The Avs came out flat as a pancake and just never got going for whatever reasons. Some bad goaltending and poor shooting luck sealed the deal and they took home a disappointing 4-1 loss in a very winnable game.
AJ Greer was re-assigned to the Eagles and Sheldon Dries called up to replace him. Alex Kerfoot practiced in a NC jersey for the first time since being injured and sounds pretty close. Conor Timmins joined the team for morning skate in his first team action since turning pro last summer. He can’t be very close yet but that’s promising. He is still on Season-Opening Injured Reserve. Mark Barberio was not around but he should be fairly close, maybe post-Xmas break. Oh yeah, Mark Alt was re-assigned to the Eagles too. Varly got the start coming off the win vs Dallas.
Scratch: Kerfoot (UBI)
Injured: Barberio (UBI), Kamenev (shoulder), Timmy?
Despite controlling the puck well on an opening 10-3 run there weren’t a lot of truly dangerous scoring chances. A soft penalty call gave the Islanders momentum and they scored on a bad coverage goal late in the 1st. The 2nd opened with another Avs penalty and the pathetic PK stood by and watched another puck sail past Varly. The power play got it back soon after thankfully. The refs seemed to like the calling penalties thing so they just kept on doing it. A vile kneeing call on Ian Cole gave NYI their 3rd PP of the period with 2 minutes to go and they scored immediately against the hapless Avs PK once again. The Avs created a few good scoring chances in the 3rd but couldn’t finish and capped off the night with some apathetic play on an ENG.
Tale of the tape was +48/-36 at 5v5 and shots in all situations favored the good guys 31-21. Another Corsi win and scoreboard loss. The Avs dominated all the shot metrics by a ton, high-danger scoring chances were 11-4 for example, but got no glory. Shot pace at 5v5 was a healthy 114 per hour.
The power play was 1 for 5. Should they have been better? