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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Game Three Plus/Minus: Constantly Chasing, Top Six Combos

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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 Three against the Dallas Stars for the Colorado Avalanche.

– Constantly Chasing

Bednar always says that he tells is his the only score that matters is the one at the end of the game. He’s not wrong about that, but when you’re constantly chasing the game, you end up exerting a lot more energy over the course of 60 minutes than you would otherwise.

The amount of seconds the Avalanche have held a lead in this series: 0

This team can come back from anything. We’ve seen it all year long, and it sure made for some exciting games. In the playoffs, when you’re playing against the best-of-the-best on a nightly basis, it’s going to get harder and harder to do that, and while the Avalanche have pushed the last two games to come back to win games, you can’t do it every night and it’s simply not a recipe for success. Dallas is a really good team, and last night, they figured out how to properly defend the lead in the third period, giving the Avalanche nothing. After the first few minutes of that third, it didn’t feel like Colorado got close to tying it up. The road team deserves credit for that, but the Avalanche have to figure out how to get ahead in Game Four and make the Stars chase the game for once.

– Ugly Powerplay

That’s now two games in a row where Colorado’s powerplay has been held in check. Not very surprising that they lost both those games.

The issue on Saturday night is that they barely even generated chances. On the first powerplay, MacKinnon had a one-timer that was blocked, but that was the only decent look. Powerplay two, they couldn’t even get in the zone and the only chance was off a rush. I don’t think there was a decent look on powerplay three either. Those were three chances pretty early in the game to control the momentum and they did the exact opposite. Man advantage has to figure things out and adjust to Dallas‘ pressure.

Mikko Rantanen and Artturi Lehkonen

I’m not sure anyone in the top six had a “great” game, but I thought both Rantanen and Lehkonen were sub-par. Rantanen deserves credit for going to the net and picking up the only goal of the game, but the puck was not his friend in Game Three and he had one of those nights where his balance appeared to be an issue.

With Lehkonen, I think that’s now two games in a row where he hasn’t looked like himself. He went to the bench in a lot of pain after his first shift in Game Two, and hasn’t looked the same since. I don’t know if that’s an issue or not, but simple, short passes that he normally excels at were a pain to execute for him. On powerplay two, I think he passed the puck twice to no one, forcing the Avalanche to regroup in the neutral zone. That top line dominated possession, but a lot of that seemed like it had to do with MacKinnon (and Devon Toews when he was out there).

+ Sam Girard and Devon Toews

He just keeps chugging along with his strong season. That penalty kill in the second period, that seemed to give the Avalanche and the fans some much needed life, was fantastic. He tracked and followed the shooter and came up with a big block late in the penalty kill, and seconds later, blocked a cross-ice pass to fully kill it off. He and Toews seemed like the best defensemen on the ice by far. Toews was up in the play a lot more than his defensive partner, who seemed to struggle to corral passes (he wasn’t alone in that).

– Jack Johnson

Johnson has been a lot steadier than I expected this season, but last night, he seemed to be running into teammates with consistency and had some ugly zone exit attempts that led to turnovers. He did have one moment where he danced Wyatt Johnston at the offensive blueline, which caught everyone off guard, but outside of that, not a huge fan of his game.

– The New Top Six Combinations

Lehkonen is normally very strong on the top line, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that trio overall, even though the number suggest they were dominant. The biggest issue was the second line. They had a nice passing play in the second that led to Valeri Nichushkin hitting the post, but they didn’t look like they gelled most of the night. Zach Parise is still working his butt off, but the limitations are starting to show in a top six role. If Jonathan Drouin is able to return in Game Four, that would be a huge boost for this team and give the staff a few more options.

+ Third Line

Once again, they created some momentum for the team and played physical. Joel Kiviranta was a difference maker again, but he might be in some pain today after Ross Colton got him good with a hit in the second period.

-/+ Pressure Is On

Listen, the Avalanche are about to face some real pressure. They have to hold serve at home on Monday. Otherwise, they’ll be in a scenario where they need to win three straight against a really good Dallas team. I think the Avalanche are a really good team, but I’m not sure that’s something they can pull off. Monday night is a must-win game.

The reason why this is both a plus and a minus is because you don’t want to be in this situation, and Colorado has no one to blame but themselves for being in this situation. That being said, these are the spots where you find you what you are made of. Will Colorado step up to the challenge, or will the Stars take a stranglehold of the series?

– Bad Ice

I don’t actually know if there was an event at Ball Arena on Friday night, but the ice looked sub-par. This was the case in Game Two in Dallas, but I wasn’t expecting it to be the case in Denver as well. Hopefully they can get that figured out before Monday night.

