Breaking Down: COL/NSH, Post-Season Game 2

“We clean up a a few mistakes and we win that hockey game”

 

Coach Bednar’s remark at the end of his post-game presser sums it up. What’s interesting to ponder is whether this is the Avs playing very well against a very good team or if it’s the Avs playing decent and the Predators aren’t really that good. It’s some of each but it hints that Colorado, as currently built, can be quite competitive in a playoff situation and are not as far off as many believe. In a series that’s wildly lopsided on paper, on the road and with the backup goalie and 7th/8th defensemen logging major ice time, the Avs had a chance to win both games.

Team Stats

Like in game 1, the Avs scored early before the Preds could settle in but this hasn’t been the advantage is usually is in the regular season. NSH went on a 10-2 shot run in the middle of the period before the Avs could wrestle some control of the game back. The officials lost control of the 2nd period early and turned it into a 30-minute shitshow full of embellishment, phantom penalties and makeup calls that continued through the first half of the 3rd. The Avs have struggled with 4v4 this season and despite creating more scoring chances in that situation were outscored 2-1, so ignoring the myriad mistakes they made the outcome was decided there.

Final tally was +31/-39 at 5v5 and +42/-47 at even strength. Looking at which team was controlling play when the goals were scored highlights that bad mistakes while playing well was the determining factor and with experience the Avs can win games like this in the future.

The PK killed 4 out of 5 and other than one going off of Patrik Nemeth’s toe would have been perfect. The power play finally got on the board but it took a 5v3 to do it. They are still at a disadvantage here but -1 on the road is acceptable after 2 games. At home and with competent officiating this should more than balance out in games 3 & 4.

TOI

The tragic news that Sam Girard would be unavailable came right before puck drop. He was the Avs best D in game 1 and a huge loss with Erik Johnson already sidelined. Duncan Siemens filled in admirably but he doesn’t even remotely play the same role and asking David Warsofsky to step in on PP2 and as a secondary puck mover is far from optimum.

Mark Barberio led the team at even strength followed by Z, Nemeth, Barrie then a huge gap to Wars and another huge gap to Duncan. In all situations it went Nemeth, Barrie, Barbs, Z, Wars, Siemens. Nemeth played nearly 8 minutes on PK with Duncan 2nd at almost 5.

Top 6 forwards were Mack, Mikko, Landy, Nieto, Comeau, Jost at even strength and basically the same in all situations. Mack played 25 minutes, highest on the team save for Nemeth. Outside of the top line no forward eclipsed 11 minutes at even strength. There was a lot of mixing and matching thanks to all the penalties and 4v4 time.

Individual

– Leaving Nashville, I’ll describe the Avs offense as balanced with 6 different goal-scorers and 13 skaters producing points so far. The top line has 6 points, Carl’s line has 3, the bottom 6 has 4 points and the defense has 4 as well. This is a good sign.

– Outside of Big Z/Barrie, who have been caved in the whole time, the defense has been positive Corsi at even strength so far.

Obviously seeing Sam at the top reinforces what a loss that was yesterday. It’s tough enough to put Barrie as your de facto #1 defenseman but when you lose perhaps your best puck mover it has become a gargantuan task. It’s not fair to lay a lot of blame here, he’s having to play a role in a high-pressure situation that’s outside of his comfort zone and there are going to be some setbacks. We all want to see better play from TB4 and having more control over matchups at home should give he and Zadorov a boost.

– The top line has been terrific everywhere but the scoreboard and that’s with Mikko Rantanen struggling mightily in his first playoff experience. The 4th line, which has been very steady in limited minutes, are doing what they need to. Carl’s line has been cratered a bit but that’s not unusual and they don’t tend to give up a lot even so.

The line I worry about is Kerfoot’s line. They’ve had a tough matchup both games with large doses of the Johansen/Forsberg/Arvidsson trio. Coach Bednar has tried several ways to get them away from that with little success other than just not playing them much. Andrighetto and Jost are the only forwards without a point so far and Kerf’s goal came at 6v5. These guys have to score if the Avs are going to break through and win a game and I’m putting that just as much on the staff as on them.

– Jon Bernier’s old-school stats aren’t pretty at an .871 save percentage and 8 goals against. 2 of the goals were on PK and 2 were at 4v4, so 4 at 5v5 in two games starts to look a lot better. His 5v5 save percentage is .917 so without all the garbage penalties this is a different story. Taking a look at his fancy goal stats, he’s keeping up with Pekka Rinne to this point. Maybe that says more about Rinne but it does tend to say that goaltending is not winning or losing this series for either team (yet).

– A word about the officiating, especially yesterday. The homer in me thinks the Avs are getting screwed but in reality both teams are. There’s absolutely no reason to call 14 minor penalties in a playoff game. If you call embellishment once then call it every time for crying out loud, or better yet just blow it off. That game didn’t need a whole bunch of special teams and 4v4 time, no one shows up at the arena or turns on the TV for that. Manage the game but stay in the background, that’s not too much to ask from professionals at this level.

Burgundy Narrative Metric

– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) Still need more, but they are on the right track going back home
– Corsi gets a (-) but comparative to the regular season it’s pretty stout
– Power Play gets a (+) it took a 5v3 but they got on the board
– Turtle gets a (-) let’s hope we don’t see one the rest of the season
– Varly% gets a (n/a) and Bernie was Bernie
Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) Hope the NHL 86’s these guys because they ruined a perfectly good hockey game for everyone

Total: +1¼

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The big hope is for some home cookin’ back in Colorado. Given what we’ve seen so far it’s fairly likely. Game 3 tomorrow and Game 4 Wednesday night.

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