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Avalanche Game 34 Plus/Minus: Slow Starts Becoming Trend



Colorado Avalanche, Evan Rodrigues nhl trade

Home ice had been a safe haven for the Colorado Avalanche before Christmas. Now, they’ll have to take back that home ice advantage.

Another slow start hurt the Avalanche at home against the Los Angeles Kings, but this time they combined it with a slow finish, blowing a two goal lead in the third period on their way to a 5-4 shootout loss.

As with every game, you take the good with the bad, so time to take a look at the pluses and the minuses in the game against the Kings.

+ Superstars Did Their Job

The Avalanche may be missing a lot of high end talent right now, but they’ve still got two of the more talented players in the world in their lineup, and that was on display Thursday night.

In the second period, Cale Makar put on a show. It sounds strange to say given his point totals, but we really haven’t seen Makar take over many games this season offensively. He tried to do that against the Kings. He sprung Cogliano for his goal, then gave the Avs the lead with a superhuman effort that we’ve come to know and love. He read the pass from the Kings defender, picked it off, and then fired the puck across his body past Pheonix Copley’s glove hand for his ninth goal of the year.

As if that wasn’t enough, just a few minutes later, he burst into the zone, putting the puck through Phillip Danault’s legs, and wrapping around the net to find Mikko Rantanen, who made an absurd pass to Evan Rodrigues on the backdoor for the easy goal. Rantanen himself had set up Compher for an easy goal earlier in the period.

When you get performances like that from your stars, you should win. Emphasis on should…

– Another Slow Start

For the fourth straight game, the Avalanche gave up the first goal. Even beyond giving up the first goal, they were sleepy in the first period.

They generated very little offense, and a lot of their shot attempts at even strength came from the point, which the Kings had scouted, because none of those shots were making it to the net. The one powerplay they had, they couldn’t even enter the zone with possession.

The team has managed to come back a good bit recently after these slow starts, but missing the firepower that they currently are, they’re not exactly built to play from behind. So much of their offense right now is dependent on the top end players continuing to score, because they aren’t getting much in terms of depth scoring. Time to figure out the slow starts while it’s still relatively early in the year.

+ Finally, A depth goal!

The Avalanche were in desperate need for someone in their bottom six to finally chip in offensively, and they managed to get that from Andrew Cogliano in the second period. Coming down the right wing, he fired a wrist shot past the blocker of Copley and into the net. It was a sight for sore eyes, because recently, if a forward goal hasn’t been scored by one of Rantanen, Lehkonen, Compher, Rodrigues, or Newhook, it probably wasn’t going to happen.

Time for some other players to start chipping in offensively.

– Penalty Kill Picked Apart

The penalty kill for the Avalanche has been significantly better of late, but the Kings managed to pick it apart with ease twice through quick passing, resulting in two pretty easy goals.

The second powerplay goal for the Kings, which happened at the start of the third period, was particularly concerning. A cross ice pass was able to make it’s way all the way from one side of the ice to the other, and even after that, the Kings still had a lane to get the puck to Alex Iafallo, who was wide open in front of the net for the easy goal. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

– Second Pair Beat Again

For the second straight game, the Sam Girard/Erik Johnson pair was out there for two even strength goals against, and both of the goals against the Kings came off the rush.

On the first one, the zone entry by Anderson-Dolan seemed to confuse the Avalanche for just half a second, and when the pass was dropped to Gabriel Vilardi, Johnson was a little slow to react. This resulted in Vilardi having time to release a perfect shot far side to beat Alexandar Georgiev.

The tying goal isn’t all on the defensive pair, as a poor angle in the neutral zone by Cogliano gave the Kings a quick odd man rush. However, on the goal, Girard goes for the poke check, which Walker was able to toe drag around into the high slot before beating Georgiev over his blocker. It was a great play by Walker, but a little too easy from the Avalanche’s perspective. Girard didn’t have the best game against Arizona, and with no Byram or Manson nearing a return, they need better play from him.

– 3 on 3 Overtime Excitement

A loss calls for more minuses than pluses, but this one has less to do with the Avalanche and more to do with overtime in general.

When 3 on 3 first arrived, it was exciting and fun to watch. If you saw a game was going to overtime, you immediately tuned in because anything could happen.

That’s not the case anymore.

Overtime in the regular season is now all about possession, and waiting out a mistake by the other team. Worst of all…it’s boring.

Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s the smart way to play it. Possession certainly gives you more control over what can happen as opposed to the chaos that was 3 on 3 when it was instituted. But that doesn’t mean it’s entertaining to watch.

The first three minutes of the overtime against the Kings consisted of both teams just holding onto the puck, regrouping, and waiting things out. Nothing happened. And that’s unfortunately become the norm the last few years.

The Avalanche will finish out the 2022 calendar year on Saturday night when they take on the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. The game starts at 5 PM MST.

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