It appeared the Avs brought a knife to a gun fight with only 4 players that were full-time in the NHL last season and JT Compher the lone rep from Colorado. The Wild dressed a fair number of their opening night guys, the rosters will be reversed for tonight’s tilt I’m sure. Despite that, after a slow start the prospect/AHL guys kicked it into gear in P2 and made a close game of it. Minnesota pulled out a 4-3 win after the Avs closed within one late in the match.
Dries – Compher – Burakovsky
Nichushkin – Tynan – Condra
Greer – Kamenev – Kaut
Lewis – Bowers – Megna
Graves – Timmins
Renouf – Connauton
Lindholm – Alt
Injured: EJ, Cole, Wilson, Zadorov, Bellemare
Connauton made his Avs debut after missing time with a broken face and Francouz made his season debut. This was Shane Bowers first pre-season game after playing all 3 in the rookie showcase. No cuts were announced after the game but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the AHL vets on the waiver wire today.
Minnesota dominated the 1st period, as they should have. The Avs B-team were constantly trapped in the d-zone and didn’t generate enough of a forecheck to sustain pressure in the offensive zone. After 1st inters they did get it going and played an even and high-event 2nd then a sludgy 3rd. The Wild took so many penalties that getting into any kind of rhythm 5v5 was a chore.
I liked the Avs game pace in the final 40 minutes, generating 24 attempts in just under 21 minutes of 5v5 time. For the entire game they ended up at a 54 shots per hour pace and overall game pace was just over 123 per hour, which is similar to last game with all the NHLers. That’s a good sign.
I could copy and paste what I said about the power play from last game, or the game before that, or the playoffs or most of the last year. It’s horrible and it’s got nothing to do with personnel because it doesn’t work with anyone at any level of the organization. Taking the rookie tournament and pre-season together they’ve scored 1 goal in 40 chances (2.5%, and that includes three 5v3 situations) and straight up pre-season they’re 0-for-17. This will hurt them in many ways this year. The PK was once again solid and it’s nice to see that basically whoever they put out there (all but 3 skaters got some PKTOI last night) can be effective.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Kamenev, Megna, Lewis, Greer, Bowers, Dries, which is pretty meaningless since nearly half the game involved special teams. In all situations it was Compher (20:49), Bowers, Kamenev, Nichushkin, Burakovsky, Dries. Burakovsky was low man 5v5 with only 5:55 and Condra was low overall at 8:26.
Defensive regime went Timmins, Graves, Connauton, Renouf, Lindholm and Alt. Overall it was Timmins (23+), Connauton (19+), Alt (17+), Graves (16+), Renouf (15) and Lindholm (13). Timmy led PP time with 8:37 and Connnauton/Graves had the most PK time with a little over 3 and a half each.
This game was odd in that I don’t think many guys played all that well or up to their potential and they still came close to beating an NHL team. Maybe that says more about how bad Minnesota is going to be this season but it’s actually fairly promising for the Eagles and maybe the Avs too. Some guys that stood in positive or negative ways were:
– Conor Timmins was the Avs best D, as he was in Game 1, with the late goal and 4 shots. I think we’re stepping away from the “just glad to see him on the ice” mentality and moving towards “this guy can help at the NHL level sometime this season”. The progress has been noticeable.
– Shane Bowers made his pre-season debut and despite starting in the bottom 6 ended up playing top 6 minutes by game’s end. He racked up assists on 2 of the Avs 3 goals and like we’ve seen in every game so far was driving play all night. I’m sure Coach Bednar already loves this guy and his NHL debut might be sooner than many think.
– Jayson Megna was a good complement to Bowers and those two together allowed the staff to give them top minutes. He was the best of the AHL vets by a wide margin and ended with a goal and an assist.
– Val Nichushkin gradually became engaged and from the end of the 1st to maybe the middle of the 2nd looked fairly decent. It tailed off from there however and overall he wasn’t very noticeable other than being huge. His play still isn’t NHL level and the gap is significant.
– It seems odd that Andre Burakovsky was on this trip if he’s going to slot in at 1RW on opening night. He and Compher had no chemistry and that line along with Sheldon Dries was awful. As a “vet” and wearing an alternate captain’s letter one would think he’d get some PK time but he was one of only 3 forwards that did not. Not a good showing and his stock seems to be falling.
– Pavel Francouz looked rusty and let in some soft goals. Not what the staff were looking to see but getting this out of the way hopefully helps. He should get one of the starts this week with a more experienced lineup and ought to bounce back. With all the goalies on waivers this weekend the temptation is out there to bolster the corps but I doubt the Avs are considering it at this point.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) if your best guys are prospects then they did ok
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) quantity was ok, decent quality too but a little weak overall
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) total shitshow, part 3
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) no turtle
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (-) Frank was leaky
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (n/a)
Back at the Pepsi Center for a rematch that will not be broadcast on TV anywhere.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals