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 Kraken for the Avalanche.
—- Secondary Scoring
Do I think this Avalanche squad was built to win the Stanley Cup this season? Absolutely not. Everything that seemed like it could go wrong this year, did. When Gabriel Landeskog announced he was not returning, it seemed pretty clear that the team didn’t have the horses to repeat.
But I did expect them to win a round. The Kraken were a good team in the regular season, and had a ton of depth, but they didn’t have the star power of the Avalanche up front.
It turns out, that’s all the Avalanche had.
Six forwards on the Avalanche scored goals this series, and one of them mysteriously disappeared after Game Two. The Kraken, on the other hand, had 11 different forwards score.
Zero goals from the bottom six group with the Avalanche. Zero. That’s insane, when you think about it. This was a very tight series. If they get one or two goals from that group, they’re playing Dallas in round two. Instead, they’re heading home.
It’s not just the bottom six, though. J.T. Compher did not register a single point at even strength in the series. In fact, he only registered seven shots on goal. He might have cost himself some money this summer, and while you don’t want to make big decisions based off the small sample size of one series, I sure wouldn’t feel comfortable heading into next year with him as the second-line center again. He’s going to get paid this summer, and he deserves it after the best season of his career, but I’m not sure the Avalanche need to be the one paying him.
With Landeskog’s injury potentially lingering into next season, it won’t get any easier for the team. Chris MacFarland and Joe Sakic have a lot of work to do this summer.
+ Nathan MacKinnon
Philipp Grubauer completely robbed MacKinnon a few times. If that doesn’t happen, this is a very different game.
MacKinnon, like he did all season long, tried his best to will the team to victory, but it just wasn’t meant to be. An offsides call took away a goal from him, and the team never recovered, but he left it all on the ice. Colorado controlled 72% of the shot attempts with him out there, and he finished with nine shots on goal and 15 total attempts.
Next season, he’ll be the highest paid player in the NHL, and for a lot of this season, you could see exactly why. He played a ton of minutes this season, and at the end of Game Seven, you could tell. Even the best conditioned athletes in the world get tired.
+ Alexandar Georgiev
Was he outplayed by Grubauer at the other end? Absolutely. Grubauer saved his best for last, and won the game for his Kraken. But Georgiev played well in net for Colorado, and continued to make saves late into the third period to keep it a one goal game. I didn’t love the second Bjorkstrand goal, but the first one was absolute nonsense. It hit not one, but two Avalanche players and went into the net. Not much you can do about that.
– Bowen Byram
Byram was a star for the Avalanche in the postseason last year, getting better and better as the playoffs went on before being the best player on the ice in the Cup-clinching game.
In this series, he was a little underwhelming. He wasn’t alone in that sense, but I had higher expectations for him. As the series went on, his offense faded a good bit. Sure, he had the goal disallowed in Game Six, but he wasn’t very noticeable out there, especially in Game Seven.
Talk about an interesting contract negotiation this summer…
– Devon Toews’ Decision Making
Toews made so many questionable decisions this series that I really don’t know what to think. He got beat on a pinch on the game-winner in Game Seven. It wasn’t the first time it happened in the series either.
This season seemed like a bit of a step back for him, and with one year left until he hits unrestricted free agency, I’m interested to see how this all plays out. He’s in line to potentially double his salary as a UFA, and I don’t know if the Avalanche can fit that in with the big contracts they have.
+ Erik Johnson
This isn’t about the game itself, but the man in general. Johnson is a fantastic interview, and he was again after Game Seven. Is there a chance this was his last game in an Avalanche uniform? Absolutely. If he decides he wants to play again, I’m not sure he’ll want to play for any other organization than Colorado, but it will have to come at a massive pay cut. Even then, you wonder if the team goes in a different direction.
But hats off to the longest tenured player on the team (and the state of Colorado, I believe). He stuck with the organization through the truly dark years, fought through injury after injury, and played a big role in the team getting over the hump last year. He gave everything he had to this organization, and if this is the end, he has a lot to be proud of.
– Giving Up The First Goal
Seven games, and in all of them, the Kraken scored first. That’s astonishing. This was actually, far and away, the best start of the series for the Avalanche, and the Kraken still scored first on one of the flukiest goals you’ll ever see. Colorado just wasn’t good at chasing most of the series, and eventually, they ran out of gas. I don’t know how you manage to give up the first goal in every game in a series, but they did it.