Game one did not go the way the Colorado Avalanche expected it to against the Seattle Kraken. While the home team generated 35 shots on goal, the general consensus from the players was that it was a little too much “one and done” and that more traffic is needed.
They’re not wrong.
Beyond that, the team was out of sorts. Passes were off. There were communication issues on the ice, and no one really looked to be on the same page. The Kraken also deserve a lot of credit. They played hard, and I don’t expect much to change for them in game two.
Here’s what the Avalanche need to do on Thursday night if they want to beat the Kraken.
This is a bit cliche, but it’s true. In the playoffs last year, the Avalanche had no issues coming from behind.
This is not last year’s team.
It’s imperative that the Avalanche score the first goal for a few reasons. One, it might force the Kraken to open up a little bit offensively, giving the Avalanche some opportunities to counter. If Seattle gets the lead, they’re going to lock things down just like they did on Tuesday night. And two, Colorado scoring first will get the crowd into the game. Seattle scored early in game one and the crowd never really recovered, probably because the home team didn’t give them much to cheer for.
“They put it to us the first 5-10 minutes,” Logan O’Connor said. “I think that sort of set the tone for the rest of the game. It took the building out of it, so we need to have a better start.”
Unlike the Avalanche team that won the Cup, this team isn’t necessarily built to come from behind as easily. It’s a lot harder to play catch-up hockey without guys like Landeskog, Kadri, and Burakovsky. They need a lead that they can build on.
Get the Defense Involved
The only two defensemen that registered multiple shots on net for the Avalanche in game one were Bowen Byram and Cale Makar. This team is built to have their defense join the rush and create opportunities, and that didn’t happen in game one. That will need to change on Thursday night.
“I think we can probably support the rush a little more, especially on the breakouts,” Erik Johnson said this morning before game two. “Their ‘D’ really pinch hard, so for us, I think being that third guy in the rush is key for our team and I think we’ve got to be that third option on breakouts and really help support our rush.”
Make Life Difficult For Grubauer
Philipp Grubauer was good in game one, but the Avalanche felt like he could see the puck too easily.
“He made some big saves, but overall, I think as a group, we probably didn’t make it tough enough on him,” Erik Johnson said this morning.
This is where potential line changes will come into play. My expectation is that one of Artturi Lehkonen or Valeri Nichushkin will move up to the top line, while the other will stay on the second line. That gives you a guy on each of your top two lines that will not hesitate to get to the front of the net and make life difficult for Grubauer. If the Avalanche want to beat the Kraken on Thursday, they’ll need to take away his eyes.