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Avalanche Game 33 Plus/Minus: Stars Vs. Depth



Avalanche Senators

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 Senators for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ The Stars

Nathan MacKinnon is playing out of his mind right now. Valeri Nichushkin might be playing at or near the level that he was playing at during the Stanley Cup run of 2022. And yes, while Mikko Rantanen doesn’t look as good as those two, he’s still racking up points and scoring big time goals.

It’s a good thing the Avalanche have this trio, because they really are keeping them afloat right now. Appreciate the stars that the team has, because 95% of the league would kill to have guys like this that they can throw on the ice for a large portion of the game and rely on. Is Colorado far too dependent on this trio right now? Without question, and Jared Bednar knows this, but he’s doing what he has to do make sure his team goes home with two points.

– The Depth

Do I think all of them struggled? Not at all. The Wood/Colton/Drouin trio had some chances offensively, unlike the other lines, but they couldn’t finish.

The reality is, at even strength, the Avalanche are getting no production from any line other than the top one, and you can tell the coach is getting frustrated.

“More. I need to see more. But we’re playing to win. I’ll play him 39 minutes if I have to.”

That was Bednar when I asked him what he needs to see from everyone else to avoid playing a guy like Nichushkin 29 minutes a night. It’s possible he has made it clear to GM Chris MacFarland that he needs some help up front. I’m sure the GM can see it with his own two eyes as well. It’s easier said than done to make a big move right now, given the salary cap and the current roster freeze, but that quote almost sounded like a plea to the GM – I need a top six forward.

– The Second Period

I’m essentially copying and pasting this portion into every Plus/Minus post-game article.

The Avalanche came out flying, and it was a shame they didn’t leave the first period with a lead. They outshot Ottawa 19-9 and looked like the much better team.

Then the second period started, and the roles were completely reversed. Horrific pinches in the neutral zone, odd-man rushes left and right, and they generated about half as many shots as they did in the first. All of this against a team that sits dead last in the Eastern Conference.

“The second was terrible. Terrible. Odd-man rush after odd-man rush coming the other way.”

Bednar didn’t hold back after the game, so he’s aware of the issue. I don’t even know how to explain it anymore, and I would love to not withhold a section of this article after every game for it.

+ Georgiev

Yes, he gave up four goals (and the fourth was a real stinker, in my opinion), but he was forced to make tough save after tough save to even give the Avalanche a chance to win.

At one point in the second period, Colorado gave up a breakaway and then a 2-on-1 in a span of 30 seconds. He stopped both. On a late powerplay, he made not one, but two ridiculous left pad stops on Tarasenko. I’m actually not quite sure how Tarasenko, a veteran goal scorer, didn’t manage to bury one of those chances, but it made a huge difference in the game. In the third period, Georgiev was on top of his game when the team kept taking penalties, and made a crazy blocker save in the final three minutes.

Again, four goals is not ideal, but the team giving up 40+ shots to a bottom feeder is a bigger concern for me.

+ Sam Girard Returns To The Team

I don’t know when Girard is going to get back into game action, but it’s just great to see him around the team again. You could tell that his teammates were really happy to get him back as well. I hope everything has gone well for him in the Players Assistance Program, and that he’s in a good place. On the ice, I think it’s pretty clear the Avalanche have missed him a fair bit.

– Sam Malinski

It was bound to happen eventually, but that was one of those games where you go, “Yep, that’s a rookie defenseman.”

A couple of penalties, one of which he had to take after making a really ugly turnover, and some defensive zone breakdowns. These types of games happen for young defensemen in the NHL, so you just learn from it and move on.

+ Makar Returns

I thought Cale Makar was dynamic in the first period. Nearly scored on his first shift, made a ridiculous stretch pass to spring Ross Colton minutes later, and looked terrific. The rest of the game, he looked a little rusty, but it’s big to get him back.

Assuming he took enough time to heal up, that is.

– Rycroft Drinks From The Wrong Cup

If you didn’t see the video, here it is…

Credit to Mark Rycroft, because I would have been down and out, throwing up immediately. Not only does he not vomit, but he recovers to get back to the broadcast in under a minute. You know what this says to me? This isn’t the first time he has sipped from a cup like that.

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