Last night’s game was a little more than a glorified scrimmage but there is data available and an eye test was performed so no reason not to search for some relevant points. It’s pre-season for everyone and we need the work too.
Thanks to a desperate 3rd period the Avs made up deficits in both shots on goal and shot attempts. Taking score effects into consideration they still ended up in the “bad” range however, down 10 in attempts and 5 in actual shots on net. Most of this came from a poor stretch early in the 2nd period between the myriad special teams moments. While not very promising, the difference in experience between Vegas and Colorado’s defensemen was a big factor. So there’s that.
Time on Ice
It’s tough to glean much with all the penalties. Duncan Siemens was third in PP TOI with 1:55, which might be a solid month’s worth historically in the AHL. So that’s weird. EJ was 3rd in 5v5 TOI with 10:43 yet ended up with 23:02 overall. Yes, that’s over 12 minutes in special teams. Grimaldi & Beaudin led forwards at 5v5 with 9:00 and 8:49 respectively yet they ended up 4th and 8th overall with 17:51 and 15:31. Hot taek: this isn’t telling us much.
J-C Beaudin and Erik Johnson led the club in score adjusted shot attempt percentage at right around 58%. The Beaudin line with Grimaldi and Agozzino on the wings was the most effective of the night with all 3 players in positive territory. No, they didn’t produce any points but if you’re looking for something positive for San Antonio then this is good news. Beaudin struggled on the PP but otherwise had a solid game, fans should be excited to see what he turns into later in the season.
On the down side, the brutal Cowen/Meloche pairing got buried. After a great Showcase, Meloche looked a little over his head in his first game at the Pepsi Center. Cowen was every bit as ineffective as we feared and there’s really no reason I can see to continue the PTO experiment. The 4th line of Ty Lewis, Dominic Toninato and Gabe Bourque also fared poorly with none of them reaching 33% in attempts for. Lewis’ missed assignment on the VGK’s 1st goal was tragic, not something you want to see for a guy that’s looking for a contract.
Erik Johnson was good and when you see that he was the only D that played more than 3 NHL games last year it looks even more impressive. Conor Timmins gained confidence and ice time as the game wore on and ended up with a solid overall performance after some opening period jitters.
Other than Mack’s circus goal, the forwards ranged from bad to just ok. As mentioned above the Beaudin line was the most consistent and effective. Carl Soderberg had a pretty decent game overall, especially contrasted with last year, it’s a start.
Spencer Martin had another game that left me baffled. None of the goals were that horrifying individually but as a body or work it was pretty poor in general. I have no idea what’s happened to him since last January but someone, hopefully Jussi Parkkila, needs to figure it out quick. Marty was fabulous up until then and now he’s just cringe-worthy every time he gets a start. All I can tell you is that he can be and has been much better than this.
A few players had chances to move up and improve their standing in what appears to be a very competitive pre-season, but didn’t. Duncan looked nervous starting the game on the top pair and ended up falling a bit in the lineup. Alex Kerfoot was just ok out there but I think he needed to be more than that to break into the NHL roster, still time there but not a lot. Ty Lewis had been solid up until last night but he definitely didn’t need a shaky game to stay in the conversation for an ELC. Matt Nieto’s listless performance seems to indicate that his spot on the Avs isn’t in doubt but it probably should be.
/ / / / / /
Overall, nothing we saw last night alleviated any fears that this season would be a whole lot different from last year. This wasn’t even close to the Avs projected final roster of course but I wanted to see some changes in systems & tactics, maybe a little more aggressiveness and resiliency. I didn’t. There’s still lots of work to do in the next 2 weeks.
Avs take on the Stars next on Thursday night with Varly in net and a few less players on the roster. Now we have a benchmark that shouldn’t be difficult to improve on.