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Avalanche Game 45 Plus/Minus: Wood’s Impact, Annunen Makes It Interesting



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 Ottawa Senators for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Annunen Plays Well

I don’t think Justus Annunen played a great game by any means, but he was also playing behind a tired team that wasn’t at the top of their game. The Avalanche gave up more scoring chances than they would have hoped, and by the end of the night, he had faced 40 shots. There was a mini-breakaway stop in the first on Tkachuk, a breakaway stop on Joseph in the second period, and plenty of other high-danger chances that the Avalanche gave up. It may be a low bar right now, but he did finish the game with a .900 save percentage. Colorado has only gotten that one other time in the New Year.

He’s a very different goaltender than Prosvetov. Ivan is a lot more athletic, moves around a lot better, but that can work against him. Annunen is a big guy who tries to stay square to the puck. Just different styles, and I don’t know if the Avalanche have a preference. The one thing I will say is that Annunen appears to be a much better puck handler than either of the other goalies.

I’m guessing Annunen gets another look or two before the team makes a final decision on what they want to do in net.

+ Jason Polin

I haven’t had much of an issue with Polin since being recalled. He’s very much a meat and potatoes guy and there isn’t a lot of flash to his game, at least at this level, but he’s been just fine. Hasn’t been asked to do a lot and has played physical when he’s had the opportunity. That being said, there’s nothing better than seeing a guy score his first NHL goal, and it was a really great shot. He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face in the intermission, and was even happier after the game. Congratulations to him.

– Tired Legs

Bednar admitted after the game that he played the top guys too much in Montreal, and it was noticeable against Ottawa. The top line didn’t look like they had any legs. That sounds funny now, considering Rantanen scored two of the first three goals, but they spent a lot of time chasing in their own end. Today is a day off for everyone to recover, but maybe against a better team, the result wouldn’t have been as good.

– The Sens

Some people may or may not know this, but I grew up a Sens fan. In Denver, that’s weird, and hard to do, but I loved the likes of Martin Havlat, Marian Hossa, Jason Spezza, and more.

Last year, I picked the Sens to make the playoffs and they didn’t get close. This year, I wasn’t going to be fooled, but I didn’t expect them to be THIS bad. They are a mess. Obviously, their goaltending stinks, but they’ve got a lot of talent, and that’s why it’s so confusing. Is there something rotten in that locker room?

Get Patrick Roy in there.

+ Sam Malinski

On the radio this morning, Bednar said that Bowen Byram might play Saturday, but it’s more likely he plays next week at home. That means that, once again, the Avalanche will have to make a decision with Malinski.

Now, I think I already know what the decision is. He’ll head back to the Colorado Eagles until another injury hits, but he sure is making it hard for them to do that. Does his play make one of these defensemen expendable, as the team has a clear hole up front? We’ll see. That’s a difficult trade to make in-season, especially with proven defensemen, but Malinski’s play does make you think a little bit.

+ Georgiev Gets A Night Off

The Avalanche, carrying three goaltenders, didn’t want Alexandar Georgiev backing up. They didn’t want the temptation of throwing him in there if things get ugly for Annunen. Instead, they gave him a night in the press box to relax and chill.

The goalie community loved it, and it might be an opportunity for a reset with Georgiev ahead of a big game.

+ Miles Wood

Wood admitted he still didn’t feel great in the intermission, but that didn’t stop him from immediately stepping in and making an impact. On his first shift of the game, he had a breakaway, which is just what he does. The Avalanche were probably looking to keep his minutes down, seeing as how his energy levels might not be great at the moment, but he still played over 15 minutes. He’s only done that a handful of times this season. His goal in the third period, which ended up tying the game, was a perfect power move.

Wood had a stretch where he took a lot of penalties, which I didn’t love, but beyond that, he’s providing almost exactly what I expected.

– Having To Come Back Again

This team continues to show they can do it time and time again, but can they just get a lead and play a normal game? I may be saying this because writing recaps with the constant changes in momentum can be difficult, but I can’t imagine this is what Avalanche coach Jared Bednar wants. Definitely something to clean up over the last few months of the season.

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