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Avalanche Game 47 Plus/Minus: Energy Line, Lehkonen’s Return Is Near




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 Philadelphia Flyers for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ The Roaring 20’s Line

I guess this is the nickname we’re running with here, but as a trio, they continue to do the same thing every single night, and it’s giving them success. They’re not reinventing the wheel here. They just go out there and outwork the opponents, forecheck hard, and pressure the other team into mistakes. That pressure is now creating offense, and a lot of it.

Logan O’Connor had himself a game, and is on a real run right now. He’s got 14 points in his last 14 games, and has already set a career high in goals. If he keeps this up, he has a legit shot at 20 goals. Ross Colton is showing that sitting in front of the net on the top powerplay for the Avalanche might be the best job in hockey, as he’s been racking up the points there. He finished the game with three assists. And what else can you say about Miles Wood? He’s been an animal since returning from the flu, and picked up two assists.

Like I said after last game, the Avalanche have a good top line, and a solid third line with this trio. They just have to figure out that second line, and it looks like 1/3 of it might be coming back…

+ Lehkonen Seems To Be Back

After the game, the Avalanche sent Jason Polin back to the Colorado Eagles. They have a few days off here, but that likely means that Artturi Lehkonen will be in the lineup on Wednesday night against the Capitals.

It’s actually remarkable when you think about how long the team has been without Lehkonen. He was injured way back on Nov. 10. That seems like forever ago. This was a pretty major injury, so it will be interesting to see if Lehkonen’s game changes at all. My guess is no, knowing what type of player he is, but a neck injury is no joke.

+ Nathan MacKinnon

What more can you really say? The NHL decided to take away one of his assists, but he still racked up four points, and now officially leads the NHL in scoring. He’ll be a Captain at the All-Star game, although he could probably use the rest.

Now he’ll head back to Ball Arena and look to keep his 23 game home scoring streak alive.

– Ryan Johansen

The fact that he’s not producing next to the likes of Andrew Cogliano and Joel Kiviranta isn’t really a surprise, but the problem is that he’s not doing much of anything out there. When Lehkonen returns, I imagine Johansen will be his center, because who else is it going to be? We don’t know when Valeri Nichushkin is coming back, but it will likely be Johansen’s last chance to show he can help out in the top nine. I still expect them to go out and get a center regardless, but what happens to Johansen over the next few months will be fascinating to watch. The fit just hasn’t been there with the Avalanche.

+ 300 For Cale

It’s a bummer it didn’t happen against Boston, with the whole Bobby Orr connection, but Cale Makar hit 300 points on Saturday afternoon with an assist. Only Orr was quicker to do it as a defenseman. Just a wild number from a defenseman unlike any other in the league.

I think his defensive game has taken a bit of a step back this season, especially around the net, but the numbers are incredible.

+ Ice-Time Spread

Maybe I’ve just gotten so used to seeing the gaudy numbers for the top line, but after the Montreal game, the staff has tried to keep their ice-time in check a bit. MacKinnon played 23:30, which is still a lot, but Rantanen was around 22, and Drouin at 21. The top pair played 24 minutes, which is a pretty reasonable amount. The Colton line playing as well as it did helps, and maybe getting Lehkonen back will help even more.

– Lack of Possession

It could have just been the last game of a long road trip and a tired team, but the Avalanche didn’t have the puck a whole lot on Saturday. That sounds weird considering they scored seven goals, but the Flyers owned the puck at even strength.

To Colorado’s credit, while the Flyers had way more shot attempts, the quality attempts were kept to a minimum, as the Avalanche did a good job keeping them to the outside, for the most part.

+ A Short Break

No team has played more games than the Avalanche. I’m struggling to remember the last time they got three days off in between games, but it’s a well deserved break for the team.

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