The Avs came back from the long break and showed that not surprisingly they were exactly the same as before. Mixing up the lines and defensive pairs once again had little effect on the results. Coach Bednar remarked afterwards that they’ve tried every combo they can think of now and it hasn’t made a difference. The implications of that are a topic for another article but safe to say it’s not a good thing at all.
Erik Johnson returned from concussion protocol after missing the final two games before the break. Varly was back in net. As far as the roster goes, Graves, Toninato and Dries were sent to the Eagles before the ASG and only Dries came back. Tyson Jost was probably set to return to the Avs from Loveland but was injured in his last game there. Mark Barberio skated in a NC jersey at the comeback practice for reasons unknown leaving the Avs with no healthy subs.
Scratch: Barberio (???)
Injured: Kamenev (shoulder)
Ian Cole kicked off the game with an ill-advised pinch that resulted in a 2v1 the other way and the Canucks 1st goal 92 seconds in. Another goal a few minutes later sealed the deal for Vancouver and the rest of the game followed a predictable pattern of poor defensive play, below average goaltending and tepid offense.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was a +60/-37 but only around 53% Corsi For after score adjustments. As usual there were few high-quality chances for the Avs at only +7/-6 and that was actually negative after score effects. Shots on goal in all situations were 35-26. Shot rate at 5v5 was a sludgy 116 per hour.
The power play had a few chances but got blanked 0-3. The PK struggles with royal road passes continued and they stopped 1 of 2.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mikko, Gabe, Mack, Kerfoot, Wilson and Carl. Overall it was much the same with Wilson and Kerf swapping. Gabe Bourque was low man at 5v5 at 6:34 and Sven only had 8:18 total.
The defensive regime went EJ, Z, Cole, Barrie then a big gap down to Sam and Nemeth. Overall it was Barrie (22+), EJ (22), Cole (22), Z (19), Sam (15) and Nemeth (13+).
The coaching staff seems to be fresh out of ideas. Putting the same guys they’ve used all year in different configurations has had little effect, which isn’t a good thing. I’m still struggling with the fact that they keep trying it though. Nothing they’ve tried over the past two months has led to positive results but they’re locked into the same lineup every night. Whatever systemic changes they’ve made aren’t working either. The big question here is how far are they and management willing to go to force some improvement. Waking up each game day and hoping everyone tries harder is not a strategy.
The questions I have are about the extent of what the staff is willing to do now. They haven’t used the AHL callups in any meaningful way, lord knows there isn’t a wealth of talent there but there’s literally nothing to lose by trying them out in some of the minor roles. I don’t believe in benching players to motivate but some role changes sure won’t make anything worse. Installing major system changes takes a long time for effects to manifest but they’ll lose 20+ games between now and April by changing nothing structurally. Aspiring to be the 2014 LA Kings has sort of backfired so maybe trying a modern approach would pay off. The main point here is that nibbling at the periphery hasn’t produced much progress in the last two months so for the fans’ sake get a little more aggressive.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) nope
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) no quality, plenty of quantity, ’twas ever thus
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) no help here
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) Another glorious opponent turtle
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (-) frustratingly mediocre performance from Varly again
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (-) Not a great night for the stripes, if it would have meant something I think I’d be pretty snapper about it.
Tuesday night game vs our sister franchise the Blue Jackets
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals