Breaking Down: Avalanche/Stars, Game 9

The Avs revenged their loss in Dallas last week in a game which was both beautiful and ugly at the same time. Matt Nieto scored an ENG with 14 seconds left to ice the game and give himself a hat trick. The 5-3 victory puts the Avs back above .500 and in the Central Division’s 3rd place.

Shot Metrics

Shot attempt percentage looks ghastly overall but this game is better absorbed by looking at the push-pull chart from NaturalStatTrick:

The first period was a flat-footed tie both on the scoreboard and on the corsiboard. By the end of the 2nd shot attempts were even yet the Avs had gained a 3-1 advantage and lead 4-2. As you can see above the Stars went bananas for the first 15 minutes of the 3rd, getting within a goal but no further. Colorado took control for the final 5 minutes and sealed it with Nieto’s 3rd of the night.

Tyson Barrie’s night drew the ire of many, he finished at 31% CF at a +13/-29. Dig deeper and this is what really happened. In the 1st he was +1/-8, not good, but in the middle frame he was fantastic at +12/-4. His shot/pass at the net late ended up as the dagger in the Stars back when Mark Barberio scored with 10 seconds left. Along with everyone else he was overwhelmed in the 3rd at +0/-17. The shot stats are concerning but the results, on ice for 3 goals for and only 1 against, make up for that in a way.

Nathan MacKinnon seems to be baffling Avs fans this year with everyone wanting to know why he’s not scoring. The answer is obvious, that line is matched up with the top opponent line, on purpose, every night. In this game, he matched up with the Benn line and got killed at around a +3/-17 vs them specifically. In the 5 minutes he wasn’t dealing with those fellows he was +7/-5. Like Erik Johnson, Coach Bednar has asked Nate to take on a defensive role and basically sacrifice his offense for the good of the team. On a nightly basis, he is dragging around two relatively inexperienced wingers in Mikko and Andrighetto and leaving the rest of the Avs lineup to overcome the rest of the opponent’s lineup, the hope being that if the top lines are a wash the Avs can win the battle of the lower lines. It’s easy to make an argument against this strategy, JB should find more favorable matchups for his star center so he can be more productive or something like that, but up until now it seems to be working for the team as a whole. I assume the thinking here is that Mack/Mikko are learning what it takes to be top line players in the NHL and down the road it won’t be a wash anymore. I think long term this is going to work out well for the Avs, really well in fact, but there will be some ugly nights like this game along the way.

Time On Ice

The only real TOI anomaly was Anton Lindholm, who jumped from 4 minutes in each of the first 2 periods to a whopping 8 minutes in the 3rd, often with EJ. No doubt about it, Anton has struggled a ton this year but this was his first really solid performance since last season.

Gabby Bourque and AJ Greer made their season debuts and played sparingly as you would expect. Greer was low man on the team at 8:22 but had a couple shots on goal, 3 hits and played a solid mistake-free game. Bourque replaced Yakupov late in the 3rd on Dutch’s line so he ended up with a few more minutes than AJ. Those two plus Kerfoot in the middle made for a very promising “4th” line if you can call it that. If that’s the worst the Avs have to offer as a forward trio, something’s going right.

Burgundy Narrative Metric

– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) Landy was amazing, Varly was really good along with EJ.
– Corsi gets a big ol’ (-)
– Power Play gets a (-) Not as impressive as it was against St Louis but not horrifying either
– Turtle gets a (-) even tho’ it wasn’t the turtle of old
– Varly% gets a (+) for haulin’ the mail
Referee Oppression Index gets an (even) as the stripes called an even game for once

Total: -1

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The guys get a couple practices before heading to Sin City for the front end of a b2b with travel. Back home Saturday against the Hawks and all their fans.

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