The Avs brought a knife to a gunfight last night in Minnesota with predictable results. With Colin Wilson the only skater with more than a year’s worth of NHL experience the objective once again was to evaluate individual performances and move on.
The tale of the tape was a 7-0 shutout, outshot 23-11 at 5v5 and 33-16 overall. Shot attempts were 38-27 at 5v5 58-39 in all situations. No, it doesn’t matter that much. In lieu of normal analysis I’m going to go group by group and try to parse out anything important.
1st line: Jost – Kerfoot – Kaut
Asking two sophomores and an 18 year old to take on an NHL top line is optimistic but there is merit to seeing how they could do. The answer wasn’t pretty. At 5v5 they were around a +5/-15 in shot attempts, so easily the most overmatched of all the lines. Of the 3, Martin Kaut had the most positive evening and continues to show improvement. Kerfoot looked ok at times but struggled to create space. Jost looked like he did last year, which is slow and overwhelmed. They were also the PP1 unit along with Wilson and had maybe one decent scoring chance in a little less than 3 minutes. I’m not sold on Jost/Kerf together yet, they don’t have a lot of chemistry and last year they were low event and buried when together on the ice.
2nd line: Wilson – Kamenev – Lewis
Willie and Kam were together a lot, the 3rd guy rotated but Lewis was the most common linemate early. I liked Kamenev’s game in a vacuum. He got a lot of PK time early, which is a great sign that the staff are really giving him a shot at a bottom 6 role with the Avs coming out of camp. Offensively he was one of the few that developed any scoring chances. He also headed up the 2nd PP unit along with Igor, Dries and Lewis and it was the more effective of the two. Wilson was his usual inconsistent self and found himself on the PK, which never happens in real games. Lewis had the spark we’ve come to love but struggled against NHL speed and space limitations.
3rd line: Greer – Shvyrev – Dries
I really liked this line a lot. Shvyrev and Dries had the distinction of being the only Avs players not on the ice for a goal against and also the only guys above 50% Corsi for. Igor was very solid at both ends and set up some good offensive chances. This guy is going places and could be a star in the AHL by year’s end. Dries was a nice surprise, I’d only seen him for a few games with the Texas Stars last year but he’s a shooter. Along with Kamenev he was the top shot and scoring chance producer on the night. Also kicked in with over 3 minutes of PK time. Greer moved around the lineup but had a good night overall. He ended up low man in TOI but made the most of what he got. The big positive is that he played regular PK shifts, something that Eric Veilleux had no interest in and then again is something crucial to AJ making the jump to the NHL. These 3 had some good chemistry and if this ends up being the 2nd scoring line in Loveland they’ll be fun to watch.
4th line: Agozzino – Toninato – Bass
This was your typical “whoever’s left” Avs 4th line with no real purpose. Agozzino was a late replacement for Sven Andrighetto and was used sparingly. He still got his nightly stick penalty 3 minutes into the game and lost his man on one of the 2nd period goals. Toninato’s dealt with this low-QoT hodgepodge role before and did about how you would expect. I have no idea why Cody Bass is in Avalanche camp much less what he was doing in the lineup last night. He’s a 31 year old AHL facepuncher that takes a ton of penalties. He lead forwards in PK ice time and generally looked old and bad. David Oliver is gone, we don’t need this shit anymore.
1st pair: Girard – Lindholm
Sam was a busy man last night, leading the team in TOI both 5v5 and overall. Despite the outcome I think this was a good trial by fire for him. He was solid defensively despite teammates continuously making more work for him in the d-zone. He tied for the team lead in shot attempts which a good sign and something he needs to work on. Lindholm picked up right where he left off last year when he was benched, massive struggles with the puck and some questionable decisions.
2nd pair: Geertsen – Meloche
I’m glad Mason got a shot at redemption after his performance against Vegas. Looked much more confident and competent. I think the staff were limiting Meloche’s minutes after returning from injury this week but he along with Sam were the only true bright spots on the blueline. If they weren’t moving the puck then it wasn’t moving.
3rd pair: Graves – Alt
Graves follow-up to his performance vs Vegas wasn’t quite as shiny. Not as consistent and without an NHL-level partner he was overwhelmed at times. Alt was about what you expect, he’s big and makes the right decisions but he doesn’t play at NHL speed. These guys could be the Eagles 2nd pair and do well together so I like they have a head start on building some chemistry. Alt was the 2nd PP guy, which was a bit of a headscratcher, and one of the clues they were keeping Meloche’s minutes down.
Goalie – Grubauer
I thought he looked good in the 1st period, which was played exclusively in the Avs end and often shorthanded. After that was a mixed bag. The royal road was wide open all night and that’s just not a comfortable feeling for a tender. I’m sure he’d like a couple of those back but this seemed to be about getting him some work and not a showcase for his talents. I’m guessing he plays one of the home games this week behind an NHL lineup and we’ll see what he’s got then.
Maybe some cuts today, fifth goalie Joe Cannata should clear waivers and be assigned to the Eagles at the least. They have their first media day on Monday so some players for Rudo to interview would be nice.
Also Monday, the Avs play at Vegas in what I imagine will be another youth-infused lineup. There are a few NHLers who haven’t dressed yet like Soderberg/Nieto, Andrighetto, Mark Barberio, the injured guys like Z and Nemeth. It’s still going to be a process game more than a results game. After that the lineup will gravitate towards the real starters.
Thanks as always to Natural Stat Trick and the NHL for the numbers.