far behind at +12/-25. Neither were any good with other D partners either. Girard and Nemeth were the most effective pair by far, a +10/-4 in the 6:54 they were together, but Barrie/Z played almost twice that. Not sure why the staff didn’t see this, even by the eye test it was obvious that Sam and Nemo were having a more effective night.
– Varly’s been tired for a while now and has played every even-numbered day since February 14th. In the last 3 games he’s given up 11 goals, including 3 in OT, on 113 shots for a .903 save percentage. There’s quite a few there I would classify as bad. The team in front of him hasn’t been the bees knees but this isn’t NHL starter level goaltending at all. Hopefully some rest can get him back to where he’s been for most of the last month, he deserves it. Why Bernier wasn’t in net last night is beyond me.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) not good enough
– Corsi gets a (-) bye-bye process
– Power Play gets a (+) for 6 goals in 6 games
– Turtle gets a (-) Turtle in the 1st period is bad bad bad
– Varly% gets a (-) please get some rest
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) A bunch of soft calls against the Avs but I don’t blame the refs. You stop skating and play with your stick, you get mucho PK time.
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Back home for what’s now a must win vs Arizona Saturday afternoon.
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