A goal 25 seconds in from your superstar forward is usually a good omen.
After Nathan MacKinnon burst through the Golden Knights defense and fired a puck over Logan Thompson’s glove hand, things looked peachy for the Avalanche. The game would soon turn on the Avalanche, mainly off a horrendous second period, and they would fall 3-2.
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 Golden Knights.
+ The Top Line
It’s a good thing Nathan MacKinnon is back, because the top line was the only bright spot for the Avalanche offensively.
MacKinnon got the party started early, but the entire line played a role in the goal. Artturi Lehkonen started it with a great cross-ice breakout pass to Mikko Rantanen. Rantanen then chipped it to a speeding MacKinnon, who wired it over Thompson’s shoulder.
MacKinnon would be responsible for some of the only chances the team would get in the second period. Lehkonen was a workhorse all night long. Rantanen continues to score at will.
In the third, it felt like the line never left the ice (MacKinnon played a whopping 11:08). They had to, because they didn’t get much of anything from the other lines.
— Second Period
The second period was so bad that it deserves multiple minuses.
The team simply wasn’t able to get any momentum, and a lot of that was because of unforced errors.
You had players like Cale Makar forcing the puck up the middle. Andrew Cogliano taking an offensive zone penalty. Lines two through four couldn’t get out of their own end. It was ugly.
In the end, Vegas scored two goals, controlled 73.33% of the shot attempts, and had eight high danger chances compared to the Avalanche’s one. It could have been a lot worse, but Alexandar Georgiev held Vegas down as much as he could.
With the injuries, the margin for error is very small for this team. A second period like that is unacceptable.
– Lines 2-4
Lines two through four got caved in.
Outside of Alexander Newhook, it was ugly. The other eight forwards saw their shot share either land at or below 31.25%.
That means those lines spent the entire evening defending, and very little time in the offensive end.
Only Martin Kaut, J.T. Compher, and Denis Malgin ended up with an even strength shot on net. Just not good enough.
– Another Injury
Evan Rodrigues was at morning skate, and appeared to be fine.
Apparently, he was not.
Rodrigues was a late scratch, and is currently listed as day to day (the standard Avalanche injury). He got dinged up at the end of the Maple Leafs game and wasn’t able to go against Vegas.
His presence was severely missed. As noted above, there was little to no shot generation from lines two through four, something Rodrigues specializes in, and the transition game was non-existent.
The team has to hope it’s not a major injury, because Rodrigues has helped keep the secondary scoring afloat since coming back in the middle of December.
+ Alexandar Georgiev
It hasn’t been a pretty stretch for Georgiev since Christmas, but despite giving up three goals, he played well.
He made a big breakaway save in the first period after a Makar turnover, and had to stand on his head for most of the second period just to keep the Avalanche close.
The save percentage won’t look very pretty, but he played well despite facing a lot of high danger chances.
The Avalanche will practice on Tuesday afternoon in Denver. Stay tuned to CHN for any updates.