Breaking Down: Avs/Sharks, Divisional Finals, Game #5

Before this series began I thought that one team would grab a hold of it and dominate but that couldn’t be farther from reality. Each game, and even inside of each game, there has been a lot of back and forth and neither club gains the upper hand for long. Thoughts on why are for another time but this game was extremely close throughout and San Jose did what they had to do for the 2-1 victory.

Projectile Lineup

Matt Calvert’s UBI flared up again so he was out and Sven Andrighetto slotted back in. Tyson Jost got a shot higher in the lineup, deservingly so, and made something of it.

Scratch: Calvert (UBI), Nemeth, Graves, Barberio, Kamenev, Greer, Toninato, O’Connor, Lindholm, Francouz
Injured: none

Team Stats

Colorado started out ok in the first few minutes but quickly got buried. San Jose went on an 8-0 run, stopped for second to score a fake goal that turned into a dumb penalty which the Avs did nothing with, then continued on with an even more dominant 11-0 run. The Avs then went on an 11-0 shot run of their own, also stopping for a dumb penalty break, to finish off the period. The rest of the game was back and forth with a 20 minute interlude of inexplicable and inappropriate penalty calls. The Avs got on the board first in the middle of the penalty miasma then gave one back on the PK right before 2nd intermission. One strong shift by the Sharks generated the game-winner early in the 3rd period, the Avs pushed back weakly and couldn’t come up with the answer.

Tale of the tape at 5v5 was a +42/-50 and shots in all situations greatly favored the Sharks 39-22. This was an even game at 5v5 with the Avs close in scoring chances and ahead in expected goals by a slim margin +2.28/-2.24. Shot pace was brisk for the series at 128 per hour.

Forgetting the sheer volume of idiotic calls by the officials for a moment, the Avs PP went 0-3 and was the usual embarrassing mix of casual passing and reluctance to shoot. Coach Bednar remarked after the game that they need to move around more and have a shot mentality. No kidding. This is a chronic issue and while the players certainly don’t help it’s mostly a coaching problem. They play like this because it’s what they are instructed to do. Outside of Grubi the PK wasn’t great. Stopping all 5 Sharks chances would have been nice but 4 out of 5 is about what you’d expect.

TOI

Top 6 forwards were Mack, Landy, Mikko then a huge gap down to Carl, Nieto and Compher. In all situations it was Landy (23:49), Mack, Mikko, Compher then a gap down to Nieto and Carl (15:10). Brassard was low man at 6:01 with no special teams time.

The defensive regime went Barrie, Z, Girard, Makar, EJ and Cole. Overall it was Barrie (23+), EJ (19+), Sam (18+), Z (18+), Makar (18+) and Cole (16+). Cole was at just over 9 minutes 5v5 and he and EJ played around 8 minutes each on PK. No other D even hit 60 seconds on PK, which is something to think about.

Individual

– Two things I despise using as an excuse for a loss are officiating and special teams. The refs were horrendous last night but it is what it is. The Sharks lost a goal on a phantom penalty and the Avs definitely did not benefit from the way the game was managed. Did it even out? Maybe.

A lot of folks are focusing on special teams after last night. Through 5 games each team has 2 power play goals so on the scoreboard things are pretty even. My take is that you win at 5v5 and don’t let special teams hurt you. If a win does come from a man-advantage situation then great but that’s basically luck. Process-wise, the Avs are having some very real troubles on the power play. Let’s look at the micro and macro here:

Last night the Sharks scored a PPG and the Avs did not, it wasn’t surprising at all. San Jose had excellent shot rates, FF/60 of 103, SF/60 of 89 and xGF/60 of 12.3. They scored one goal with 1.79 goals expected so the Avs PK was both bad and good. Bad in that the xG rate was extremely high and good that they (mainly Grubi) limited them to just one goal. On the other hand, the Avs had a FF/60 of 30, SF/60 of 10 and xGF/60 of 3.4. By shot metrics the Avs have the worst power play in the 2nd round, with rates as much as half of what the 7th place team is running. The real-life difference equates to somewhere between 1 and 2 goals, not a lot but with a series this close that could be a big difference in the course of one game. I’d like to think they’re saving that goal (or 2) for when they really need it, like on Monday night for instance.

– I’m not going to go through a lot of individual performances. Yes, the top line wasn’t very effective and no, I don’t know why Coach Bednar insists on constantly going back to it when everyone knows it works much better as a change-up rather than an every shift thing.

Tyson Jost got an opportunity to play higher in the lineup and did a great job for the most part. His line with Willie and Kerf started out slow but grabbed a little momentum as the game went on and of course Jost scored the Avs lone goal. If nothing else he deserves another start there.

Every once in a while Girard & Makar have one of those magical shifts where they control play, create dangerous chances and give the opposition fits in the o-zone. We’d all like to see it more often and I’m sure we will in the coming years. The chemistry they’ve demonstrated in 5 games together is very promising and NHL coaches watching this series from afar have to be very concerned about what it’s going to take to counter.

Burgundy Narrative Metric

– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) no sir
Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) adequate amounts of both but adequate doesn’t win games
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) how Ray Bennett still has a job is beyond me
The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) neither team shelled up
Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) Grubi was quite good and needed just a little more help
Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) This was a Tim Peel special alright. Weird goal called back. Check. Inexplicable penalties galore. Check. Poor game management. Check. Not sure what these teams did to deserve this crew but we can only hope it’s the last time we see them this season.

Total: +1¾

Next up

The Avs face elimination for the first time this season Monday night at the Pepsi Center. Be there or be square.

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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