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Bob Neal

When the Av’s scored their second goal in Game 1 I thought they had a chance to win. When they scored their first goal in Game 2, I thought they had a chance to win. Last night going into the third down 2-1, I thought they were completely done. How does a team show up with mediocre energy at this point in the season? What is going on with Rants? What a boring game to watch also, just kind of everyone skating around going nowhere. I don’t think the Stars are that good a team. Oettinger keeps them in every… Read more »

aggressive

This is not the time to search for a scapegoat or blame this player or that. This series, in reality, should be 0-3 in favor of Dallas, and the Avs should be on high alert to try and avoid a sweep. Dallas is a good and well balanced team that has a plan. Well coached and well structured. On the other hand, the Avs have none of that.When your only goal is speed and uptempo crap you are bound to fail. The Stars have a very good D that stymied the Avs. I doubt Bednar has a plan or will… Read more »

Glendon Gulliver

“This is not the time to search for a scapegoat or blame this player or that.” Yet, you then blame the coach, the players, and the front office. Nice!

aggressive

I have always blamed the front office on D and never believed in Bednar and his crew. I haven’t blamed the players in my post. Read again.

Brad Jacobs

Blamed them on D? The top pairing is one of the best in the league. Girard has been fantastic since his return and Manson is a more than capable second pair physical presence. Walker and before him Bo are above average players for a third pairing. I agree don’t see the infatuation with JJ. He’s been anywhere from decent to a liability this year, but not usually the type player you see start on a cup winning roster. Avs have Malinski and Jones for next year or as injury protection this season and drafted a gifted young Russian in the… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by Brad Jacobs
aggressive

I said it many times before Brad. It all starts with coaching. You can’t be cavalier about D. You need to build a system, a structure, have a plan. Once that is established you can pick and choose the right players capable of implementing the system. You can’t build a house without a blue print or design plan. Comparing JJ to Girard is laughable at best. What are you smoking man? I said stay-at-home defensemen not a journey player lacking size, grit and at least half a decent shot at the net. My grandpa’s shot would have a better chance.… Read more »

Brad Jacobs

Reread for comprehension. I never compared JJ to Girard…and your comment that no decent defensive coach would have Girard on a roster tells me all I need to know about your hockey IQ. Enjoy the series, although sounds like you are happiest when the Avs lose.

Aggressive

Not true Brad. Read your post again, you favored Girard over JJ. You lost all credibility with me. Avs tried to trade him multiple times, no buyers were found. Hmm! I wonder why?

aggressive

Per My Cousin Vinny movie: Are you sure? How can you be so sure?

John H

You have a short memory – their speed and uptempo game was a buzzsaw when they won it all 2 years ago.

aggressive

At one time their speed was huge. Not anymore, there are many fast teams around the league these days. It’s a good thing but not everything. You like how the Avs play D? Absolute chaos!!! Nobody blame the goalie please!

Ari Sachter-Smith

Yep! And it’s won this year when they’ve executed it. When you have the horses the Avs do you you have to push the pace and take advantage of your strengths

Lilwetcowboy

Absolutely spot on analysis. The team appeared beaten from the beginning. The hit by Benn went unanswered and that pretty much summed up this team’s spirit. Somebody needs to drop the gloves to get these guys motivated but, wait, Dermy is gone. These guys are dreaming about fairways and beaches and next season. Can’t blame ’em.

*831*

1.) The return of Drouin should spark offensive production.

2.) The Avs PP should be just as dominant as Edmonton’s PP. Same amount of offensive firepower on those 1st unit PPs

Last edited 8 days ago by *831*
Mark B

I agree about the ice and it was bad. When it is like that they need to keep it simple and get shots on net, bang in rebounds. Their normal quick seam pass on the pp is tough to complete on bad ice. Top line needed big body Nichushkin back on the line. I was surprised Bednar did not put Val up there at all last night. It seems like something internal going on with the team and they are not a tight group right now.

Ari Sachter-Smith

Looked wet all night, guessing the rain and humidity didn’t help

Dave

The players are not the only ones to blame. As a home game, the home crowd needs to show up as well. The crowd was as passive as the team and provided zero motivation. Sure we are not the crowd like Winnipeg or New York but fans have a responsibility to pump up the team and not just sit on their hands.

Ray McKigney

I think the crowd started out great but as the game wore on, they had less and less to get excited about. I think a crowd can provide a spark at times, but in the end, if the team on the ice is not giving them anything to get excited about, it’s difficult to to muster up any genuine enthusiasm.

Dave

True, the crowd had little to “cheer” about but the idea behind home ice is the crowd support through good and not so good. Look at what happens we we play a team like Boston, Chicago or NY at Ball Arena. Their fan support out weighs ours and that’s just plain wrong. Just saying that crowd needs to supply support at times like poor or slow play from the AVS

Jeffrey Anderson

If Drouin’s able to go Monday, it will be a big add. Nate will find a new gear having his buddy on his wing. We know Lehky (injury news to me) and Mittlestadt have chemistry and Nuke doesn’t work with him. Here’s what top 6 should be:

27 -29-13
62-37-96

I’d give 9 a night off, unless Kivi’s injured.

trademark

Good time to chime in and say that the Avs should do whatever it takes to sign Drouin even at the expense of losing someone else we value ~ He’s that important for the Avs team chemistry

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