Avalanche Game 58 Plus/Minus: Manson and Toews Stand Out Defensively
Led by Mikko Rantanen‘s scoring, strong team defense, and another stellar game from Alexandar Georgiev, the Colorado Avalanche won their sixth straight game.
Now just two points back of catching the Central Division leading Dallas Stars, the Avalanche are really rolling. The win over Vegas was very convincing, as their lead never looked to be in danger.
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.
+ Mikko Rantanen
The fastest player in Avalanche franchise history to hit the 40 goal mark. Considering some of the players that have come through Denver, that’s pretty remarkable. What a season it’s been for Mikko.
His first goal was just an incredible display of skill. To recognize that Hill wasn’t going to shoot it up the boards is one thing, but to smack the puck out of the air with such ease is another.
In addition to two goals, we also saw some angry Mikko. He lost it on Howden in the second period after they met up along the boards. I could go either way with angry Mikko, but it worked out this time. Less than a minute after getting out of the box, he scored his second goal. He tried for his third later in the second with a crazy spin move that had the crowd buzzing, but it wasn’t meant to be.
He put on a show for his father, who was in the crowd with a few of his friends.
+ Josh Manson
His stick was working overtime in both the neutral zone and defensive zone, breaking up passes left and right to spring the forwards the other way. On top of that, you have his physicality along the boards that makes him so difficult to play against. He plastered some Vegas forward in the third period, which the fans loved. Really adds a unique element to the defense that the team needs.
+ Evan Rodrigues
Some real signs of life from Rodrigues. The last few games, he looked like a man who had lost his confidence. Against Vegas, he started to get it back, and some of that might have come from just firing the puck at the net. He had his looks, and was robbed by Hill in the second period. Only MacKinnon finished with more shots on goal than Rodrigues.
+ Devon Toews
The best defensive stick in the league was on display for the full 60 minutes against the Golden Knights. He made Reilly Smith’s night a very difficult one, breaking up everything he tried to do on a consistent basis. At one point, he just chased Jack Eichel around in the offensive zone and wouldn’t let him break the puck out cleanly, even chasing him below the goal line. He was almost rewarded for all of his defensive efforts with a goal, but he wired the puck off the post in the second period on the powerplay.
+ Alexandar Georgiev
Georgiev has been getting a lot of love lately on here, and it won’t stop after that effort. He was calm and confident in net. Even when the Golden Knights knocked his net off its moorings in the first period, he just moved back and still guarded it.
now wait a second pic.twitter.com/9wHA2bidvo
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) February 28, 2023
The Avalanche really controlled the game defensively, but early on, the shots were 10-2 Vegas. Georgiev started hot and never looked back.
+ The Ripple Effect of Jack Johnson’s Return
Johnson returning to the lineup might have been what Bednar was waiting for to return to a more traditional 12 forward, six defenseman lineup. With Johnson in there, five defensemen played over 19 minutes, with Johnson finishing at 19:19. Imagine how much they’ll spread it out when Cale Makar returns?
Johnson was quite strong himself. He ended a one-on-one rush early in the game with a strong defensive play, which the fans loved. On his first puck touch, he got a nice cheer from the crowd. Who doesn’t love a champion returning?
That was one of the more complete games the Avalanche have played this season. Vegas generated next to nothing dangerous offensively after the first few minutes of the game, and the Avalanche controlled the play.
Not a bad performance against the team currently holding the most points in the Western Conference.
The rest of the Western Conference right now. pic.twitter.com/dG0Bv82f6x
— Evan Rawal (@evanrawal) February 28, 2023