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 Predators for the Avalanche.
+ The First Period
I really thought the Avalanche were going to just run away with this game. The first period was the best they’ve looked in weeks, completely dominating play. The Predators could barely get past the red line. I think a lot of the play from the team over the last two weeks has been a little concerning, but that first period gave me some hope that they can flip the switch if they want to. It looked like vintage Avalanche with all the movement on the ice.
+ MacKinnon Does it All
Just an unbelievable game from the superstar, capping off one of the best (maybe the best?) regular seasons from an individual player in Avalanche history. All of his previous career highs in goals, assists, and points have now been replaced with his numbers from this season.
His first goal was just him taking advantage of man coverage. He beat his man and once that happened, it was over. No slash from Sissons was stopping him. The second was just pure power and skill, the kind of goal that separates him from other stars around the league. Everyone knows he can skate, but he can just power through anyone when he really wants to.
And on the game-winner, you could see the excitement on his face. He’s been cranking it up in 2023, and on Friday night, he showed he’s ready for the playoffs.
– The Second Period
All the energy, movement, and passing from the first period must have just evaporated in the locker room, because the Avalanche came out completely flat. Against a team with quite a few players I had never even heard of before, the Avalanche spent the first 10 minutes of the period struggling to even get out of their own end. They turned it around a bit in the third period, but it’s crazy to think just how close they were to blowing the division, and against a team that didn’t look like they wanted to be there just one period earlier.
+ Bednar for Jack Adams
He’s not going to win it, because the award always goes to the coach that either had the biggest turnaround in the league, or the coach that got the best goaltending. A lot of times, that’s usually the same coach. Expectations were high for the Avalanche this year, and when that’s the case, it’s hard for any coach in that situation to get acknowledged with the Jack Adams trophy.
Sometimes, voters need to adjust. The Avalanche team people expected to see back in September is not the team Jared Bednar just coached. He just went the entire season without his Captain. And we all know it wasn’t just Landeskog that was missing. Cale Makar missed 25% of the season. Josh Manson has barely played since December. Darren Helm has only played a handful of games. Heck, even MacKinnon missed a month. The list just goes on and on, and that’s without even mentioning the firepower the team lost over the summer.
Bednar got a heck of a lot out of a group that has much less talent this season. It should be recognized, and not just in the form of fourth or fifth place votes.
+ The Kraken Matchup
Do I think the Kraken are going to give the Avalanche some trouble? Yes, I do. They played them tough this year and they’re deep up and down their lineup.
But isn’t it a fun matchup to think about? I don’t think the Avalanche would have had any trouble with the Minnesota Wild, especially since they’ll likely be missing Eriksson-Ek, but the Wild? That’s boring. The current playoff setup almost guarantees the Wild and Avalanche will meet up in the postseason some other time. Heck, it could even happen in round two this year. But a matchup with the Kraken? You might never see it again, unless they change the setup (which they should). It’s fun and fresh, and I’m excited for it. A lot more to come on that matchup at CHN.
+ Sam Girard
Maybe he’s getting that playoff intensity up, but Girard sure has cranked up the physicality in the last week. Even beyond that, he had a really strong game. He was on the ice for all four of the goals for the Avalanche. The best part of all of this is that come Tuesday, the Avalanche should have Josh Manson and Cale Makar back in the lineup. The defense the team had planned on will finally get to play together for the first time since the Finland trip. That’s only good news, because now you can spread the wealth out among the pairs.
– Another MacDermid Penalty
I was surprised to see Hunt get scratched for MacDermid. I was not surprised to see MacDermid essentially get benched after he took another penalty in the second period. He’s just not cut out to play defense in the NHL. When he can’t be trusted to even play five minutes, that means the team probably knows that as well.
– Alexandar Georgiev
I agreed with the decision to start Georgiev. He’s your horse, he got you to the spot you’re in, so let him finish it out. His previous numbers on the second half of a back-to-back were too good to ignore. But he just didn’t have his best game. The first shot by Sherwood was great, but it was from a pretty decent distance. I don’t fault him on the second goal, as he was screened pretty well, but I didn’t love the third goal either. Luckily, he was there when it mattered the most…
+ The Save on McDonagh
MacKinnon was the hero, but he wouldn’t have been given that opportunity if not for the Georgiev save on McDonagh. Now, the defenseman didn’t put the puck where he wanted to, but Georgiev’s quickness to even get over there took away the upper portion of the net. It was a save the team desperately needed, and it’s the save that got Georgiev to 40 wins.