There will be a game 5. The Avs had been building up to a breakout game like this in Nashville and in front of the Pepsi Center crowd they went bonkers with a 3-zip first period. The last 14 minutes of the game were somewhat troubling but they earned the gap they had and the Preds couldn’t make it up. Besides the win itself, the best part of this is you aren’t seeing signs of relief or satisfaction from the Avs, they want more.
Colorado opened up fast as usual and like the previous two games they scored first on a solid shift by the Soderberg line. The lead built to 2-0 while they were on a 14-7 opening shot run. The Preds attempted to push back and got another goal against for their trouble. After Mack’s 2nd goal of the game which got rid of Pekka Rinne, Nashville tried to thug it up for the rest of the 2nd and spent most of it in the box other than a dumb sequence where both Z and Nemo took stick fouls on the same play. The 3v5 goal against didn’t phase the Avs and after the 2nd it was 4-1.
On this week’s BR podcast we touched on whether the Avs could hold a late lead if they ever had one and what that might look like. In the first 6 minutes of the 3rd they controlled play with a nice 9-2 run and another dumb Nashville penalty thrown in the middle. From there we went through a harrowing 14 minute sequence with boatloads of icings and d-zone draws. Conclusion: It looked ugly, but it worked.
Final tally was +42/-53, due only to the NSH 21-6 run in garbage time. Score effects have that at 48.6%, which I would call generous to the Preds. Shots on goal and scoring chances highly favored Colorado, and high-danger scoring chances ended up 13-5 for the good guys. There’s really nothing Peter Laviolette can take from this match as a positive.
The PK gave up a 3v5 goal with their top man in the box so no big deal and good job there overall. The power play threatened but again couldn’t convert and still have zilch at 5v4 in the series. This is actually a pretty big deal in the series. The Avs PP can’t make the Preds pay for playing on the edge so this has ramifications at even strength as well. It’s a little late to turn this into a positive but when we look back, the inability to exchange the Preds mucky play for Avalanche goals might be their downfall.
With Sam Girard out for a 2nd game and of course no EJ, defensive usage has gravitated to the top 4 guys. The shine is off Warsofsky and Duncan is a straight up PK specialist. Last night’s regime went Nemeth, Barbs, Big Z, Barrie then a massive gap to pair 3 and the same in all situations with Barrie sliding up to 2nd because of PP time. Wars & Duncan played around 6 minutes each at 5v5 and Siemens had almost 3 minutes on the PK. Wars was taken off PP2 in favor of Zadorov by the 2nd period, which is a move I really like for both Z and the Avs.
Top 6 forwards were Soderberg, Mikko, Mack, Comeau, Landy, Nieto at 5v5 and in all situations it went Mack, Landy, Mikko, Nieto, Comeau, Soderberg. By usage, the “4th” line of Willie/Comphs/Bourque is unsurprisingly now your “3rd” line.
– The top line was terrifying from the puck drop, Mack with 2 goals, Mikko with 2 assists and Captain Gabe with a goal and 2 assists. They more than doubled their point total from the series. I can’t stress enough how excellent Landy has been through 3 games. He showed flashes of this 4 years ago but now more mature and in a much bigger role we’re seeing what having a player like this can do for you in the playoffs.
– Carl’s line might be getting caved in on the shot board (35%) but they don’t give up much on the quality side and like the top line they also doubled their point production last night on Comeau’s early goal.
– Compher’s line has earned the promotion to 3rd line/shutdown line thanks to vigorous play from former Preds Wilson and Bourque along with JT Compher learning on the fly how to handle an important role as a rookie. Comphs has shown more progression in his play in the last 3 games than he did in the last month and a half of the season. We want him to be that shutdown center that can produce points and he’s taking the graduate course right now.
– The Frat Line continues to try and find it’s role in the series with little luck. It’s not the secondary scoring line we hoped for and doesn’t match up well with any of the Preds lines that play much. They sat for the last 8 minutes of the game while everyone played turtle. Like Compher, they’re all learning on the fly and this is experience that will pay off down the road. Jost had probably his best game so far, which isn’t saying a lot, and played more PP time than 5v5. Sven earned a few extra shifts taking Bourque’s spot with Willie/JTC after some PKs.
– Tyson Barrie had a nice bounceback game after a horrorshow in Nashville. He was 57% CF, although pretty low event for him, and managed to be on the ice when the Avs were scoring goals rather than the Preds. No points but he was at least able to make a little space and create some scoring chances on the PP.
– Big Z, Barbs and Nemo all look a little weak on the shot board but they were the minute eaters during the turtle so it is what it is. Go back to September and tell yourself that the Avs would win a playoff game against Nashville where Barrie didn’t score and Barberio & Nemeth sealed the deal down the stretch. You’d die laughing, amirite?
– Bernie had his best game so far and despite being below average is outplaying Vezina favorite Pekka Rinne. File this as another thing no one saw coming but good for him. We may not have a ton of confidence in him but I bet the players do.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) Yeah, that was a wow game
– Corsi gets a (-) but that’s deceptive. With real score effects they were way ahead
– Power Play gets a (-) and as I said above this is a big factor right now
– Turtle gets a (+) now we know what a playoff turtle looks like and DAMN they big
– Varly% gets a (n/a) and Bernie was strong in front of the home crowd where he hasn’t lost since last year or something
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (-) I think the refs did a fair job. They can’t call everything but the Avs ended up on the plus side of the penalty metric, where they should be every game vs NSH.
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It’s odd but I’m not getting the “playing with house money” feel here. I think the Avs can do even better and that Nashville doesn’t have much to counter. Game 4 heinously late on Wednesday again.
Vlad’s Post-Game from the Pepsi Center
Last night was a magical atmosphere and Vlad was there to document it all afterwards. This is fun. Stop by our YouTube Channel and check out Rudo’s outstanding work on our prospects when you get a chance too.