Connect with us

Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Game 76 Plus/Minus: Halifax Connection, Manson’s Impact



Avalanche Wild

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 Minnesota Wild for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Annunen Bounce Back

The game against Columbus wasn’t Justus Annunen‘s best, and Jared Bednar said as much after the game. However, the schedule allowed the Avalanche to go right back to the young goaltender, and he responded in a big way. While he was tested in the first period, it wasn’t nearly as much as what Filip Gustavsson dealt with. Annunen’s best work came in periods two and three, as the Wild really started to throw everything towards the net. Maybe that was a good thing for him, as some goalies prefer more action to stay in the game. He stopped 34 of 35 shots in the final two periods to hold off the Wild and (more or less) end their playoff hopes.

+ Halifax Connection

I feel like we’ve talked about this a ton over the course of the season, but it’s not going away, so we won’t stop now. Drouin’s first goal was off a Makar shot, but his second was off a shot/pass from MacKinnon. In the third, he returned the favor, hitting MacKinnon on a two-on-one to put the game out of reach for the Wild.

I believe Drouin has shown he can be successful playing away from MacKinnon over the course of the season, but we’ve seen these two connect on goals together a heck of a lot the last few weeks. Maybe just stick with it down the stretch.

– Shot Suppression

35 shots against in the final two periods is a lot. If you ask me, a lot of those shots from the Wild maybe weren’t the most dangerous shots in the world. The numbers would indicate that as well, as Minnesota was credited with just seven high-danger chances in the final two periods. Colorado was credited with seven in period one alone, so that gives you an idea that it was a lot more quantity than quality for the Wild.

Still, 35 shots is probably a bit too much to give up against a non-playoff team. Minnesota has a really strong first line and defensive pair, but beyond that, it’s not a terribly intimidating team. Maybe just a little too much time defending for the Avalanche.

– The Fourth Line

At 5-on-5, every forward broke even or ended up positive in shot share…except for the fourth liners, who took a beating. Joel Kiviranta returned from a mystery illness and wasn’t a factor. The other two on the line didn’t do much either.

The good news is that, if all goes according to plan, two of these forwards will likely be out of the lineup on Friday. That’s because Valeri Nichushkin and Yakov Trenin are possibilities against the Oilers. That changes the complexion of the lineup in a big way.

+ Third Line

I’ve been critical of their work in the defensive zone, but they did what you want your third line to do. They got the puck in deep and when the puck was put on net, they crashed towards the goaltender, and hard. At one point, all three of them ended up in a scrum in the crease in search for the puck. That’s what you need to see from them.

It’s starting to feel like Miles Wood might never score again, but it’s not for lack of trying. He had a great chance on a breakaway, but couldn’t beat Gustavsson, despite making a pretty good move. His last goal was way back on Feb. 13.

+ Josh Manson

At the start of the season, I think it was fairly obvious Josh Manson wasn’t quite 100%. He missed a chunk of camp and mobility seemed to be an issue.

His game, I’d say since around December, has really been fantastic. He always flashes more skill than you’d expect, and he’s been the physical presence on the blueline that the Avalanche don’t really have beyond him. You can’t just have all skill guys on a defense. You need a guy like Manson, and he’ll be important come playoff time.

Remember, the Avalanche technically had Manson in the playoffs last year, but he wasn’t anywhere close to healthy when he played, and he wasn’t available in games six or seven. They missed having the real Josh Manson a lot. He was crucial in the 2022 Cup run, and he looks like he could make a similar impact this year.

+ The Dagger For The Wild

The Wild are technically still alive for the final spot in the West, but there chances going into the game were pretty non-existent. Losing this game in regulation, combined with an LA win, moves them down to a 0.4% chance of getting in.

It’s over, and it’s fitting that the Avalanche drove the dagger in a little deeper. The Avalanche are 3-0 against Minnesota this year, and will go for the sweep next week.

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.