The first two games of the series both had big momentum changes right around the halfway mark. This one did too but for the first time the team playing hot in the final 30 minutes didn’t consolidate the victory. It’s tough to throw away a game and make it a lesson but the Avs sure looked like they needed one last night. If they can learn something from it and use it to reinforce the positive aspects of what they’ve done in the first 8 games in the playoffs then everything’s cool.
Matt Calvert has a little UBI so Sven Andrighetto made his round 2 debut. Vlad Kamenev is now ready and available for the first time since early December but Coach Bednar isn’t in a hurry to insert him into the lineup right now.
Scratch: Nemeth, Graves, Barberio, Kamenev, Calvert (UBI)
Other than a couple of strong shifts by the Sharks, one at the end of the 1st period and another early in the 2nd, this was a very grindy back & forth affair. Outside of those, which accounted for a net -16 on the shot board for the Avs, the Sharks did not control play consistently. That’s actually a good sign since there were a plethora of puck management mistakes by Colorado that ultimately decided the game. Despite sloppy and stubborn (JB’s favorite word) play the Avs were in this one until the end.
Tale of the tape was was a +39/-45 and shots in all situations were 31-27 for the Sharks. Expected goals were very even at +1.82/-1.91 so the narrative here is that it was an even game that was decided by the Avs mistakes and the Sharks ability to capitalize on them. Shot pace at 5v5 was a fairly pedestrian 115 per hour.
The power play had relations with the dog again at 0-4 but the PK countered by stopping all 4 Sharks chances too so a net even night on special teams. I realize it’s frustrating for fans to watch more and more fruitless man advantage situations late in the game when they really need goals but the fact is that the PP is fundamentally poor and can’t be counted on to help the team at all.
Top 6 forwards were Mack, Landy, Mikko, Kerf, Wilson and Compher. In all situations is was Mack (24:56), Landy, Mikko, Wilson, Compher and Kerfoot (14:33). Aside from those 6 only Brassard managed to break the 10 minute barrier at 5v5. Gabe Bourque was low man at 7:50 and 4:22 at 5v5.
The defensive regime went Barrie, Z, Sam, Makar, Cole and EJ. Overall it was Barrie (25), Z (20+), Girard (18+), Cole (17), Makar (17) and EJ (16). You might be noticing that the regular season leader in TOI was 6th and last and it’s not the first time during the playoffs he’s been looking up at most of the D-corps rather than down. The big question is why, obviously EJ has not been very effective but it’s a combination of issues that make it hard to pin down whether it’s age or a nagging injury or the fact that he has now played more games this season (88) than he ever has before.
– The breakout was a mess last night and if you want to assign blame on a micro level it was probably the main culprit. The Sharks 1st and game-winning 3rd goals were both a result of bad breakout execution. The passers made errors but the other 4 guys sure didn’t help. JB’s post-game presser focused on some of this, mainly that yes there were poor decisions and that the lack of support was a factor that forced the passers into these poor decisions.
The San Jose trap/forecheck has been the big stumbling block so far for the Avs and that can make the forwards antsy to get up ice quickly so they can defeat the trap. The downside is that leaves the passer all alone and far away from everyone, which is much more dangerous. Don’t do that. That’s something that got fixed in game 2 but regressed last night. They can fix it again.
– It seems like it’s been a chore for the staff to get Sven Andrighetto into the lineup and I’m not sure why. He’s far from the least effective forward. I’m not going to say he’s a difference-maker in his sub-10 minute TOI but he’s more of a solution than a problem at this point. They need his energy, personality and skills out there. If Derick Brassard gets unconditional benefit of the doubt because he’s 32 years old then Sven deserves more than he gets for actually playing well.
– This is going to sound like I’m piling on Grubi but I’m really not. The facts are that he’s been fairly average statistically in the playoffs and tending towards mediocre in this series. The Sharks are shooting 11.5% at 5v5 and 13% overall which makes his save percentages .884 at 5v5 and .870 overall. The d-zone play influences this a lot and he’s made some very key saves so it’s not all on him. Let’s just say that goaltending is not the strength it looked like it could be at the start of the playoffs.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) yeah no
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) quantity low but quality wasn’t bad, relatively
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) garbage
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) not this time
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (-) did a lot, but not enough
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) The Avs weren’t getting many calls early and that’s fine because the Sharks were moving their feet and the Avs were floating around. They gotta be a little more on it with the sticks in the face tho, Willie and Mack took some pretty heinous chops that got looked off. I’m fine with laissez faire but those have to get called or it’s going to be a bloodbath by the end.
Must win game 4 on Thursday before heading back to San Jose
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals