The Avs tend to struggle in San Jose and last night was no exception. They were completely smothered by the Sharks for two periods then made it close in score-effect time. The quick, disciplined style of the Sharks exposed what was a stark contrast to the slow, undisciplined play of the Avs.
Ian Cole was activated off of IR and returned to the lineup. Someone went on IR to make room, probably Matt Nieto but we’re not sure. Ryan Graves took a seat in what was an unpopular move but not a bad play if it’s not a long-term deal. He’s hit a wall lately and a game or two off might do him some good. Vlad Kamenev is rehabbing in Denver but won’t be back this season.
Scratch: Graves, Bourque, Nieto (LBI), Barberio (LBI)
Injured: Kamenev (shoulder)
The Sharks took a very methodical approach in the 1st period, not pushing play but giving up nothing in the process. This would be a theme most of the night. A quick goal on a defensive breakdown made this even easier. The Avs got a PP later in the period that started slow but generated a decent chance at the end. The 2nd period began with San Jose in control on an 8-0 run that produced a wicked snipe goal by Timo Meier. Big Z answered back with a blast from the point then both teams played smashmouth in the neutral zone for a while. The refs welcomed Ian Cole back to the lineup with a soft call at halfway, which the PK covered, then everything fell apart.
The Sharks went on a 14-2 run to end the period, gaining a 2 goal lead, but the way they accomplished it was horrifying. With a little less than 4 minutes left in the period the Avs had Girard, Johnson, Soderberg, Brassard and Compher on the ice and San Jose completely took over. EJ & Sam spent the next 3:27 trapped in the Avs zone unable to change. Brass got off after 1:05 somehow for Gabe Landeskog. After 2:31, Compher and Carl managed to swap out for Jost and Calvert. The Sharks won every board battle, retrieved every puck and the Avs slowly drowned under the tide. There won’t be a lot for the staff to take from breaking down the film here, other than the Avs just weren’t good enough, but they will want to make sure that never happens again.
The 3rd period started out with more neutral zone grinding then Colorado got back into it with a couple of score-effect goals, a nice PPG from Mikko and a wicked snipe by Sam Girard after a fun spin move away from Joe Thornton. They couldn’t net the important one and left the Shark Tank empty-handed once again.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was +43/-55 and shots in all situations favored San Jose 40-25. Scoring chances looked particularly ugly at 70% for the Sharks both regular and high-danger. Shot pace at 5v5 was a casual 117 per hour, mainly due to the Avs never having the puck.
The power play was ok at 1-for-2 but Tyson Barrie’s play at the point continues to be a major hurdle to generating anything offensively. The PK gave up the usual royal road pass that goes directly in the net late in the 3rd and finished at 2-for-3.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Mikko, Brass, Landy, Carl and Kerf. In all situations it was Mack (23:24), Mikko, Carl, Landy, Compher and Kerf. Sheldon Dries was low man at 6:24 and less than 5 minutes 5v5. Given that he’s not really a center or an effective penalty killer it begs the question once again of what exactly is he doing in the lineup night after night.
The defensive regime went Sam, Z, Cole, Barrie, EJ then Nemeth. Overall it was Sam (22+), Z (21+), Cole (20), Barrie (19+), EJ (19) and Nemeth (13). Ian Cole returned to the lineup and was paired with Zadorov most of the night, they were effective together at a +10/-11 in what I would call shutdown usage. Tyson Barrie’s minutes have been suppressed lately, not that I really mind but I’d love to hear the thinking on that.
– If you haven’t seen the latest “La Tornade” goal from Sam Girard find a clip and treat yourself. He’s been a big part of the turnaround over the last 14 games, averaging over 25 shifts a night against tough competition. His minutes are rising as Tyson Barrie’s decline in a foreshadowing of potential moves this Summer.
– You might not have noticed that Captain Gabe assisted on all 3 Avs goals last night. He’s not in the 80-point stratosphere with Mikko and Mack but he’s not far off either with 33 goals and 35 assists now. Speaking of Mikko, he notched his 28th goal of the season and soon will join the 30 goal club. Big Z had another rocket goal making 7 on the season with just 4 assists, which is just weird for a defenseman. Alexander Kerfoot has quietly put together a solid stretch in the last 14 as well with 8 points and has taken the dumb penalties right out of his game.
– As a team the Avs were at 44% Corsi last night but there was a vast range of individual performances going from Mikko at +22/-11 down to Colin Wilson at +2/-15. One shift, the 3:27 nightmare, tanked the numbers for a bunch of guys but not all. Carl’s line got dunked on for most of that shift but even outside of that weren’t all that great. Jost’s line seemed to take on a little tougher comp and did ok with it. The 4th line has gone back to being a garbage pile since Toninato/Greer/etc were sent back to the AHL. They had a formula that worked, size + energy + a real center = effective play. Now they have a mismatched trio that gets rolled over constantly. The Avs need all the help they can get right now and those guys aren’t helping.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) mixed bag
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) little of either
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) mostly bad but they did score at least
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) not this time
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) One more save would have been nice
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) A decent laissez faire game up until the soft call on Girard with 9 minutes to go. That’s just not a call you make in a tight game.
Afternoon match vs the Duck on Sunday
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals