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 for the Avalanche.
+ Miles Wood
From the drop of the puck, nobody seemed more hyped to play than Miles Wood.
On the opening shift, he crashed the net for a shot attempt, and about 10 seconds later, plastered a Wild forward into the ice. That play continued throughout the night, as he drew two penalties on the Wild with his speed and size, and had plenty of scoring chances. As we went over this summer, he’s not likely to finish a lot of those chances, but as long as he finishes enough, everything will be fine.
One area Wood will be used this year is the PK, which I asked him about after the game, and he played well there, creating a scoring chance after picking up a puck in his own end.
+ Joel Kiviranta
I can’t say anything is 100%, but I’m 99% Kiviranta will get a contract from the Avalanche. He’s just too reliable defensively, and the team is short on NHL forwards, even if he isn’t the most exciting one in the world.
Kiviranta in an Avalanche uniform still feels weird after how he ended their season a few years ago, but he’s played well. He got the scoring started tonight, and had some really smart zone exits. He’s too smart a player for this team to overlook.
+ Fredrik Olofsson
As of right now, he’s my favorite to lock down the 4C spot to start the season. Jared Bednar has mentioned multiple times in the last few days that the team has a “hole” down the middle, and Olofsson has been playing center from the start of camp. He looked strong at both ends of the rink on Sunday afternoon. He was robbed on the backdoor at one point in the game, but did pick up an assist on the Kiviranta goal, even if his initial pass was not intended for the Finnish forward.
– Saige Weinstein
A night to forget for Weinstein, at least in terms of play, as some turnovers and lost coverage were noticeable throughout the night.
– Sam Malinski
Malinski had some good moments at the offensive blueline, but defensively, he struggled.
On the opening shift of the game, he was soft on a dump in and that ended in an extended offensive zone shift for the Wild. The first penalty on him was a little weak, in my opinion, but hard to argue with high-sticking penalties, especially the one way away from the play. I still think he’s got a chance to start the season in the NHL, but that’s only if one of the puck movers on the Avalanche isn’t 100% to start.
– Tomas Tatar
Of the three players on the “top line,” Tatar was the one left wanting you more. It really doesn’t matter all that much, but as arguably the most talented player playing in the game, expected just a little bit more. His best look came in the second period on the powerplay, when Wallstedt was able to glove his one-timer down.
+ Nate Clurman
A surprise for me, just with how active he was all over the ice. He had some great moments in the offensive zone, but missed the net a few times when trying to go high-glove on Wallstedt. I’d be surprised if he got NHL games in this season, but a strong performance from him.
+ AND – Corey Schueneman
At one point, I had him as a +, and then at others, I had him as a -. It was an up and down night for him.
On the first penalty kill of the night, he had a strong sequence without a stick, as he killed time in the corner and then blocked a shot to kill the play. There were times where he had strong moments offensively, but also got caught with some turnovers, including an ugly one at the offensive blueline.
He’s been paired with Josh Manson all camp, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get NHL games this year.
+ Justus Annunen
It wasn’t perfect, and he really wasn’t tested all that much by the Wild, but a good start for Annunen. He looked calm and in control, which is what you want to see from a young goalie. It really sounds like the team will give him a long look later in the preseason to see what he can handle.
+ Riley Tufte
It’s time to take Riley Tufte seriously when it comes to an opening night roster spot.
The Avalanche sound really happy with his development, having noted multiple times how well he played last season in the AHL. They also seem more than willing to see if he can play center, although he spent most of tonight on the wing. When he shoots, he shoots with authority. Given how Jared Bednar has talked about the teams lack of size last year, he’s certainly someone you want to keep an eye on through preseason.
There were multiple shifts tonight where the Wild could not get the puck away from him down low. That size is an advantage he’ll always have that others won’t.