The first period of the Colorado Avalanche/Tampa Bay Lightning matchup seemed to indicate we were in for a hard fought battle between two good teams.
Then the second period happened.
The Avalanche failed to capitalize on any of their chances while the game was close, and the Lightning pulled away very quickly in the second. Vasilevsky was unbeatable in net, as he is a lot of nights, and the Lightning shut out the Avalanche by a score of 5-0.
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 Lightning.
— Special Teams Mess
The Lightning could have very easily scored early in their first powerplay if not for Alexandar Georgiev. He kept them off the scoresheet as long as he could, until Corey Perry was somehow left all alone in front of him. Both Erik Johnson and Devon Toews went up high, and Perry had all the time in the world to move around Georgiev to open the scoring.
The Lightning added another powerplay goal in the second period, and their penalty kill (and Vasilevsky) shut the Avalanche down. The first powerplay for the Avalanche was so bad that the top unit was pulled off the ice pretty quickly.
The first 30 minutes of the game were decided by special teams. The Lightning scored on their chances, and the Avalanche did not. Pretty simply.
— That Second Lightning Goal
This goal will almost certainly be the top of the Turning Point tomorrow, because it was a disaster. Sam Girard stopped skating and tried to just reach for the puck. Devon Toews stopped skating as well. Mikko Rantanen tripped over Hagel’s skates. Cirelli just straight up outworked two Avalanche players to create the goal. The game turned at that moment, as it was a comedy of errors.
– No Finish
It looked like the Avalanche had found their scoring touch prior to the break.
They’ve lost it the last two games.
They’ve scored one goal on 72 shots, and that game came in a four on four situation. 5 on 5 scoring has been an issue for the majority of the season, and the team will not make it very far if they can’t figure that out. They aren’t the only guys to call out, but Logan O’Connor hasn’t scored in 38 games now. Meanwhile, Valeri Nichushkin has just one even strength goal in his 22 games.
+ No Change in the Standings
The Avalanche jumped over the Wild last night in the standings, and they won’t lose any ground even with this loss. The Wild got pounded by the Golden Knights, and Calgary Flames lost to the Detroit Red Wings.
I understand the Avalanche don’t look like the same team as they were last year, but the Western Conference is a mess. Any team that gets in has a chance, because the teams are all flawed.
– Nathan MacKinnon
MacKinnon was the best player on the ice against Pittsburgh. Against Tampa, he didn’t have any jump and his decision making wasn’t the best.
The Lightning do deserve a lot of credit, because they slowed the Avalanche down big time through the neutral zone, and that includes slowing down MacKinnon. Sometimes stars have off nights.
– Evan Rodrigues Takes a Puck to the Face
In the third period, Rodrigues took a clearing attempt from Victor Hedman right to the face and never returned. There was no update on him after the game.
The last time Rodrigues was out, the team struggled big time. Hopefully this isn’t something that causes him to miss any time.
I’m one who thinks face-offs are a little overrated, and only have value in situational play, but when you get absolutely destroyed in the circle all night, it’s hard to ignore. The three top centers on the team, MacKinnon, Compher, and Newhook, went a combined 27% in the face-off circle. I liked Newhook’s actual game, but he won only two of his 15 face-offs.
+ Evan Rodrigues’ Game
The one player who was generating some chances. Had a great spinning pass to Compher early that Vasilevsky stopped, and plenty of other good passes and looks. Another reason why losing him would not be good for the team.
– Most of the Defense
Girard seemed to have issues getting his shots through. Byram took two penalties. Johnson looked slow. Toews played a big role in the first two Lightning goals.
Down Makar, nobody on the defense stepped up.