Connect with us

Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Game 66 Plus/Minus: Walker Cruising, All Aboard



Avalanche Flames

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 Calgary Flames for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Sean Walker

Maybe the reason I got them mixed up so much on Tuesday night was because I’m getting old and going blind, but there were multiple times where I thought Sean Walker was Cale Makar. Number 26 looks like he can really get up and down the ice and boogie. Led the team with eight shots on goal, and many of them were great scoring chances. The power move to start the third period that he nearly tucked in was really impressive.

He also led the team in shorthanded time-on-ice, which is something I think we’ll see a lot more of down the stretch. He’s a real strong penalty killer and that will take some minutes away from a guy like Cale Makar.

+ Chu Chu Train

Lehkonen might not be getting his spot on the top line back. At the very least, I don’t think he’s getting his spot on the top powerplay unit back. Valeri Nichushkin is back, and it’s extremely noticeable on the ice.

Great pass on the opening goal by Rantanen, recognizing that he was left all alone on the backdoor. He nearly pulled off the same play in the second period on powerplay, but his pass was just an inch off. He made up for it with a nice cross-ice look to MacKinnon for his bomb, and then got in on the goal scoring action himself with a perfect shot.

I would prefer they keep Nichushkin on the second line when everyone gets back to spread things out a little bit, but I don’t know if that will happen if he puts together a few more games like this.

+ Annunen Settles Down

Not that it was his fault, but two goals on three shots is never a way to start the game. The first goal was a deflection up high, so not much he could do about it, and it looked like he just lost track of it on the second goal. After that, he really settled down. Made a big stop on a two-on-one later in the first, and had to stop Huberdeau on a breakaway in the second period.

The backup job is his down the stretch, and a performance like this should make the Avalanche feel a little more at ease.

+ Mittelstadt Gets One

I wasn’t worried about Casey Mittelstadt. It was only one game, after all. However, Avalanche fans WOULD NOT stop sending me videos of Bowen Byram scoring in Buffalo, so I was kind of hoping that Mittelstadt would get one just to calm down the fanbase.

It was a very smooth goal, too. I didn’t think he had enough room to get off a shot, but he’s got a very unique release and snuck it short-side. This came after he missed on a two-on-one in the first period.

One thing I just love about his game, and I talked about it in the film room, is his patience with the puck. There were a few times where he got the puck in the defensive zone, and instead of panicking and throwing it away, he held onto it and maintained possession until he had an outlet. Those are little things that go a long way in a system like this. He’s an incredibly intelligent player and that’s already been on display in his two games.

– Fourth Line

This is nitpicking at best, but the Avalanche recalled Fredrik Olofsson before the trip to come back up and center the fourth line. The result against the Flames was that line really being the only trio that spent some time in their own end. In a perfect world, with all the forwards the Avalanche have picked up, at least 2/3 of this trio won’t be playing on a regular basis, but injuries can and will hit. Maybe not the ideal fourth line down the stretch.

+ Brandon Duhaime

I wouldn’t go penciling in Brandon Duhaime into the top six (19 points in his last 115 games), but that was a nice little pass to Mittelstadt for his goal. For at least one night, he filled in admirably, and he’ll have to do it again on Wednesday against the Canucks, because neither Artturi Lehkonen or Zach Parise will be able to play.

+ Mikko Rantanen

Just casually puts up another four points, including the final goal of the night, which was just a ridiculous shot from no angle at all. We take his skill for granted a lot of times, and he certainly can be a frustrating player, but he’s an elite point producer and since all the moves last week, has nine points in just three games.

+ Ice-Time Spread

Because it was a blowout, the Avalanche were able to spread out the ice-time in the third period. MacKinnon barely played in the final 10 minutes, and finished with under 18 minutes.

Something to keep in mind with another game tonight.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

This site is in no way associated with the Colorado Avalanche or the NHL. Copyright © 2023 National Hockey Now.