The great hope was that the Avs would come out in Game 1 and show they deserved to be there, and they did for the most part. They managed the game well for the first two periods then struggled to match up in the third. The positives I’m taking out of this are that there were situations they can learn from in the short term and the talent/experience gap is noticeable but not overwhelming. The 5-2 final score is pretty misleading and like I’ve said many times, if you are a little off compared to your opponent NHL games can go south in a hurry.
This was a really back-and-forth affair, neither team controlled play for large chunks of time in the first 40 minutes. The Avs were there to skate, the Preds aren’t built to play that way and only reluctantly participated. We saw some tactical improvements from Colorado in the neutral zone that really paid off. I’ve been critical of the soft-ish NZ style during the season but they moved the D up and contested Nashville zone exits and entries much more vigorously than usual. This is honestly where I see Jared Bednar’s vision for the team heading in the future. It’s still really raw but next year it will force opponents into lots of mistakes.
The game was dead even at 34 through P2, nice pace too. Nashville continued their pace in the 3rd but the Avs fell behind which gave us a +47/-53 final tally. Shots on goal favored NSH by 7 at 5v5 and by 4 overall but the Avs dominated scoring chances +22/-13.
Before the series, special teams was an area where the Avs had perhaps their only significant advantage and that did not go their way last night. They had a golden opportunity at the end of the first period with a couple PP chances with a 19 second 5v3 overlap and could not capitalize. In the 3rd they had a very important PP chance after NSH went up 4-2 and looked terrible with 0 shot attempts and couldn’t even enter the zone. The PK let them down by letting in a goal 10 seconds into the first kill.
The defensive regime at 5v5 went Girard, Z, Barrie, Nemeth, Barbs then a massive gap to Warsofsky. Barrie moved up to top man in all situations thanks to PP time. Warsofsky ended up at 9:32 overall, which isn’t optimum. If that’s all they want out of the 6th D then maybe Alt/Duncan could be more useful as a PK specialist.
Top 6 forwards were Landy, Mack, Mikko, Carl then a host of guys within 20 seconds of each other. Overall it was the top line, Jost, Carl then again a bunch of guys. Colin Wilson was low man and the only forward under 10 minutes, which is surprising since when he was on the ice he was quick and powerful.
– Mack’s line was a mixed bag. Mack was wonderful at times but also looked frustrated and stubborn with the puck. Mikko looked like he had a 2×4 instead of a stick half of the time. Landy was the best of the trio and carried the play often. With some film viewing and adjustments I think they’ve got some realistic upside in this series, especially Mikko.
– Carl’s line was stout and played the role they’ve had all year. Wouldn’t change a thing about their usage for Saturday and when the series goes back to the Pepsi Center I’d see about sneaking them out against some weaker matchups once in a while.
– The Kerfoot line got plowed over. They showed some flashes of what the Avs need from them overall but generated nothing offensively. Tyson Jost was very unimpressive and looked way over his head all night. Dragging him around is a little more than Kerfoot and Andrighetto can handle.
– Sam Girard was fantastic and if you’re griping about how he played the unbelievable Forsberg goal then think about that for a minute. He led the D in shots on goal, was a +25/-13 at 5v5 and got the 3rd star of the game. Like I’ve said all year, just imagine him 2 years from now. His partner Patrik Nemeth wasn’t as obvious but also had a strong game.
– Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov had a pretty tough go. Z’s goal was wonderful but both guys struggled with puck management and when Barrie has 3 hits and 0 shots on goal you know he wasn’t able to play his style. Barberio had a brutal night, everyone saw it so there’s no reason to go further.
– Jonathan Bernier was ok, other than the first goal he played to the level of his teammates. If nothing else the Avs know they can count on him now and like we suspected, he might be able to steal a game but he won’t steal all of them.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) It’s a little harsh, but we need more
– Corsi gets a (-) but really only for the 3rd period
– Power Play gets a (-) no help, and without it this might be a quick series
– Turtle gets a (+) but there was a little letdown after the Avs 2nd goal
– Varly% gets a (n/a) and Bernie was ok I guess
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) It’s the playoffs so lots of shit goes uncalled, which is why Nate’s phantom penalty is a bunch of garbage. I don’t know if they just missed RyJo’s head shot on TB4 or just blew it off but that was disappointing.
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We have a matinee in Nashville coming up tomorrow afternoon for Game 2 then back to Colorado for games Monday and Wednesday.