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Avalanche Game 15 Plus/Minus: Early Season O’Connor, Quick Start



Avalanche Ducks

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 Ducks for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Early Season Logan O’Connor

This is not the first time that Logan O’Connor has gotten off to an extremely hot start. In 2021-22, he had seven points in his first 15 games. Last season, he had six points in his first 12 games, including five goals. Right now, he’s got seven points in 15 games.

History would suggest that he’s going to slow down, but he sure is off to another tremendous start. Even before collecting two primary assists, he killed any momentum the Ducks might create on a four minute powerplay by using his speed to draw a penalty. Quite frankly, it should have been a penalty shot, but the two minute penalty might have worked better for the Avalanche. In the first period, he broke up an odd-man rush while shorthanded.

His first assist, he was playing with the fourth line. His second assist, he was playing with the third line. Through 15 games, he’s kind of been Jared Bednar’s “fixer.” Every line he’s been put on suddenly gets better. Will the offense keep up? I doubt it, but we can still recognize how great this start to the season is. And if he does keep it up, the bottom six will be in fine shape.

+ Depth Scoring

13 different Avalanche skaters picked up points, and even Alexandar Georgiev got in on the fun, as he was given an assist on Joel Kiviranta’s goal. There were only three forwards that didn’t pick up points, but I liked the way two of them played. I’ll get to the other one later…

Getting a goal from every forward on your fourth line is very rare, and probably won’t see that again anytime soon, but when this team is rolling, they use all four lines. The removal of Kurtis MacDermid for Andrew Cogliano makes a big difference in terms of how much they can trust that fourth line.

The Joel Kiviranta situation will be interesting to watch. Riley Tufte was given opportunities, but couldn’t get on the scoresheet. Not only did Kiviranta pick up three points, but the staff has immediately trusted him with penalty killing time. He’s nothing more than a fourth liner, but having another NHL player in your back pocket is never a bad thing, and he seems like a nice fit in the system.

+ Quick Start

For the first time in five games, the Avalanche scored first, but it was much more than that. They came out in the first period, against a team that played the night before, and dominated. It wasn’t even close.

The Ducks were gifted an extra shot on goal in between the first and second periods. Otherwise, they would have finished with the same amount of shots in the first as the Avalanche had goals. They came out and imposed their will on the opposition. That’s something they need to do a lot more of.

– Mikko Rantanen

One of the three forwards that didn’t pick up a point, but really, it was just his decision making that was strange. About five seconds before he took the brutal high-sticking penalty on Troy Terry, he took a whack at the Ducks forward. I’m not sure what happened there, but he didn’t seem happy with Terry. Luckily, the team bailed him out, but it was just a bad penalty at a point in the game where it still could have gone either way.

+ Penalty Kill

The PK went through a bit of a rough patch last week, but has bounced back nicely against Seattle and now the Ducks. Anaheim had two powerplays in the first period, and I’m not sure they were credited with a shot on either. In fact, the best chance on those powerplays was from the Avalanche, as Miles Wood had a breakaway.

Speaking of Wood, I’ve been amazed at how well he’s been going on the penalty kill. He didn’t get used there at all in New Jersey, but has been very effective in Colorado. O’Connor had some great moments while shorthanded, and Joel Kiviranta looked like he had been playing in the system for years. It says a lot about how much the staff trusts Kiviranta that they’ve already got him out there playing a lot of minutes on the PK.

+ Sam Girard

Girard was off on Monday because he was “dinged up.” In his absence, Sam Malinski came in and showed quite well. I don’t think Girard was in any danger of losing his spot to anyone, but a competitor would want to step back in and show what they can do. He did just that.

I really liked Girard’s start to the season, but his play tailed off the last five games or so. On Wednesday, he got back on track with a goal and an assist. I’m not sure we’ll ever see another net-crashing goal from Girard, so enjoy that one while you can.

+ Cale Makar

I feel like we’ve sat here and talked a lot about how Makar is off to a slower start, and doesn’t quite look like himself. And yet, through 15 games, the man has 21 points, including 17 assists. They obviously don’t give out third assists, but his work on the breakout is what created the fourth goal for the Avalanche. In the second period, he dummied a Ducks forward in the neutral zone with his edge work. He just makes some things look so easy.

Next week, we get the showdown of Quinn Hughes vs. Cale Makar. Right now, they’re probably looked at as the two favorites for the Norris Trophy. And I still believe Makar has another level he can hit.

For the record, he did go in for an x-ray after the first period, and came out fine, but something does seem to be bothering him.

+ Devon Toews’ Offense

Is it any surprise that the Avalanche offense wakes up the same time Devon Toews gets a little more involved? Four points in his last two games, and after a slow start where he wasn’t generating much of anything, he’s starting to get his shots through to the net. The game was over so quickly that he didn’t even hit 20 minutes. I bet you can count on one hand the amount of times that’s happened since he joined the Avalanche.

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