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Avalanche Game 14 Plus/Minus: Depth D Shine, Big Goal Mikko



Avalanche Kraken

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 Colorado Avalanche.

+ Depth Defensemen Step Up

The Avalanche had some players “dinged up” heading into Monday, and as it turns out, two of them were Sam Girard and Josh Manson. Both missed practice Sunday, and couldn’t suit up against the Kraken. That forced the Avalanche to play not one, but two depth defensemen for the first time this season.

And both stepped up.

Sam Malinski, in his first NHL game, looked very calm and played a smart game. He had an opportunity to take a chance in the third period offensively, but backed off and did the right thing. That’s the stuff coaches will take notice of.

And then you have Caleb Jones, who looked like a near perfect fit for this system. He was active in the offensive zone, threw his body around, and was noticeable all evening long. You need a lot of defensemen to make it through an entire NHL season, and after this game, the Avalanche have to feel a little better about their depth.

+ Big Goal Rantanen

Since the start of last season, when Colorado has needed a goal, more often than not, it’s come off the stick of Mikko Rantanen.

He did it again on Monday. The Avalanche had gone over 200 minutes on the road without scoring a goal, and Rantanen cleaned up a rebound to tie the game. From that point forward, it was all Colorado.

He’s an elite player, an elite goal scorer, and has developed that clutch factor as well.

– Byram and Nichushkin

The two players I didn’t like. Maybe not the only ones, but some noticeable mistakes. Byram had a great shot block in the second period on a rush for the Kraken, but he struggled with the puck on his stick. Had an ugly turnover in the second that created a near 2-on-0 for Seattle.

Val got the goal late, and that’s great, but he’s another guy that struggled a lot with making crisp passes all night. Took an offensive zone penalty in the second after having the puck taken away from him. He looked a little frustrated, and you could see him yelling at himself in the box. It’s been a stressful week for him with the arrival of his child, but they do need him to be better.

+ New Wingers Chip in

Bednar decided to put together an entire line of new players, and managed to get one even strength goal out of them. All of them played a role in the goal as well.

For Tatar, his patience on the Makar goal was tremendous. He drew the Kraken forward down low, creating space for Makar. Three shots on goal, including some good looks in the second period. They absolutely need more of that from him.

And then you have Jonathan Drouin, who got the monkey off his back in the third period with his first goal in an Avalanche uniform. Fittingly, it came off a pass from Nathan MacKinnon.

I’m still skeptical of the fits, based on how this season has gone, but you have to start somewhere, right?

+ Georgiev Stabilizes

Alexandar Georgiev needed a game like this. He wasn’t tested a lot, especially in the last half of the game, but he did have to come up with some big saves in the second period. Georgiev stopped Bjorkstrand on a breakaway, and had a nice sliding save soon after.

His streak of seven consecutive games with a save percentage below .900 has officially come to an end.

+ AND – The Goaltender Interference Play

This was an ugly, ugly goal. The turnover by Makar was one thing, but the amount of chances Wennberg had to whack at the puck in front of the net without any resistance from the Avalanche was absurd. After giving up four shorthanded goals last week, to start your first powerplay like that was very discouraging.

But wait! They were bailed out by Brandon Tanev bumping into Georgiev. It has to be one of the first times you’ll ever see a goalie get bumped into on an odd-man rush. Good work by Avalanche video man, Brett Heimlich, to recognize it immediately and get the word to the staff on the bench. This challenge may have saved the game from Colorado, as it looked like it was about to get out of hand really quickly.

+ Face-Off Goals

All five goals for the Avalanche came off face-off wins, including the rare defensive zone face-off win that leads to a goal at the other end. And no, it wasn’t all Ryan Johansen. He was in on two of the goals, but two of them came from MacKinnon, and another from Colton. Can’t remember the last time I saw so many goals come directly after face-off wins in one game.

+ The Swagger Returns

The entire first period, the Avalanche looked unsure of themselves, a lot like they have over the last few weeks. It looked like it could be a repeat of some of the games we’ve seen recently.

Once Rantanen scored, something clicked for Colorado. The swagger returned, and from that point on, they outshot the Kraken 22-2. That’s an absurd stat. When this team is rolling, they’re tough to deal with, but we haven’t seen much of it since the hot start.

Can they keep it up? I guess we’ll find out, but this was a team lacking confidence. Maybe that changes now.

+ MacDermid Fights

I really don’t think Oleksiak intended to trip Lehkonen, or did anything dirty, but Kurtis MacDermid is on this team for one reason, and it’s for situations like Monday night. It’s rare for him to find someone his size, and he came away with the victory in the fight. The Avalanche got no momentum from the fight, giving up a goal 40 seconds later, but at least MacDermid showed why he’s on the team.

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