On the one hand, the Avs looked as rusty as a door hinge in outdoors Seattle. On the other hand, I thought they played a pretty damn good hockey game for a team that hadn’t played in 13 days and was missing four regulars from the lineup. We’re beyond moral victories with this team, at this stage, though. In the end, it was a loss and nobody cares if they were able to hang with the Vegas Golden Knights despite the shortcomings.
I’ll try to take the positives out of the night overall, though, including:
- Avs outshot Vegas 30-24, despite getting only one, count ’em, one, power play. Vegas got three. Included among the Avs’ six penalty minutes was a ridiculous interference call on Conor Timmins, on a play in which he literally was just into by the Vegas player. AND, replays showed Vegas had too many men on the ice when the call was made. Terrible officiating in this game, I thought. Avs should have had one or two more power plays, minimum.
- Nathan MacKinnon started to skate a lot better as the game went along. He, along with the rest of the team, looked rusty at the start.
- Jared Bednar said, after the game, that Cale Makar could play Tuesday. I feel like if the Avs had a Makar tonight, they might have at least gotten a point.
- Bednar also said he expects all three players on the Covid list – Landeskog, Jost and Girard – to be available Saturday in the outdoor game at Lake Tahoe.
- Philipp Grubauer looked strong in net, especially in that first period in which Vegas clearly was the better team. The one goal that beat him, from Max Pacioretty, just kind of snuck past him up high. A reporter asked Grubauer if he was screened on the shot, or if it was just a good shot. “It was just a goal. Next question,” Grubauer said.
- Adam Werner was listed as the backup goalie for tonight, even though Bednar said the other day that Hunter Miska is the team’s backup right now. Does anyone know who the real backup is?
- Jacob MacDonald, I thought, played well. He hit the post on a shot in the third period. Just bad luck, again.
- Bednar said this was Ryan Graves’ “best game of the season” and I agree.
As for some of the less-than-positive aspects of the game:
- Avs were too fancy with the puck at crucial times, especially in that last minute or so of the game, when Grubauer went off for the extra skater. This was something Bednar bemoaned somewhat after the game. “We could have shot the puck more at times,” he said. Bednar said he often is telling his players to “shoot, shoot, shoot” more on the bench in games. But he also said that he “trusts” his players when they’re trying to make plays. It’s a fine line. Overall, though, you can’t try to be too perfect against a goalie like Marc-Andre Fleury. Bednar said, and I agree, that you have to pepper a guy like Fleury and basically just go with the odds of putting more actual pucks on him than trying to make the perfect play.
- Timmins was on the ice for the goal against – even though it came on the side in which Devon Toews was guarding, and I thought Toews backed off of Pacioretty a little too much. But Timmins also was called for two separate minors – even though the interference call was bad. Yet, this was the kind of game in which Bednar can easily use as an excuse to bury Timmins on the depth chart moving forward. The hard fact is, guys like Timmins don’t get a ton of leeway on a competitive roster like this.
- The third line, of Nichushkin, Compher and Donskoi, also was on the ice for the goal against and pretty invisible offensively.
- Bottom line: this game seemed like a scheduled loss from the get-go. It went a little better than I thought it would, stylistically, for the Avs, but a loss is a loss. Let’s just move on to Tuesday.