Did you hear that Mikko Rantanen is back?
The Hawks sure did.
Mikko is back. Looks like others are getting close too. Burakovsky missed his 2nd game with UBI and no update there. Greer and Dries were returned to the Eagles. Grubi was back in net to finish off the b2b.
Donskoi – Mack – Mikko
Nieto – Kadri – Compher
Nichushkin – Bellemare – LOC
Kamenev – Jost – Tynan
Big Z – Sam
Graves – Makar
Cole – Rosen
Scratch: Barbs, Burky (UBI)
Injured: Landy, Willie, EJ (all LBI), Calvert (concussion)
There were many parallels with Friday’s game but one that didn’t repeat was the Hawks going bananas on shots and possession once the game went into the score effect zone. They had a few good shifts soon after Mack made it 3-1 but the Avs owned the 2nd period in every conceivable way. In contrast to Friday’s officials, last night’s crew decided to go with active reffing in garbage time and just created an unwatchable mess.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was a very light +33/-38 and shots in all situations were a flatfooted tie at 29. The Avs knocked expected goals against down almost 50% from game one at only 1.17 and raised their own by a similar margin to 1.55. It’s subtle and might not mean much but the staff did make adjustments overnight that worked well. Game pace at 5v5 was a glacial 96 per hour. Compare that to the Edmonton game on Wednesday at 135 and you get the idea.
The first power play was a total shitshow and against stronger competition could have meant playing catch-up all night after giving up a shortie. Kadri got it back minutes later with a better PP showing but they were a net 0/4 on the night. PK gave up a 3v5 goal late to go 1/6, which is fine.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Jost, Nuke, Compher, Nieto, Kamenev and Donskoi. Safe to say the top guys got plenty of rest this weekend. In all situations it was Compher (19), Nichushkin (18), Nieto (17), Jost (16), Donskoi (15+) and Bellemare (15+). Mikko was low man at 8:22 at 5v5 and 10:43 overall after taking P3 off.
The defensive regime went Big Z, Sam, Makar, Rosen, Cole and Graves. Overall it was Cole (21+), Z (21), Sam (19), Makar (18+), Graves (17) and Rosen (14+).
The staff gave very light usage to a few players in the 3rd. Mikko took the period completely off but is apparently fine. Mack only played 3 shifts and sat out the final 11 minutes. Donskoi played a couple more special teams shifts but his last 5v5 shift came at the same time. Kadri only played 5 shifts, as did Sam Girard. I like this a lot. JB has had to ride a lot of guys hard over the past few weeks and managing some wear and tear in a blowout is good strategy.
– We haven’t been able to do this in a while so let’s talk about Mikko. Started the day on IR, ended it with a goal and 3 assists. Outstanding. After a couple of rusty shifts, including the terrible power play that started off the game, Mikko got down to work in his office. The Hawks had no answer when he had the puck behind the net as he constantly fed wide open guys in the slot. This allowed him to jump up into the top 5 in points per game at 1.6 so look out NHL he’s got catching up to do. 100 points for the season is still within reach.
– Joonas Donskoi remarked that playing with Mikko is fun and that they get to talk Finnish on the ice and piss Mack off. I think Mack will get over it because he’s not going to be triple-covered all the time. So now we get the potential Hart trophy winner with even more time and space, nice. Donskoi got to finish off a couple of plays and added 2 assists. Add Kadri’s two goals and we have 3 new acquisitions (along with Burky) that have put up 10 goals (and 20 points) before a third of the season has elapsed. That’s hot.
– The Avs are now 2nd in the league in overall goal differential at +22 (Boston is at +32, holy cow). At 5v5 they are +27 which is best in the league as is their 68 goals for and 41 goals against. They dominate at 5v5 and to point out the obvious, it’s mainly been done with important players missing significant time with injuries. Scary.
– Shoutout to Sam Girard for his first NHL fight in a bantamweight bout against Alex Debrincat. We’ve noticed that he’s been more effective with EJ out of the lineup but he’s also been more physical too, which is interesting. I don’t think anyone wants to see him consistently out there colliding with opponents but maybe the physicality, just the right amount, is part of why he’s stepped up his game in EJ’s absence.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) yes!
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) more quality than usual but everything got suppressed except goals
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) yikes, very bad
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) yeah, that was a bit of a turtle in P3
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) Grubi didn’t need to be that great but got it done
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) Like I mentioned above the active reffing in the 2nd half of the game was unnecessary. Both teams wanted to roll their bottom 6 and get out of there so adding game stoppages and special teams play hampered that. At least they gifted Kane a point to keep his scoring streak alive tho.
A few days off then a trip to the center of the hockey universe on Wednesday.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals