A blown game, and judging by the tweets of many of you out there, a lot of blown fuses over it too.
Lots of second-guessing coach Jared Bednar tonight by the fandom, and I can see your arguments. Why did Bednar basically play only four defensemen in the third period in the second of a back-to-back game, especially a game in which the Avs had been shutting out the Hurricanes after two periods?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of answers for you. Bednar’s postgame press conference was pretty brief. We in the press corps did ask the reason why Zadorov was scratched for the third, and the tight-lipped answer that came back was “coach’s decision.”
Probably should have been a follow-up, but there wasn’t, not about Z anyway. Avs won’t have any practice and/or media availability until Saturday’s morning skate, so we’ll have to theorize as to why Z again appears to be in Bednar’s doghouse.
Yeah, @adater that’s not a real answer, that’s a total cop out. Why Bednar does this is beyond me. Never takes any responsibility. Does Bednar just not like Zadorov for some reason? Terrible leadership shown by the coach. He’s supposed to be the leader, not a dictator.
— BHGodlyGovt (@BHGodlyGovt) December 20, 2019
That’s how a lot of my twitter feed looked after the game.
Looking at the raw numbers, it’s hard to see where Bednar would have had such a big problem with playing Zadorov in the third. He had 10 Corsi events for, nine against, in the game. Bednar has benched Z in games before, though, and there was obviously something he didn’t like. Did they have words or something? Did Z say something he shouldn’t have? We’re left to wonder for the moment.
Did that really cost this game, though? I mean, I don’t know, this team was two minutes and 57 seconds away from winning by shutout tonight. If a couple players who should know better just do what they’re supposed to do in those final three minutes, the Avs get a win or, at worst, at least get a point out of it. Instead, they get nothing, one night after a dominant win on national TV.
What I thought was maybe the most puzzling thing about Bednar’s moves tonight were his starting lines up front. Why was Tyson Jost up at left wing on a line with Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky? Why wasn’t Joonas Donskoi on that line? What had Jost done to deserve that? He’d had one point in his previous 13 games entering tonight.
What was Donskoi doing on a line with J.T. Compher and Valeri Nichushkin? I thought none of that worked too well, and contributed to the Avs getting just one goal. Sometimes, yeah, it seems like Bednar tries to fix what isn’t broken, and breaking up what should have been the second line of Burakovsky-Kadri-Donskoi just doesn’t make sense to me.
A tough loss, but keep calm everyone. Just one game. The Avs are ahead of things in the big picture, and they’re still missing Cale Makar, who won’t play Saturday against Chicago either.
They are really missing Makar as far as the first power-play unit goes, even though the Avs did get a PP goal in this one, by Gabe Landeskog. Sam Girard just isn’t getting it done as a PP1 quarterback, not at all. He’s taking too long to make decisions with the puck, and what he’s doing with the puck isn’t very creative. Mostly, he just slides the puck casually from one half-board winger to the other. When he tries to shoot, he takes too long getting it teed up, often getting shots blocked or just weakly near the net. He just does not possess a big, heavy slapper, preferring mostly to kind of try and float a shot to the net. It’s not working.
Girard has been caught running around a bit in his own end lately, too, and turning pucks over more than usual. He was a minus-3 tonight in a 3-1 loss.
Ian Cole had a great game Wednesday in Chicago, but he won’t fondly remember the last three minutes. He was caught kind of running around a bit on the first Carolina goal, and he was caught flat-footed on Carolina’s game-winning goal, after a bad pinch.
Philipp Grubauer? He was great in those first 57 minutes. Like, really great. But it’s a 60-minute game, as coaches are always reminding us. I don’t really pin much blame on Groob for those two goals, though. He had a strong night.
In the end, this team just blew a game, that’s all. It’s how it all came to happen that got Avs Nation in a tizzy.
RAW COPY FROM AVS PR, NOTES AND QUOTES
Colorado LW Gabriel Landeskog
On Tonight’s Game: “We lose a battle on their tying goal. I don’t know what happened on their game-winning goal, they get a 3-on-1. It’s a tied hockey game at home with two minutes to go so we’ll have to take a look at that. It’s disappointing because we played hard last night, had a really good game last night actually. [We] come in here and try and follow it up and we fight and work for the first 40 minutes of the hockey game and it was just kind of up for grabs. We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. That power play gets us one and then you got to be able to finish those games. I mean those are the games that are playoff-type games. That was the team we played and it’s disappointing.”
On Playing Back-To-Back: “It’s tough, but we do it. We do it on numerous occasions throughout the year and
it’s never an excuse. Everybody has back-to-backs so we were excited to come home here in front of our fans, and [we] played hard and then just a few breakdowns there in the last three or four minutes of the game which is disappointing.”
Colorado LW Matt Nieto
On Tonight’s Game: “Unacceptable to let them get those two goals. One is just losing a net-front battle,that’s on the tying goal. Then on the winning goal I don’t know how we give up an odd-man rush like that, you know at that point in the game. Giving up a chance like that even in the first period is bad enough, let alone at that point in the game. Yeah, it’s just really bad.”
On Closing Out Games: “We just need to find ways to close these kinds of games out. Those are points that we’re missing out on now that hopefully don’t bite us in the back at the end of the year. I mean that’s just a tough one.”
Carolina G James Reimer
On Tonight’s Game: “We just found a way to outlast them. It feels good to win those, you know, especially sometimes they don’t go your way. You look at Boston, it was pretty much the exact opposite and so for these guys to keep working, you know the cliché of full 60 minutes, it’s there for a reason. Tonight, we just battled and
battled and stuck with it and battled and grinded and we were able to find a way at the end.”
On The Team’s Confidence: “I think it is just a belief, you know what I mean? You never know what is going to happen, I mean, there are games where you believe and you still don’t get it done. We have that trust in this group that you know, you play the right way, you play the right way and good things happen. Tonight, they did.”
Carolina D Jaccob Slavin
On His Goal: “Obviously our D-zone is something that we take pride in and so we had a good D-zone and then
I saw a chance to jump and so I wanted to be up in the rush. Marty (Carolina C Martin Necas) made a great stretch pass to Wally (Carolina C Lucas Wallmark) there, and obviously, Wally got it on to my tape and I just tried to shoot it as hard as I can. We’ll take it though.”
On Playing In Colorado: “Obviously just being in Colorado, growing up here, being able to play at Pepsi Center,
I mean I remember playing here when I was a little mini-mite out on the ice during intermission. So, to be out
here during the real game and just be able to contribute and obviously get the two points is huge for us.”