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Avs Game Analysis

Avalanche Game 33 Plus/Minus: Rodrigues Shines, Girard Stumbles

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Colorado Avalanche, Evan Rodrigues

Going back to work after a nice Christmas break can be tough for everyone. The Colorado Avalanche are no exception.

A sloppy first period put the Avalanche behind the eight ball, and after the Coyotes were able to extend their lead to two, the Avalanche were never able to catch up, falling by a score of 6-3.

There are pluses and minuses in every game, so time to take a look at what stood out for the right reasons…and what stood out for the wrong reasons.

+ Evan Rodrigues

Maybe it was just a good day to be an Evan.

Evan Rodrigues was able to tie the game just 10 seconds into the Colorado Avalanche’s first power play on a bomb from the left circle, but he didn’t stop there. Later in the period, he set up Alexander Newhook for a great look down the slot on a nice pass off the cycle. In the second and third periods, he had great looks in the slot that he just wasn’t able to bury and finished with a team-high six shots. When Rodrigues was on the ice, the Avalanche controlled 68.97% of the shot attempts.

Since returning to the lineup, Rodrigues has four points in six games and has added a much-needed scoring presence to the lineup beyond whatever line Mikko Rantanen is on.

– Samuel Girard

In every game, Sam Girard does a lot well in the transition game to get the Avalanche out of their own end. Those things typically don’t end up on the scoresheet. What he can’t do is make the big mistake, which is what happened on multiple occasions against Arizona. In the first period, he went to catch a puck in the neutral zone and missed it, which led to a Zach Kassian breakaway (that was subsequently stopped). It was very similar to a play that happened in the postseason that burned Girard. If he catches the puck, it’s a great play and kills the transition…but you have to catch the puck.

It didn’t stop there. In the second, the Colorado Avalanche defender fumbled a puck at the offensive blue line that led to an odd-man rush the other way, and on the fifth Coyotes goal, the opposing team worked it around Girard with ease for an easy tap-in goal. Defending a three-on-one is never easy, but you must at least take away one of the options.

+ The Cale Makar/Devon Toews two-man game in the offensive zone

No defensive pair moves in the offensive zone like Makar and Toews, and no pair works as well off each other as these two. This will likely be the focus of an upcoming film room, as the duo gave me ample footage to work with in the first period alone. The Avalanche are difficult to defend with these two on the ice because they are constantly moving in the offensive zone. It didn’t lead to any goals in the first period, but plenty of good zone time. In the third period, they were even dropping the puck to each other in the offensive zone. You never see defensive pairs on opposing teams try this because they aren’t capable of doing it.

The duo might be a little overworked at the moment, but they’re still finding ways to make magic offensively.

– The Fourth Coyotes Goal

The Avalanche did give up some high-end chances to the Coyotes, especially early in the game, but they were coming on strong in the second period as they tried to tie the game up…until J.J. Moser put a shot through traffic that went in and extended their lead back to two. Judging by Alexandar Georgiev’s reaction, he wasn’t happy with the goal either. He looked a little off his angle, protecting the near side and exposing the far side a bit. There was a definite screen, which never helps, but at that time in the game, you need a save, especially on a shot that happens several times a night.

+ Set Face-off Plays

The Avalanche scored not one but two goals off set face-off plays. The Rodrigues goal looked like one the Avalanche had drawn up, as Makar just drew the defender in enough to him to give Rodrigues a wide-open lane to blast it past Ingram. The second goal, coming out of a television timeout, was a sight to behold. A clean face-off win by Rantanen, Compher heading from the right wing spot right to the left wing wall, and feeding a pinching Makar on the back door for a perfect goal. As a coach, you draw those plays up and hope for the best. This one was executed perfectly.

– NHL Christmas Travel Rules

This is hardly an excuse, as only six of the 11 home teams managed to win their games on Tuesday evening, but the NHL’s Holiday Regulations immediately put the road teams at a disadvantage. Because the CBA mandates all NHL teams close shop from Dec. 24-26, the road teams are forced to fly out the morning of the game. This is not a normal game day routine around the NHL and throws off the rhythm of the players, who are very much creatures of habit.

There’s no real reason to jam so many games in the day after the break, but the NHL does it likely because the schedule is so jam-packed they can’t have a day where no games are being played. If it was up to me, every team would get that first day back as a day to practice and travel if needed, then play the next game. It only makes sense.

The Colorado Avalanche head home for a three-game home stand starting on Thursday evening when they host the Los Angeles Kings. The game starts at 7 PM MST.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Adrian Dater, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

This site is in no way associated with the Colorado Avalanche or the NHL. Copyright © 2019 National Hockey Now and Adrian Dater.

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