The Avs dressed a closer approximation of their projected opening night lineup on Thursday night and while the results still aren’t there the process is doing ok in some areas. There’s no sense in worrying about the areas that aren’t doing ok yet, at this point they are just items on the checklist that can’t be crossed off yet
Landeskog – MacKinnon – Burakovsky
Nichushkin – Kadri – Donskoi
Nieto – Compher – Kaut
Calvert – Bellemare – O’Connor
Girard – Makar
Rosen – Barberio
Byram – Alt
Injured: EJ, Cole, Connauton, Wilson, Zadorov
This group is a fair sample of some opening night forward lines and perhaps the top defensive pair. The D is still pretty thin thanks to injuries, EJ has begun skating with the guys in the pumpkin jersey so some progress there. Connauton could probably play with a full cage if need be but no reason to push it now. Big Z has some LBI going and JB still hasn’t talked to the trainer on that yet.
Other than a really weak 3rd period, again, the Avs controlled play quite nicely at 5v5. They should have because their talent level was noticeably higher than the team Dallas brought and they were on home ice. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s goal two and a half minutes into the game was the only reward for that. While the Avs blew off the 3rd period Dallas’ prospect/AHL heavy lineup gained momentum and won the game.
While the Avs were dominating 5v5 shot share in the first 40 minutes their rate was pretty frantic at 97.4 per hour. Final rate for the game was just over 81 per hour which is still really good. The Stars, who only attempted 31 shots in 42 minutes of play, didn’t help game pace which ended up around 125 per hour.
The power play still looks terrible and if there was one thing I would hope the team would have worked on in this glorified scrimmage was trying to straighten that out. No luck there and the same problems are still evident. Slow, perimeter passing with few shots attempted and no passing into dangerous scoring areas. In 11:17 of PP time they attempted 10 shots with 5 making it to the net. The PK was solid, only allowing 9 attempts in 6 minutes while generating 3 of their own.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Landy, Burakovsky, Kadri, Donskoi and Nichushkin. In all situations Landy led with 22:17. Logan O’Connor was low man overall at just over 7 minutes.
Defensive regime went Sam, Barbs, Makar, Rosen, Byram and Alt. Overall it was Makar (21+), Sam (21), Byram (19), Barbs (18), Rosen (17) and Alt (15). Surprisingly Rosen and Byram led the team on PK with around 2:50 each.
In general most guys had a decent, if not fruitful, showing. A few standouts for me were:
– Bellemare was the most engaged forward all night, scoring the lone goal and even pummeling some PTO for kicks.
– Sam Girard was the Avs best defenseman and bestowed this wonderful gift upon us:
– Calle Rosen was perhaps the 2nd best D and is making a case for an opening night spot in Denver rather than Loveland.
– Martin Kaut is a fairly cerebral player and it takes him a little time to analyze and become accustomed to a situation. I think he’s showing some strides now and last night’s game is the kind that should catch the staff’s eyes and put him in the top callup conversations. He had 3 SOG, a couple of hits and generally facilitated forward progress with the puck. This is something to build on over the rest of the pre-season.
– Kadri and Donskoi are fun to watch. They both like to shoot and aren’t the sorts to stand around waiting for an opportunity. They combined for 5 SOG’s at 5v5 and 9 overall. Depending on who ends up on the other wing they are very versatile too.
– Bowen Byram had the kind of up and down game one would expect from an 18 year old in his first pro camp. The flashes of brilliance are there, the staff are giving him chances in many different situations and he’s learning a lot. Stop with the own goals though, eh?
– The only total negative for me was Val Nichushkin. He played slow and unengaged all night and doesn’t look like a guy that’s fighting for his NHL career. I don’t know how long the staff are willing to indulge this pipe dream but hopefully he’s gone before the season starts.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) top line was about 30%
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) great quantity, not much quality
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) total shitshow
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (-) turtling while down by 1 in the 3rd, nice
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) Grubi looked great
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (n/a)
The Avs head to Minnesota tomorrow with what I would guess ends up being a prospect/AHL oriented lineup and first start for Pavel Francouz.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals