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Avs Game Analysis

Dater: Avalanche Getting Serious Again About Defense

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Avalanche

Since the end of the first period in Washington the other night, the Colorado Avalanche look again like they are serious about the defensive side of the game.

And that is to take nothing away from the goaltending of the Avalanche, which now looks like the best in the league again with the 1-2 punch of Alexandar Georgiev and Pavel Francouz.

Georgiev again stood tall in the Avalanche net in the team’s 3-2 shootout victory tonight in Dallas, completing a three-game sweep on a three-game road trip. But unlike most every other start in his season, Georgiev didn’t have to stand on his head to get the victory. The Avalanche defense pretty much shut down a Dallas team that came in feeling pretty good about themselves, as the first-place team in the Central Division.

Other than a bit of an exhalation of the bowels of the brain in the final minute, when the Avalanche couldn’t clear the puck and it led to a somewhat gift tying goal in regualtion, the Avalanche defense was dominant in this victory.

The Dallas lead doesn’t figure to last long, as they have only a two-point lead now, with the Avalanche having two games in hand. But, was anyone really worried about the Dallas Stars unseating the defending Stanley Cup champs in any way this year? Not me.

The Avalanche not only beat the Stars, Josh Manson beat up Jamie Benn. What a nice sight that was for Avalanche fans, the most hardcore of which remember his many cheap shots against the team over the years.

Defensively, the Avalanche had been allowing the sixth-most shots against in the league – 34.2 – while getting 32.3 for. That’s far too many for Jared Bednar’s taste, but let’s give the team a bit of a mulligan, with all the injuries to the roster.

One thing you can always do as a hockey team, though, no matter how short-handed: you can check the hell out of the opponent and make things as difficult as possible. All it takes is hard work, and for a few games, you got the impression that lesson wasn’t quite being properly admimistered by the existing roster.

Against the Capitals for the final two periods, and for all three periods tonight, the Avalanche showed a total commitment to checking in all three zones.

And, it was nice to see Alex Newhook keep digging his way out of Jared Bednar’s doghouse, with a goal that made it 2-1. He was terrific on this road trip, and after having a come-to-Bednar meeting beforehand.

Superstreak Bonus!

It’s clear that this team still wants to win. Sure, there will be some off nights from here ’til next spring. But on nights like tonight, you saw that the Avalanche are still the team to beat in the NHL, the champions until proven otherwise.

And now, Cale Makar: Fastest in NHL history to get to 200 points as a defenseman. Here’s proof:

FASTEST DEFENSEMEN TO 200 POINTS, NHL HISTORY 

195 GP Cale Makar 

207 GP Sergei Zubov 

211 GP Brian Leetch 

212 GP Phil Housley 

216 GP Mark Howe 

216 GP Bobby Orr 

NOTES

  • Colorado scored a power-play goal for the sixth straight contest, a season long stretch of consecutive games  with a power-play goal. The Avs are 7-for-24 (29.2%) over that stretch and 20-for-58 (34.5%) this season, the  top-ranked power-play unit in the NHL. 
  • The Avs were 1-for-1 on the penalty kill and have killed 13 of their last 14 times shorthanded. Colorado is 20-for 24 (83.3%) on the penalty kill in the month of November, ranked eighth in the league over that span. 
  • Artturi Lehkonen extended his career best point streak to seven games and has collected eight points (4g/4a)  over that stretch. 
  • Alex Newhook extended his point streak to three games,
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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Trenton Dunn

Championship caliber teams are resilient / difficult to play against. This group has pure guts and the right stuff. For a solid year now they’ve shown the ability to make life hell for any opponent in the league. They don’t always make winning look pretty, but are consistently very difficult to beat.

Karl Keen

Manson is now an Avalanche legend.

solid win by the boys

dp10

No kidding. That knock-down was years in the making. I guess you really shouldn’t mess with someone named Manson.

Alexander A.

No choice to be serious about the defensive side of the game with only one line which works at 5 vs 5. And without great performance on PP, the statement is completely different about the ranking.

ricoflashback

Wrong on multiple accounts. All four lines contributed last night. If it wasn’t for the Star’s goalie standing on his head, this would have been an Avs blowout. Newhook is finally using his speed and avoiding checks a la Byram. I’m very happy for him and his new found success. Moving him to a wing was the best move for him. There was a real commitment to defense by the entire Avs team in terms of simple clear outs and heavy forechecking. With five or six starters out, it’s amazing that the Avs have been able to fill that many… Read more »

Dwayne Hall

Jamie Benn – aka Butthead (if Tyler Seguin had blonde hair, he’d be Beavis). Living here in DFW I’ve had to endure more than my fair share of seeing this dude. I told my son after that fight if the Avs lost, I’d still feel ok about the night seeing him dropped like he was.

Glendon Gulliver

The Avs won the Cup with a smothering defense that created offensive chances by playing great defense. Last year the team was most dominant when they were able to hold the opposing team to around 25 SOG. The Avs are a better team when they win 3-1 than hoping to come out on the right side of a 5-4 win. When everyone was healthy going into the playoffs last year, you had a bottom 6 that was a 3rd line of Newhook-Compher-Aube-Kubel and a 4th line of Cogliano-Helm-O.Connor. When everyone is healthy this year, those lines will be reunited, with… Read more »

GWood

There were years of frustration packed into that blast of Been’s face. Karl Keen is right, MANson is now an Avs legend. Avs should show that hit in a loop all season and never let those green colored weirdos forget it… What a night, loved every second of it.

Mark Bansbach

A few years ago when the Avs were playing the Stars in the playoffs there was Benn taking liberties on Avs players and nobody stood up to him. Having guys like Manson and Macdermid keeps guys like Benn honest and hold them accountable. Exactly why fighting should always be a part of the game. Holding bullies accountable, old school style.

peter martin

Tough guys are belittled by the pocket calculator, new-NHL folks. But we all saw during last year’s playoff run, toughness is the key to a winning formula. The refs let more things go in the post season, so you need guys willing to sell out, do anything, to win!

JD16

Calling it. MacK will have a hatty against Dallas the next time they play.

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