TAKEAWAYS FROM AVALANCHE VICTORY OVER PHILADELPHIA
- It’s official: the Avs are a first-place team again. The win over the Flyers vaulted them to the top of the Central Division, one point ahead of St. Louis.
- The Avs have at least a point in the last eight games (7-0-1).
- Things just come a lot easier when you’ve got all the big dogs in your lineup, at least offensively. The Avs weren’t especially great offensively in this one, but a mega-talent like Mikko Rantanen can make that not matter. He just lurks about all the time with that lethal shot of his, and he scored two of the team’s first three goals in the game.
- Rantanen looks quicker on his feet again. The first few games into his return, his foot speed seemed a bit slower still.
- Rantanen’s first goal came when he one-timed Gabe Landeskog’s saucer pass past Carter Hart, late in the second period. That goal seemed to really deflate the Flyers, who had been carrying play mostly to that point in the period.
- Pavel Francouz? Outstanding in goal for the Avs. The Flyers got some really good looks with the puck, but Francouz made some top-notch saves. Francouz is now 8-2-1 on the season.
- Frankie really had some quick pads in this one too. Very fast reflexes on many shots.
- Francouz lost the shutout with 5:12 left, when Claude Giroux scored after the Avs lost sight of the puck a bit and left the front of the net vacated.
- Nazem Kadri returned, and centered a line between Rantanen and Landeskog. Kadri had practiced the day before with Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi.
- I’ll say this about Kadri: He’s got a very heavy shot. How that is defined is tricky, but the puck just looks, well, heavier than many others.
- Philipp Grubauer did skate Wednesday morning, but afterward he was deemed not healthy enough to suit up, so Adam Werner got the Uber ride from Loveland to be the backup.
- It was not a pleasant morning at Eagles offices. In the morning, the Wall Street Journal reported of former player Akim Aliu, who is from Nigeria, sharing the story of a 2011 team party in which longtime equipment manager Tony Deynzer posed for a picture in blackface in with him. Aliu said the incident scarred him and contributed to a career downfall. Because Deynzer is considered an employee of the Avalanche, the team announced it had placed Deynzer on administrative leave pending further investigation. The Avalanche was not affiliated with the Eagles in 2011. The Eagles, who claimed no prior knowledge of the photo or the incident itself, issued a public apology to Aliu.
- On the official scorer’s sheet, Valeri Nichushkin and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare were awarded the assists on Matt Calvert’s goal, but the first assist clearly should have gone to Calle Rosen, whose shot from the point hit the post and was backhanded home by Calvert.
- I really liked the game Andre Burakovsky played, even though he didn’t get anything on the score sheet. He was heavy on the puck in the corners and really backchecked well.
- Cale Makar skated in the morning, but with the non-contact jersey again and he didn’t shoot and pucks. Jared Bednar said he is doubtful for Friday’s game with New Jersey.
- Donskoi was shaken up just prior to Giroux’s goal, appearing to take a pop to the face. He played on, however.
- The line of Calvert , Nichushkin and Bellemare were outstanding, really possessing the puck a lot and getting chances.
- The Avs did a “what’s the dumbest question you’ve ever been asked?” segment between whistles. A former Av came up to me after the game and said “Every question by Dater.” I’ll get revenge.
- Francouz called the second period, which the Flyers outshot the Avs 17-5 “fun.” “That’s what I’m here for,” he said.
- Rantanen, named the game’s No. 2 star, redirected the praise to Francouz. “He’s only in his first year, but he doesn’t play like it.”
- Rantanen said the Avs “battled through” the second period, with Francouz doing the heavy lifting.
- Jared Bednar said he “loved our start. We were the team winning the races. Second period, it was the exact opposite.”
- On being back in first place, Bednar said, “That’s where we want to be at the end of the year.”
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