Avalanche Game 74 Plus/Minus: Makar Struggles, Georgiev’s Giveaway
Big mistakes from some pretty important players really hurt the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.
On top of that, there were a few too many passengers for the home team, as they failed to take advantage of an opportunity to move into first place in the division for the second Wednesday in a row.
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 Wild.
– Cale Makar
There’s no hotter defenseman in the league over the last month or two than Makar, but it was a struggle for him on Wednesday night. The decision to swipe at the puck on the third goal for the Wild ended up being a massive game-changer, and his route was interesting. Normally, he’s able to catch a guy on something like that, but he kind of started out going backwards, and when he pivoted back forward, he was too far behind.
In the third, he started to get back into the game a little bit, but there was a moment on the early powerplay in the third period that made it look like he knew it wasn’t his night. The puck came back to him at the point, and while it was bouncing a little, it’s something he can normally handle without any sign of panic. Instead, he just kind of whacked at the bouncing puck and sent a shot five feet over Gustavsson’s head. It was just an interesting moment from a guy who knew he wasn’t having his best night.
– Georgiev’s Giveaway
Georgiev is not a very good puck handler, but for the most part, it hasn’t hurt the team this year. It definitely did on Wednesday night. From the press box, it looked like he had an easy clear if he just dumped it up the boards on his forehand. Instead, he sent it behind his back without looking, and gave it right away. A few seconds later, the puck was in the back of the net. In the first four minutes of a game, that’s a killer.
+ Bowen Byram
Bowen Byram was not happy about the penalty call on him in the first, and he didn’t want to talk about it after the game, but he got his payback after coming out of the box. It’s the type of play any player dreams of after a penalty, with a clean breakaway, and he made it count.
Beyond that, he was their best defenseman. In the third period, he was the player the Avalanche used to break the trap. Multiple times, his partner, whether it be Girard or Makar, would send it to him to skate it up the ice, and it worked. His seven shot attempts were second to only MacKinnon, and he had a really nice defensive play in the third on Johansson after following him all around the defensive zone.
– Denis Malgin
Jared Bednar has said in the past that the only way to get the puck off Malgin is if he gives it to the other team, and he doesn’t do that often. On Wednesday night, he was in a giving mood. He had a defensive zone turnover in the second period that resulted in a great chance for the Wild, and then a bad turnover in the third that resulted in a breakaway. He played the least amount of minutes on the team, probably because of mistakes like those two.
– Passing From the Top Line
The top line still had plenty of great chances, but it seemed like their passing was just a little bit off, especially on the powerplay. Even though they dominated possession, they weren’t able to produce any goals. It wasn’t until the third period that they started to connect on more plays, and by then, it was a little too late.
+ Playoff Atmosphere
Regardless of the score, it did feel like a playoff game. There were quite a lot of Wild fans in the arena, which I’m sure Avalanche fans didn’t love, but the crowd was buzzing all night. When Byram scored on his breakaway, it might have been the loudest Ball Arena has been in a regular season game this year.
Bring on the playoffs.
– Another Failed Opportunity
We said the same thing just one week earlier after the loss to Pittsburgh. The Avalanche had a chance to move into first place, and they fell short. It happened again against the Wild. Now, the Wild have a three point lead, and control their own destiny when it comes to winning the division.
The most disappointing thing is that both those losses came on home ice, a place where the Avalanche were dominant last season. This year, they’ve just been okay.
– Too Many Passengers
Jared Bednar did not name names after the game, but he said the team had too many passengers for the “first period-plus,” and it wasn’t until later in the game that those guys got going. J.T. Compher played over 22 minutes, but didn’t register a shot on net. That stings in a big game like this. Sam Girard got badly outmuscled on the second Wild goal, but outmuscled his man on the second goal for the Avalanche.
Regardless of who he’s talking about, having passengers in a big game like this is concerning.
– The Reffing
Byram was furious that the ref at center ice called him for hooking, when the ref who was right there didn’t call it. On replay, it didn’t look like much. Then, moments later, the Wild get called for the same interference penalty Makar has gotten a few times this year, where they’re standing still at the blueline. They have just as much a right to that ice as anyone else.
But in the third period, the linesman made a clear signal for too many men, only for the refs to huddle for a minute and take the penalty away. Even the late delay of game call on Spurgeon looked to be wrong, as the puck appears to graze the boards on the replay. Tough night for the refs.