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Avalanche Game 28 Plus/Minus: Colton Sets The Tone, Rantanen’s Drought Ends



Avalanche Flames

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 Flames for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Tatar Gets One

It’s finally done – Tomas Tatar has scored a goal in an Avalanche uniform.

It took 28 games, but it happened. Tatar has come close in recent weeks to snapping out of this extended drought, but hasn’t been able to finish. This was far and away his best chance, though. It’s hard to get more open than he did, and Ross Colton did a great job setting him up. Maybe he catches fire, maybe he doesn’t, but you could tell that goal meant a lot to him and his teammates, and that’s always nice to see.

– Second Period Chaos

If you’re watching an Avalanche game, the odds of a calm, normal second period seem slim-to-none these days.

Through 28 games, there have been 74 goals in the second period when Colorado plays. 36 of those are from the Avalanche, but 38 of them are from the opposing team. Those 38 goals against are tied with the San Jose Sharks for the most allowed in the middle period. Not great.

It’s not like the Avalanche are leaky all game. Their goals against numbers in the first and third periods both rank in the top 10 in the NHL, so it’s strictly an issue in the second period. With the long change, things can get a little hectic in the second, but that’s no reason for it to turn into a track race every night. They’ll need to start tightening things up, because not every team will give up three unanswered goals in the third.

+ Colton Sets The Tone

Jared Bednar started Ross Colton on the opening shift, and Colton did his best to set the physical tone of the game. It really didn’t even look like he tried to throw a hit, but rather get positioning on Chris Tanev. In the end, Tanev was knocked out of the game, Colton was jumped, and the Avalanche started the game with a powerplay.

Colton set up Tatar’s goal later in the period, and got the comeback started in the third with a goal of his own. He was in a bit of a goalless drought himself, so nice to see him snap out of it in a big way. The 27 year old center is also the guy you most want to be on the ice with when you score a goal. No one gets more excited when that puck goes in the net.

+ Penalty Kill

This game could have gotten really ugly in the third period if the Flames had found a way to score on their powerplay, but the penalty kill did it’s job again, like it has pretty much all season long. It’s been a while since Colorado has had a penalty kill this good, and it certainly helps on a night like Monday when a lot of the chances they give up at even strength just end up in the back of their net.

– Top Guys Struggle Defensively

After two periods, the numbers were not pretty for the big guns.

Rantanen: -3

MacKinnon -3

Makar: -4

Toews: -3

Obviously, it didn’t end that way (except for Toews), but defensively, they’ve certainly got some things to clean up. As he usually is, Makar was pretty hard on himself in the postgame. Bednar said that he trusts his big guns and gives them a lot of rope, but they know that they have to play the right way. The defensive work hasn’t been great the last two games, but they came up big when it mattered the most in the third.

+ Subtle Top Pairing Shift

You may have noticed in the third period that the coaching staff swapped Bowen Byram and Devon Toews. Byram moved up to play with Cale Makar, while Toews moved down, and it worked. Toews was having a rough night, and the staff must have liked what they saw from Byram.

On the game-tying goal, Byram was the one who rushed the puck up the ice, gained the zone, and set up Makar just prior to Rantanen’s goal. I know there’s a lot of people that want to see Byram get a real look next to Makar. Maybe one day that will happen, but it’s certainly a nice option for the staff to have. When Byram plays next to the Norris Trophy winner, he does look a little different, and you can see the offense start to flash a lot more.

– Georgiev Gets Pulled

It was hard to tell from the press box if the third Flames goal went in off of Makar’s stick or not, but either way, it went right through Alexandar Georgiev. That’s a stop he has to make. On some of the other goals in the second period, he didn’t get a whole lot of help, but five goals on 22 shots is rough. The staff had to change the momentum a little bit, so they decided to pull Georgiev.

Now the question is – do they go back to him on Wednesday night?

+ Prosvetov Steps Up

It’s not easy coming into a game cold. After his first save, Blake Coleman tried to get in his head, following him a bit and chatting him up. It didn’t work. Ivan Prosvetov came in and shut things down, stopping all 11 shots he faced and giving his team a chance to complete the comeback. He still hasn’t played a ton of games this year, and you wonder at what point the staff decides to even up the playing time a bit more.

+ Rantanen’s Drought Ends

I called it in the morning. At morning skate, Rantanen was in a chipper mood. I had a feeling the drought was going to end.

It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. Rantanen was credited with 19 shot attempts on the night. Eight hit the net, seven missed, and four were blocked. And after the giveaway on the first goal, he kind of needed to make up for it, and he did just that.

After the game, he had some choice words for Artturi Lehkonen’s father. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that just yet, but it certainly seemed to motivate him. A player has every right to be angry if someone questions their work ethic, so I definitely get where he’s coming from. I was just a little surprised it was talked about so publicly.

+ Meyers Chips In

Ben Meyers kind of became the forgotten man after training camp, but that might just be me. He played a lot of NHL games last year, but he had a quiet camp and got sent to the Colorado Eagles. To his credit, he’s worked hard, moved to wing, and in his last nine AHL games, picked up 11 points. That earned him a call-up on Monday, and he immediately chipped in with a nice goal in the second period.

It sounds like he’ll get another chance next game. Colorado has gotten some nice contributions from their call-ups this year, even if it is in short spurts. We’ll see if Meyers can carry that momentum over.

– Johansen Low Man Again

Ryan Johansen lost his man on the second goal of the game for the Flames, and with the team down two goals, he really didn’t get used a whole lot, which is pretty telling.

Last game, he started on the fourth line, and ended up playing decent minutes. On Monday, he started on the second line, and was the low man in time-on-ice at center. It doesn’t matter where you start. It’s how you play that determines how much ice-time you will get with the Avalanche.

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