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Avalanche Game Two Plus/Minus: Shutout Stars, Avoidable Penalties



Avalanche Stars

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 Two against the Dallas Stars for the Colorado Avalanche.

Currently waiting to board my flight back to Denver. Thanks for all the support through the playoffs. I guess this series is going at least five, so we’ll have to head back to Dallas. Once we land, I’ll look into booking that as well.


MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Mittelstadt

There is one stat that really stands out when looking at these three players, who are essential to the success of the Avalanche.


As in 0 combined shots on goal at 5-on-5 between the three of them. 99 out of 100 times, the Avalanche will lose if these three were to combine for zero shots at even strength again. I do think that Mittelstadt helped create a little bit of offense for his line, setting up Lehkonen a few times for some good looks, but I certainly think he’s been quieter to start this series than he was against the Jets.

Full credit to the Stars. Sure, these guys didn’t play up to their capabilities, but Dallas deserves some credit for slowing them down, especially Chris Tanev. He stuck to MacKinnon all night long and made his life difficult.

Bednar was very honest in his assessment of MacKinnon and Rantanen after the game, so I’d expect them to respond in Game Three.

– Avoidable Penalties

People can squabble over some of the penalties called (or not called), but four of the penalties the Avalanche took were complete gifts for the Stars. Nathan MacKinnon and Josh Manson both had time to make better plays than they did, but instead, both airmailed the puck out of play, giving Dallas’ powerplay a chance to work. They scored on MacKinnon’s penalty, and the Manson penalty was indicative of everything that was going on in Colorado’s game in the second period.

The too many men penalties are just very avoidable. The second one was painfully obvious from up in the press box. Andrew Cogliano jumped on the ice and no one got off, so Colorado had six skaters out there for a while. He tried to sneak off, but the refs had already caught it. The first one was just a case of Mittelstadt hopping a little too early to try and break up a rush chance for the Stars.

Six penalties is brutal in a playoff game, but four of them were just Colorado making it easy for the refs.

+ Alexandar Georgiev

This game certainly felt like it could have been worse if not for Georgiev. 10 seconds into the game, the Stars had a Grade-A chance off the rush, and Georgiev stretched across to stop it with his left pad. He also made some great saves late in the first to keep the game close. He essentially was hung out to dry in the second period, as Colorado was completely out of it.

I was actually wondering if Bednar would pull Georgiev to start the third, given the score, just to let him rest for Game Three, but that wasn’t the case. The numbers don’t look good for him on the stat sheet, but he wasn’t the problem in Game Two.

– The Benn Hit On Toews

This could be controversial, but the more I watch this hit, the more I can see why they pulled the major. I think they very easily could have called a minor for charging, but the initial point of contact looks to be the shoulder, at least to me. Benn did just enough to avoid getting the boot.

The problem is two things. One, it’s Jamie Benn. He has a history, everyone knows it, and very few will give him the benefit of the doubt. And two, if you watch the replay, he clearly knew what he was doing. He starts lining up Toews before he even picks up the puck. The hit certainly seems to be predatory, even if the initial point of contact isn’t just to the head.

I would be stunned if Benn faces any discipline from the NHL, but I do think the hit at least warranted a minor penalty. That’s twice this postseason where the refs have called a major to review a hit (which is the right move), and then not even called a penalty at all. Seems a little bizarre. I’m not sure if it’s an all-or-nothing situation with the league, but just find that interesting.

+ Joel Kiviranta

It’s not even the goal that Kiviranta scored late. On his first few shifts, Kiviranta came out flying and throwing the body around. There was even a Stars fan a few rows in front of the press box that was wearing a Dallas Kiviranta jersey. I’m sure he was conflicted during this one, but a nice return to the lineup for Kiviranta.

– The Second Period

“(Our) game can’t go away for 20 minutes in the playoffs.”

That was Bednar after the game, and he was talking about the second period in which the Avalanche were outscored 3-0 and outshot 15-9. The team was stuck in mud, took undisciplined penalties, and struggled to gain any momentum. It wasn’t just one player making mistakes. It was everyone.

