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Avalanche Game Four Plus/Minus: A No Show, Makar Mistakes

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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 Four against the Dallas Stars for the Colorado Avalanche.

Not much pleasant to talk about from this one…

– A No Show

The Avalanche were hit with a double whammy of bad news in the hours leading up to the game. I certainly understand it would be tough to mentally recover from hearing you aren’t getting Valeri Nichushkin back for at least six months, and then to be hit by the news of no Devon Toews, but come on. That first period was just brutal. I’ve been covering this team through the entire Jared Bednar era, and I’m trying to think of a worse period that this team has played, especially considering what was at stake.

I’m not sure I can. It was just that bad.

Even though it was only 1-0 after one, the game felt over. The crowd didn’t know how to react to the news, and the team certainly didn’t. It seemed like once the score hit 3-0, the team kind of snapped out of it, but by then, it was too late. The damage was done, and the Stars cruised to a victory.

– Cale Makar

Speaking of poor first periods, holy cow. That one had to be up there for Cale Makar in terms of worst periods he’s played in the NHL.

“I feel like a few of those are definitely on me,” Makar said after the game.

Now, it’s important to keep in mind that Makar rarely gives himself credit but is quick to blame himself when things don’t go right, even if it’s not completely his fault. That being said, he might be right here.

On the first goal, he tried to challenge Wyatt Johnston and just had the puck taken off his stick. To make matters worse, instead of trying to cover someone up, he went to block it, didn’t, and Johnston was left alone in front. Late in the first, Makar had a brutal turnover on the breakout (to Johnston, of course) that nearly led to another goal against.

On the third goal, he went back to get the puck and seemed way more worried about laying the wood on Logan Stankoven than getting the puck to his teammate. He definitely rocked Stankoven, but in the process, whiffed on his pass to Sean Walker, who had to eat the puck along the boards. The Stars got the puck back and eventually scored just a few seconds later.

Makar finished with eight shot attempts at even strength, but the problem is that only one of them got through. The Stars have neutralized him as best as they can through the last three games, and that’s one reason why they’ve taken a big lead in the series.

Caleb Jones

Thrust into a very difficult spot, Jones floundered immediately, taking two penalties in the first 25 minutes of the game. The second one proved to be very costly, as the Stars put on a show with the man advantage and extended their lead.

– Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen

Speaking of neutralizing, the Stars have managed to really slow down and almost eliminate the two best players on the Avalanche. That’s quite the feet. Rantanen and MacKinnon have combined for just two points over the last three games, and while their on-ice numbers were strong again on Monday night, a lot of that came when the game was pretty much out of reach. Every time one of these guys gets the puck, it seems like Esa Lindell or Chris Tanev are there to take away their time and space.

In the second period, MacKinnon had a rush up the ice where he looked determined to cut to the net. Lindell stuck with him, gave him a nudge, and forced a perimeter shot, which Oettinger was easily able to swallow. For the most part, they’re being held to the outside. You aren’t ever going to completely shut down a guy like Nathan MacKinnon, but they’ve gotten pretty darn close.

There was a moment in the third period where 5’8″ Logan Stankoven ran over the much bigger Mikko Rantanen. Those are the types of moments where you just wonder what the heck is going on here. At no point in this series has Rantanen really looked like himself, and there will be questions heading into the summer, as he can sign an extension on July 1. I already know that’s a point of contention for a lot of fans…

+ Drouin Returns

If nothing else, I’m happy Jonathan Drouin was able to get back in the lineup and play a postseason game. He deserved that after all the hard work he put in during the regular season. He definitely looked like a guy who hadn’t played in a month, but still managed to pick up an assist on the only goal of the game for the Avalanche.

+ Alexandar Georgiev

This game could have been 4-0 after one, but Georgiev did what he could to hold his team in it. In no way did the Avalanche deserve to be down just 1-0 after 20 minutes, but they were. The problem is that they didn’t exactly come out with any more jump in the second period, which led to the Stars stepping on their throats. By the time Wyatt Johnston scored his second goal of the game, the shots were 22-4. I didn’t love the third goal, but this one isn’t on Georgiev, that’s for sure.

– The Camera Work

At the game, I didn’t see this stuff, but watching the highlights, the ESPN broadcast looked like amateur hour. No one can even see what happened on the third goal, because the camera was either too zoomed in or the guy just wasn’t paying attention to the play. How is the major rights holder for the NHL able to put on such an ugly broadcast?

– Is It Over?

It feels like it’s over, but it’s not really over until that final buzzer sounds for the fourth win of the series. Everyone knows the Avalanche aren’t nearly as good a team without Valeri Nichushkin. I’ve seen stranger things happen, but man, this seems like an impossible hill to climb. I’ll be interested to see what the mood of the team is at practice today, because that locker room last night was a real downer.

