The Avs finished off the pre-season with a loopy 6-5 victory in Dallas, evening their record to 3-3. The refs decided to make the first half a special teams scrimmage and the players obliged by not taking defensive play seriously.
Scratches: Mack, Z, Compher, Alt
Injured: Kamenev (hip), Lindholm (shoulder), Andrighetto (LBI), Warsofski (unknown), Timmins (concussion)
The Avs are off tomorrow so next update should be Tuesday after practice which is also the day for final cuts.
The Avs held a 2 goal advantage for large parts of this game so no surprise they got smoked on the shot board the whole time. Part of that is playing badly so they should be concerned especially since they got smoked most of last year as well. The quality over quantity strategy worked for them last year but shot suppression needs to be better.
Final tally was +37/-54 at 5v5 and they were outshot 37-27 in all situations. Thy end the pre-season at 44.35% Corsi for, good for 30th in the league. The good news is that Winnipeg was worse plus it’s meaningless.
The power play had lots of practice against rookie goaltender from Colgate University Colton Point, 6 chances in fact. They scored twice, which is pretty good. The PK was a little rough and stopped 2 of 3.
Top 6 forwards were Soderberg, Bourque, Landeskog, Nieto, Rantanen and Kerfoot at 5v5 and Carl, Landy, Mikko, Kerfoot, Nieto, Jost overall. Kerf, Jost, Landy and Mikko all played more than 7 minutes on the power play. That’s a lot.
The defensive regime went Sam, EJ, Barrie, Barbs, Nemeth Cole at 5v5 and Barrie, EJ, Sam, Barbs, Nemo, Cole overall. Cole had to leave the game for a while after getting the living daylights beaten out of him by Brett Richie. Barrie also played over 7 minutes on PP and the Avs went with Sam and EJ together on the 2nd unit.
– Landy had 2G/1A and Mikko had 1G/2A to lead the team. Nice to see the top line guys in the groove. Gabe took Mack’s usual place on the power plays and although not exactly the same threat still produced some quality chances.
– The Soderberg line got destroyed all night. Terrible defensively, could not corral the puck in the d-zone and get it out, got zilch going offensively. Matt Nieto struggled massively and had several turnovers/weak clears that led to extended zone time for the Stars. This line with Blake Comeau last year was a) a lot better because Comeau was on it and b) not as good as people would have you believe defensively. It worked because Comeau is good at pushing the puck outside of the d-zone and a great forechecker. Their success had more to do with shot suppression via puck possession than static defensive play. Putting Bourque in his place just makes it weaker offensively and guarantees they will be in the d-zone all the time. The staff is going to need a plan B very soon.
– Patrik Nemeth’s gruesome pre-season continued with another lackluster performance. He was on the ice for all but one of the Dallas goals and that’s not a coincidence. He had a long summer of recovery after shoulder surgery and he’s a step behind before we even see true NHL speed starting Thursday night.
– The only guys that actually had something to play for were together on the 4th line. Sheldon Dries, Dominic Toninato and Logan O’Conner along with Vlad Kamenev are vying for the final two spots in the forward corps. They were pretty rough all night in the d-zone but at least Dries had a goal on a sweet flip pass from behind the goal line by Toninato. They were better later in the game, which is a positive. Kamenev’s injury makes the final decisions a little murky but he’s in front of the 3 others for sure.
– Looking at the pre-season as a whole the main trend was risk-averse lineup construction with the vets which lead to difficulty generating o-zone time and offense in general. Coach Bednar has said many times that you have to play well in your own zone first and foremost and the offense feeds off of that. We haven’t seen much of either yet, which is fine, but starting Thursday night the team has to show off a complete game or else.
The Avs have a full practice Tuesday, special teams on Wednesday and a morning skate before taking on the Wilds. Right now the lineup looks like so:
Scratches: Barbs, one of the Kam/LOC/Dries/Toninato group that isn’t on line 4, maybe Mark Alt if he’s still around
Injuries: Andrighetto (LBI), Lindholm (shoulder), Warsofski (unknown), Timmins (concussion)
Coach Bednar could have been playing coy for the last few games and has a bunch of changes in store but I tend to think not. A month from now we’ll have a better idea of what the consistent lineup will be
Game time on Thursday is 9pm ET/7pm MT with full TV coverage and everything. Be there or be square.
Thanks as always to NatStatStrick and the NHL for the numbers