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RAPID REACTION: Game Three A Missed Opportunity For Avalanche

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It was right there for the Colorado Avalanche. Right there. But like many of the passes they made on the evening, something was just a little…off.

Colorado had plenty of opportunities to take a stranglehold of Game Three on Saturday night. Three powerplays in the first 22 minutes, outshooting the Stars 23-13 through two periods, and facing a Dallas team that for 40 minutes, looked pretty fatigued.

They managed to take advantage of almost none of those opportunities.

Dallas, the best road team in the NHL this season, found another gear in the third period, generating more offense than they did through the first 40 minutes, while stifling a “stubborn” Avalanche squad that refused to dump the puck in and go to work. If Colorado had better execution through 40 minutes, this could have been a very different game.

They didn’t.

“I think the story is earlier in the game,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said after the game. “I felt like we carried some long stretches of the game for the first 40 minutes. My one take would be we’ve got to make it a little bit tougher and Oettinger, getting traffic there.”

Traffic in front wasn’t a problem against the Jets, as they made life miserable for Connor Hellebuyck. There wasn’t enough of that against Jake Oettinger, who saw a lot of the shots he faced on Saturday night. Most goalies will stop what they can see, and a goalie as talented as Oettinger will definitely be able to.

While Mikko Rantanen scored the lone goal for the Avalanche, I would hardly call that a bounce-back performance. I’m not sure he looked any better than he did in Game Two. I asked Jared Bednar after the game if he was happier with the performances of Nathan MacKinnon and Rantanen after both struggled last game.

He liked one of them, at least.

“Yeah, no question,” he said. “I thought MacK was really good tonight. I thought he was working both sides of the puck, he had jump early in the game, obviously to make a great play on our goal. So yeah, I thought he was dangerous and controlling play.”

MacKinnon did most of the work on Rantanen’s goal, although he does deserve credit for winning that battle with his defenseman. There’s a lot more for him to give, and the Avalanche will need it on Monday night.

He’s not alone, though. Artturi Lehkonen, who has been fantastic all postseason, got moved to the top line and looked really off with his passing. The new-look second line didn’t really click, and Zach Parise is starting to look a little out of place in the top six. Not exactly a huge surprise for someone pushing 40. A Jonathan Drouin return would provide a real boost for this team, and I do believe there’s a chance that happens on Monday, but we’ll have to wait and see.

For now, Colorado find themselves down 2-1 in the series. A little more execution through the first 40 minutes on Saturday and we’re probably talking about a completely different story.

That execution wasn’t there though, and that’s why this feels like a missed opportunity for the Avalanche.

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ricoflashback

Execution? That reminds me of the legendary coach, John McKay, during the 26 game losing streak of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After one putrid game, a reporter asked about his team’s execution. McKay deadpanned, to the effect, “I’m all for it.”

Ken

Bednar obviously watching a different game than I am. Mackinnon was his typical point producing self. He sees an opportunity for offense and gives foe a burst. It worked once. Otherwise he just coasts around the ice looking for those moments. Please rewatch the first Stars goal. Pretty sure Mack made a bad pass up the middle, followed by an incredible figure skating combo of circle moves around the D zone while not actually attempting to play any D. Mikko scored a tap in and otherwise missed almost every pass that came his way. That 1 goal was 100% of… Read more »

Dave North

Getting Drouin back would be really nice. He can inject some creativity into an otherwise stale PP and, as Evan points out, will allow Parise to move off the second line.

Not sure where to play Parise then though. Kiviranta has been great on the third line.

Glendon Gulliver

When everyone is healthy, someone has to sit. That is a luxury. The healthiest, best playing, get the nod. It could be Parise, Cogliano, or Kiviranta.

Jim Stick

In regards to the comment about Lehkonen’s passing being off—when has it been a strong part of his game? Grinding, forechecking, and scoring goals when the opportunity arises has always been his strength. Playmaking and passing are not his forte. Lehkonen is a good middle six forward and an important and valuable part of the Avs roster. However, he does not have enough skill to be a winger on the top line.

Steve

Was the ice bad? Just seemed like an ugly game all-around.

Karl Keen

Props to Toews and Girard for playing their guts out but this looked like another classic Avalanche round 2 playoff loss. I beg of thee my dear Avs: Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage,… Read more »

dp10

Well said…this felt very pre-2022!

Lilwetcowboy

Defense wins playoff hockey. It’s that simple. AVS players are just not skilled at playing defense and maybe it didn’t matter when your high octane offense can score but, as we just saw, once a strong defense stymies our offense we are done.

John H

When you give up only two goals in a playoff game you should win.

Jeffrey Anderson

Hockey’s a cruel and vengeful mistress some nights. Tonight was that for Avs, and they lost the special teams battle for 2nd game in a row. Better/way better(?) team through 40, but losing 2-1 and Stars put on a D clinic in 3rd that generated a ton of chances on the counter attack. Avs won’t dump and forecheck. I can think of only 1 extended shift in O zone in the 3rd after a decent forecheck, and they nearly scored. Tough night. We’ll have to be in top form, and have the hockey gods on Avs side, to win game… Read more »

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