This game was lost on the shorthanded goal to end the second. It’s an ugly look for pretty much everyone on the ice, but Rantanen just gliding by Seguin in front of the net isn’t going to look good when the team goes through video today. Colorado can come back from a big deficit, but four goals in 20 minutes is a tough one to overcome. If that fourth one doesn’t go in, who knows how this game ends.

+ No Reason To Panic

The goal, when you start on the road, is to come home with a split. The Avalanche accomplished that. Sure, the way they went about getting that split is interesting, to say the least, but you don’t care about that at this point. The series is coming back to Ball Arena tied up, and that’s something this team will take. There’s a lot that they can improve on, but they have flipped home-ice advantage, at least for now. That’s not a bad result at all.

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Daniel Greenberg

It’s really tough when your two top forwards decide the effort isn’t worth it. MacK and Rantanen took the night off and seemed to have zero interest in this game. In no way do I place any blame on Bednar for their clear lack of effort, although I would not mind seeing him skip a few shifts for MacK and Rants in those situations. Maybe doing so would backfire, but it seems that going back to them with regular shifts sends the wrong message. Hard to watch as a fan. If Rantanen showed the slightest bit of interest in playing… Read more »


Mack and Rants are simply an embarrassment. Reminds me of the novel Of Mice and Men. We can’t control pride and courage, it’s inherent, but let’s talk about things the Avs can control. Bednar is notorious for too many men on ice penalties. What took you so long Jared, you have outdone yourself until last night!!! That is controllable. Hey Jared, why did you keep asking Nathan to take faceoffs, he almost lost them all and gave the game on a silver plate to Dallas? It’s all on the coaches who should be all fired if the Avs don’t make… Read more »

Aaron Hinton

I really want to hear the defenders of 96 on this thread: bring some gaudy, stat-stuffing numbers, some bs analytics to defend him – this is who he is, a frontrunner who just doesn’t play hard consistently. Highly skilled, but plays more like a Russian than a Finn. He gets called out by his head coach but I want to hear the peanut gallery defend him on here:

Last edited 10 days ago by Aaron Hinton
Bob Neal

A Russian than a Finn? Ovie is a Russian and not someone I would want to cross when he was in his prime.

Brad Jacobs

The glaring lack of effectiveness from Nate and Mikko last night was astonishing given the setting. I wish Bednar would have tried splitting them up and pair Nate with Val & Lecky to see if that would jumpstart the offense. Parise just doesn’t have the finish anymore to be a 1st or 2nd line player…desperately need JD back to move Parise to the 4th where he would be much more effective. Great work by the depth last night to get us back in it and a very solid game by Georgie. Not much analysis needed for this one IMO. This… Read more »


Love playoff Kivi


Considering Jamie Benn has made career out of cheap-shot artistry, there’s no doubt in my mind he was doing his usual dirt. He’s pretty much Dallas’ version of Jacob Trouba. Seems the league is chock full of POS captains these days…

Glendon Gulliver

The issue needs to be intent, not the actual hit. Just like with offsides, the NHL tries to see if at any angle a credit card can be slipped between the blue line and the puck or between the head and the opposing player’s body. Benn tried for an upper body hit to inflict injury. Hitting the shoulder 1/1000 of a second before the head isn’t an excuse to not call it a head shot. Trouba should have been suspended for his intended elbow to the head the other night. Luckily he missed and also that his skates did not… Read more »


Agreed. Players like Trouba and Benn don’t line guys up without at least some thought that they are going to injure their target.

Bob Neal

What am I missing here? Manson knocked Benn into his bench later in the game. Benn seemed in no real hurry to jump back off the bench. You could tell by his face that he is scared to death of Manson. Let’s remember Manson kicked the snot out of him earlier this year. Unless Benn can deliver a cheap shot to hurt Manson, I don’t think we will continue to see Benn running around. I know Glendon doesn’t like fighting, but the threat that Manson or Wood will kick the shit out of Benn is a much more effective deterrent… Read more »

Karl Keen

Bob, did you listen to the TNT post-game crew (who I normally like) try to say that Benn’s “crazy eyes” scared Manson away from wanting to fight him? They obviously did not know that Manson had already beat him up last year. Manson clearly skated away having the sense to recognize that we were only down two and pressing (or he is hurt again).

This is when I wish in addition to Manson, we still had Zadorov. Have those two along with Trenin, Duhaime, and Wood just go and constantly slash and cross check Benn every shift would be sweet.

Glendon Gulliver

My take on Benn’s psycho killer face was that he really wanted to go after Manson, but had to do everything possible to control himself, as Dallas was leading. Manson did the right thing. Just keep hitting him and sooner or later Benn will crack and get penalized. The Avs have to play smart and stay out of the box.

Ari Sachter-Smith

Yeah if the NHL’s goal is protect players there’s no reason that shouldn’t at least be a minor, Benn could have taken him out of the play by pinning him to the boards. I get that it’s hockey and things happen but no need for Toews to be bleeding out of his in that situation

Aaron Hinton

Gulliver, do you think a major penalty and/or suspension was worthy? I think at the very least a double-minor for charging would have been appropriate.

Glendon Gulliver

I do believe a penalty should have been called. So far the NHLPS has not penalized anyone since April 27th. Yeah, sure every hit in the playoffs has been clean! I mean no one would be upset if it was a clean hit. Right?

Aaron Hinton

What if that was Kadri who laid that hit?


10 game suspy.

Jeffrey Anderson

Wood may want to have another chat with Benn.


Chatting with Benn is meaningless, he both doesn’t care, and can defend himself. The message gets sent through Miro or Johnston. Get one of them good enough that back in the locker room they are thanking Jamie for the pain. Pointless conversatiin though. The entire Bednar era has never seen a proper answer to when one our stars take a cheap shot.

John H

Agree that Benn’s hit was not a major. Related to that, it seems to me that the 2-minute boarding or charging penalties have fallen off of the infraction list. You may see them if they ratchet down a possible 5-minute major – otherwise forget it.

Joseph Crotty

Two additional minuses;

  1. Sean Walker had a rough night. Low point was the botched positioning with Manson on the second goal by Hintz.
  2. DAL ice quality which is near the bottom of the league. Trust me, it’s easier to adjust to quality ice then going the other way.
Mark Arroyo9

Have to disagree with you on the Benn hit. You can clearly see Benn raise his shoulder and leg lift up to make the high hit.

I just hate hate hate high hits. Humans are playing so there will always be jackasses out there trying to injure. The NHL does a terrible job at disciplining hits it makes it that much worse.

Mark Messier

The Benn hit was a minor penalty and clearly, he lined up Toews. Toews should have learned by now to not skate with head down. Wake up call to Avs stupids.   And agreed 29 and 96 took the night off. Both were lazy, and dumb. MiAkko was not interested at all and 29 only wants to play offense. As for 29, he is a coward who will not play in the dirty areas. He is very overrated, needs open ice to perform which in the playoffs is rare.  29 and 96 are lazy ass Prima Donnas.   29 and… Read more »

Joe Cerwinske

I thought for sure you’d have a minus for the overall special teams. Sure, the Avs killed 4 penalties, but still gave up 2 power play goals that they should have prevented. Credit Hintz and Heiskenen for their combo on the first, but the puck shouldn’t have been there if they were able to get it out properly. Then, Colorado’s power play was dreadful all night, underlined by giving up the shorty, and punctuated by not being able to get the equalizer in the 3rd after being gifted that late man-advantage. For a unit that was 2nd in the playoffs… Read more »

Joshua Canfield

When it comes down to it, I believe the Avs have more depth than they did before the Trade Deadline, however, the top line & star players have to contribute something.

With how tough the playoffs can be, they have to get points & scoring out of Mack, Moose & Makar. They will lose 97/100 when those three are kept off the board.

Hopefully the last game acts as a motivator. Somewhat like Game #1 of Round One, they lost and came back hard. I hope the same happens tomorrow night.

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