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Avalanche Game 23 Plus/Minus: Top Line’s Heavy Minutes, Makar Exits Another Early



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.

– Top Line Relied On Too Much

Bednar likes to rely on his top line, but on Saturday night, they played the bulk of the minutes for the team at even strength, even though I’d argue it wasn’t their best night. It certainly wasn’t their best start to the game, and they were on the ice a ton in the first 30 minutes.

The gap between Nichushkin at even strength and the next closest player who isn’t on the top line, Ross Colton, was over six minutes. That’s enormous.

It will be interesting to see the energy levels of the big guns tonight in Los Angeles. The Kings are a deep, heavy team to play against, and the staff clearly trusts the top line a heck of a lot more than the other groups. Maybe the top line pulls it out, because they’ve done it many times in the past, but that’s a lot of minutes to play in 30 hours.

+ Ivan Prosvetov

I did not like the third goal by the Kings, and it sure looked like Prosvetov didn’t either, but he was the big reason the Avalanche had the lead in the first period. Colorado was sloppy with the puck and couldn’t connect on any passes, which meant a lot of zone time for the Ducks. The high-danger chances in the first period were lopsided, with the Ducks owning a 6-to-1 lead, but Prosvetov held them to one goal.

+ Byram Gets Confidence Boost

Things could have gone very badly for Byram early. He got beat immediately for a breakaway, but went right back down the ice and scored the opening goal for the Avalanche. His second goal was even better, as that was an angry shot coming down the wing.

Do I think he had his best night in the defensive zone? Definitely not. There were turnovers and lost coverage, but maybe this is enough to get his confidence going, especially if Makar misses any time…

Cale Makar Exits Another Game

I have no idea what happened to Makar, but it’s worth noting that he left practice early on Wednesday before the team travelled to Arizona. Something could still be bothering him that he’s been dealing with for a while. Maybe it’s the wrist he took an Elias Lindholm one-timer off a week ago. Who knows?

Either way, this is (I think) the third game he’s left early from this year. I believe he came back in the other two, but this one, he didn’t. Granted, he played up until almost the end of regulation, so there wasn’t a ton of time left to do anything, but there should still be concern.

– Playing Down To The Competition

Since the Avalanche beat the Ducks 8-2 in mid-November, Anaheim had lost eight straight.

That streak is clearly over.

Colorado definitely picked up their game the final 30 minutes or so, but if they had played better early in the game, this could have been a blowout. That’s funny to say because they scored three goals early, but those all came off horrific mistakes by the Ducks as opposed to the Avalanche pushing the play. Gibson was swimming early, but the Avalanche didn’t spend a lot of time in that zone.

The Avalanche are a strange team in that they’re extremely good historically on the second half of a back-to-back, but it feels like they let a point slip away here against a team they should beat.

– Leo Carlsson

I put this as a minus because the Avalanche are going to have to face this guy for years to come.

And he’s going to be a problem. Not just for the Avalanche, but the entire NHL.

+ Jonathan Drouin’s Confidence

The points absolutely need to start coming here soon, and it’s certainly not all perfect, but it’s been fun to watch Drouin’s confidence with the puck grow over the last few weeks. He looks like a different player out there. He wants the puck on his stick and he’s making plays. Heck, he even threw a nice hit on Ilya Lyubushkin in the second period while forechecking.

That line could definitely use an Artturi Lehkonen on it, because right now, Drouin is really the only guy you want to have the puck on it.

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