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 New York Rangers for the Colorado Avalanche.
+ Is That Manson or Makar?
Josh Manson has really cranked his game up in the last two months, and on Monday night, there were a few times where he looked like Cale Makar out there. Right before Nathan MacKinnon scored the only goal of the game for the Avalanche, Manson nearly went end-to-end, and it resulted in a nice look for Jonathan Drouin. It didn’t go, but Manson backchecked and broke up a Rangers rush, allowing the Avalanche to reset and MacKinnon to go to work.
Even beyond that, he looked fantastic, and the underlying numbers were very favorable for him. In 18 minutes, he was only on the ice for .23 expected goals against, and had far and away the best shot share numbers on the defense.
– Top Players Passing Off The Mark
This doesn’t come as a big surprise to me, because skilled players need to be in a rhythm to really be going, but the big guns for the Avalanche were not all on the same page Monday. MacKinnon, while he scored a beautiful goal, turned the puck over quite a bit with forced passes. At one point, he had Drouin alone on the backdoor, but the pass was just a little off. Mikko Rantanen definitely looked like a guy who hadn’t played in over a week, as he couldn’t seem to get anything going. By overtime, he looked exhausted. Drouin had a particularly rough shift in the second period that resulted in a few chances for the Rangers. Even Makar had some issues getting shots through from the point.
This should be just a temporary thing, as they’ll be fine once the games start rolling.
That’s now four straight games with a save percentage at .900 or above for Georgiev. Is that a high bar? No, not exactly, but on Monday night, he played really well. There was nothing he could really do on the Artemi Panarin goal, and while he wasn’t happy with the overtime winner, it did look like a great shot. He looked locked in against his former team, and just like last year, seemed determine to do his best to put on a show at MSG.
In the second period, he flashed that $100,000 poke check on Blake Wheeler. Maybe the All-Star weekend gives him some confidence heading down the stretch, because he seemed to have fun.
Now, just give him the night off in Jersey.
While the passing was off and they weren’t creating a ton of offense, the Avalanche did a solid job limiting the chances for the Rangers through two periods. By the time the second period buzzer had gone off, the scoring chances at even strength were 24-11 in favor of Colorado, and the high-danger chances were 11-4. New York’s best chances might have come while shorthanded, but the Avalanche slowed them down for two periods.
The rest of the game? Well…
– Third Period
You could tell that the Avalanche didn’t have their legs in the third period, and it resulted in them chasing most of the time. It took them over eight minutes to even register a shot on net. Seeing the team trailing the game push a little harder is hardly a surprise, but most of the third period was spent in Colorado’s end, with the Rangers eventually tying it up.
What a cluster.
Just being completely honest, the first call on the Rangers seemed kind of weak. Parise drew it from hard work, but it wasn’t much. Then you have the battle between Rantanen and K’Andre Miller in front of the net. That’s an easy one for the refs to just give both guys two minutes and head to 4-on-4, but somehow Rantanen ended up with the extra two, and I’m not quite sure how.
That was nothing compared to what happened next. Miles Wood tripping over Josh Manson’s stick resulted in a penalty on the Rangers. After the call, one of the refs saw the mistake on the Jumbotron and went to talk to the ref who made the call about it, but it was too late. The call had already been made. I assumed a make-up call was coming, but it never did, because the refs swallowed their whistles the rest of the night, despite their being actual infractions.
You can tell effort is not going to be an issue with Parise. He drew a penalty on his first shift, had a fantastic forecheck to turn the puck over in the second, and just outworked Vincent Trocheck for a puck in the third to nearly create a breakaway. Strong first game from him, and I anticipate he’ll play more on the penalty kill as the season goes on.
+ Miles Wood And Logan O’Connor
Wood was arguably the best forward on the team for the Avalanche, and just continues to be a menace out there. O’Connor might not have been far behind him, and had a great chance off the rush off a pass from Wood in the second period.
– Ross Colton‘s Shot
That line had plenty of chances to bury the puck, but couldn’t get anything to go. Wood and O’Connor got some of their shots on net, but Colton couldn’t hit anything, missing the net on all five shot attempts he took. Maybe another sign of the rust the team was shaking off.
That was my first time covering a game at Madison Square Garden, and what a building it is. Done a lot of walking in New York the past 48 hours, but being in a building like that was a cool experience.
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