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dk

It’s over. F*** hockey, I’m going fishing.

hockeyhead

Good idea!

Aggressive

Fire everyone now!!

dk

Nah. Clearly the team would be soooo much better if they just got rid of Girard…

Michael Fazio

You are 100% kidding, right? If you think that you don’t understand hockey or we are not watching the same player. Girard has been one of the few bright spots. Period. Hell, he’s been better than almost any d man not named Makar and better then our top players. That, in itself, is super sad and tells you all you need to know in this series.

dk

If you know aggressive, then you know I’m totally being sarcastic.

aggressive

When your best player is a midget, that tells the whole story about this crumbling organization. Congratulations!

Jean Boisjoly

It’s a this moment we missed landy in the locker room and in the game

hockeyhead

The Avs are burnt toast! What a train wreck!!!!!!!! For the first time I am wondering if it is time to fire Bednar. I don’t think Mikko deserves an extension. I can’t see paying him big $$$ and giving him long term for lazy disinterested hockey effort that more often than not is a liability to the team while he casually puts up large point totals. If he played a 60 minute game and played like a Big Moose should, then give him the extension, but he doesn’t! Trade him this summer for some NHLers or picks. Maybe San Jose… Read more »

Ken

Our 2 best players? Your still putting Rantanen together with Mack? He has become nothing more than a first line point poacher. Mack at least showed all world skill this year. However, if you go back and watch Mack all season, you will see a lazy superstar who played like he was chasing Hart votes. I thought he turned it around againt the Jets and played a better 200 foot game. That went away again vs Stars. I cannot fathom why he refuses to play a hard nosed game with all that strength and speed. He is capable of really… Read more »

Mark Messier

Rat does not deserve an extension. We do not have a balance lineup because of the greed of MacKinnon and now the greed of ranting in it to kick in will have old beat up players running our third and fourth line which is unacceptable. The avalanche was are the exact same problem that has plagued them since the start of the season. Bednar had 82 plus games to get this figured out and he still hasn’t done it. I think the team has quit on bednar. He used to blame the team for having passengers but then he stopped… Read more »

John H

Calling MacKinnon lazy is like insisting that white is actually black – it makes no sense. And “putting fear into opponents” should be secondary to putting the puck in the net, which he is great at.

dk

Rantanen has become, to me, Patrick Kane with an extra 5″ and 40 pounds. Basically a pigeon, but a bigger pigeon…

Mark Bansbach

This team has lost chemistry since game 2 of this series. They never made Benn answer for head hit on Toews and Benn has owned the Avs since. Game inside the game and Avs are not a tight group right now.

Also will Nichushkin salary be able to go on LTIR or do Avs have to keep his salary towards the cap?

Karl Keen

From what I read, he can go on LTIR but once his suspension is over and assuming he complied, then he has to come off LTIR so you cannot really use the cap space in the offseason. Apparently too, this is not grounds to terminate his contract….

Sasha landprecht

Back to back home losses.
No nuke for rest of playoffs.
Say what you want about being a fan or whatever but this team is like the Leafs right now.

This series is over. Best home record and lost back to back
Highest scoring team and can’t get crap right now.
I know truth hurts but this reality.

They have a lot of soul searching to do this offseason. Maybe a coaching change. Bednar starting be like Mike sullivan.

Just another wasted mackinnon breaking season.

It’s time to trade rantenen and get maximum value. Trade georgiev and girard and nuke.

John Mauss

Girard and George are the only Av’s playing well.

aggressive

That is a disaster in itself!

Steve

To think the Avs could win 3 games in a row after never leading in the previous 4 really does sound impossible. It’s over.

Aggressive

That’s where speed and uptempo crap gets you in this league. Avs soft undersized speedsters.. ha! Sakic is the one to blame for all the ills. His uptempo crap and TOTAL neglect of the D ruined this team. He is Rants biggest supporter. A moose that gets knocked down by a jackrabbit. Some moose!!

Sasha landprecht

Lol sakic brought a cup. Macfarland is to blame. Dumba$$ take

aggressive

A decade of failure under Sakic resulted in a cup. It’s a wash!

shoresy

Seems like ever since the Benn hit on Toews the series has shifted energy and we haven’t had an answer. I know Landy would have sorted him out but I guess we don’t have anyone to do that this year.

Sasha landprecht

I thought duhaime colton or manson would at least fight benn clean hit or not.

