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Avalanche Game 62 Plus/Minus: Wagner Impresses…That’s About It



Avalanche Predators

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 Nashville Predators for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Chris Wagner

It’s great for Chris Wagner that he was the best player for the Avalanche. Is that great for the team? Probably not, but we’ll get to that.

He hit the crossbar in the third on a great shot coming down the wing, is getting the ice-time they were trying to hand Ryan Johansen on the penalty kill, and making the most of it. He actually finished with almost as much ice-time as Johansen, which says a bit about the two players and how the night went. Wagner knows what he is as a player, and isn’t going to stray from that. If/when the Avalanche go out and get a center, he might get bumped out of the lineup, but he’s done his part.

– The Third Period

The second period wasn’t great, but the third period was pretty unacceptable. Down a goal, the game was still well within reach, but the Avalanche looked like they had nothing in the tank, despite it being a relatively short two game road trip. The Nashville Predators won every race to the puck, outworked Colorado, and when the Avalanche did have an opportunity to make a play, their passing was horrendous. In one of the rare instances they created a rush opportunity, Miles Wood sent it behind his teammate on the wall, sending Nashville the other way.

Nashville is on a run right now, so you do have to give them credit, but it’s one thing to be outplayed. It’s another thing entirely to get outworked the way Colorado was. That’s the stuff that frustrated everyone.

– Cale Makar

There’s no way that he’s 100%, right?

On the Predators second goal, with seemingly no one around him, he just fell over. That led to a turnover, which led to possession time for Nashville, and eventually, Makar (and others) left Cody Glass all alone in front of the net. At other points in the game, he just missed his passes in the offensive zone, and in the third period, he had a similar breakout where he just waited too long and handed it right to the Predators.

I don’t know if it needs to be said, but if this is the version of Makar the Avalanche are getting the rest of the way, I don’t think they can win the Stanley Cup. They need him to be elite, and he hasn’t looked like that in a while, certainly not in the defensive zone.

– Roaring 20’s Line

Since Logan O’Connor returned from injury, this line just has not looked the same. The energy hasn’t been there, the offensive production hasn’t, and they haven’t been the difference makers they were for most of the season.

On the first Nashville goal, Ross Colton worked to get back on the back check, but just didn’t cover anyone, resulting in a wide open Cody Glass. He also took a beating in the face-off circle.

This was bound to happen if they were going to continue to be used as the second line. They’re all good players, but they aren’t second liners, and eventually, that was going to get exposed by other teams. The return of Valeri Nichushkin next week, whenever he does re-enter the lineup, could change that pretty quickly, and I think we’ll see this trio look much better.

– Home-Ice Advantage Takes A Hit

Both the Jets and the Stars won on Saturday night, so the Avalanche did fall behind a little bit in the Central Division. It’s something we’ll just have to keep an eye on for the rest of the season, but Colorado really looks like they need that home-ice when the playoffs start.

They have three games at home this week, and all three are winnable. They’ve got to take advantage of that.

– The Penalty Kill

Colorado probably still loses this game without special teams, but it’s been a rough couple of weeks for their penalty kill. For the majority of the season, they were top 10 and in no danger of falling out of it. Right now, they sit tied for 11th and have given up multiple powerplay goals in a game a few times over the last week. You can’t have your penalty kill struggling when the playoffs roll around. To me, a good penalty kill in the playoffs is more important than a good powerplay, so it’s something they need to get figured out.

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