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Avalanche Game 19 Plus/Minus: Workhorse Nichushkin, MacDermid Rewarded



Avalanche Wild

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 Colorado Avalanche.

+ The Dermy Goal

Kurtis MacDermid even being in the lineup was a surprise, especially in place of Tomas Tatar. Not that Tatar has been great or anything, but just Friday morning, Bednar said he was liking the chemistry that was developing on the new second line.

Well, MacDermid indeed got into the lineup, and now, he’s got more goals on the season than Tatar. Not a pretty stat, and certainly not one anyone would have expected two months ago, but it’s very real.

The Wild thought about challenging this goal, and I think they may have won that challenge. It did look like MacDermid may have tipped the original shot from the point with a high stick. The Avalanche touched the puck next, so if he did touch it with a high stick, the play should have been blown dead.

But the refs didn’t call it, and the Wild didn’t challenge it, so it doesn’t matter. What matters is that MacDermid dangled Filip Gustavsson, and scored the game winning goal. From there, you just have to see the look on everyone’s faces to understand how they feel about MacDermid. No, he’s not the best player in the world. Far from it, but he understands his role, and he accepts it. When someone like that scores a big goal, you have to feel good for them. MacDermid is usually one of the first guys on the ice, and one of the last guys off. Always nice to see hard work get rewarded.

Also, how often do you see a guy like this get an interview on national television?

– Discipline

Penalties are starting to become a real issue for this team. The team is in the bottom five when it comes to minor penalties per-game, and they’ve really been a problem in second periods. Luckily, the team is very good at drawing penalties (top five), but taking too many penalties will eventually come back to haunt you, and cancel out all the work you’re doing to draw them. It let the Wild back into this game, as they scored almost immediately after their 5-on-3 ended.

+ Ross Colton

Six points in his last six games, and if you expand beyond that, he’s got six goals in his last 11 games. Things are really starting to come together for Colton, who has looked like the best pickup from the summer. Some could have predicted that (I predicted 25 goals, which looks decent right now), but it’s nice to see it come together after a slower start.

One thing, though…he sure does get kicked out of the face-off circle a lot. Maybe that’s something that comes with experience playing center and working with the linesmen, but just an observation.

+ Joel Kiviranta

The Finnish forward has proven to be a nice pickup for the team. I’m not sure I’d agree with him being the sixth most used forward at even strength, but he’s stepped in, been extremely reliable, and earned the trust of the staff immediately. He did lead the team in even strength shot attempts and shots on goal.

– MacKinnon and Rantanen

How often do the Avalanche win a game when these two combine for one shot on goal at even strength? Just from watching practices and games, it seems like Nathan MacKinnon has been changing his gear around a lot, trying to find something he’s comfortable with, whether it’s his sticks, his skates, or anything else. He may still be looking for that comfort. Rantanen just had a tough night overall.

Both are still racking up points, but I think it’s fair to say consistency has been an issue. Not really a concern for me in November, so just something to keep an eye on. The good news is that the team is winning and getting some big goals from depth players.

+ Alexandar Georgiev

The Avalanche limited things pretty well for most of the night, but in the third period, they got a little sloppy. That’s when they needed Georgiev to be at his best, and he certainly was. The Wild were credited with six of their 10 high-danger chances in the third period alone, and Georgiev stopped them all, with his best save of the evening coming on Joel Eriksson-Ek late in the third period. He got lost behind the Avalanche defense, and Georgiev had to get across to make the save. I don’t know if I’d call either of the goals he gave up poor, but even when he’s played well of late, there’s still been one goal you’d probably want back.

It seems like his game is building back up, which the team desperately needs. He only faced 21 shots, but I can’t imagine the Avalanche start him again on Saturday. It’s about time he gets a night off.

+ Workhorse Nichushkin

You don’t want to play Valeri Nichushkin 27 minutes a night ever again if you can avoid it, but he was a real workhorse on Saturday night. All the special teams play led to him being on the ice a ton. 8:26 on the powerplay, and another 3:08 on the penalty kill. That won’t happen very often, simply because you won’t see that many powerplays in a game for both teams.

Right now, he’s on fire, so it’s easy to see why the staff trusts him as much as they do. Eight goals in eight games will do that.

– The Powerplay

Picking up one powerplay goal a game isn’t exactly a bad pace. One goal on seven powerplay attempts comes out to a 14% rate, which isn’t great in the grand scheme of things.

We’re now about 1/4 of the way through the season, and the team has the 19th best powerplay in the league. Not terrible, but with the amount of talent the top unit possesses, they should definitely be higher. Plenty to improve on.

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