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Avalanche Game 80 Plus/Minus: Pluses?!? Disastrous Performance



Avalanche Jets

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. Except…what pluses?!?

– – – Just Ugly

I think I’ll just go with one big minus on this game. There’s nothing really positive to take out of it. Sure, you could look on the bright side and say, “it’s not the playoffs yet,” but I won’t be doing that.

For the first four minutes of that game, I was thinking about how it felt like it was just going to be a big defensive battle, as both teams wait for the other to make a mistake. There were no shots on goal for either team through the first 4:45 or so.

Winnipeg started to create. The Avalanche never did. I turned to someone in the press box later in the game and just asked, “has Hellebuyck even had to break a sweat tonight?” It felt like he was never really tested, and by the time he actually had to make some saves, the game was completely over. Everything about that game is why I worry about a Jets matchup for the Avalanche. They’re a big team up front, and when they get a lead, crawling back into a game is extremely difficult.

That was as embarrassing a performance as you can get heading into the playoffs. At this point, it would take everything going right for the Avalanche to secure home ice in round one. It’s not impossible, but it’s going to be very, very difficult. This game was over 16 minutes in. The fans knew it, which is why some of them started to leave and enjoy the beautiful weather. I actually spent a lot of the second half of the game trying to figure out how the heck to get to Winnipeg. Not only is there no direct flight, but it’s absurdly expensive. It shouldn’t be that difficult to get to a city that is home to a professional sports team.

The two big acquisitions, Casey Mittelstadt and Sean Walker, both have seen their play seriously decline in the last two weeks. I almost wonder if they stopped playing with their instincts and are now thinking way too much, trying to play within the system. If they aren’t going, the Avalanche are in trouble.

Losing Sam Girard is a big deal. You can say what you want about him, but he eats a ton of minutes on this defense and this team relies on him a ton. Sam Malinski missed the Eagles game on Saturday because of an upper-body injury, so the guy you’d probably call-up to replace him isn’t even an option right now.

Neither of the goalies were very good, and the team in front of them certainly wasn’t. That’s a brutal combination. I’m not surprised at all they’re going back to Alexandar Georgiev on Sunday. Whether it’s right or wrong, he’s their guy, and he probably is the fresher of the two.

Some other observations that are just coming out of my brain – Valeri Nichushkin hasn’t looked the same since returning from his injury. In those four games, he has no points and just four shots on goal. If you go back to before he left the lineup, he has no points in six games and is a -9. Yikes.

Zach Parise is supposed to be a reliable player in his own end, but he keeps making these horrific turnovers along the wall. He had an ugly pass right up the middle that led to a great scoring chance for the Jets when it was just 2-0. The only team he has scored a goal against in the last two months is Chicago. I don’t think he’s fit for a top nine role, which is where the Avalanche have been using him.

Last I heard, he hadn’t been fully cleared, but if he gets cleared before the game on Thursday, the Avalanche have to take a look at Nikolai Kovalenko. He plays with the energy that can provide a spark in the bottom six. Right now, the only guy doing anything like that is Brandon Duhaime.

Josh Manson has done a bit too much roaming out of position the last few weeks and it burned him a few times on Saturday.

It’s not the end of the world. The team can still turn this around, but I don’t compare this situation to what we saw in 2022. That 2022 team had absolutely nothing to play for over the last month of the season, and clearly took the foot off the pedal down the stretch. This Avalanche team has things to play for, they’re just not playing well.

Back at it again on Sunday in Vegas. A loss and they’re definitely starting in Winnipeg.

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