Jon

Have you watched much playoff hockey? Yes, it’s much more physical but there’s a reason why there is next to no fighting. Every possession is critical and you want to avoid taking penalties. I keep reading that Avs had no response to the hit on Toews. Did you see the clean hit that Manson put on Benn? He hit him into the Stars bench. Afterwards Benn was moving his face to try and clear his head

Byronleemarley

Not an Avalanche fan, but after the way they manhandled the best regular season defensive team Winnipeg Jets, it seemed like they couldn’t be stopped. They looked like a lock to represent the Western Conference in the Finals. Maybe Game 4 can be understood because of Nichushkin, but that doesn’t explain Games 1-3. They’ve been badly outplayed by a team that barely survived a first round, seven game series There doesn’t seem to have been many adjustments from one game to the next, and that’s on Bednar. But the top guys just aren’t playing anything like they did against the… Read more »

ricoflashback

This is not going to be popular with Avs fans but the time to rebuild this team is now by jettisoning large contracts like Rantanen’s and even consider trading Makar to a team that is willing to give up a star player and two number one draft choices and then some. The Avs need to get bigger, younger and tougher with more “glue” guys than stars while addressing the constraints of the salary cap. Figure out the Landy situation which I believe he will retire. Not that I want to see that but I don’t know if anyone in hockey… Read more »

Last edited 6 days ago by ricoflashback
GratefulDeadmarsh

Not giving up completely on Georgie just yet, BUT– it would be cool to see Matt Davis continue his career in Denver, in an Avs uniform. Let’s trade for a pick and get him.

Joe Cerwinske

I don’t think a team whose core is almost entirely under 30 needs to rebuild. Trading Makar would be the single dumbest decision in the history of the NHL, and people would look back on it and say, “Man, do you remember when the Avs inexplicably dealt a 25 year old, 4 time Norris finalist and Conn Smythe trophy winner? That was stupid beyond all reason!” I can agree with getting bigger and younger, and Bednar needs to give young players more than a one or two game audition to prove themselves. We just need to reload this off-season, get… Read more »

Steve Carlander

Rantanen maybe but trading Makar? No way.

Last edited 6 days ago by Steve Carlander
Bruce Davis

I thought of this at the game last night so I’ll let Josie Wales explain it to Bednar and his remaining boys of winter:

“when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up, then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”

Karl Keen

I am wrong a lot but I think my post the other day stating that the Game 3 loss felt like a customary round 2 Avs playoff loss and quoted the poem stating “to not go gently in the night” was about as good of an insightful take I’ve ever had, because historically, once a playoff opponent gets in this core group of players’ heads, that is exactly what the AVs do — go out with a whimper. An utterly pitiful performance of a group of mostly veterans and core group of players who won the cup just two years… Read more »

Bob Neal

Well stated Karl. I enjoy reading your posts and think you should start your own blog!

Karl Keen

Thanks Bob! Enjoy your post too. As I posted a couple of weeks back, it is a distraction to come on her and rant about our beloved Avs, but I think Evan has the matter in his fully capable hands with the excellent job he does

Aaron Hinton

Great take, Karl👍🏽

Frosty

We almost always play like crap when Nuke is out, and considering how awful we were playing leading up to this, I guess the outcome of last nights game isn’t that surprising. I hope we can find a way to turn it around in game 5, but it’s looking pretty unlikely right now.

And agreed about the ESPN broadcast, it’s absolutely atrocious. I can’t take much more of Leah Hextall.

Karl Keen

Was it just me or did Leah seem gleeful to report the Nichuskin suspension?

Frosty

At this point, my brain just shuts off when she talks. I think it’s a self preservation thing.

Bob Neal

Totally, it makes her important.

ricoflashback

Hockey is a tough sport to follow, camera wise. But ESPN’s work is atrocious. Constant zooming back and forth, totally losing sight of the play as you try to figure out where the hell the puck is. Tight in, zoom shots work for the back of the goal line (corners) but zooming on the sides and center ice destroys all visual perspective. In hockey’s case, less is more but that advice apparently hasn’t reached ESPN.

Joe Cerwinske

Add the crappy broadcast to the list of how ESPN has botched their NHL coverage all season, which is highlighted (for me, at least) by them not offering a streaming option for these playoffs games. I’m already paying for Hulu and ESPN+, why do you want me to also have to dish out money to a cable company, satellite provider, or full-scale (and super pricey) internet TV services? Joke’s on you, ESPN! I’m perfectly content just listening to the Altitude Radio broadcast of your games (in spite of McGahey’s blatant homerism), and watching the TNT games with my Max subscription!

Danny Noonan

It’s definitely over

ricoflashback

“Danny – the world needs ditch diggers too.”

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