The Avs had to grind out a win last night vs what happened Thursday and this was a pretty underrated performance. Aside from a letdown at the end of the first period and a couple random shifts they had this one in control all evening. It didn’t feel like that in real time just because playing with a slim lead is something they haven’t had to do much this season but they demonstrated the ability to get it done.
Welp. Add Nikita Zadorov to the long-term injury list. He’s out week-to-week with a broken jaw, placed on IR late yesterday so look for a replacement soon. Ian Cole slid back into the lineup in his place. Nathan MacKinnon skipped morning skate to rest his UBI but played of course. No word on any of the other wounded. Grubi should be on the trip to Canada but is out for now.
Calvert – Mack – Donskoi
Jost – Kadri – Compher
Nieto – PEB – Nichushkin
Tynan – Kamenev – Burakovsky
Sam – EJ
Graves – Makar
Cole – Barbs
Scratch: Megna, Grubi (UBI, d2d)
Injured: Wilson, Landy, Mikko (all LBI), Big Z (broken jaw)
This was a fun game to watch, lots of back and forth and it was played at a pace the Avalanche dictated. This is key because teams generally like to corral the Avs speed by clogging but the Jackets were game and went along for the ride. Columbus got an early PP on a soft call and took advantage of a fortuitous bounce to make it 1-0. That didn’t affect Colorado’s play much and they took control of the middle of the period with a nice 7-0 shot run then Tyson Jost drawing a call. The resulting PP was successful with Sam Girard notching his first goal of the season on a slapshot. The Jackets went into press mode after that and the Avs didn’t respond well at all. The breakouts fizzled badly and Columbus took advantage with a soft goal on Frankie and then a careless puck over glass penalty on Matt Calvert.
Like the situation Thursday vs NSH, the Avs came to a fork in the road early in P2. It wasn’t do or die time but it was time to take back control of play or perhaps lose it for good. A couple of good shifts got them a 10-0 run then we were treated to the Cale Makar show. Two goals, 5:19 apart. The first was off a nice fake from Graves that left Makar all alone on his half of the ice and he roofed it. The second was sort of a lolgoal on a shot perhaps meant for the top shelf but it rolled through Korpisalo anyway and that’s your winning goal. The rest of the game involved questionable hits and officiating then a nice play by Nazem Kadri to seal it before Torts could get the goalie to the bench. Bonus – they did not turtle.
The shot battle was very even all night despite all the back and forth, Columbus ended up with 3 more attempts 5v5. SOGs in all situations also favored them 41-36 which is in line with a team that blew a lead and then trailed for the final 24 minutes. Shot pace at 5v5 was right in the Avs wheelhouse at 126 per hour.
Technically the Avs PP was 1 for 2 but that doesn’t tell the story. Coach Bednar didn’t seem to like what he saw from the 1st unit and used PP2 heavily, which resulted in the only goal. The chance they didn’t score on was a 5-minute major and it was a disaster. 8 attempts total in 5 minutes and Columbus matched them in scoring chances 1-1. The PK settled down in the 3rd to kill off 2 crucial chances but the early one they gave up in the 1st wasn’t crisp.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Calvert, Donskoi, Kadri, Jost, Nieto. In all situations it was Mack (22:03), Donskoi, Calvert, Compher, Kadri and Nieto (15:44). Kamenev was low man at 5:28 and he and Tynan ended up with just over 8 minutes overall. This makes no sense, Kam had only one shift after PEB got clocked.
The defensive regime went Sam, Cole, EJ, Makar, Barbs, Graves. Overall it was EJ (23), Sam (21+), Cole (21), Graves (17), Makar (17) and Barbs (14). Makar sat for the final 4 minutes which is odd.
– The star of the show was Cale Makar obviously. He’s 27 games into his pro career and already terrifies opponents. He’s tied in points with Crosby and Kane (at 21st and 1.00 PPG) and leads rookies by 5 (6 over Quinn Hughes, can’t wait for the narratives when we hit Vancouver later this week). This cat makes you want to tune in every night.
– Nazem Kadri had some ups and downs. He’s a bit of an adventure sometimes in the d-zone but sprung Jost on the 2v1 that created Makar’s 2nd goal. The play in the neutral zone that gave him the insurance score late was sneaky good. Naz is on pace for nearly 60 points after a slow start while getting accustomed to the Avs pace/systems and I like the way he’s been able to find a groove with Jost and Compher with the 3HM disassembled.
– Sam Girard took a power shot on the PP after moving into space for his 1st goal of the season. I think it’s pretty clear he’s the Avs best PP defenseman and seems to be the only guy (D or otherwise) that can drive play on the 2nd unit. Being the Turn to Makar’s Burn for the foreseeable future just makes me smile.
– It would have been nice if Francouz could have had a few more NHL starts before having to play a starting role but he’s settling in. Coming into last night both his wins were in blowouts, this was the first time he had to be the man for 60 minutes and he responded by saving 39 of 41. The trickler near the end of P1 is what people remember but this was his best performance to date.
– Columbus Captain Nick Foligno had some predictable bullshit story after the game about not having any idea he made contact with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s head on his egregious foul. The fact is that he was out there to hurt someone. He tried to hit Cale Makar while leading with the knee just minutes beforehand so sorry bud, that’s not going to work. Any angle one cares to look at he lined PEB up, left his feet and led with the elbow. Hopefully Pebbles is ok (as reported by the Columbus media) but that’s just a hideously lame way to play.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) all hail Cale
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) adequate on both fronts
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) that major, yikes
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) props for not giving into temptation
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) The leaky goal at the end of the first stands out in everyone’s minds but Frank played a helluva game overall
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) These guys were a shitshow. Foligno was running around for a while before he took out Pebbles and the consistency in the 3rd period was baffling.
The dreaded Western Canada road trip kicks off Tuesday in Winnipeg.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals