This game had potential to be extremely frustrating. The Oilers crushed the Avs 2 weeks ago with Mickey D scoring 3 PPGs and adding 3 assists. We wanted answers, it took nearly half the game but we got them. The Avs excelled in several areas that demonstrate why they are still in a playoff spot despite injury issues and hot streaks from a couple of competitors.
Step right up Erik Johnson, you are the latest casualty in the neverending stream of injuries this Fall. Calle Rosen was called up from the Eagles either to fill in or to perhaps add some puck skill to a defensive lineup that’s been kicked around in the d-zone more often than we’d like. It sounds like this was going to happen whether EJ was able or not. Mikko Rantanen is so close to returning it hurts, look for him Saturday at home vs Chicago. Captain Gabe is skating, which is nice. Things could be close to returning to normal or they could continue to have bad injuries constantly. Fun!
Burky – Mack – Donskoi
Jost – Kadri – Compher
Nieto – PEB – Nuke
Tynan – Kamenev – LOC
Big Z – Makar
Sam – Rosen
Cole – Graves
Scratch: Barbs, EJ (LBI?)
Injured: Mikko, Landy, Willie (all LBI), Calvert (concussionBI)
After an even first period where a slipup by Grubi gave Edmonton the lead, the beginning of the second was pure nightmare fuel. The Avs were given the lead on a silver platter in the form of a 5-minute major and 2 minutes of 5v3… and refused to take it. Luckily Nazem Kadri broke the fever and allowed the good guys to head to the locker room with a tie and 20 minutes to show who they are. Statistically, the 2nd and 3rd periods were very similar. Solid shutdown defense and a fair amount of offensive chances. The difference was 3 goals instead of just one and they rode that to their 14th win of the season.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was a +60/-37 and shots on goal were tilted ridiculously in the Avs favor at 50-20. Quality has been elusive this year but they got that too with an xG margin of +2.77/-1.44, one of their best of the season. Game pace at 5v5 was a screaming 135 per hour
The power play was gross and ineffective at 0/5, nothing new there. The PK stepped up and killed off it’s only chance for a change.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Donskoi, Jost, Kadri, Nieto and Nichushkin. In all situations it was Mack (23+), Donny (21+), Kadri (21), Compher (17), Jost (17) and Nuke (16+). Burky would have been there if he hadn’t sat out the 3rd with injury. Kamenev was low man 5v5 at just over 5 minutes and Tynan low overall at 7:54.
The defensive regime went Makar, Big Z, Sam, Rosen, Cole and Graves. Overall it was Makar (24+), Sam (21+), Z (18+), Rosen (15+), Cole (15+) and Graves (15).
– Makar and Z spent nearly 2/3rds of their time on ice matched up against the McDavid/Draisaitl line, and it worked! Their shot metrics were significantly better against the Oilers top line than against others too. This is the kind of strategic planning I love from Coach Bednar. Makar showed yet another facet of his game that’s top notch and Big Z thrived in a focused role. There’s no doubt in my mind this would have fallen mainly on EJ and Sam without EJ’s absence, probably with results we wouldn’t have liked as much.
– Calle Rosen looked pretty rough in the 1st period, not unexpected for his first game with the Avs and only his 9th NHL game overall. The good thing was that he improved rapidly as he got more and more comfortable with teammates and systems stuff. He played almost exclusively with Sam Girard and they did fine taking up a lot of time vs the Oilers “other” lines. With EJ out for a while this is an opportunity to show that he can hang along with showing the staff that being a shutdown defenseman in 2019 doesn’t mean a 6’3 shotblocker.
– Aside from the top 4 Ryan Graves and Ian Cole were very solid in their roles, making for a badly needed good overall night for the Avs defense. This isn’t a shot at EJ but the way that the staff use him often leads to problems. He gets overplayed and put in roles he’s not best equipped to handle. The team is definitely better with him in the lineup but hopefully his absence allows the staff to re-evaluate how they distribute ice time and situational matchups when he returns. The real test will come vs one of the grindy clubs the Avs have been stymied by all year (not Chicago) but it’s pretty exciting to see a possible solution for their tragic flaw.
– Nate was awesome. Love when he puts the team on his back.
– Burky was hurt, only word is UBI. EJ was put on IR during the game and Sheldon Dries called up this morning. Twas ever thus.
– The only true negative was the power play of course. It’s amazing that a team can go through a 5-minute major and 2 minutes of 5v3 with only 2 shots on goal. It’s also amazing that an incompetent boob like Ray Bennett still has a job after the futility we’ve seen over the past year on PP. Try a Mr Potatohead as coach, try Sam Girard’s dog, anything would be an improvement.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) yes!
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) boatloads of both
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) so terrible, total embarrassment
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) they could have, but they didn’t
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) great game by Grubi, we’ll forgive the cheesy wraparound
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) Called a good game I thought. Too many power plays for the Avs but that can’t be helped I guess.
Home & home with the Hawks on Friday (in Chicago) and Saturday (in Denver)
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals