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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Game 81 Plus/Minus: Perfect Road Game…Until It Definitely Wasn’t



Avalanche golden knights

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 Vegas Golden Knights for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ The First 30 Minutes

Period one was fantastic road hockey from the Avalanche. Not only did they sustain most of the pressure in the offensive zone, but they gave up very little in terms of quality. The only good chance the Golden Knights had was when Tomas Hertl was able to rush the puck up the ice and get a one-on-one against Jonathan Drouin. Naturally, he beat Drouin with a move, but Alexandar Georgiev was able to stop the shot, so it was all okay. The perfect bounce-back period from Colorado.

Period two started out with more of the same. I don’t think Georgiev had to break much of a sweat, which is pretty much how Colorado has to play in order to win. They’re at their best when they turn strong defense into offense. Unfortunately, after the Mikko Rantanen goal in the second, they pretty much stopped trying to score…

– The Rest Of The Game

Cracks started to show towards the end of the second period. Colorado got stuck in their own end for an extended shift after some turnovers by Miles Wood and Nathan MacKinnon leaving the zone, and with 10 seconds left, Georgiev had to make a huge save to keep the Golden Knights off the board heading into the third. Okay, that’s fine. Regroup in the intermission and get back to playing the way you played early in the game to close it out. Not a big deal.

It was a big deal.

Vegas deserves some credit. They kept coming in a game that still had a little bit of meaning to them, but the Avalanche completely stopped trying to score. In those final 18 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey, the Avalanche registered just six shot attempts, two of which hit the net. Jonathan Drouin hit the post, which could have sealed the game, but that was the only dangerous chance they generated. For the most part, they sat back. We know the Avalanche are best at protecting a lead when they keep pushing and force the other team to defend, but they didn’t even try that. It was way too safe.

Just when it looked like Colorado had stabilized things in the final seven or so minutes, they give up a breakaway and the game was tied. Can’t even really talk about overtime because they barely touched the puck while killing a penalty. Just an ugly, ugly finish to what should have been a victory.

– Josh Manson

Without Sam Girard, who is in concussion protocol, Manson will likely take on a bigger role, but his over-aggressive play burned him multiple times on Sunday afternoon.

It started at the end of the second. He was tired from rushing up the ice, and let Dorofeyev just walk right to the net all alone for a great chance on Georgiev. The third was a mess for him. His first penalty was very unnecessary. I get that you want to be physical, especially against a team like that, but to just truck down a guy who doesn’t have the puck right in front of the ref is not the way to go about it. Vegas scored on that penalty.

On the game-tying goal, he was rushing the puck up the ice, which is probably not what you want in the final four minutes of a game, but he also had numbers back to cover for him.

But the penalty at the end of regulation just can’t happen. You have to control your stick, especially at that time in the game. Once he went in the box, it felt like game over.

The unfortunate part is that, like most of the team, he had a strong start. The pass on the Rantanen goal was fantastic. Need to play 60 minutes, though.

Alexandar Georgiev

The team in front of him collapsed, but come on. At some point, you need your goaltender to make a save to calm things down a little bit. You’re going to give up chances, but they all can’t end up in the back of your net. Vegas was credited with just four high-danger scoring chances at even strength. If you hold a team to that, you should be okay.

On the TNT broadcast, Brian Boucher was very critical of these first two goals in the third period. He felt Georgiev played the wrap-around poorly, and then might have been too deep in his net on the second goal. If you look at a replay of the third goal, there’s a lot of net for Karlsson to shoot at. Georgiev almost makes himself look smaller.

Thursday’s season finale might mean nothing for both teams, so the starter of that game might not matter a whole lot, but it would make sense to give that game to Justus Annunen. If you do need to use him in the playoffs, you can’t have him going that long without game action. The Avalanche say there isn’t a controversy, but Georgiev isn’t really holding up his end of the bargain.

– Failed PK Clears

If you get a chance to clear the puck on the penalty kill, you have to do it. Two failed clears by Brandon Duhaime and Cale Makar gave the Golden Knights life to score on both of their late powerplays, which turned the game. Things happen after a failed clear that attribute to goals, but if you have a chance to get it out, especially when the momentum of the game is turning, you have to do get it out.

+ Miles Wood

Outside of his turnover at the end of the second, that looked a bit like the Wood we saw most of the season. Relentless on pucks and tough to play against. His effort is what created the opening goal, as he just beat his man to the puck and wouldn’t give it up. The bottom six needs a spark, and he provided one.

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