This is projection of course but it’s no surprise that the Avs have waited until the very last moment to do the absolute minimum they have to do to stay involved with the playoff race. They had a lot more on the line than Dallas did last night and it showed, for maybe half the game.
No changes in the lineup once again and the 11F/7D seems to be working perfectly. Coach Bednar isn’t using set lines anymore so the chart below is just relaying who was present.
Scratch: Agozzino, Landy (shoulder), Nieto (LBI), Barbs (LBI)
Injured: Kamenev (shoulder)
This crucial match started out with some back and forth and the usual gruesome power plays. The Avs finally took control with 5 minutes to go in the 1st and unleashed several dangerous shifts which put Dallas on their heels but didn’t alter the scoreboard. The Stars controlled play for most of the 2nd period as well until once again the Avs rolled some dangerous shifts late. Sam Girard snuck a great pass to EJ for a one-timer and finally the tie was broken. The 3rd opened with some back and forth until Sam struck again feeding Tyson Barrie for a great shot past Bishop 5 minutes in. From there Colorado shelled up while the Stars inflicted a 24-5 shot run but only came up with one goal. Carl Soderberg threw one into the open net from the Avs blueline with a minute left and that sealed the deal.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was +48/-64 and shots in all situations fell 45-32 Dallas. Score adjustments have the shot gap around 47% but as you can see above, the Avs were +3 when they gained the 2-goal lead in the 3rd. Colorado developed some good quality in P1 with 7 high-danger chances but that was about it as the Stars dominated the rest of the game. Shot pace at 5v5 was a brisk 138 per hour overall but that’s mainly thanks to the 3rd period where the stars alone were at a 114 per hour pace and both teams combined were at a breakneck 164 per hour.
Power play was shut out again at 0-3 and have 2 goals in their last 21 tries. Lots of folks look at them being 8th in the league and are fine with it but over the past couple of years it’s been a situation where they get a couple one night against a weak team then disappear for a while. It’s not a positive and doesn’t generate quality chances. The PK killed both chances they had but remain buried at 27th in the league.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Kerf, Mikko, Carl, Compher, Calvert. In all situations it was Mack (23:13), Carl, Compher, Mikko, Kerf and Willie (16:28). Gabe Bourque was low man at 7:28 and the only forward under 10 minutes overall at 9:39 with nearly half his TOI coming in the 3rd period collapse. Mikko left the game with a little over 6 minutes left in obvious pain. No word yet on the prognosis.
The defensive regime went EJ, Z, Barrie, Sam, Cole, Nemeth, Graves. Overall it was EJ (20+), Barrie (20), Z (18+), Sam (18), Cole (16), Nemeth (14) and Graves (6+). Graves was low man on the team and only played 8 shifts at 5v5 for around 5 minutes, including just one in the 1st period.
The result last night was just what the Avs needed and everyone else in the NHL chipped in with support for a change. Florida beat the Yotes to allow the Avs back into a playoff spot. Philly beat the Hawks. In the tank race, Calgary took care of the Sens and the Sharks fell on their sword allowing LA a rare victory. Jersey and detroit both lost but that isn’t as crucial. The Sens now sit 4 points in back of the Kings for last place with 8 games to go.
The Avs did what they needed to do last night, barely. They didn’t get shut out vs Bishop like last time which is an improvement. The two goals they scored on him were pretty similar, Sam using his vision to set up his defensive partner for fairly long-range but still dangerous shots. The forwards were a little hit and miss. Mack had 9 shots on goal and leads the league by 30 over Seguin and Ovechkin. He’s 8th in the league in shot attempts at 5v5 with 328 and 3rd in all situations with 526 (7.1 per game). Alexander Kerfoot had a really solid and mistake-free game with 5 shots on goal. He’s drawn the ire of fans a lot this year with turnovers and missed chances but probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Grubi had another strong performance, he and Bishop have been the class of the NHL over the past few weeks and he won this battle. We all want to believe this is who he is going forward but the spectre of December and January still looms over this performance.
On the downside, there were some poor showings last night as well. The team as a whole got rolled in the 3rd period and it’s hard to say it’s anything more than luck and a hot goalie that prevented more damage. Some of that is on the staff with the usual suspects out there getting overplayed in crunch time. Nemeth, EJ, Bourque and Calvert had noticeably more usage in the 3rd than during the rest of the game and now there’s even more confirmation bias that this is a solid strategy. Derick Brassard has been an obvious negative since the deadline. I don’t put that all on him, he’s playing his game but it’s just not something that fits into the lineup well and wasn’t needed at all.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) not really but sort of
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) quantity fair, quality good at first but still not enough
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) same ol’ same ol’
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) massive turtle in the 3rd, just horrifying
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) another great outing for Groob
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) We’re into playoff mode now so anything goes.
Home and home with Chicago starting Saturday afternoon at the Can
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals