With a week off the Avs were expected to be rusty. What wasn’t expected was that they would be worse in the 2nd half of the game than the first. As the energy ebbed San Jose’s way they suppressed the hell out of the Avs speed and puck moving abilities then suppressed the hell out of the entire game in the 3rd period.
Sam Girard was a welcome returnee to the lineup. Patrik Nemeth had the night off to accommodate. Derick Brassard dressed after missing the final 3 games of the Calgary series with the flu at the expense of Sven Andrighetto. Joe Cannata was called up to be the EBUG like vs the Flames.
Scratch: Andrighetto, Nemeth, Graves, Barberio, Cannata
Injured: Kamenev (shoulder)
The contrast between before Joe Thornton scored, exactly 30 minutes and 5 seconds into the game, and after is stark. To that point the Avs had dominated 5v5 play +32/-14, and were winning the special teams battle. A lot of folks are pointing to the double-minor that preceded it as the key to the game and the Avs definitely could have put the game away there. The fact is they didn’t and that shouldn’t be a reason why they collapsed at 5v5 right after. Allowing the Sharks to go on an oppressive 19-1 run while building a 4-2 lead was what lost the game. What sealed it was a gruesome clog-o-rama in the 3rd with the Avs getting a grand total of 4 shots on goal while down by 2.
Tale of the tape was a +50/-48 but lets chop that up into halves. First half of the game: 70% Corsi, game pace of 121 shot attempts per hour. Second half of the game: 35% Corsi, game pace of 104 shot attempts per hour. Your eyes did not deceive you, the Sharks took the game and froze it solid.
The power play was 1-3, so that’s good. PK had to kill off a too many men penalty early in the game, which they did, and that was it. Special teams edge goes to Colorado in this game.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Landy, Mack, Mikko, Kerfoot, Calvert and Soderberg. In all situations it was Landy (23:50), Mack, Mikko, Kerfoot, Wilson and Compher (15:16). Gabe Bourque was low man at 7:54 and 7:15 at 5v5.
The defensive regime went Girard, Barrie, Zadorov, Makar, Johnson and Cole. In all situations it was Barrie (24+), Girard (21), Big Z (18), Makar (18), Cole (16) and EJ (16). Erik Johnson left the bench mid-first period for reasons unknown, probably a skate issue, and really struggled all evening. He and Sam Girard were split up at the beginning of the 3rd, Sam went with Makar and got regular usage and EJ paired with Cole and had his time cut in half.
– Hard not to focus on the negative here but the Avs kind of blew this one themselves. Going into the series my #1 concern was whether they could break up the Sharks cycle game, capture the puck and move it down the ice with possession. The answer was that they could early then they could not. If this is strictly for rust reasons then no problem, and that’s a possibility. If this is an adjustment Pete DeBoer made that turned the entire game around massively then the ball is in Jared Bednar’s court.
– The Avs two “defensive defensemen” really struggled last night. Erik Johnson was alarmingly bad and not just defensively. The Thornton goal that turned the game on a dime began with an ill-advised shinpad shot from EJ, not smart. Ian Cole was a +3/-14 in 14:30, let that sink in a bit. 3 shot attempts all night, that’s worst by count and percentage. What we need to know is whether this means that these two players just had a bad game personally or if the Sharks style means this archetype does not fare well in general.
– The Compher line had a tough matchup, mainly against the Sharks line of Radil/Hertl/Kane with a little Thornton thrown in. They got buried +4/-13 (so slightly better than Ian Cole) while together and didn’t improve while apart. We’ve seen this line fail all year, mainly with Carl Soderberg in the middle. The staff love the veteran aspect even though Nieto and Calvert together are a recipe for disaster. We’re going to find out how stubborn Coach is going to be with this one, my bet is he’ll make it even worse by putting Brassard in Compher’s place instead of moving Calvert back with Tyson Jost which is a pretty proven positive over the past month or so.
– I think we all would have rather seen the Sharks start out hot then the Avs adjust and make it closer by the end but even so it’s just one game. There are avenues the staff can explore and ways to exploit the weaknesses San Jose displayed early in the game. Like Pierre says every damn game, you’re not in trouble until you lose at home.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) maybe for half the game…
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) good start in both areas but couldn’t sustain
– Power Play Watchability gets a (+) hard to argue you need better than 1-for-3 but here we are
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) idk what that 3rd period was, a turtle down by 2?
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) Still don’t think we’ve seen Grubi at his best yet in the playoffs
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) Avs had the penalty advantage and even Mikko knew that goal wasn’t going to count.
Game two on Sunday, early for a change
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals