Connect with us

Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Game 70 Plus/Minus: Rantanen’s Availability, Bash Brothers




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 Columbus Blue Jackets for the Colorado Avalanche.

– That Pesky First Goal Against

I don’t know what it is about this team and giving up the first goal against, but it keeps happening. Not all goals are the same. This one was just a breakdown in the defensive zone after a turnover at the blueline. Against a poor team like the Blue Jackets, it’s a little easier to overcome, but in the playoffs, not something you want to be doing.

+ Rantanen Keeps Rolling

Never take for granted an elite talent like this. With another three point game, it looks like he’s going to shatter his career high in points, assuming he doesn’t get hurt.

I also think it’s worth noting that for two seasons in a row, Mikko Rantanen, on top of being an elite scorer, has shown he has the most important ability in the world – availability. He’s played in every game each of the last two seasons. In fact, the only games he missed during the Stanley Cup run weren’t even to an injury, it was to some weird illness.

We sometimes take the production for granted, but don’t overlook his ability to play every night. That’s what you want out of your star players, right?

+ Line Experimentation

It’s funny. I almost asked Jared Bednar after morning skate about potentially experimenting by separating Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon down the stretch. Now that he’s got a true 2C, he has the opportunity to try it, just like he did in the 2022 playoffs.

Well, one period into the game on Friday, and that’s exactly what we got. The wingers didn’t change on the lines, just the center. Granted, all of this happened against the Columbus Blue Jackets, so I don’t know how much you can really take from it, but they looked pretty good. The fancy stats for the Mittelstadt line don’t look great, but they picked up two goals. Meanwhile, the underlying numbers for the new MacKinnon line were dominant, as they outshot the Blue Jackets 10-0 in their 8:19 together.

Who knows if these lines will stay together at practice today or for the game tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but this is the time to experiment. It would be a little easier if they had some wiggle room, but the rest of the Central Division isn’t allowing that.

– The Blue Jackets

Holy cow, what a terrible team. I understand they have some injuries and are missing Patrik Laine still, but the most impressive player on the ice for them, at least to me, was Alexandre Texier. That’s probably not a good sign for a team and their ability to win.

+ The Bash Brothers Get Some Mojo Back

Ross Colton and Miles Wood are essentially brothers from another mother off the ice, but on the ice, their play has dipped a bit of late. On Friday, Bednar put them back together to see if they can find their mojo again, and they did, at least for one night. Again, this is the Blue Jackets, and you want to see them perform against the best teams in the league, but this is who was on the schedule.

They definitely need more of this going forward from them, because the Avalanche now have the skill in front of them to where they can play roles they’re far more suited for.

+ Jonathan Drouin

He was put back with MacKinnon after the first period, but he’s not just been a product of MacKinnon all year long, which some people might want to believe. The zone exit and entry on the first goal were just perfection. His speed through the neutral zone forced the defenders to back in, then he gained the zone and executed a perfect drop pass to Lehkonen, which got everything started. Yes, he picked up another assist on the powerplay, which he’s done a lot of this year, but he has done a lot of work on his own this year.

His numbers with both centers were phenomenal. He was only on the ice for a single shot on goal for Columbus. Granted, that shot went in, but that’s pretty darn good for a 60 minute game.

+ Winning The Game They Should

You expect the Avalanche to beat the Blue Jackets, and they did. That’s really all you can ask for. The game ending up a blowout looks a lot better at the end of the night, but all that matters is you walk away with two points, and that’s what the Avalanche did.

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.