Twenty-Six days ago the Avs dropped a game in regulation to the Winnipeg Jets, that was their last regulation loss until last night. A week ago, the Avs went up 3-0 on the Penguins at home, gave up 3 goals in succession to tie it then scored 3 of their own to take home the win. The Penguins did the exact same thing last night. There’s plenty to be unhappy about in this most recent loss but putting the game in perspective against the point streak and the win last Wednesday doesn’t mean there’s a lot to worried about long-term.
Tyson Barrie returned to the lineup after missing a few games with LBI. Vlad Kamenev slotted in on the 4th in place of Sven Andrighetto. I’m a Sven fan but if this is the role he’s gravitated to for the season then I don’t think he’s going to help much. It’s easy to make an argument that a few guys with the Eagles can give you the same or more on any given night. The NHL is in fairly lively pre-Christmas trade season, maybe the Avs should free up a roster/contract spot and get something of value before he leaves in free agency this summer.
Scratch: Sven, Alt
Injured: Barbs (UBI)
The Avs started slow and before 8 minutes had elapsed were down 3-0 thanks to some hideous turnovers and weak clearing attempts. Whether it was early score effects or just waking the hell up they pretty much owned the next 35 minutes until early in the 3rd period with a net +24 run on the shot board and 3 goals to tie the game. Then the turnovers and sloppy play returned and the Pens got a quick hat trick from Patric Hornqvist. That was pretty much it, there were some nice chances and JB pulled Varly on a 4v4 to see if they could get back in the game but no.
Tale of the tape was +64/-49 at 5v5 and even with score effects they were solidly in control of the puck for most of the night. Shots on goal in all situations the Avs dominated 45-32. Simply put, this game turned on some bad errors and an off night by Varly. Shot pace was a volcanic 137 per hour. Combine that with the 57% share and despite the scoreboard result you can’t help but be impressed.
PP was 1-3 with TB4 putting one in after his layoff. The PK was 2-3 but got a shortie from Matt Nieto for a net even night.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Landy, Mikko, Compher, Jost, Wilson and in all situations basically the same. Kamenev was low man at 9:19. Usage was a little out of the ordinary. Usually we’re screaming to not overplay the Soderberg line but last night they were effective for once (all 3 around 70% CF and had the only even strength goal) but mostly absent in the 3rd period. The Compher line was decent too but they couldn’t finish one off.
The defensive regime went EJ, Barrie, Cole, Sam, Z, Nemeth. Not sure what the reasoning was but Nemeth had just two shifts in an 18 minute stretch from the mid-1st to the mid-2nd but played regularly after that and even got wildly overplayed in the 3rd.
– Mikko and Gabe got assists on Barrie’s PPG but Mack got blanked. Mack had a weird game and not one of his best. The Crosby line did a good job shutting him down but it’s weird to see 39 shots on goal at 5v5 and Mack with just a single one. Mikko and Landy both had 4 so I’m not sure what to think about that.
– I’ve been a huge fan of Ian Cole all season but he had a gruesome game in his return to Pittsburgh. He was on the ice for 5 out of the 6 goals and that’s not just a coincidence. Shot metrics look fine, as they did for everyone, but he just blew it on a couple of the breakdowns. He’s been the Avs most consistent D this year and that’s the reason this game is going to stick out. I don’t see it as anything to worry about.
– JT Compher returned from injury and instantly made the team better. The staff rewarded him with the 2C spot over Alex Kerfoot, who’s been relegated to the 4th. I love what Comphs brings on a nightly basis but this is not a good spot for him or for Kerf. Both lines have been garbage since. The 2nd line needs Kerf’s skill and playmaking and the 4th needs JTC to prop them up. Compher can play throughout the lineup in spot duty and help any of the lines in any situation. What we’re seeing now is overplaying him doesn’t make him more productive and underplaying Kerf makes him useless.
– Varly got hung out to dry several times but he’d like to have a handful of those goals back I’m sure. Just part of the perfect storm against the Avs last night.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) Clark Kent couldn’t find a phone booth
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) Quantity great, quality not as much but still fine
– Power Play Watchability gets a (+) didn’t like Barrie at first but he scored so…
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) no opportunity
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (-) probably Varly’s worst game of the year
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (-) Not much of a factor but this crew was pretty inconsistent. However you may feel about the goal called back, they got it right for the most part.
A trip to South Florida to play the Cats on Thursday.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals