The Avs win streak finally came to an end on Wednesday (although road win and point streaks are still intact) against the Ducks. There’s plenty of blame to be passed out if that’s your thing, basically it was dumb luck. The depleted Avs hit 5 posts and lost with less than 2 seconds left in overtime. No big deal.
Most teams are dealing with multiple injuries right now and the Avs are no exception. In the short term there’s no hope on the horizon so the staff has to make do with what’s left. Mikko, Kadri, Calvert and Grubi are still on injured reserve along with chronic scratch Colin Wilson. Cale Makar and Andre Burakovski are day-to-day but not close. Martin Kaut was demoted to the AHL after the loss for reasons I’ll get into later.
Landy – Mack – Namestnikov
Nieto – Compher – Donskoi
Nichushkin – Jost – Kaut
Kamenev – Bellemare – LOC
Graves – Sam
Cole – EJ
Big Z – Barbs
Scratch: Burky (LBI), Makar (?BI)
Injured: Mikko, Kadri, Calvert, Grubi, Willie
There was an extreme amount of bench-shortening in this one and obviously it didn’t pay off. Tale of the tape:
Nikita Zadorov: Last shift at 12:48 of P2
Vlad Kamenev: Last shift at 17:52 of P2
Logan O’Connor: One shift after 17:52 of P2
Martin Kaut: One shift after 3:20 of P3
These are all trust related benchings to various degrees. Not trying to make the case that playing these guys would have made a difference but rather showing the mentality of the coaching staff. Zadorov had an awful game and was on-ice for all 3 goals in regulation, they’d seen enough. That makes sense. The others are the three least experienced players and haven’t earned the opportunity to help the team later in games. If the staff want to lose to a bad team playing unwatchable low-event hockey it’s their prerogative.
Over the past month the Avs have moved from the top scoring team in the league to a Dallas/St Louis clone where defense is all that matters. The thinking is that this is how they have to play to win in the playoffs but I have my doubts. Maybe when they get some skill back in the lineup they open it up again, one really has to hope so because they aren’t built to win 2-1 games every night. The Avs are built to control play in the neutral zone and skate teams to death on rush chances. When play slows down in either the offensive or defensive zones they are at a disadvantage. Changing up their style is slightly bizarre at this point. Either the staff are trying to broaden the ways they can be effective or they don’t have faith that what the team does best so they’re trying to reinvent how they play in the last third of the season. If the Avs end up with a disappointing result this season by neglecting their strengths there will be a lot of second guessing over the summer.
Martin Kaut was sent back to the Eagles yesterday in favor of Sheldon Dries. Word on the street is that they did not want Kaut to reach 10 NHL games this season and activate his entry level contract. Theoretically this is a cost and cap saving move down the road. I would be hypocritical to blast this move while praising other long-term strategies they’ve made this year, most notably not mortgaging the future at the trade deadline. I’m going to pick at this one anyway because first of all I don’t think it’s going to affect the cap in the future in a positive way. Negotiating at age 23 rather than age 22 will be more expensive in all likelihood so I don’t believe in the cost savings. Basically it makes one season cheaper and the rest not. It definitely punts the decisions and negotiations a year further out which is something the Avs love to do. Second, this puts the Avs in a spot where no matter what they can’t call Kaut up again this season, regular or playoffs, without looking like idiots. This is a statement that an incremental cap gain in three years means more than what’s going on this year. Not a great look. Third, and most of all, I’m not a fan of this because it makes the current team worse. No offense to Sheldon Dries who’s bounced back with a strong season for the Eagles, but we know what he is and that’s not an NHL player. If we consider the current lineup the weakest it’s been all season then they’ve just made a move to hurt the team even more for administrative reasons. As a fan that really doesn’t sit well with me. It’s being penny-wise and pound-foolish and whether it makes a difference or not it’s got poor optics. Kaut is one of the top 12 available forwards and having him play elsewhere is a ripoff.
Both of these seem like fairly negative taeks on a team that hasn’t lost in regulation in 3 weeks and has gone 12-2-2 in it’s last 16 games, which is a great thing. Our perspective has changed so much in three years, hasn’t it? Whatever happens they keep right on winning. Whatever issues we have with the team aren’t manifested in lambasting them for making us sit through terrible loss after terrible loss, they are rooted mainly in fears that they might fall short of the Stanley Cup they can definitely win this year.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) welcome back Nate
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) not bad on either, damned posts!
– Power Play Watchability gets a (+) 2 for 3, holy cow
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) turtle while down a goal, cheeky move
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) oh yeah, Frankie’s still good
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) a little light on the calls but I’ll take it
Vancouver tonight. Oh boy, Makar vs… aw shit.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals