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Avalanche Game 1 Plus/Minus: Handling The Physicality, Erratic Manson



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It’s time for playoff plus/minus! As with every game, you take the good with the bad, so time to take a look at the pluses and the minuses in Game One against the Winnipeg Jets for the Colorado Avalanche.

Alexandar Georgiev

There’s only so much more that can be said about it that hasn’t already been said in the last 12 hours. I wrote about it last night, and nothing has really changed today. Were the Avalanche perfect defensively? Nope, and no team is, but to only give up 23 shots against on the road in a playoff game is pretty good. Losing a game like that stings badly. The pressure is on in Game Two in more ways than one. Colorado has to win to go home tied up in the series, and there’s pressure on whoever is in net to just make a few saves to give the team a chance to survive.

For weeks, it was clear the Avalanche were standing behind Georgiev as their #1 goaltender. Unfortunately, I don’t think they can do that anymore. It depends on the health of Justus Annunen, but the staff may have to make a tough decision here.

+ First 10 Minutes For Josh Manson

Josh Manson might have come out and been the best player on the ice early in the game. He was creating chances offensively, breaking the puck really well, and not allowing anything to enter the Avalanche zone. At one point, he dangled somebody at the offensive blueline for a nice look on net that Hellebuyck snagged out of the air. It looked like it was going to be a great night for him, but that quickly changed.

– Second 10 Minutes For Josh Manson

What the heck happened? A muffin up the middle is about the last thing you want to do in the playoffs, especially when your team is controlling the majority of the play. That was the perfect time to just send it up the boards and out. A few minutes later, he lost his Schiefele in front and saw the game get tied up again. Kind of crazy how he went from being the best player on the ice to playing a major role in two goals against.

+ Casey Mittelstadt

He had the mistake on the third goal, but other than that, I thought Mittelstadt was fantastic for his first career playoff game. Our angle up in the press box was tremendous, and some of the seams he was finding to hit his teammates with passes were incredible. He was at least rewarded with that garbage time goal late, but he played really well and was even willing to throw his body around a bit. If that’s the Mittelstadt you’re going to get in the playoffs, you’re probably pretty happy.

+ The Third Line

It can’t just be the top six getting it done, and it wasn’t in Game One. The third line came through with a massive goal in the first period to swing the momentum (briefly) back in favor of the Avalanche. Great forecheck work by Colton and Kiviranta to create the Miles Wood goal. Wood didn’t score for 25 games to end the season, so he chose a good time to break out of that slump. They also threw their bodies around a fair bit last night. This line is going to have to continue to make an impact for this team in the playoffs.

+ Physicality

The Jets are the bigger, more physical team. There’s no denying that. However, I thought the Avalanche held their own in Game One and didn’t back down from anyone. The bigger forwards they brought in at the deadline, Yakov Trenin and Brandon Duhaime, threw their bodies around and tried to start some funny stuff. Wood played physical, Colton played physical. Heck, even Rantanen was credited with four hits of his own. You aren’t going to see that often.

Can they do this all series? I guess we’ll find out. It’s not really their game, but they played the part for one night.

– Top Line Parise

This is nitpicking at best, but the Avalanche are in a tough spot here. Replacing a top line winger right as the playoffs start is pretty much impossible, so they’re trying to find the right solution. Parise worked his butt off and threw his body around, but his lack of speed was apparent at times. I actually thought the coaching staff might throw Duhaime up on the top line, because they liked what he did on the second line in the absence of players about a month ago. He doesn’t have the skill to keep up, but could potentially create space for the other two.

It’s a tough spot to be put in at this time of the year, but I’m interested to see if they experiment at all in this series. It seems like the goal was to keep the second line together, and that paid off, because they played really well.

+ Caleb Jones

The biggest compliment I can give Jones after that game is that I didn’t even notice him. He didn’t make any major screw-ups, and his underlying numbers are really strong. That was only his third career playoff game and he did pretty well. If Sam Girard is healthy, the coaching staff won’t hesitate to put him back in there, but Jones is a capable depth defenseman.

+ The Atmosphere

This is my first time in Winnipeg. The city? Yeah, I don’t really have much to say about that.

The atmosphere inside the arena? Insane. That was the loudest building I’ve ever been inside of. It’s really not that close. My ears were hurting after the game from the decibel levels they were hitting. And those fans get really creative with the whiteout. I saw someone dressed as the Pope. There were a couple of ladies wearing their wedding dresses. This is the type of stuff you love to see in the playoffs.

That’s also why, from an Avalanche perspective, it stinks that you couldn’t come away with a win. They handled a tough environment really well and weren’t rewarded for it. It won’t get any easier in Game Two.

– Trailing The Series

The reality the Avalanche are facing is that they’re trailing the series. Is Game Two a must-win? I don’t know if you can go that far, but beating this team (and Hellebuyck) four times in five games sounds like a difficult task, so I lean towards yes.

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