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Avalanche Game 64 Plus/Minus: Eller Plays Heavy, Dominant Third



Avalanche lines Coyotes

Connor Ingram tried to steal another game against the Colorado Avalanche, and just like last time, Cale Makar was not having it.

Makar’s overtime winner sent the fans home happy after the first period made it seem like the Avalanche were headed for a disastrous night. It was a lot closer than it should have been, but right now, the two points are all that matter for the Avalanche. There weren’t a ton of negatives for the team, and they got the best performance to date from their biggest addition at the trade deadline.

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 Coyotes.

+ Lars Eller

Against the Coyotes, the Avalanche got a glimpse into what they hope Eller can provide the rest of the season. Heavy hockey all over the ice, and tough to get off the puck on the cycle.

With Eller on the ice, the Avalanche controlled 89% of the shot attempts. The Coyotes only attempted two shots in his nearly 13 minutes of ice time. He made life hard for the Coyotes defensemen, as he was very difficult to play against down low. I’m not sure if the offense is still there like it was a few years back, but for at least one night, you saw what the Avalanche think he can provide for the team.

+ Dominant Third Period

You could tell the Avalanche were kicking things up a notch in the second period. In the third, they took it to another level. Zero shots on goal for the Coyotes. This is only the second time in Avalanche history they’ve held a team to zero shots in a period. Funnily enough, the other time they did it was also against Arizona, back in 2015.

Now, the Coyotes are not a very good team, but the do play hard. Holding any NHL team to zero shots on goal in a period is hard to do. It’s especially hard to do at Ball Arena, where they count dump-ins from center ice as shots on net.

With Francouz out, slower games like this are huge for Georgiev.

+ Brad Hunt

I think Hunt’s game has been trending down of late. He hasn’t been as dependable, he’s taken some penalties, and the offense hasn’t been there.

Saturday was easily his best game in a long time. He was moving the puck efficiently, jumping into the play, and nearly scored in the third period. With Manson and MacDermid out, he’s going to stick in the lineup for a while, so they’ll need that type of play more often.

+ Samuel Girard

Another great game by Girard. Once again, he was their best overall defenseman. Toews has been inconsistent, so has Byram, and Makar hasn’t been at the same level he was last year. Girard, since the new year, has been terrific.

– Bowen Byram

The ice wasn’t the best on Saturday night, and on the first Coyotes goal, Byram just tripped over nothing at the blueline. He made matters worse by trying to sweep at the puck blindly, sending it right to the Coyotes forward. Then, he got up and was caught watching as Crouse got behind him. He wasn’t very good against the Kings, and that was the case against the Coyotes as well.

+ Unstoppable MacKinnon

I don’t think MacKinnon had his best game. For whatever reason, the puck was rolling off his stick a lot, and he was one of the guys caught watching on the Coyotes second goal.

But ultimately, it didn’t matter, because everything is going in for him right now. It’s funny, because for the first few months of the season, nothing seemed like it was going in. Now, he’s scored goals in nine straight home games. Since the start of the new year, only Connor McDavid has more points. And at even strength, he’s been in a league of his own.

CHN will have a story up on Sunday on just how hard it is to play against MacKinnon, straight from the mouths of NHL players.

+ Denis Malgin

Darren Helm is seemingly getting closer to returning to the lineup. With how the year has gone with Helm, I’m not going to count on it happening until it actually does happen.

But if Helm does come back, how do you take Malgin out? He’s provided the offensive spark in the bottom six that the team was severely lacking for most of the year. He’s flying out there, and his confidence is through the roof. I just don’t see how you can remove him from the lineup. At the very least, you’re looking at a rotation on the fourth line.

Now, this assumes the Avalanche actually get healthy. I think the team would kill to have to make a tough decision like this right now.

– That First Period

I had legitimate concern that they were going to blow another game against the Coyotes. The first period was so sloppy defensively. Both Coyotes goals were just massive breakdowns defensively, and if not for an absurd skate save by Georgiev, it could have been worse. Whatever was said in between periods worked, but against a better team, they could have easily dug themselves a hole they couldn’t get out of.

+ Makar’s Overtime Magic

This guy has really scored some magical goals in overtime in his career, and now he’s the franchise leader in regular season overtime goals for defensemen.

You know who doesn’t love him? Connor Ingram. The last time Ingram played at Ball Arena, Makar ruined his great game with an overtime goal in the playoffs. He did it again on Saturday.

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