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Avalanche Game Six Plus/Minus: Georgiev Gives It His All, Stars Slowed Down

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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.

Last one for this season. Can’t hold anything back…

+ First 40 Minutes

From my vantage point, the first 40 minutes from the Avalanche were their best 40 minutes of the series. They generated a fair bit of offense, but the key was what they were doing defensively. They gave the Stars absolutely nothing to work with. Colorado always had a third forward high in the zone to make sure that the Stars couldn’t get any rush offense started, which is pretty much how Dallas slowed down the Avalanche all series. Might as well take a page out of their playbook, right?

The problem is that for as well as Colorado played through 40 minutes, they only managed to sneak out to a 1-0 lead. They were the better team, but Dallas hung around, and it cost the Avalanche in the end.

+ Alexandar Georgiev

Full credit to Colorado’s goaltender. After Game One in Winnipeg, he was really at a crossroads with his career. If he faltered in Game Two, would he have played another second for the Avalanche? I’m not so sure.

That didn’t happen. He was rock solid the rest of the way, and Game Six might have been his best performance, to be honest. When that game got to overtime, it was extremely lopsided. Because of how the locker room works, I went down rink level for the rest of overtime, and watched it from a TV. Not exactly the most glamorous way to watch the game, but it worked. I don’t think I saw Jake Oettinger for a good 10 minutes at one point. All of the play was in Colorado’s end. That game should have ended after one overtime period, but Georgiev kept his team alive to get to the intermission. They did come out with a bit more jump in the second overtime, but couldn’t beat Oettinger.

It was an up and down year for Georgiev, and I do think the Avalanche will look at other goaltending options this summer, but he played well this postseason. He was supposed to be the downfall of this team, and he wasn’t at all.

– Overtime

Colorado looked completely gassed. It was a strange turnaround, because for the first 40 minutes, it looked like Dallas had nothing left in the tank. Like I mentioned after the game, Dallas’ depth allowed them to roll four lines, while Colorado had four forwards play more than the top Dallas forward. It’s no wonder they looked tired.

That disallowed goal in the first overtime sure looked like it could have counted to me, but I don’t think there was any way the NHL was going to reverse the original call. It only delayed the inevitable, though.

– Star Players Shut Down

Full credit to the Stars and their gameplan because whatever they did to slow down the likes of Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, it worked. Chris Tanev did a number on MacKinnon, and the Stars forwards didn’t really let Makar get loose outside of Game Five. Rantanen had his struggles, but he was the only one to hit the back of the net in Game Six.

Of all the things that would have let Colorado down, I didn’t expect it to be their top guns. This core is still elite, but I think that’s what’s going to sting the most about this series.

Perhaps there is too much pressure on them, though, because the rest of the lineup didn’t produce much…

– Depth Scoring

The depth of the Avalanche was a big reason why they couldn’t be slowed against the Winnipeg Jets. That depth really didn’t make much of an appearance in this series.

Colorado’s bottom six didn’t score a single point in the final four games of the series. They were solid in Games One and Two, but the rest of the series, kind of disappeared. The loss of Yakov Trenin was massive in Game Six. Colorado didn’t even roll a fourth line for most of the game, while the Stars just rolled four lines deep into overtime. That’s why their top forwards were a little more fresh than Colorado’s.

Not having Logan O’Connor in the playoffs hurt, but that’s hockey. You have to deal with injuries. Hopefully he’s back and ready to go next season. Nikolai Kovalenko needs to be given a real shot next season to add a little skill to that bottom six. It was lacking at times during this run. If the Avalanche get lucky, maybe Calum Ritchie surprises at camp and makes the team.

+ Jonathan Drouin

I have no idea if the Avalanche will be able to keep Jonathan Drouin, but from a biased media man’s perspective, I hope they do. He was always a pleasure to speak to in the locker room, and I do think he enjoyed being out of the spotlight of Montreal quite a bit. To say there’s less media here in Denver would be a massive understatement.

It’s rare for a player at that age to show the growth he did as the season went on. He deserves all the credit for the turnaround. He knew this might be his last shot in the NHL, and took it very serious. Even after a slow start, he kept working and was rewarded for it. Now he’s going from potentially being on his last shot in the league to likely being a highly sought after free agent this summer.

I’m sure the Avalanche want to be the team that gives him that next contract, but the salary cap might have something to say about that.

+ Casey Mittelstadt

I think he proved very easily that he can be the 2C this team needs moving forward. Yeah, he got beat back on that game-tying goal, but according to Jared Bednar, he hurt his hip early in the game and was barely getting by the rest of the night.

There are a lot of positives to take out of this postseason run for a guy who never played a meaningful game in the NHL before coming here. The only issue for the Avalanche is that he’s going to cost a pretty penny to keep around.

– The Landeskog and Nichushkin Situations

I’m writing something bigger on this, but these situations loom large over the offseason. That’s $13,125,000 in cap room that Colorado might not be able to do anything with this summer. That’s a huge deal.

Bednar said he’s optimistic Landeskog will come back, and I hope he does. I don’t think you can even put into words how much this team missed him on and off the ice this season. Expecting him to ever get back to being that guy is probably way too much, but you at least need some clarity there.

As for Nichushkin, well, I’ll just say this – I don’t think there’s any chance that locker room will allow him to come back. No way.

Chris MacFarland is supposed to speak next week, and I’m sure these will be the two biggest topics of discussion.

+ THANK YOU

Thank you to everyone who read and followed along this season! Lots of long nights but I had a great time along the way. None of that would be possible without the support of all you, so thank you!

Just like last season, we’re not done yet, as I’ll be covering the Avalanche and really the entire NHL all summer. Film rooms over whatever new guys they bring in, news updates, etc. Stay here for all the Avalanche news you need.

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