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Avalanche Game 68 Plus/Minus: Calm Georgiev, MacKinnon Hits 30

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Avalanche Red Wings

The Colorado Avalanche beating the Detroit Red Wings is becoming very predictable. I don’t hear anyone complaining, though.

On Saturday afternoon, the Avalanche beat the Red Wings for the 10th consecutive time. The rivalry isn’t really there anymore, but seeing “Red Wings lose” will always bring a smile to an Avalanche fans face.

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 Red Wings.

+ Alexandar Georgiev’s Calming Presence

The Avalanche did not have a good start to the game. It looked like the tired legs from the end of the Ottawa game had carried over into Saturday.

This game could have been very different if it wasn’t for Georgiev in the first period. The only shot to beat him was a perfect one by Suter. Perron sent one off the post minutes later as well. Georgiev started the game hot, having to make three saves in succession very early in the first. Stopping 15 of 16 in the first period allowed the Avalanche some time to get their legs, which they did in the second period, and he looked calm doing it. And then to start the third, Georgiev was there when the Red Wings made a small push.

One night off must have felt very refreshing for the 27 year old.

+ Nathan MacKinnon Hits 30 Goals…Again

Ho-hum, another three points for Nathan MacKinnon, as he continues to destroy the league in the second half. Two of those points came at even strength, and he’s still the only player in the world right now averaging over a point-per-game at even strength.

But his beautiful goal in the second period was his 30th of the year. That’s the fifth time he’s hit 30 goals in a season in the NHL. Joe Sakic did it six times for the franchise, and is still the only player to do so. MacKinnon will almost certainly tie him, and given the extension he signed over the summer, will have plenty of chances to pass Sakic on the franchise leaderboard.

+ Cale Makar is on Fire

Erik Karlsson is still the likely winner of the Norris Trophy given his season in San Jose, but Cale Makar is trying to make things interesting. With three more points, he’s up to 61 in 55 games, and is nearing his points-per-game total from last year. Given he plays more than anyone in the league, he’s certainly going to steal some votes from Karlsson. But will it be enough?

– Did Makar Tweak Something?

Makar did not play in the final 11:43 of the game. Now, the game was already 5-1 at that point, so not much point in him playing, but after catching Dylan Larkin on a break, he looked to be in some pain and went to the bench. He did stay on the bench the rest of the game. The Avalanche said he was fine after the game, but you can check it out for yourself. Doesn’t look like much to me.

+ Offense is Coming for Eller

I didn’t like the third line much in this game overall. They spent a lot of time in their own end, and Eller actually had some turnovers in the first period. One of them resulted in him ultimately taking a penalty.

But for the second game in a row, he scored a goal, which gives him three straight games with a point. This goal was actually much nicer than whatever you want to call his goal from the Ottawa game. Instead of firing the puck immediately off a rebound, he corralled it, changed the angle, and labeled it top corner. My only real question with him was if he has enough offense to still be a true third line center, but on this road trip, he started to look the part.

+ Rantanen’s Controlled Aggression

Did Rantanen get Jake Walman good on his interference penalty? Yeah, he did. But he also made Walman really angry, and Walman went after him all night. Rantanen didn’t retaliate in any way, and kept challenging Walman in front of the net and in the corner. Mikko did take a penalty in the second period, but it was more a show of strength rather than anger. And then in the third, he scored a nice goal, so he was able to keep his composure. Walman kept whacking at him late in the game, but Rantanen didn’t bite on any of it.

+ Moving on Up

With the win by the Avalanche, and the subsequent loss by the Minnesota Wild to the Bruins, the Avalanche are now in second place in the division. They’re also just one point back of the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central (for the moment). Once again, they’ve got a very real chance of winning the division. Given their relatively easy schedule the rest of the way, they’ll have every opportunity to do so.

+ Fourth Line Got to Play

In the prior two games, the fourth line barely got any ice time. Alex Galchenyuk hasn’t done anything special, but in two games, he played a total of 7:30. Now, part of that was the fourth line being on the ice for two goals against in Ottawa. In the Toronto game, the coaching staff just didn’t trust them.

With the big lead against the Red Wings, the Avalanche were able to play four lines. Galchenyuk played 7:39, more than he played combined in the previous two games. They didn’t exactly do much in their time, but just being able to play them gives the top players a bit of a rest.

+ Owning the Red Wings

10 straight wins over Detroit for the Avalanche, and they’ve outscored them 46-20 in those games. Not only is the rivalry dead, but the games aren’t even competitive anymore.

+ Denis Malgin

I wasn’t sure how long he would last on the second line, but he made it through the final three games of the trip, and saved his best for last.

Great zone entry work on the first Avalanche goal, and a perfectly placed pass on MacKinnon’s 30th. Then in the third, he made a slick cutback move to send Andrew Copp to the ice.

Trade looks like a massive steal for the Avalanche right now.

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