Avalanche Game 62 Plus/Minus: Makar Magic, Rantanen’s Restraint
The San Jose Sharks looked like they didn’t even belong on the same planet as the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night, let alone the same ice rink.
It was one of those nights where the Avalanche needed a “get right” game, and they got it. Their star players were on fire, and the team barely had to play defense because they always had the puck. Is there even anything to find wrong in a game like this? Maybe…
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 Sharks.
+ Cale Makar
It sounds crazy to say, but for having 46 points in 48 games, Makar has had kind of a quiet year offensively. The standard for him is just so high. He’s still been producing, but it’s mostly been on the powerplay. He changed that up against the Sharks with four even strength points.
It’s not just the points, but the movement on the ice. In the first period, he was all over the place in the offensive zone, and in the second period, he did his best work. The shot that Nichushkin deflected into the net was a lot more of a pass than a shot. Makar was clearly aiming for Nichuhskin’s stick, and hit it perfectly. And the work on the Lehkonen goal is a lot of what we saw him do last year.
He was even diving to get pucks out in the third period when the game was 6-0. Great game from him.
+ Val Nichushkin
I’m not sure he’s 100%, and I’m not sure he’ll get to 100% until he gets a summer of rest, but this feels like the closest he’s been to it since the start of the season.
He was a maniac along the wall on the first two goals, and made some great passes right before the goals, especially on Makar’s. I love the fade-away tip on the goal, and celebrating without even turning around to see it go in. When he’s on his game, combined with Lehkonen on the other wing, they make life for MacKinnon so much easier.
– The Refs
I don’t like calling out the refs, but they let two blatant penalties go on two different star players in the game.
The cross-check from behind on Rantanen was such a dangerous play. Mikko is lucky he wasn’t hurt, because the way he went into the boards was violent. Obviously he got back up and scored, but how do you let that go?
And then the missed high-sticking on Karlsson in the third. I could see it live from the press box. How did everyone on the ice miss it? He had the puck! What else were they watching? With the high-stick drawing blood, even the linesmen could have called the penalty, but they didn’t even see it. I understand his frustration there late with the helmet toss, given the missed call, the score, and their entire season.
+ Rantanen’s Restraint
Rantanen talked before the game about how he hopes to learn from his outburst Sunday night, and he got tested right away.
The cross-check was blatant, and he had every right to be mad this time. As soon as he got up, he looked at the ref, and you could tell he was ready to unload. Instead, he kept his cool, and got back in the play. About 10 seconds later, he was rewarded for keeping his composure.
He still let the ref know after he scored what he thought of the missed call, but he was much nicer about it. It’s easy to be nice after you’ve just potted your 42nd goal on the season.
– The Sharks
How bad is that team? Woof.
That was one of the most lopsided games I’ve witnessed in my life. I get that they played last night, but I don’t recall Georgiev having to make a single difficult save. The Avalanche played great, but the Sharks look truly awful.
That team better hope they get Bedard this summer, because it looks like they’re a very long way from being even remotely decent.
+ Killer Instinct
What made the Avalanche so special last year was their killer instinct. We saw it in blowout wins against Tampa and Nashville in the playoffs. When they got up on teams, they never stopped.
Granted, the Sharks are terrible, but the Avalanche could have come out in the second period with their foot off the gas. Instead, the opposite happened. They scored two goals in the first 165 seconds of the period, and the game was over.
+ Artturi Lehkonen
I’ve been keeping a log of all the times Lehkonen has outworked an opponent (or two) to create a chance for the Avalanche this year. Right now, the list is very long, and there will be a film room on it soon.
Just look at the first two goals. He’s working on the forecheck to get the puck loose, and on both shots, he’s the guy screening the goaltender.
The Avalanche gave up a lot to get Lehkonen last year, and it still looks like a massive steal for the team.
+ 1,200 Games for Andrew Cogliano
Congratulations to the veteran for hitting 1,200 games. It’s a crazy number, and even crazier when you dig into it a little more. He’s only missed 19 games in his career, meaning he’s played in 98.4% of the games he’s been eligible for. He was the NHL’s ironman for the longest time for a reason. Availability is an important thing, and Cogliano has never had an issue with that.
Just like every other game-day, he was the first person on the ice for morning skate. Some things never change.
+ Team Defense
Yeah, the Sharks are terrible, but it’s tough to hold any team to 13 shots against, and the Avalanche did that on Tuesday night. You even saw guys like Matt Nieto and Sam Girard blocking shots late in the game. The opponent helped, but the Avalanche needed a defensive game like this.
The goaltender gets a plus for staying awake for the first 30 minutes of the game. He had nothing to do. Sometimes I wonder if a game like this is harder for a goalie than a game where they face 40+ shots. I didn’t have a chance to talk to Georgiev after the game, but might have to ask him at practice Wednesday.