Connect with us

Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Game 71 Plus/Minus: Evolution Of Drouin, Toews Does It Again



Avalanche Penguins

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 Pittsburgh Penguins for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Jonathan Drouin

Nathan MacKinnon said he was the best player on the ice. I think Sidney Crosby might have something to say about that, but Drouin was pretty darn impressive.

He’s now seven points away from tying his career high in points, all while playing for close to league minimum. Just a heck of a story and it all comes from hard work. The real impressive part of his game this year hasn’t been the offense, but everything he’s doing away from the puck. On Saturday, I asked Jared Bednar if he saw the all-around ability from Drouin hidden in there when they scouted him over the summer.

“I think that’s the evolution of his game,” Bednar told me. “It’s something we expect from all of our players. Not just high skill, make plays when you have the puck, but be relentless in checking the puck back up ice, neutral zone, in the zone, so we can play with the puck more…he’s been dedicated to that portion of the game because that’s something (that) maybe it didn’t come natural to him before, but he certainly put in a great effort and improved it dramatically.”

+ Nathan MacKinnon In The Final Period

For 35 minutes, Crosby had his number. Then, a switch went off, and MacKinnon got angry. A lot of it probably had to do with that rush at the end of the second period where he felt he was hooked. He looked angry, and played like it the rest of the game. In the past, an angry MacKinnon might be a frustrated MacKinnon, but he channeled it in the right way, and that’s been the case most of the last two seasons. That’s the evolution of him as a player, and why he’s probably the best hockey player in the world right now.

– Jonathan Drouin’s Price Tag

Yes, everyone wants Drouin to take another discount to stay with his buddy in Colorado, but how realistic is that? And how big of a discount would it have to be? Because if you look at the cap situation for the Avalanche next year, it’s going to be really tricky to fit him in if Gabriel Landeskog is coming back, and a discount would have to be well under his market value. The reality is that he’s probably pricing himself out of what the Avalanche can afford, and that’s a combination of best case/worst case scenario. It’s incredible the value the Avalanche are getting from him this season, but he’s playing so well that they might not able to afford him. That’s life in the cap world.

+ Devon Toews Jumping In

Those goals in the third period don’t happen if Devon Toews doesn’t keep pushing the play to jump into the action. Assists on both goals and well earned, especially on the tying goal, because he carried that puck from the front of his own net all the way into the offensive zone.

I feel like I’ve said this many times in his tenure in Colorado. When Toews is involved offensively, good things typically happen for the Avalanche, and over the years, he’s been involved a lot.

+ The Third Line

Colorado had very little going in the first 35 minutes, but the third line was a lone bright spot, generating a few chances and really being the only line that wasn’t getting caved in. They got the party started offensively, but it started in the defensive end, with Colton and Parise taking the puck away from Crosby to get the transition game started. That’s the type of momentum changing stuff you want to see from a third line.

– The First Period

That was ugly. When you make Lars Eller look incredible, you know it’s a tough period. I never saw him play anywhere close to that level in an Avalanche uniform, but he was making life miserable for Colorado. He wasn’t alone, though.

16-4. Those were the shots on net in favor of the Penguins after one. The team that had the lead definitely deserved it after one period, and it really wasn’t all that lose. A real wake-up call for Colorado, and the definitely the type of period you can’t have against a playoff caliber team in the future. Comebacks are fun and all, but not particularly sustainable.

At least, I don’t think they are.

– Casey Mittelstadt

Probably his weakest performance since coming to Colorado. In the film room I did after the acquisition, I pointed out that Mittelstadt will pass up a few too many shots, and that was on display a few times on Sunday afternoon. In the third period, he looked to make the extra pass on a 3-on-1 and didn’t even put it in Lehkonen’s wheelhouse. He had a chance to cut to the middle and shoot on another rush, but got a little fancy and ultimately bowled over Nedelkjovic without even getting a shot off.

Not his best game. It happens.

+/- (?) The Brilliance Of Sidney Crosby

I don’t even know if this should be a + or a -. He terrorized the Avalanche on Sunday, but he’s also a ton of fun to watch, and at the age of 36, he’s still elite. In the first 33 minutes, he was the best player on the ice and it wasn’t even all that close. The re-direct goal in the second period was something only Crosby could do. Avalanche fans have to hope MacKinnon ages as well as Crosby has, because he doesn’t look like he’s slowed down at all.

+ Sean Walker

What else can you really say? What a pickup, and what a fit for the Avalanche.

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.