SAN FRANCISCO – Hello from the airport in San Francisco. First day in 50 days I don’t have an “Edmonton, Alberta” dateline. Feels weird, but also feels good to be on the way home. My third flight of the day is in about 70 minutes, so I wanted to get this in quick. I talked to my friend and longtime hockey analyst, former coach and GM Pierre McGuire for his take on the Avalanche’s just-concluded series.
I think Pierre is brilliant at what he does, and will brook no dissent on that.
“The Avs gave everything they had. They just ran out of bodies,” McGuire told me. “No Johnson, no Grubauer, Donskoi, Calvert and then Landeskog and Timmins. You are out of enough bodies.”
I agree that injuries played a major factor in the crushing, seven-game loss to Dallas. The loss of Erik Johnson was huge, I thought, and contributed to the Avs being hemmed in their own zone a lot more than they might have. That isn’t taking anything away from the Stars. They seemed able to impose their will physically on the Avs when they wanted, at least in tight games. That was especially the case in the final 10 minutes of the third period of Game 7, I thought.
Losing Landeskog for Game 7 was another big blow. You don’t just lose your team captain for a winner-take-all game and suffer no consequence. With or without the injuries, McGuire also had this to say:
“They learned a big lesson about the importance of puck management, especially in Game 7. They are an explosive offensive team that is still learning what it takes,” McGuire said. “They remind me a bit of the old Red Wings team that had to lose a couple of times before they really started to pile-drive teams, and win with consistency. They are set down the middle with MacKinnon, Kadri and Compher. When Alex Newhook joins them, it might move Compher to the wing.
“The defense is solid and will get better when (Bo) Byram joins the team. The only spot that really needs an upgrade is in goal. This would be a great time to do it, as the goalie market will be swamped.”
Indeed, there have been murmurs that the Avs may be looking at a deal for Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray at some point. The Avs would have to move either Philipp Grubauer or Pavel Francouz if that were to happen, as both are signed through next season. But I’ve definitely heard that the Avs have had interest in Murray – a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pens – for a little while.
More on this and other off-season stuff – that still hurts to say – another time soon. Gotta head to the gate soon.