Connect with us

Colorado Avalanche

Can The Avalanche Pull One Out Without Cale Makar?



Avalanche Byram

This may come as a surprise to many people, but the Colorado Avalanche did just alright without Cale Makar this season.

More than alright, actually.


That was their record without the reigning Norris Trophy winner.

Now, the regular season is vastly different than the playoffs, so it’s not a one-for-one comparison. They certainly aren’t facing a San Jose or Anaheim on Wednesday night. The point is, they’ve played without Makar a fair bit this season and have found ways to adjust.

On Wednesday night, they’ll have to do it again. Can they rally like they did in the regular season? If they want to, they’ll need everyone to step up.

I anticipate the Girard and Toews pairing is going to stick together, and play a lot, which leaves Bowen Byram to run his own pair. Do they put him with an Erik Johnson or do they see if promoting Josh Manson gives him a boost? A healthy Jack Johnson would likely step into that spot, but he hasn’t skated with the team since his injury popped up.

Either way, Byram is no stranger to upping his play when Makar is out of the lineup.

In 20 career games without Makar in the lineup, Byram has posted 13 points, averaged 23:17 in ice time, and is a +8. A lot of times, he gets promoted to the top powerplay unit, but they may opt for Toews to take that spot in Game Five. In 21 games this season without Makar, Toews registered 17 points and was +15.

It won’t just be up to Byram, Toews, or Girard, even though those three will probably be relied on heavily in Game Five. The Avalanche will need everyone to step up their play on the blueline for one night to make up for the absence of Makar.

“You got to set your game plan, and other guys will have to step up and play well,” Bednar said on Tuesday after the team landed back in Denver. “Obviously, what he (Makar) does has to be covered by the committee [of] all six guys in the back end. Just move forward and keep pushing forward.”

It can’t just be the defensemen, either. When this team is really going, it’s usually because everyone is doing their part to limit chances for the opposing team. That wasn’t the case on Monday, when the Kraken outshot the Avalanche 43-22 and registered 15 more high-danger chances.

Of course, it would be nice if some other forwards to start chipping in offensively. At the very least, they need to play well enough to where this team isn’t forced to shorten their bench like they did in Game Four. Denis Malgin, Ben Meyers, and Alex Newhook all played extremely limited minutes, with Newhook playing the most of the three at only 6:46.

“If guys are in the rhythm of a game and playing well and they’re highly competitive, then we’ll use them as much as we can,” Bednar said.

That doesn’t mean the Avalanche won’t hesitate to rely on their big guns again like the latest and greatest new casinos at SlotEire. That’s how they got to the position they’re in, and those players are likely going to have to carry the load if they want to get past the Kraken. Nathan MacKinnon didn’t register a single shot on net in Game Four. Don’t bet on that happening again.

“I don’t feel like we’re over-taxing guys,” Bednar said. “MacKinnon played 23:40. He’s certainly capable of playing more if we need him to.”

The easiest way to not over-extend your top players? Get the lead early. That has been an impossible task for the Avalanche this series. Seattle has come out swinging in every game and Colorado has been a step behind.

“I feel like we’re getting to our game. It’s just taking us a little while,” Bednar said. “How we get our guys to understand that, we’ll discuss again in the morning, but I don’t know that there’s a clear cut answer to that. Guys have to be ready to go and focused and prepared to be engaged right from the drop of the puck.”

Game Five takes place Wednesday night at Ball Arena. The game starts at 7:30 PM MST.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

This site is in no way associated with the Colorado Avalanche or the NHL. Copyright © 2023 National Hockey Now.