Avalanche Game 47 Plus/Minus: Girard Shines, Losing to Bad Teams
For two periods, the Colorado Avalanche looked in control of the game.
Then the third period happened.
The six game winning streak for the Avalanche came to an end after they gave up four straight goals to the Anaheim Ducks, including two in 24 seconds in the third period. The team now falls back into a Wild Card spot with the loss, with one game remaining before the All-Star break.
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 Ducks.
+ Sam Girard
His head coach said he played “great”, and he’s not wrong.
Girard looks like he’s starting to find a little bit of the offensive swagger he had before the start of the 21-22 season. For the second game in a row, he led all defenders in shot share at 66.67%, and registered seven shots on goal himself. His goal was a great read to sneak in backdoor, and luckily, MacKinnon was able to find him. He picked up an assist on Rantanen’s goal, and nearly had another when he fed Compher for a chance late at the goal line that didn’t go in. He even put his body on the line to start the third, blocking some big shots before the Ducks were able to break through.
With eight points in his last 11 games, he’s starting to chip in offensively like he used to.
– Pavel Francouz
Francouz did make some nice saves, including a breakaway very early in the game, but the first Ducks goal happened because he couldn’t control a rebound. He didn’t seal the post on the second goal, and the game winner just beat him clean on the blocker side. He’s been great since coming back from injury, but not his best performance, especially with John Gibson standing on his head at the other end of the rink.
– Getting Outworked
For two periods, the Avalanche dominated. This game could have easily been over early, but Gibson kept the Ducks in it. All the Avalanche had to do was keep playing the same way.
Instead, they came out very sluggish in the third period, and didn’t wake up until the Ducks took the lead. Bednar said after the game that the mistakes weren’t mental, but work based instead. Even bad teams can come back if you let them outwork you.
Speaking of bad teams…
– Losing to Bad Teams
Since the Christmas break, the Avalanche have lost in regulation to four of the five worst teams in the Western Conference. The Avalanche surely haven’t been world beaters this season, but losing consistently to bad teams will set you back. The only bad team in the West they haven’t lost to in that stretch is San Jose, and that’s because they haven’t played them.
+ Matt Nieto’s Return
Nieto came back into the lineup and it looked like he never left. He slotted in on the second line and the chemistry was immediately there with Compher and Rantanen. He didn’t pick up a point, but this is the benefit of trading for a guy who knows the system. There’s no learning curve. We also saw that with Nieto and the return of Malgin, the coaching staff was more willing to play the fourth line guys.
– Valeri Nichushkin’s Absence…again
It’s year one of seven in the Nichushkin contract, and you do get a little concerned that he’s having a hard time staying in the lineup.
The Avalanche are 15-3-2 with him in there. Without him, they are 11-15-1. A big difference. Hopefully this All-Star break is a good chance for him to heal up and get right for the stretch run.
– MacDermid and Englund
The two big men did not have good nights. On the game tying goal, MacDermid seemed to go for a big hit, but Terry pulled the puck off the boards and went around him with ease. That was the final shift of the game for the big man. He also got stuck out there on the Ducks second goal.
Englund’s night wasn’t much better, as he had chances in the offensive zone, but made poor decisions with the puck that had them leading to nothing. He didn’t even hit six minutes on the evening.
Their performances really had you wondering how different the defense could look after the All-Star break if Josh Manson and Bowen Byram are ready to return.
+ Denis Malgin
I do think the team benefits from having a skill guy like this in the bottom six. He’s able to hold onto the puck and make plays that other guys might not be able to. It helps the Avalanche keep possession in the zone, which they haven’t been able to do with guys like Blidh and Kaut on the fourth line. He looked solid, and picked up an assist on the Rantanen powerplay goal.
– Cale Makar
It’s not often you have Makar in the minus section, but even he was very critical of himself after the game, saying he “played brutal”. We’ll chalk this one up to rust for now…
– Evan Rodrigues
Poor passes and bad decisions with the puck led to Rodrigues getting moved down to the third line to start the third period. That’s the second time in a few games that has happened. After a great run, he’s slowed down a bit. He took a big hit in the first period and looked a little shaken up from that point on.