Avalanche Game 39 Plus/Minus: Penalty Kill, Puck Management Issues
As Cale Makar said after the game, it’s not fun to play from behind. The Colorado Avalanche have made a habit of it lately.
The full 60 minute effort the Avalanche put forth on Saturday against Edmonton was a distant memory. They were outplayed handily for two periods by the Florida Panthers on their way to a 5-4 loss, their sixth in seven games.
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 Panthers.
– Penalty Kill
You can say what you want about the penalties that were called, and the penalties that weren’t. Sometimes, you just need to kill a penalty.
The Avalanche did not do that against Florida.
The Panthers only got two power plays, but that’s all they needed, scoring on both. The first goal was a quick developing play off a dump in. Sam Girard couldn’t handle the deflection off the board from Andrew Cogliano, and Erik Johnson failed to cover the pass for an easy Panthers goal.
The second powerplay was survival for the Avalanche penalty killers, and they weren’t able to make it. The play was in the zone for 1:38 of the 1:50 of the powerplay, ending with Tkachuk whacking home the game winner.
And whack away he did. Tkachuk was able to get four whacks at the puck without resistance from Avalanche defenders before the goal.
That’s now five goals given up on the penalty kill in the last three games. Even strength defense was an issue against Florida as well, but a single penalty kill could have gotten the Avalanche at least a point. They need all the points they can get right now.
– Puck Management
Team defense is a major issue right now, but when you give the team the puck, you only make it harder on yourself.
An errant Evan Rodrigues pass started the Panthers breakout on the first goal. Erik Johnson turned it over off the rush on the second goal. Girard couldn’t corral the puck on the third goal.
It wasn’t just the turnovers that led to goals, either. The top players on the Avalanche did not have good nights with the puck. The first shift of the second period, everyone was cheating to exit the zone. That allowed the Panthers to keep the Avalanche hemmed in for well over a minute.
There are injures on this team that make them noticeably weaker. That is obvious. But there’s still too much talent in the lineup for games like this to happen.
The turnovers were not there against Edmonton. Against Florida, they were very evident.
+ Kurtis MacDermid Performance Wasted
Led the team in shot share at even strength. Picked up a primary assist on not one, but two goals. And managed to get the crowd back into the game with a fight in the second period.
I’m not sure you can get a game with more production from MacDermid, and it all went for naught.
– Evan Rodrigues’ night
I’ve been laying on the praise for Rodrigues, and he has deserved it. Tuesday, however, was not his night.
His puck management in particular was below average. A blind pass in the offensive zone helped lead a breakout for the Panthers on the first goal. His moves were not working, as the Panthers took the puck off his stick multiple times throughout the night.
To make matters worse, after getting tripped into the boards early in the game, he didn’t appear to be himself. After every whistle, and even in the middle of plays, you could see him flexing his ankle and moving it around. The concern is now how he’ll feel tomorrow.
Tough game aside, he makes the team better, so hopefully it’s just a stinger and doesn’t get worse overnight.
A lot has been made about how much the Avalanche have been playing their top players.
Against Florida, it looked kind of obvious. Makar played his third straight game with over 30 minutes of ice time. A few times he was trying to cheat to exit the zone for a break.
Devon Toews might be the player most effected by the heavy workload. Not only is he dealing with heavy minutes on the ice, but with a newborn child at home, there probably isn’t a lot of rest to be had. On the first goal, he was just outworked on a dump in. We didn’t see that the past two years.
Even Compher looked tired on the last penalty kill.
Fatigue leads to mistakes. Unfortunately, the Avalanche are having to overuse their top players because they just aren’t getting enough from the rest of the roster.