Well, I’d say not to panic but. … yeah, it’s OK to panic a little. The Colorado Avalanche are now in a best-of-five series with the St. Louis Blues, and the Blues now have home-ice advantage. A flat-line work ethic allowed the Blues to fill the vacuum with more heart and hustle in their 4-1 win at Ball Arena.
The one loss isn’t what I’d panic (a little) the most about, though. It’s the fact that the Blues have a hot goalie in former Cup winner Jordan Binnington, and the Avalanche have a goalie, Darcy Kuemper, who has looked jittery through the first two games.
But this loss wasn’t on any one guy. It was on pretty much every guy wearing burgundy and blue. The Avs just allowed the Blues to outwork them pretty much the entire game.
“We were bad. We were really bad tonight,” Nathan MacKinnon said. “We just didn’t have our jump tonight. But we still feel like we’re a great team. We have to forget about it and move on.”
The Avs’ top guys just didn’t bring it tonight, and Kuemper – though it’s hard to blame him too, too much for the first couple of goals he allowed – he just seemed, yeah, jittery in the game. So far, Binnington has been better than him, and now the pressure is really on to show he can be a money playoff goalie.
Mikko Rantanen went another frustrating night without a goal, and right now the Avs really need him to get something on the board. The same probably can be said about MacKinnon so far in this series. And, Nazem Kadri.
“We got outworked and outskated,” Jared Bednar said. “They were much better and we were (much) worse. Our biggest issue, especially early on, nobody wanted to skate with the puck. … We didn’t move. We made the job easy on them. No speed at the red line.”
Indeed, the Avs just seemed to be content with dump-and-chase hockey. That’s fine sometimes, but you have to go get the puck if you want to just dump it in. You have to have a good forecheck if you want to play that way, and the Avs didn’t.
“There are definitely some tactical things we can change for (Game 3),” Bednar said. “They answered back with a big game. Now, it’s on us to do that too.”
Said Rantanen: “Game 3 – we’ve got to be ready.”
OTHER THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The first Blues goal was deflected off the stick of Sam Girard.
- Should Bednar put rookie Alex Newhook into the lineup for Game 3, maybe give a night off to a Darren Helm, Andrew Cogliano or Nicolas Aube-Kubel? Yeah, I think so. But I’d also be worried that Newhook has been off a little too long by now, and might have some serious rust.
- I might also put Logan O’Connor back in the lineup, too. I’d like to see a little more speed, a little more jam, out of that fourth line.
- MacKinnon and Rantanen have to score goals now, bottom line. Those are the two more talented offensive forwards on the team, and they have to drive the bus now.
- J.T. Compher had a very rough night. Minus-2, no shots, lost 4-of-6 faceoffs.
- Kadri, a minus-2, lost 12-of-20 faceoffs. He needs to respond in Game 3.
- Cale Makar, who had a rare off night, appeared to escape serious injury after going hard into the goal post and having his right leg bent at a bad angle.
- Despite the loss, MacKinnon was in a surprisingly calm and relaxed demeanor after the game with the media. If there was any worry inside with him, he didn’t show it. He was actually fairly expansive with his answers.