Both teams knew coming in that the season hung in the balance, the one that got the win had the momentum towards clinching the final wild card slot. It was fitting that it came down to a shootout and the Avs left with a solid lead with 4 games left in the regular season.
Captain Gabe was back in the lineup, yesss. Mikko is still out and doesn’t look close. Mark Barberio played with the Eagles in Tucson on conditioning assignment. Shane Bowers signed his Entry-Level Contract and will report to Loveland on an Amateur Try-Out deal for the rest of their season. Grubi continued as the hot hand in goal.
Scratch: Agozzino, Graves, Mikko (UBI), Barbs (LBI, conditioning assignment)
Injured: Kamenev (shoulder)
The first half of the game was very grindy and back & forth, lots of action but few shots fired. The refs gave Arizona their shot with a few soft calls on the Avs while ignoring the Dogs’ transgressions. The turning point was a penalty on Alex Galchenyuk for elbowing Colin Wilson 12 minutes into the 2nd period. Mack came through in the clutch and the Avs had the all-important 1st goal. From there the turtle began and over the next 20 minutes or so Arizona dominated on the shot board 30-9. Luckily the Avs earned a couple of calls at the end of P2 and took a 2-0 lead with another PPG by Derick Brassard. OEL got 2 goals 7 minutes apart in the final 10 minutes of the game to send it to OT. The Avs were ugly in overtime as usual but didn’t make that one big mistake so we moved on to the skills comp. Mack sealed the deal with the only goal and we all let out a sigh of relief.
Tale of the tape was +32/-53 with the bulk of the differential in the 2nd half of the game. Shots in all situations were 44-27 for the Coyotes. The good news is that neither team developed any quality chances, both ending the night at 7. Shot pace at 5v5 was a weak 107 per hour but like many games the Avs have played lately that doesn’t reflect the action on the ice overall.
The power play had it’s best night in two months with a pair of goals in 4 chances. The PK was also strong, killing off all 3 of Arizona’s opportunities.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Landy (!), Carl, Mack, Compher, Wilson and Kerfoot. In all situations it was Compher (22:28), Landy, Mack, Carl then a gap down to Kerfoot and Wilson (16:43). Bourque was low man at 8:53 and played 7 minutes at 5v5.
The defensive regime went EJ, Barrie, Cole, Big Z, Sam then a big gap down to Nemeth. Overall it was EJ (27), Barrie (25), Cole (18), Sam (18), Z (17+) and Nemeth (15). Girard took his last shift with 6 minutes to go in the 3rd and didn’t play in OT. Whether this is a situation thing or performance or injury-related isn’t clear, any or all are possibilities.
– It was so nice to see Mack step up in a huge game like this. Got the first goal and the game-winner in the shootout. This is what he was born to do and what fans expect of him. He has 4 games left to get that elusive 40th goal and needs 5 points for an even 100. Get some.
– There were times he looked a bit rusty as expected and took a horrifying spill into the boards on his freshly healed shoulder but having Captain Gabe back in the lineup was a big boost. He set up Mack’s PPG and hit 70 points for the first time in his career. The line with he and Carl/Wilson had a very strong game at both ends and was tops on the team with a 60% CF rating.
– Sitting on a lead is something that happens this time of year but it’s very ugly. We’ve seen it constantly for a couple weeks now. There’s another team out there that wants to score very badly so it’s not as easy as saying play better/faster/stronger or what have you. Coach Bednar addressed this post-game and offered the breakout breaking down and the ubiquitous chip-out as the main reason. Ok great, now fix it. They’ve gotten lucky doing the turtle over the last 5 games but luck has a way of evening out.
– The best thing I can say about last night’s overtime was that at least they didn’t hand the game over on a silver platter again. The mistakes weren’t of the tragic variety but there were still plenty made. Bad shot selection, turnovers in very dangerous situations, baffling puck movement tactics, the works. I’m confident these are issues they are not coached to do but happen anyway, which is troubling.
– This is the Wild Card situation as of this morning:
Edmonton and Chicago are there purely as filler, they will be eliminated soon. Dallas will clinch with any combo of 3 points gained themselves or lost by AZ so they’re locked in.
The Avs magic number is 6 (over Arizona, if Minny ends up passing them it’s only 5). Regardless of what the others do, if they win 3 out of their final 4 games they will extend their season. Arizona and Minnesota play each other once so it’s slightly easier than that. If the Avs go 2-2 then one of the other two have to win out. #clenchy
– A cool parallel last night was that the Eagles were in a similar situation vs the Coyotes AHL affiliate in Tucson. They also blew a 2-goal lead late and ended up winning in a shootout. There will be a rematch tonight. Right now the Eagles have a magic number of 10 with 5 games left so not as strong a position as the Avs but a more comfortable 5-point lead over the Arizona franchise.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) Yes!
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) nada
– Power Play Watchability gets a (+) 2 goals in one night? WOW
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (-) horrifying and it almost lost them the game
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) Grubi is in the zone
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) This crew can take a flying leap as far as I’m concerned. Soft calls, inconsistent calls, missed calls on egregious fouls, everything was on display. Not sure if there would have been much difference with a properly managed game but having the refs inserting themselves into the narrative for the first 40 minutes definitely had some effects.
The rest of the weekend off then a back to back at St Louis Monday and home vs the Oilers Tuesday.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals