Avalanche Game 72 Plus/Minus: Rodrigues Returns, Georgiev Bounces Back In-Game
Jared Bednar wasn’t very impressed with his Colorado Avalanche squad after the win on Sunday afternoon, and with good reason. They didn’t play very well, and in the third period specifically, really let their foot off the gas.
But a win is a win, and on Monday night, there’s a chance the Avalanche could move into first place in the Central Division. They’ll need some help, but they’ve put themselves in a good spot down the stretch.
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.
+ Return of Evan Rodrigues
It came earlier than I expected (does anyone understand concussion protocol at this point?), but it was good to see Rodrigues out there after only missing two games. He didn’t have a big game or anything, but he did draw the penalty that led to Nichushkin’s goal in the third period on the powerplay. It looked like he might leave again after taking a big hit in the first period, but he stayed in it. Now he’s got to get back to playing the hockey he was before getting hurt.
– The First Period of Hockey From Both Teams
Some periods are super defensive, some have a lot of excitement, and then you have some without either of those qualities. You might look at the stat sheet and think this first period was very defensive. After all, the two teams combined for just 11 shots. In reality, it was just horrible hockey. Neither team played with any energy or intensity. There was six minutes of powerplay time for the teams and nothing happened. Luckily, each team woke up as the game went on, because a full game that looked like the first period would have been impossible to stomach.
+ The Second Period from the Avalanche
The Avalanche finished with 32 shots, and 56% of them came in the second period. It’s a good thing they cranked it up for the second, because the rest of their afternoon wasn’t very pretty.
– The Third Period from the Avalanche
It looked like a team that thought they had the game in the bag and just completely let up. They gave up trying to skate, they gave up trying to create anything offensively, and they were punished because of it. A pretty powerplay goal was the only thing that kept it from being a complete disaster.
– The Top Line Defensively
The top line was out on the ice for two of the three goals by the Coyotes. Rantanen was on the ice for the other goal by Arizona, and his line mates were able to sneak off, but that slow change is kind of what caused the goal. They did help make up for it by scoring two of the three goals. Probably one of MacKinnon’s worst games in the 2023 calendar year. He has set the bar pretty high, though.
+ Alexandar Georgiev’s Shootout Ability
Watching Georgiev work in the shootout is fascinating. We saw it against Toronto two weeks ago just how patient he is when shooters come in, and he showed it again on Sunday. The first few shooters for Arizona just tried to wait him out, but he wasn’t biting on anything. For a shooter, it has to be very difficult to face a goaltender who has that combination of patience and quickness. Really limits what you can do.
– The Third Period from Georgiev
Yes, the Avalanche fell apart in the third period, but I didn’t love the first and third goals. The first one, he gets beat short side on an angle that isn’t great, and on the third one, he was completely caught off guard and didn’t even react.
Love the resolve of him to bounce back the way he did in the shootout, though.
+ The Cogliano/Helm/O’Connor Line
They create a ton of volume offensively, but unlike the rest of the team, they didn’t bleed shot attempts against. They also helped create the second goal for the Avalanche. Now that they’ve got back their fourth line that they love and trust, they’ll have to find the right combinations to fill out the rest of the lineup.
+ A Win is a Win
That was ugly. Really ugly. But who cares? It’s late March, and you need the two points any way you can get it. The Coyotes have proven to be a real pain for a lot of teams around the league of late, so take the two points and get out of Arizona. If they look like that against Anaheim, then you get concerned.
+ Valeri Nichushkin
Bednar said the other day they felt like Nichushkin’s game had dipped a little bit, but if you look at March, he’s got more points than Mikko Rantanen. He scored the big goal in the third to get the game back on track (temporarily), but the shootout goal was a thing of beauty. He might have moved himself up the shootout list with that goal.