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.
BENN JUST WENT DOWN pic.twitter.com/YKJFOOxhDZ
— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) November 22, 2022
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.
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
- 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,