Once again the Avs encountered a team that focused on forechecking their defenseman hard and it paid off. It’s formulaic and disconcerting. Yes, there are many injuries throughout the forward corps but the play in the defensive zone has been the culprit in several losses so far, all to the same kind of systems. Getting the wounded back in the lineup isn’t going to have a major effect on that.
Mikko and Wilson skated back in Denver yesterday. Promising but still no word on when they’ll be back. Landy will see the docs on Monday and perhaps start gearing up for his return. No word on Calvert, as far as we know he’s in protocol but not diagnosed with a concussion.
Burky – Mack – Donskoi
Nichushkin – Kadri – Compher
Nieto – Bellemare – Megna
Tynan – Kamenev – O’Connor
Sam – EJ
Graves – Makar
Cole – Zadorov
Scratch: Barbs, Greer, Jost (UBI)
Injured: Calvert (UBI), Mikko, Landy, Willie (all LBI)
The Wilds inflicted their aggressively boring style for most of the 1st period then the Avs basically fell asleep while the opponent went on a 13-0 run over the course of a few shifts. That earned them some power plays that carried over into P2 and a goal, then another. That plus one shift in the 3rd was the sum total of their offensive output. Otherwise it was clog-o-rama and it worked. The Avs, basically Cale Makar, summoned the energy to get back into the game for a few minutes in the 2nd but that’s about it.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was a +40/-44 and SOGs in all situations favored Minnesota by a similar margin 31-27. The Avs were dominated in scoring chances by 2:1 and scored 1 goal on 1.41 expected, so not a great night for quality and they didn’t do much with what little they generated. Game pace at 5v5 was a laborious 111 shots per hour.
The Avs PP relies on individual playmaking rather than structure, good thing Cale Makar was up for making a play. They went 1 for 2 and the fact they only earned 2 PPs all game says something about what went on. The PK tried their best but came up short killing 3 of 4. Special teams are usually the culprit in losses but that wasn’t the case here.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Donskoi, Compher, Mack, Burky, Kadri then a massive gap down to Nichushkin. In all situations it was Donskoi, Compher, Mack, Burky, Kadri, all over 20 minutes then no one else over 15. Four guys didn’t make it to the 10 minute mark. Yikes.
The defensive regime went Makar, Z, Girard, EJ, Graves and Cole. Overall it was Makar (24+), EJ (21+), Graves (17+), Z (17), Cole (16) and Sam (16). Interesting to note that in crunch time Sam/Makar alternated with Z/EJ fairly evenly until Grubi got pulled.
– Cale Makar now has 7 goals and 18 assists in 22 games. That puts him on pace for 26G and 67A on the season. Again, that’s not going to happen but it’s fun to think about. By the way, he’s tied in points with Artemi Panarin (13th in NHL) so we didn’t need to sign that dude really. He’s 2nd in defenseman scoring behind John Carlson, whose vapor trails are barely visible in the distance, and an 8 point lead on Quinn Hughes in the Calder race.
– This might have been an unavoidable loss but the way it happened falls a lot on the coaching staff. Coach Bednar fully admitted he was overplaying some guys in the post-game presser but that doesn’t excuse it. The Avs don’t do well with top-heavy usage so I have no idea why he keeps doing that. Swapping Kadri and Donskoi was bizarre and ended up making the 2nd line slightly more effective but the 1st much worse. I say this each time it happens but if the coach doesn’t like the players he has then try some new ones. There’s a whole team full of forwards in Loveland, they are not limited to a handful.
The power play wasn’t utilized much and scored a goal so I’ll let Ray Bennett’s incompetency off the hook for once. The PK continues to be a problem along with being a symptom of the larger issue of really poor play in the defensive zone. Puck recapture and breakouts really struggle against teams like Minnesota and no one seems to have an answer. There is one so they better find it quick. This isn’t a personnel issue, it’s structural and fairly chronic.
Sam Girard has taken a lot of heat all season, there’s two reasons for this: he has the most responsibility with the puck out of all the defensemen and he has the puck in the defensive zone more than the other defensemen. I don’t like a lot of the turnovers we’re seeing but neither his teammates nor the coaching staff are helping him out much. Think of him as a bellwether, what he shows is what everyone on D is dealing with. It’s just more obvious with Sam because of volume and situation.
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) other than Makar not really
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) none of either
– Power Play Watchability gets a (+) one up, one down. not bad
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (-) no chance
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) Grubi’s been very good since returning
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) this crew managed the game effectively. Minnesota had the PP edge from working hard while the Avs were not so hard to fault them for much.
Tyson Barrie and the TML soap opera hit town for an early Saturday evening start thanks to HNIC.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals