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Avalanche Game 61 Plus/Minus: Vet Line Produces, Annunen Shutout

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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 Chicago Blackhawks for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Annunen Shutout

I really am not a betting man, but if I was, my gut is still telling me to bet on the Avalanche going out and acquiring a backup goaltender.

That being said, Justus Annunen is making them think about it a little harder than maybe they were a month ago.

The Blackhawks are far from top competition, but they did test him a fair bit in the first period and he held up just fine. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing. That’s now three straight starts where Bednar has been very happy with what he’s seen from his current backup goaltender. Is it enough for Annunen to earn the job? We’ll find out in a week. Either way, he’s got an NHL shutout to his name, and no one can ever take that away from him. Congratulations to Annunen.

+ Drouin-Johansen-Parise Line

From start to finish, this was easily the best line on the ice for the Avalanche.

Ryan Johansen had that four game run where he looked rejuvenated…then took a step back. Chicago might have been his best game. Again, and I feel like I’m repeating myself here, that’s a bad team, but Johansen was battling for the puck and generating chances.

On his wings you had Zach Parise, who picked up three points and kind of stole a goal from Johansen. On that goal, Jonathan Drouin did a tremendous job drawing everyone to him before feeding Johansen on the wing. Terrible defense, but great patience by him.

Johansen’s name was thrown around on Thursday as being a guy the Avalanche may toss into a deal to get rid of his contract, so who knows what the next week will bring, but they looked like a solid line against Chicago.

+ Cogliano’s Late Shot Block

Everything you need to know about Andrew Cogliano, you can learn in those final 10 seconds. The game was over, and there was no need for him to block a slapshot from the point, but he did because he doesn’t know any other way to play. That shot probably wasn’t going to go in, but Cogliano made sure to get in front of it and secure a shutout for his young goaltender. The bench went wild, and for good reason. This is the stuff that builds teams, and why guys like Cogliano are so important to a locker room.

+ 100 Points For MacKinnon

Remember when it seemed like Nathan MacKinnon would never hit 100 points in a season? Now it’s starting to feel like he’s never going to have a year where he doesn’t hit 100 points.

100 points in just 61 games. Pretty wild to think about. The Hart Trophy is still in sight at this point in the year, although the competition is really ramping up.

+ Makar Shows Jump

Cale Makar hasn’t looked like Cale Makar all that much lately, but he did show signs of breaking out on Thursday night, especially at the end of the second period. Everything just still seems a little…off. On Thursday, it was his shot. He created multiple chances to score, but couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. You’d like to think that’s an easy thing for him to figure out, because seeing him jump into the rush and create chances was a positive sign.

+ A Road Win

Again, the Chicago Blackhawks are not a very good team at all. They’re quite bad, but the Avalanche have lost to them on the road already this year, so no win is ever a guarantee. Given how things have gone away from Ball Arena for most of the year, you take any wins you can get on the road.

+ Letting Them Play

This is two straight games where the refs have just let everyone play, calling only one penalty on each team. I really don’t mind it as long as they’re consistent and letting the same things go for both teams. I’d much rather watch a game that flows with no penalties than a game where you’ve got a penalty every few minutes. And we’ve had plenty of those this year.

– Names Above Heads On The Broadcast

Any time Connor Bedard got on the ice, there was giant rectangle above his head showing his name, covering a decent chunk of the play. I get that the NHL wants to promote the guy, but there just has to be a better way.

This isn’t just a Bedard thing either. When the Avalanche had their powerplay, they had smaller rectangles above the last two players who touched the puck, showing their names. When the puck moved around, the names switched. The game simply moves too fast to have part of the play getting covered up, and if you are constantly moving the names, it can get a bit disorienting.

I’m not a marketing guy, but I would like to think we can figure something out here. I really don’t care if they talk about Bedard all the time, as I don’t really listen to broadcasts, but covering up part of the play is where I draw the line.

+ Johnson With The No-Look

What has gotten into Jack Johnson lately? He looks like the offensive defenseman he was when he entered the league at a young age. He got things started with taking the puck off Bedard, then off Beauvilier, and then the no-look pass to Parise. What is going on here?

That’s got to be the two oldest players to combine for an Avalanche goal in a very, very long time, if not the oldest.

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