Breaking Down: Avs/Sharks, Divisional Finals, Game #4

Technically this was not an elimination game but losing two in a row at home is putting both feet in the grave. There were a lot of big efforts and key plays of course but the main driver of the 3-0 victory was cutting down on mistakes and poor decisions. Lots of talk in the locker room after of being prepared to win a 1-0 game and that mindset did the trick. If they end up winning 10 more games this year then that’s how they must think more often than not.

Projectile Lineup

Matt Calvert got over his UBI and returned to the lineup. Sven took warmups but Brassard played anyway. The lines went back to the early season look of 3HM, Carl & Friends and etc which worked out ok.

Scratch: Andrighetto, Nemeth, Graves, Barberio, Kamenev, Francouz, Greer, Toninato, Lindholm, O’Connor
Injured: none

Team Stats

The chart (or graph) below in a new toy from our good friends at Natural Stat Trick and it’s a good one. It’s fancier than the usual Corsi push-pull but focuses more on quality/danger than just controlling play. The dark line is expected goals (xG) and the gray line is unblocked shots (Fenwick) so in some ways it combines the Corsi chart with the heat map.

The Avs came out pretty hot but the first period ended up being really back and forth. I loved the first 10 minutes of the 2nd, a lame power play didn’t kill momentum for a change and the Avs got themselves a goal right on schedule halfway through the game. It’s uncanny the way that each game has had a big momentum change right around the 30-minute mark and this was no exception. San Jose went on a BIG 9-0 run right after Mack’s goal but developed little quality out of it. Some sloppy play finished off the middle frame, thankfully with no damage. Colin Wilson’s PPG early in the 3rd gave us a little breathing room but it’s the playoffs so a 2-goal lead is still mega-stressful. San Jose couldn’t generate anything and resorted to taking dumb penalties at the end again. That has been a sneaky bad trend for them in the series and bears watching. EJ sealed the deal with a 180-footer into the empty net and the fans rejoiced.

Tale of the tape was a +43/-48 and shots in all situations favored San Jose 32-28. Quality was a different story with Colorado dominating scoring chances (57%), high-danger (72%) and expected goals (65%). The Sharks have been very perimeter-oriented during this series and it’s not paying off as much as usual for them. I guess it helps that the Avs play a similar style so they know how to defend that. Shot pace at 5v5 was the usual 121 per hour.

The power play came through for only the 2nd time in the series out of 14 tries, which sounds bad because it is. The Sharks PK got torched in the 1st round so ineffective play vs a weak team is a bad look. On the other hand San Jose’s PP is even worse at only 1 goal in 11 tries so all in all the Avs have a slight edge in the special teams battle.

TOI

Top 6 forwards were Mack, Mikko, Landy then a big gap down to Calvert, Carl and Nieto. In all situations it was Mack (23:33, tops on team as usual), Landy, Mikko then again a huge gap down to Carl, Calvert and Nieto (15:02). None of the 4th liners broke 8 minutes at 5v5 and Gabe Bourque was low man at 7:34 overall.

The defensive regime went Big Z, Cole, Barrie then a gap down to EJ, Sam and Makar. Overall it was Barrie (23+), Cole (21), Z (20+), EJ (17), Sam (17) and Makar (16). Z left the bench for a little while at one point but no explanation was given, probably another damn skate blade mishap.

Individual

Good morning Nate

You might remember this look from the first couple months of the season, I sure do. Mack had a whale of a game with the GWG and striking terror into the San Jose D all night. Mikko rolled along quietly with… oh, another 2-point evening.

– EJ’s bomb from way downtown sealed the game but that was just the cherry on top. He had a dreadful game back on Tuesday and honestly hasn’t been up to par the whole series outside of his PK work. This was his best and most complete performance since the game 3 blowout vs Calgary. The Avs have been able to move forward despite his lackluster play but they are far stronger with him playing at least an average level. They don’t need him to be the #1 guy playing 25 minutes a night, the committee approach is a more sane way to deployment anyway. Let’s hope he’s back on track now.

– Cale Makar continues to impress. He leads rookies in playoff assists thanks to another setup on the game-winner last night and is 3rd in rookie playoff points despite playing 3 fewer games than the young gentlemen in front of him. The chemistry that he and Sam Girard have developed in just 4 games is extraordinary. They play a solid game in the d-zone of course but in the o-zone they’re pulling off Harlem Globetrotters stuff now. Usage comes into it but they are the only two Avs D that are positive in shot share so far. This is very exciting to watch and one can only imagine the possibilities when they get some long-term experience together.

– Philipp Grubauer needed a game like this. He’s been just ok statistically so far in the series letting in 3 or more in the first 3 games. His save percentage jumped from .888 to .916 with last night’s performance. It’s just a number and he’s far from the reason they were down 2-1 going in but showing he can shut San Jose down in a big game like this is going to be a big confidence builder for both he and the team. Very well done.

Burgundy Narrative Metric

– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) well done gents!
Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) average quantity, good quality
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) they scored, nice, but it’s still awful
The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) sort of after the first goal but the press was on in P3
Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) great game for Grubi and he needed one
Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) Any time the Sharks are whining you know the stripes are doing a good job. A couple of weird soft calls last night, they were managing the game more than meting out justice.

Total: +4¾

Next up

Back to the West Coast for Saturday’s game 5. Monday’s game 6 will be late at night at the Pepsi Center.

Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals

earl06

Scoring LW, punchy climber for the Ardennes classics, spirit guide

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