Avalanche Game 73 Plus/Minus: MacKinnon’s Scoring Rate, Byram Flying
Do you expect the Colorado Avalanche to beat down a bad team like the Anaheim Ducks? Absolutely. But after seeing the Avalanche blow a lead in the third period the day before against another team near the bottom of the standings, you wanted to see them take control and step on the throats of the Ducks.
That’s exactly what they did.
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 Ducks.
+ MacKinnon’s Elite Scoring Pace
I have to give a stick tap to my Swedish buddy Robin for this one, but take a look at Nathan MacKinnon‘s absurd scoring rate this year.
Keep in mind, this was before the game yesterday, so it went up slightly because he had two more points.
Nathan MacKinnon is on route for the best PPG season by an Avalanche player. (Minimum 16 GP) pic.twitter.com/wWVCXaKhEV
— Robin on the Avs 🇺🇦 (@AvsRobin) March 28, 2023
Yes, MacKinnon is on pace to have a higher scoring season than the likes of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. For perspective, Sakic won the MVP in 2001 with his 118 point season. MacKinnon won’t even sniff the Hart Trophy because Connor McDavid is doing ridiculous things in Edmonton.
MacKinnon didn’t even have a good start to this game, and then the final shift of the first period, he decided he was done with that, and made Scott Harrington look awful. On the shift leading to Nichushkin’s goal, he just bullied everyone.
Is it weird to think that he might have actually been able to get more money on his next contract if he waited a little bit?
+ Playoff Intensity Wednesday
This season has felt long, and after winning the Stanley Cup, it’s not easy to get up for 82 games.
But Wednesday night should have a playoff atmosphere at Ball Arena for what will be the biggest game of the year (to date). The Avalanche now control their own destiny, and with a win in regulation on Wednesday, they will not only take the lead in the division, but they’ll still have a game in hand.
It’s almost time for the playoffs, and on Wednesday, everyone should get a taste of postseason hockey.
+ Byram Was Everywhere
With a goal and an assist, Byram is up to 21 points in just 35 games. His contract extension this summer is going to be fascinating. His raw numbers are terrific, especially because most of them come at even strength, but his advanced metrics aren’t incredible and we all know he’s had trouble staying healthy. I think everything is on the table for his next deal, one-year, bridge, or long-term contract. It could go any possible way.
Agains the Ducks, he ran the show, leading the team with eight shot attempts at even strength, seven of which hit the net. His most impressive play might have been a spinning breakout pass to Lars Eller late in the third when he had two forecheckers on him.
Makar on one pair and Byram on another continues to be a cheat code for the Avalanche.
+ Yes, Girard Too
No, I’m still not a fan of the Girard-Byram pair, but there’s no denying they were both great against the Ducks. Girard stepped up in the natural zone to pick off a Ducks breakout pass, and that’s what led to the Byram goal that flipped the momentum of the game. His goal late was his sixth of the year, setting a career high for him.
– The Ducks Stink
We saw the Sharks a few weeks back and they looked horrendous. The Ducks are just as bad. Some teams have gone all-in to get Connor Bedard this year, but only one team will get him. It might be one of those two dumpster fires. And guess what? Three of the final nine games for the Avalanche are against these two teams.
+ Johansson Does His Part
Yes, the Ducks really stink, but 29 saves on 30 shots is a solid outing for Jonas Johansson. His best saves came late in the second, when the Ducks got three consecutive shots off from the slot, and he was able to get in front of all of them. If he does get another start, don’t be surprised if it’s against these Ducks in 11 days.
+ Jack Johnson Gets a Goal
It’s been 159 games since Johnson hit the back of the net. This goal wasn’t quite as pretty as his breakaway beauty that kicked off the 2021-22 season against Chicago, but it wasn’t half-bad. Johnson walked the line to get a shooting lane, and got the wrister through a lot of bodies. Was it a snipe into the top corner? No, it actually hit the center of the net (not sure where Gibson was going), but you like to see the guys who never score put one in. Now, it’s Erik Johnson’s turn, as he’s still sitting on a goose egg for the year.
+ The Powerplay
12 games in a row with a powerplay goal. Not bad. Not bad at all. And it was the second powerplay unit that got this one, which is always nice to see.
The powerplay is now tied for second in the NHL at 25.7%. They’re humming.