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Avalanche Game 22 Plus/Minus: MacKinnon Dazzles, Fans Show Out



Avalanche lines Coyotes

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 Coyotes for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Miles Wood

I liked Wood’s game all night long. He was using his speed to create chances, and got in on the forecheck early and often. His goal was fantastic recognition that the defenseman had no interest in covering him if he attacked the net, and that’s exactly what happened. That’s a powerful goal. Granted, Arizona only having four players on the ice helped, but still a great power move.

Just prior to that goal, he chipped the puck past the defenseman to create a 2-on-1 and a good chance. He continued his strong play on the PK as well. Although he wasn’t on the ice very long, he cleared the puck down the ice twice for his team to change.

For my money, he’s been the most consistent new addition this season.

– The Fourth Line

It wasn’t until really late that the fourth line started to get on the attack offensively and on the forecheck. For the majority of the game, they were stuck in their own end, including Arizona’s first goal. I don’t think Kiviranta was on the ice for a shot attempt by the Avalanche until there was 10 minutes left in the game. They’ve been really good since being put together, but not their best night.

– The Big Mistake

When the Avalanche messed up last night, they messed up BIG. I actually like Bowen Byram’s game most of the night (his on-ice numbers are great), but he made two big mistakes. I’m not sure quite what he was doing on the third Coyotes goal, and then in overtime, he just lost his guy behind him and was forced to take a penalty.

He wasn’t alone. Cale Makar overskated a puck in the second period, leading to a 2-on-0 for the Coyotes. The penalty kill for the Avalanche, which has been so good, was broken down very easily by Arizona on the second goal. On the game-winner, an exhausted Makar inadvertently put the puck in his own net. There were turnovers galore prior to the Coyotes first goal by everyone on the ice. Arizona is a skilled team, and they made Colorado pay for their mistakes.

+ Powerplay

While the powerplay only went 2-for-3, they could have easily scored on all three of their opportunities. The top unit was pretty dominant, and the Coyotes had no answer for them. This is why I feel the powerplay sitting at 18th through 1/4 of the season was a bit of a let down. There’s so much talent on it that they should dominate on a nightly basis. Last night was a good start.

+ Nathan MacKinnon

I told you all just a few days ago that MacKinnon going goalless on the powerplay wasn’t going to last much longer, and it lasted about 51 more minutes. Holy cow, what a rocket of a shot to tie the game up. The way the media is set up at Mullett Arena, we were in section 113, which is essentially the corner where MacKinnon shot that puck. I could almost hear that puck go whistling into the back of the net. The families of Coyotes players were right in front of us, and you could hear them gasp after the shot.

Beyond that, I felt that was MacKinnon’s best game in a while. He had quite a few scoring opportunities, and was spinning away from Coyotes players regularly. He nearly scored in the first period on the backdoor, but Ingram just barely got across to rob him. I think he nearly hit the over on shots in the first period alone. More of this, and the Avalanche will be a very difficult team to beat.

– Overtime

The Avalanche got their first taste of overtime action this season, and it…didn’t go well.

Colorado barely touched the puck during the extra period, and when they did, they turned it over pretty quickly. I think their only shot came when Rantanen fired it off Ingram’s stick, but even that wasn’t from a great spot, and shooting probably wasn’t the best move. They ultimately took the penalty and lost the game, but that was not a great overtime for Colorado.

+ The Fans

I’m not so sure I’d call this a road game. The fan split for this one had to have been 75/25 in favor of Avalanche fans. When Makar and MacKinnon scored, the “student section” erupted because it was mostly Colorado fans. Occasionally, the Coyotes would try to get a “Let’s Go Yotes!” chant going, but Avalanche fans drowned them out.

From what I was told after the game, Coyotes fans being outnumbered in this building is pretty standard, but being outnumbered by that amount isn’t. Way to show up, Avalanche fans.

+ Josh Manson

I think the Coyotes got away with some pretty clear interference on their third goal, but Kerfoot did a nice job of making it not look so bad. That didn’t allow Manson to get to Carcone in the corner prior to the goal.

Beyond that, he was a tank. That hit on Boyd shook the building, and then he went and beat down Liam O’Brien, who’s a pretty tough customer. I’m getting sick of players having to fight after clean hits, but Manson understands that sometimes, you have to do that. Heck, Manson almost won’t he game with under a minute left, taking the puck to the net and rattling Ingram’s cage with a shot. He’s starting to become the intimidating presence the team needs on the blueline again.

– Cale Makar

Makar racked up two points, and his shot was great recognition of the screen Nichushkin provided, but I didn’t love his game. There were some pretty big mistakes from him, which I mentioned above. With Makar on the ice, the team had only a 30% expected goals-for rate. Tough to win games when your top defenseman has those numbers.

+ Everyone That Said ‘Hi’

There is no press box seating for the media at Mullett Arena, so we’re right in there with the fans on the concourse. Thank you to the handful of you that stopped by, said hello, talked hockey, and even took pictures with me and the other media members. I appreciate the support from all of you!

– Mullett Arena

I can’t believe an NHL team plays here. The general sentiment I’ve gotten from talking to Colorado players the last few days is that they also don’t understand how an NHL team is playing in such a small arena. It’s a cool setting (for one game), and I enjoyed covering a game here, but it’s a bad look for the league. They’ve got to get this figured out.

It’s just unprofessional. Coach Bednar had to take his skates off in the locker room with the team because the makeshift coaches room has concrete floors. The road team has to get dressed in a temporary locker room that was almost built out of necessity. The locker room itself isn’t bad, but it’s not something you expect at an NHL arena, and the team has to walk outdoors to get there.

If you watch videos of Coach Bednar’s press conferences, you might hear jets flying overhead. Why is that? Because we had to conduct them outside under a tent! The airport is just a few minutes away, so planes fly overhead frequently.

Again, it was a cool thing to experience, but the NHL has got to make a decision here pretty quickly on what they’re going to do. They can’t have one of their teams playing in a building like this much longer.

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