The Avs won an entertaining back and forth affair vs Toronto Saturday. Hopefully there were a bunch of folks in the sellout crowd at their first NHL game because it was one that can make a lasting impression and a good one for a change.
Despite a bit of a turtle at the end the Avs ended up on the plus side at 51% CF and a decent shot pace of 86 Corsi events total on the night. They managed to score in variety of shot situations, at the end of a big run, in the middle of a run and in the middle of an opponent run. Toronto’s goals were pretty fluky, coming from an own goal off a defender’s skate, an impossible angle whoopsie and massive 6v5 pressure at the end of the game. As the chart below shows, other than the 1st shot attempt of the game Colorado stayed at or above 50% all night. Stout.
The Avs PK continues to shine, killing off their 29th and 30th penalties in a row. This won’t continue forever obviously but it’s a nice run and shows they can be effective when they have to be. Changes I’m seeing from the alarming start to the year have to do with more discipline and 100% improvement in controlling seam passes.
The power play was 1 for 4 but that 1 was in OT on a 4v3 and had nothing to do with the top unit, which has been awful for weeks now. The differences between PP1 and PP2 are baffling, it doesn’t even look like the same coach directs both. PP1 managed a few shots last night, a nice change, but still don’t have the puck movement that PP2 does and they still struggle to do more than pour shots in from the perimeter. Considering the talent on that group, it’s disappointing.
The defensive regime was Big Z, EJ, Nemeth, Barbs, Lindy and Girard at 5v5 and EJ (29:40!), Z, Nemeth, Barbs, Girard and Lindy overall. Now that Miro is back from San Antonio it might be time to give Lindholm a breather because he has really struggled recently.
Top 6 forwards were Landy, Mack, Mikko, Comeau, Soderberg, Nieto at 5v5 in a straight up representation of the top 2 lines. Overall it was much the same with Compher taking the final spot in place of Nieto. The staff switched up Wilson and Kerfoot and Bourque replaced Yakupov on the 4th but the effects were undesirable. It made the Compher line worse and the 4th was still horrendous. The conclusion here is that there’s something missing and neither Yakupov nor Bourque are the answer. AJ Greer has been quietly moved into a more defensive role in San Antonio, perhaps preparing him to play bottom 6 in Colorado, and Dominic Toninato has been sharpening his offensive skills at the same time. The Avs have to do something here. The 2nd line never scores and the 3rd/4th are a mess. They have the pieces to put 3 lines together that can do more than grind, they just have to get the right ones on the NHL roster and put them together in a more effective way.
– The four goal scorers, Mack, Mikko, Kerfoot and Compher, are exactly what you want to see. Two of your top skill players and two talented rookies. Mack is now in the NHL top 10 scorers and keeping pace for a season in the mid-90’s.
– Tyson Jost is struggling, that much is obvious. Low man in TOI again, no special teams minutes, there are legitimate questions as to whether he’s in the right place and what exactly the staff is accomplishing with him.
– Got to give a shoutout to Big Z. He’s finally back in the groove where he was before the injury last season. Ten points in 32 games, quite a bit ahead of his career average and his defensive game is really stout now. He was tops on the team (by 3 secs) over EJ in 5v5 TOI and is earning his minutes bigtime. I’d really like to see him get a shot at some power play time, he started OT so the staff seem to been leading themselves towards that. Do it.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) We might need to start having conversations about who needs to get added to this category
– Corsi gets a (+) faint but it’s there
– Power Play gets an (even) but only for Compher’s OT goal
– Turtle gets a (-) it wasn’t bad nor long, but it was there and it cost them
– Varly% gets a (+) weird goals plus a 6v5, not bad at all
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) for giving Mack the star call in OT
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The Avs have a date with the Islanders on New Years Eve