Avs fans are still horrified at the callous indifference last night’s officials showed to Matt Calvert laying on the ice bleeding from his skull. It was a similar situation to Nikita Zadorov last week and whether it was negligence or incompetence isn’t important. The officials are charged with keeping the players safe and they aren’t. Colorado ended up with a win, as they should have in the first place, but the way the final few minutes of the game played out leaves a lot to be desired.
Tyson Jost was the latest victim of the cruel stretch the Avs are in. Nikita Zadorov returned after just 9 days out with a broken jaw. Kevin Connauton was sent back to the Eagles to make room. Antoine Bibeau became the 4th Avs starting goalie of the season
Calvert – Mack – Donskoi
Burky – Kadri – Compher
Nieto – Bellemare – Nichushkin
Megna – Kamenev – Tynan
Sam – EJ
Graves – Makar
Zadorov – Cole
Scratch: Barbs, Jost (?BI), Francouz (concussion)
Injured: Mikko, Landy, Willie, Grubi (all LBI)
The Avs got smoked in this game by straight up shot attempts but the chart below shows that Vancouver wasn’t generating much quality. Expected goals per unblocked shot was in the Avs favor until score effects kicked in late in the 2nd period (you can see this from the xG line being on the Avs side of the fenwick line for most of the game). In theory this is what you’d want to see with your 4th goalie in the nets. I’m not sure if this is something the Avs consciously tried to do or if it was a function of Vancouver’s strategy but it worked out.
Aside from the Calvert incident this was a poorly managed game by the officials. The Avs draw a lot of calls because of their speed and whatnot and refs don’t let penalty differential get too far out of whack so we get cheap calls. The way to take advantage of this is to play solid on special teams but that’s not something the Avs are able to do at this point. At 5v5 the Avs kill teams by nearly a goal per game. In all other situations they are +25/-29 in goals for and against. This is why I’m skeptical about blaming some of the poor play over the last few weeks on injuries. It looks more like coaching is the problem since special teams are mostly about systems rather than personnel.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was a +26/-51 and SOG in all situations favored Vancouver 32-23. Despite playing less than 39 minutes at 5v5 game pace was a fairly average 120 shots per hour. The power play was 1 for 5 and the penalty kill slide continued, stopping only 4 out of 6.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Donskoi, Nichushkin (what?), Kadri, Compher and Calvert. In all situations it was Mack (24:41, holy cow), Donskoi, Compher, Burky, Kadri and Nuke (15:56). Coach Bednar ignored the 4th line completely with none coming close to 5 minutes at 5v5 and Tynan playing just 3:33.
The defensive regime went Sam, Makar, EJ, Z then a big gap to Cole and Graves. Overall it was EJ (25), Makar (23), Sam (19), Cole (17), Zadorov (16) and Graves (12+).
Coach Bednar needs to work on his trust issues because beating a few players into the ground isn’t going to work long-term. Like I’ve said several times over the past few weeks, if you can’t deal with playing certain guys then find some new ones. Top-heavy usage is 100% a coaching issue.
– Nathan MacKinnon has had more productive nights but this one was pretty special. We haven’t seen the 1-timer from the circle much lately so it was nice to get that one. His setup on Burky’s goal was fabulous. All that pales in comparison to his overtime performance however. Anyone that watched the last 3 minutes of regulation was red-mist steaming mad. He channeled that and before there was time to think about it became a blur on the ice and ended the game. We were all still violently angry with the officials and extremely concerned about Matt Calvert but seeing a wrong righted like that was great comfort.
– At the beginning of the season I think I said something like I’d be happy if Cale Makar could come up with 30 points this season and look like he belongs. He should hit that sometime next week at this rate. Four assists last night, yeah ok there was a cheapie or two maybe but guys that influence play the way he does get those. He’s 2nd in NHL defenseman scoring with 22 points and tied for 15th overall. The Calder scoring race isn’t even close with his nearest competitors 8 points behind and he’s on pace for (lol) a 90-point season. The matchup against Quinn Hughes was a major selling point before the game and Makar destroyed him. Hughes had a fairly uneventful game, only getting assists on the 2 bullshit goals at the end 6v5.
– Some other mentions include Antoine Bibeau who looked fairly shaky but was big enough to get in the way of most Vancouver shots. Ryan Graves had 4 penalties on the season entering the Edmonton game, now he has 9. That’s gotta stop. Andre Burakovsky has found his scoring touch again after taking a few weeks off. He’s got 4G/3A in his last 5 games. Much the same for Nazem Kadri with 6 points in his last 5. Since getting shut out 5 of the first 7 games, Naz has points in 9 of 13 and is leaning towards a 60+ point pace.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) special nights for Mack/Makar
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) quality was good for what little shooting they actually did
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) blew an early 5v3 that almost came back to haunt them
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (-) oh my, such turtle
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (-) let’s just say it’s really time for Grubi to come back
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) I have nothing but contempt for this crew. The called a terrible game then completely ignored a badly injured player that needed their help. Such cowardly negligence deserves immediate termination.
A couple days off then off to Cale Makar’s hometown.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals