Safe to say that without the Matt Duchene trade this would have been a somewhat meaningless early season inter-conference game but it wasn’t obviously. The return of Duchene to Denver was a big story, the fact that the Avs had the first of two chances to actively improve the spot where they get to pick with Ottawa’s 1st round selection was subtle background pressure and aside from all that they are one of the top teams in the league and want to keep up with the ridiculous pace everyone in the Central Division besides St Louis is setting. The start was alarming and despite rebounding in the 2nd period they were behind going to the 3rd. The 3rd period was masterful. If there were questions about who the best line in the league is right now they were answered there and confirmed by Captain Gabe in the 1st Star interview. Turning a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 blowout shows that they haven’t regressed at all since last year.
Vlad Kamenev dropped into the lineup centering the 4th line with Gabe Bourque getting the night off. The staff went with Grubauer in the front half of this weekend’s back-to-back, Varly will play tonight in St Paul. Coach Bednar had no update on JT Compher’s status at yesterday’s presser.
Scratch: Bourque, Barbs
Injured: Compher (Haut du Corps)
The Sens came out hot and went on a 5 shot run to get an early goal when everyone decided to let Z defend two players in the crease. This made the Avs angry and they answered with a fruitless 9-1 run of their own. They went back and forth again with Matt Duchene scoring his first of 2 goals on the night then a penalty when Marko Dano passed into a line change. At that point the Avs decided they had had about enough of that garbage and went on a 44-20 run for the final 45 minutes of the game, collecting 6 goals on the way.
Tale of the tape was +60/-38 at 5v5 and SOG were 37-24 in all situations. That’s good pace and good suppression at the same time. What I’m tickled about is the high-danger chances, which were 18-2 for the game and 12-1 in the final 2 periods. Quality and quantity in the same game is a goal they’re striving for and we got a glimpse of that last night.
Power play was 2/3 with both units registering a goal, nice. I think this is going to be a relatively weak area for the Avs over the season although they’re still just inside the top 10. The PK was 2/2 and stays in the top 3.
Top 6 forwards were Mack, Landy, Mikko, Carl, Calvert and Wilson at 5v5 then the same in all situations save for Andrighetto slotting into the 5th spot. Dano was low man with 7:31 total. He had 5 shifts early, then took the too much man penalty and only got 6 more. Alex Kerfoot got benched in the 3rd after passing back from the slot causing a breakaway that EJ had to neutralize with a trip. Tyson Jost missed most of the last 25 minutes and was being evaluated for an injury after the game.
The defensive regime went Sam, Barrie, Cole, EJ, Z and Nemeth at 5v5 and Barrie, Sam, Cole, EJ, Nemeth/Z overall. Interesting that EJ didn’t get top minutes, I think that’s a good sign in a couple of ways. Barrie was engaged so they didn’t need him to drive the offense and they were able to win while conserving minutes for later in the season.
– Our nightly Praise the Top Line segment begins with a goal and 3 assists for Mikko and a goal and 2 assists for both Landy and Mack. I’ll just let the screenshot from NHL.com do the talking.
– Sam Girard got the Avs D-Corps on the board with their first goal of the season. He played tough minutes all night as usual but he was feeling the offense with several smart pinches and opportunities created.
– Tyson Barrie has had a slow start to the year. Point production has been ok but he’s really struggled with his 5v5 game in all 3 zones. Last night he was ridiculous. He ended a +36/-13 at 5v5 for a CF% of over 73. That’s hot, and besides that chipped in with 3 assists. Good to see him have a big night, if the staff want depth scoring the D is going to have to help out the bottom 9.
– Vlad Kamenev rejoined the lineup and was right back on track with his progression. Nolan Pratt had him out for an important PK early in the 3rd and he took a PP shift in garbage time. The question becomes what does he have to do to get solidly in the lineup. I think that’s going to come down to point production, which is hopefully the next step he takes.
– Philipp Grubauer’s first home start ended up well but in reality he got a lot of help from the defense in only seeing 11 shots on goal in the last 45 minutes. I can’t point to any of the 3 goals and say aha! he should have had that one, but all 3 together make for a fairly mediocre night. Varly’s set the bar incredibly high so it’s tough to measure up right now.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) wow, just wow
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) a LOT of both, great to see
– Power Play Watchability gets a (+) no way, this was good too
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) no turtle
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) but another weak one for Grubi
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) This was a very laissez faire crew, which I always appreciate, and Ottawa didn’t get goony as the blowout unfolded so good management.
Avs took a plane to the Twin Cities after the game for a Saturday night matchup with the Wilds at 8pm ET.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals