Thanks to the bye week we have a chance at doing a single-game breakdown, unfortunately it wasn’t a great game to do so. After 12 days off some rust is expected but oddly the Avs looked great in the opening 12 minutes. Then the issues cropped up and gradually got worse as time went on. Some of that can be attributed to not being up to game speed but the chronic problems of special teams inconsistency, inability to deal with strong forechecks and the struggle to come back while trailing late in games were on display as usual. Net result is a 6-3 loss in a game that should have been fairly even.
Joonas Donskoi returned to the lineup after missing 5 games with a concussion. Vlad Kamenev took a seat to accommodate. Evan Rawal from DNVR got the scoop on Colin Wilson’s injury melange, which turns out to be multiple surgeries on both upper and lower body problems. His return this year is very much in doubt. Adam Werner sustained some sort of injury with the Eagles last week and is out “for the time being” so the Avs have only 2 healthy goalies under contract right now.
Landy – Mack – Mikko
Nuke – Kadri – Burky
Calvert – PEB – Compher
Nieto – Jost – Donskoi
Sam – EJ
Graves – Makar
Cole – Big Z
Scratch: Barbs, Kamenev
Philly played the night before so this was a rust vs tired affair. The Avs came out smokin’ hot and dominated play for the first half of the 1st period but had little to show for it. Philly scored a deflating goal on their 3rd SOG of the game then a double minor on Mack allowed them to go up by two right as time was expiring. The teams combined for 3 goals in just over 2 minutes to open P2 and that was about it for the Avs. The 2nd half of P2 was all Flyers with Colorado constantly trapped in their own zone. The 3rd started back-and-forth then Philly capitalized on a hideous turnover to go up 4-2. The endgame was the Avs flailing around undangerously in the offensive zone and the Flyers scoring a shortie and an ENG.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was a +40/-38 in shot attempts and the Avs outshooting them 31-28 in all situations. Colorado had 1 goal on 1.76 expected while Philly had 3 on 1.6 so the Flyers were the finishers. Game pace at 5v5 was a very slow 107 per hour.
The power play scored a goal in 3 chances but also gave up a shortie. The PK let one in 3 minutes into a double minor but shut the other 4 chances down.
The top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Mikko, Gabe then a big gap down to Donskoi, Kadri and Nieto. In all situations it was Mack (21:31), Mikko, Gabe, Compher, Kadri and Bellemare. Matt Calvert was low man with 8 minutes 5v5 (had some missed shifts in the middle of P2) and Tyson Jost low overall at just under 10.
The defensive regime at 5v5 went Makar, Sam, EJ then a gap down to Cole, Graves and Z. Overall it was Makar (22+), EJ (21+), Sam (20), Graves (20), Cole (17) and Big Z (14).
It’s a rare night when Nathan MacKinnon has more PIMs than SOGs but there we were. If you’re looking for a culprit then check out defensive usage. When he was with Sam & EJ he was in the 70’s for shot share, with Makar & Graves it was in the 30’s. Hmmm.
The staff are genuinely trying to improve both special teams with little success so far. On the power play the reloads are glacially slow with players standing stock still at the blueline waiting for the zone entry. Once they set up there’s more standing around and little variety in their plays. Last night one of the plays worked, which is great, but consistency is what I’m looking for and that’s been elusive.
The staff seem to be more aggressive in improving the penalty kill, at least structurally. For most of the season they’ve used a fairly collapsed triangle in front of the net with the two forwards rotating pressure. Last night they were trying more of a diamond with only one defenseman sitting back instead of both. On the double minor in P1 it was ugly with the forward pressure not quick enough and the royal road wide open. Worst of both worlds but understandable with trying something new. As the game progressed the middle got shut down better at least but net-front coverage was slow and dangerous. This shouldn’t be that hard, penalty killing isn’t rocket science and most teams have simple systems that work fine. All season I’ve gotten the feeling that the PKers (especially defensemen) are thinking too much about where they are supposed to be instead of using their instincts. Nolan Pratt was able to fix this last year after being stubborn for far too long, what I want to see is progress in that direction and it’s not there right now.
Ryan Graves has been a good story all year. Had to win a job in camp, did that and now is being used as a top-pairing defenseman. He blocks shots and shoots from the point, two things the Avs coaches love. I tend to think this usage hurts the team in the long run though. It’s hard to parse out what effect he has individually and what falls on playing with Cale Makar since they’re out there together and with the top line a lot. I keep going back to the question I asked last week, would you rather have Nikita Zadorov facilitating Makar’s creative abilities or Cale Makar facilitating Ryan Graves shots from the point? It’s obviously not as simple as that but when you see the top line struggle and Makar’s point production tail off since paired with Graves it really makes one wonder. I don’t think this is the direction the team should go in with the skill they have and it’s based on some flawed premises.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) not quite
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) nathan on either
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) some good, some bad, not enough
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (-) turtling while trailing is an interesting twist
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (-) a little rust and some horrifying play in front of him but still not a great game for Groob
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) called an even game even though Philly was dominating for most of the 2nd half so Flyers fans might have an issue here.
A couple days to regroup before taking on the Sabres.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals