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Avalanche Game 78 Plus/Minus: Bleeding Chances, Duhaime Surprise



Avalanche Stars

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 Dallas Stars for the Colorado Avalanche.

—- Scoring Chances Against

Defense isn’t just about the six guys on the blueline. The Oilers game looking as bad as it did on the second half of a back-to-back wasn’t terribly surprising, but I expected a bounce back performance against the Stars. We got the opposite.

No, they didn’t give up 47 shots against (36 isn’t that far off), but it’s the scoring chances they gave up. Through two periods, the Stars were credited with 41 scoring chances. 41! A little over a scoring chance a minute. That’s just completely unacceptable at this time of the year when teams are supposed to be tightening things up down the stretch.

The Stars played on Saturday, and because of the bad weather, didn’t fly into Denver until Sunday morning. That didn’t matter at all once the game started, because they looked like the fresher team. The Avalanche have had their number this season, but the Stars took it to them on Sunday night.

Do I think Alexandar Georgiev had his best game? Absolutely not, but the team hung him out to dry a lot last night. He can certainly be better, but we already know he isn’t necessarily the type of guy who can steal you games. The Avalanche need to tighten up in front of him if they want to have any success in the postseason.

– The Entire Defense

As mentioned above, that just wasn’t good enough from the entire team when it comes to scoring chances against, but I’m not sure anyone on defense had a good night.

Josh Manson was extremely aggressive, and not in a great way. On one of his first shifts, he skated across the ice to throw a big hit on Tyler Seguin. He connected, but it led to a scoring chance in the area where he should have been. On the Duchene goal, that aggression burned him. I don’t know what Sam Girard was doing on that sixth goal. Johnston just wanted it more there. Sean Walker had some ugly pinches that led to chances against, and then took a four minute penalty in the offensive zone. Toews and Makar had good numbers at even strength, but got picked apart on the penalty kill. Just an ugly night for all six.

– Penalty Kill

It’s hard to fault the penalty kill because they’ve been on a dominant run since adding guys like Yakov Trenin and Brandon Duhaime, but when you take three (technically) penalties and give up goals on all three of them, it’s not great, and that was the difference on the evening.

+ Brandon Duhaime

A genuine surprise so far. He’s been good on the penalty kill, and has even found a way to chip in offensively. I hadn’t noticed much physicality from him up to this point, but on Sunday, he was throwing his body around and getting under the skin of the Stars defenders. At one point in the third, he threw a massive hit behind the net and talked to the entire Stars bench on his way to the the Avalanche bench. That’s some of the swagger he can bring.

Zach Parise

The 39 year old veteran has not looked the same since he missed a few games due to a knee injury. The numbers show the Avalanche spend more time in their end with him on the ice than they do any other regular forward on the team. That’s not all on him, but it does say something. On Sunday, the Avalanche were outshot 16-4 with Parise on the ice, far and away the biggest gap on the team.

He was moved up to the second line in the absence of Mikko Rantanen (that second line was not good), but in his last 12 games, he has just two assists. In five of his last eight games, he’s failed to register a shot on goal.

– Is Val 100%?

The big man doesn’t look to have the same burst since missing a few games due to a lower-body injury. He was a little better on Sunday, but hopefully the injury isn’t he dealt with isn’t going to linger down the stretch.

– Depth Difference

Not having Mikko Rantanen and Miles Wood makes a difference, but the spread in ice-time between these two teams was interesting. The Stars didn’t have a single forward play under 10 minutes at even strength. On the flip side, Colorado’s entire fourth line didn’t come close to hitting the 10 minute mark, and Duhaime and Trenin just barely got over that hump.

Colorado has stars up front, which will always make a difference when it comes to the ice-time spread, but it’s fascinating that the deep Stars were able to use their entire lineup to beat the Avalanche, who should have been the fresher team.

+ Jonathan Drouin

I’ll give a + to Drouin, who picked up another goal and tied his career high in points with 53. This was the dream when the Avalanche signed him over the summer, and it has become a reality over the course of the season.

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