Breaking Down: Avs/Jets, Game #57

This was fun. A big win won’t erase the past few months but the Avs can build off playing this way. The next step is backing it up.

Projectile Lineup

Colin Wilson has been moved to injured reserve, not a good sign. Dominic Toninato was called up minutes before the trip and replaced Sheldon Dries as the 4th line center. Varly made his 12th start in the last 14 games.

Scratch: Bourque, Dries
Injured: Wilson (???), Barberio (???), Cole (UBI), Kamenev (shoulder)

Team Stats

The Jets started off with a quick run but the Avs gained control quickly, going on a dominant 16-2 run that netted Dom Toninato’s 1st NHL goal and a wonderful backhand score by the Captain. Winnipeg immediately retaliated with a goal of their own and some major zone time helped out by some sloppy play and Avalanche turnovers. Once the Avs settled down they grabbed control back with another solid run leading to a PP early in the 2nd period. Sam Girard’s first penalty of the season gave the Jets an opening and a power play but JT Compher made up for his grievous error against Toronto with a shortie set up by a wonderful outlet pass by Matt Nieto. The rest of the period was a turtle on the shot board but on the ice nothing dangerous was happening and even when there was a hint of danger Varly was up to the task. Winnipeg’s 22-8 run was about all they had and it wasn’t good enough. The 3rd period was grindy and gritty with a couple offsetting minors and plenty of good times, especially when Sven Andrighetto sealed the deal late.

Tale of the tape at 5v5 was +42/-50 but that’s heavily score effected, the Avs were a +26/-21 when they got the two-goal lead early in the 2nd. Shots in all situations were 35-25 and it’s worth noting that the Avs blocked 19 shots total all night. Shot pace at 5v5 was a functional 118 per hour.

Power play wasn’t a factor at 0-3 and they are now 0 for their last 25 or something like that. PK killed all 4 chances.

TOI

Top 6 forwards were Landy, Mack, Carl, Mikko, Calvert, Nieto at 5v5 and in all situations it went Landy,  Mack, Mikko, Carl, Calvert, Compher. AJ Greer was low man at 6:54 and although this is less TOI than the last few games he sure did plenty with it.

The defensive regime went EJ, Sam, Barrie, Nemeth, Z then the usual gap down to Graves. In all situations it was EJ (22+), Barrie (21), Sam (21). Nemeth (20), Z (19+) and Graves (13).

Individual

– One of the narratives after the game was how the Avs won the game seemingly without a huge night from the top guys and that’s only partly true. First of all, Captain Gabe had an amazing score which gave them a very important 2-goal lead at the time and turned out to be the game-winner. Also, and maybe more important, they shut the Jets top line/pair of Scheifele, Wheeler, Connor, Trouba and Morrissey down hard. Around 70% Corsi% hard. That was huge and honestly something that’s been lacking during the latter stages of the collapse. The top line plus EJ & Sam ended the game as the only Avs over 50% in shot share, without that it’s a fair bet the others in the lineup wouldn’t have had the nights that they did.

– Peter McNabb had a great point after the game that 4th liners need to find a way to take the 8 or so minutes they get and do something positive with them. For most of the season they have not and it follows that oftentimes they didn’t even make it to 8 minutes because they were a net nothing on the ice. I loved  the performance of the 4th last night and so did everyone else. There are a couple key things to look at here.

Dom Toninato played nearly half a season with the Avs last year but this season he got the no-confidence vote from the staff until last night. Sure enough on shift #2 he scored the Avs first goal. Many of us have been crying out for a real center for the 4th line all year and he was instrumental in their success against the Jets.

Sven Andrighetto has been much maligned this year, mainly from not having a spot in the lineup he can fit into and have any impact. By my eye he’s actually been somewhat decent at times lately but the fact remains that he wasn’t scoring or being much of a factor on the ice. What he brings, speed, zone entry skills, shooting volume, was a good complement to Toninato and Greer’s positive traits last night. They have the size to open up some space while making up for his variable ability in the defensive zone. Even though his goal didn’t come while out with the other two he was a different player.

AJ Greer had himself a whale of a game. There was a little bit of fumblitis just before Toninato finished his goal off but still a savvy play. He probably saved a goal on a bad change that led to a breakaway as well. His controlled violence that was just on the good side of getting called for a penalty agitated Winnipeg most of the 2nd half of the game. A lot of what he did is no different than what he’s been doing lately, this time it had a positive effect and suddenly everyone noticed what he brings on a nightly basis. Judging from his post-game, I think he learned a lot about how to be that positive impact player going forward too.

In the big picture, two things that the 4th line has been missing all year have been size and a real center. It honestly didn’t surprise me at all that adding those two things had a noticeable effect, it shouldn’t have surprised the staff either but now they know. Hopefully this causes them to re-think a few things about the Avs bottom 6 and why it’s been so lackluster for the past few months.

– I’ve been beating the drum against running the offense through the point for a while now. It’s a great way to tank your shooting percentage and allow the other team many rush chances. Last night the guys tossed that in the trash where it belongs and went back to developing chances from the slot. Lets look a the progression from 1st period on:

After P1 – no point shots

After P2 – just a couple point shots

All game – still not many point shots

I think we can all agree the offense looked better than it has in weeks and this mentality is all it takes. Instead of settling for easy point/perimeter shots all night they were using their feet and their eyes to create space and scoring chances. The power play was still a disaster because they were settling for point shots but that should change if these results continue.

One more shot metric fun fact: The Avs had 5 guys above 50% in shot attempt share, 6 in unblocked shot attempt share and 9 in shots on goal share. Colorado blocked a ton of shots but they also forced a ton of misses. No doubt that Varly had a great game but the 5-man commitment in the d-zone was fantastic. I know everyone thinks I’m nuts for blaming defensive zone structure more than the goalies for the collapse but if anything this game reinforced that.

Burgundy Narrative Metric

– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) yesss
Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) just enough of both I’d say
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) poor shot selection as usual
The Dreaded Turtle gets a (-) a big one in P2 but not in the 3rd thank goodness
Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) wow, that’s what we really wanted to see
Referee Oppression Index gets a (-) Not a factor for most of the game, the idiotic interference call on Sven was atrocious and could have deeply affected the game. I think it made him mad though, which worked out fine.

Total: +2¾

Next up

Back home to face the Blues with something to prove on Saturday afternoon.

Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals

earl06

Scoring LW, punchy climber for the Ardennes classics, spirit guide

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