An opportunity was there for the Colorado Avalanche to move into first place in the Central Division.
They failed to take advantage of that opportunity, and now, they may not get another crack at it.
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 Penguins.
– Kurtis MacDermid’s Discipline
MacDermid took a big hit in the first period from Josh Archibald on a reverse check. You can guarantee MacDermid remembered that number, because when he had a chance, he retaliated in the second period.
And it hurt his team.
MacDermid cross-checked Archibald from behind into the boards about four feet from the ref early in the second, giving the Penguins their first powerplay. It’s the type of penalty that MacDermid can’t take, but takes far too often. Cogliano took another penalty to compound the situation, but it all started with a blatant cross-check to the back by MacDermid. The Avalanche got crushed in MacDermid’s six minutes of ice time, but taking a penalty just makes matters worse.
His minor penalties-per-60 rate is far and away the highest on the team. It just cannot happen anymore.
+ Alexandar Georgiev
The Penguins really could have blown the game open in the second period, but Georgiev did his best to keep it as close as possible for the Avalanche. He robbed Zucker on an odd-man rush in the second, and made a huge glove save in the third on Rust when the game was still close. The Avalanche were outshot and out-chanced significantly in the second and third periods, but Georgiev did what he could to keep the game close. It wasn’t enough, though.
– Penalty Killers Taking Penalties
Andrew Cogliano, Logan O’Connor, and Darren Helm all took penalties in Wednesday night’s game. Now, Helm’s extra minor was questionable, but I thought both calls on O’Connor and Cogliano were legit. The problem isn’t that this is a one-time occurrence. The issue is that O’Connor and Cogliano have been taking a lot of penalties this year. They both have been called for 15 minor penalties, tied for third most on the team. Considering both are big parts of the penalty kill, that’s not great. And the Penguins scored while both of them were in the box.
– Lars Eller
Did not love Eller’s game against a team he’s very familiar with. I liked some of his confidence, trying to skate the puck into certain areas, but he would always have poked off his stick at the last second. He had a two-on-one very early in the game and he waited way too long to make a decision on what to do. Ultimately, he ended up shooting in tight on Jarry, and had nowhere to shoot at that point. Then, he got beat bad on the second Carter goal, which essentially ended the game. Not his best night in the face-off circle either.
– Jack Johnson
Not a good night for some of the Avalanche trade pickups, I guess. Johnson had some truly ugly turnovers. He gave it right to Malkin in the offensive zone in the first period, but was bailed out when Rust missed the net in the slot. He had a chance to make a clean breakout early in the second, but just threw it back to the Penguins in the neutral zone. About seven seconds later, Crosby came down and scored. He had some decent physical plays in the defensive zone, but he also spent most of his time defending, as the Avalanche were out-attempted 21-9 with Johnson on the ice.
+ The First Period
The Avalanche looked like the better team in the first period. They had the better chances, including a crossbar from MacKinnon, but couldn’t finish. They also had a powerplay late in the period, but failed to get anything going on it. If the Avalanche score in the first period, who knows how this game ends up. But they didn’t, and things changed soon after.
– The Second and Third
The Penguins outshot the Avalanche 36-19 after the first period. The powerplays in the second period certainly played a role in it, and gave the Penguins momentum, but it can’t all be put on that. At even strength, the Penguins outshot the Avalanche 26-12. Guys like Girard and MacKinnon were really good in the first, but were ineffective after that. The Penguins were desperate for a win, but it’s not like the Avalanche didn’t need one either…
– Failure to Take Advantage of an Opportunity
Was this as much a “must win” game for the Avalanche as it was for the Penguins? Definitely not. But a win for the home team would have put them into a three-way tie for first place in the Central Division, and they hold all the tiebreakers.
Instead, a loss keeps them in third place, and gives the Wild and Stars an opportunity to extend their points lead on the Avalanche when they both play on Thursday.
The Avalanche are a great road team, but like every other team, they’d rather have home-ice advantage, even if it is just for one round. They missed out on an opportunity to put themselves in the drivers seat on Wednesday night, and who knows if they’ll get another shot at it.
+ Bednar Calling Out The Refs
It’s rare for Jared Bednar to talk about the reffing after a game. He usually avoids it, or just tiptoes around it. But after the loss, he was not happy with the refs decision to give Darren Helm an extra two minutes after his tussle with Sidney Crosby in the second period. He explained why, and when you read his explanation, it makes sense. He never got a clear answer from the refs on why it happened.
I don’t like blaming the refs for anything, but Bednar never really talks about the refs, so that’s why I actually like this, especially because he explained why he was so frustrated. If neither ref can give you a clear answer on why a penalty was given, then you probably have a reason to be upset.