After two tough tests on the road this week the Avs set up for yet another at home against perhaps the best team in the NHL. The result wasn’t unexpected but how we arrived there was. The Avs controlled play and generated shots like they generally do against the bottom of the league teams, which was excellent to see given they’ve been outattempted by nearly 9 per game over the last 10. If you want a bit of irony, the Preds basically beat the Avs at their own game. On the bright side they maintained their hold on the WC1 spot in the Western Conference but are now tied in points with LA (Pac3), Dallas (WC2) and Anaheim (1st out).
The Avs came out hot and generated some chances plus drew a penalty inside the 1st minute. The Preds found their legs after a few minutes and momentum remained fairly even for the rest of the period despite some active reffing giving NSH a couple of PPs. Both teams settled on high-event hockey to open the 2nd then the Avs took over halfway through and finished the frame on a nice 10-2 run but down on the scoreboard 3-2. Nashville clogged up the middle of the ice in the 3rd and neither team got much going offensively. A total of 17 attempts by both sides and a measly 9 SOG were a symptom of the low-event lockdown.
I’m sure the Preds felt on the lucky side in the locker room afterwards but they never lose anymore so maybe it’s all part of being dominant. Final tally was +42/-34 for the Avs, which is over 55%.
Neither team’s power play scored in 4 chances each. I understand the fan angst when you lose 4-2 and the PP gets blanked but the Preds are the 2nd best road killers in the league against the best home PP so it was a stalemate. The Avs had plenty of chances at 5v5 so it’s not like they needed the man advantage either.
The defensive regime went Zadorov, Barrie, Nemeth, Girard, Warsofsky, Siemens at 5v5 with some large gaps. Same deal in all situations with Barrie moving into the top spot thanks to PP time. Duncan played 5:10 at 5v5 and 4:10 on the PK, sounds like a specialist role.
The top 6 forwards were Landy, Mack, Mikko then a huge gap to Comeau, Nieto and Sven at 5v5. Carl and Jost replaced Nieto/Sven in overall time. JT Compher and Alex Kerfoot swapped lines in the middle of the 2nd period, not sure either was a demotion but rather a continuing effort to find some consistent effectiveness from the bottom 6. Tyson Jost has really struggled this week and I only single him out because he has the expectations on him. Sven Andrighetto has been doing most of the heavy lifting on the lower lines since his return but he’s gotten little help. The staff want to find some chemistry somehow to use his shot generation and zone entry skills and seem to be getting frustrated that no one can step up to be the 3rd center consistently. I have a feeling that Vlad Kamenev will walk right into that role and keep it, hopefully as early as tomorrow.
– Mack scored his 36th goal and 86th point in what I would characterize as a bad game for him. He struggled on defense and in the neutral zone and probably hurt more than he helped. Mikko had the setup on Mack’s goal for his 50th assist of the year which is damn impressive for a 21 year old RW. Honestly, Gabe Landeskog was one of the only players I’d say had a truly good night. He was Corsi star at +19/-6 and scored his 23rd goal of the season.
– Before the game we were all wondering if Big Z was going to be in the lineup. He sure was and logged 24 minutes to boot with 2 SOG and lead the team with 7 hits. He was also the Corsi star of the defense at +22/-14, over 61%.
– Dominic Toninato didn’t play much (8:19 overall) but like has been the pattern this year, nothing bad happened when he was out there. He was a +8/-6 which is a nice rate at around a CF/minute. I fully understand the logic of stapling him to the bench in the 2nd half of the game when the Avs are down but it’s nice to have a solid 4C that can do an above average job. He’ll probably be the next guy to sit when Kamenev returns to the lineup but I don’t think he’ll be in the press box for long.
– There was a lot of debate among fans whether Varly should have played last night but he was fine. Not his best game but he did give the Avs a chance to win sans some hideous defensive lapses in front of him. He wants to be in situations like this and the team deserves the best lineup the staff can provide. Until Bernier returns from his “neck issue” that’s going to be Varly playing every night unless he flat out can’t. I would love to see Spencer Martin get a shot at proving himself in the NHL once again but for now he’s still the guy that gave up 4 goals in one period to Patrick Marleau last Spring.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) sort of
– Corsi gets a (+) for following their worst game of the year with maybe their best
– Power Play gets an (even) no harm, no help
– Turtle gets a (+) even tho there was a quick one in the 2nd
– Varly% gets a (+) but couldn’t save the day
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (-) They calmed down somewhat but were entirely too active early which spoiled a pretty playoffy situation. Too much game management led to not enough later in the game. Bad job.
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The Avs face the hated wingy wheels tomorrow afternoon at the Pepsi Can. Bonus: The wingys are looking for their 10th straight loss.
Burgundy Rainbow Post-Game from the Pepsi Center
Vlad gives his instant review from the seats. Also check out our catalogue of fine prospect vids at our YouTube channel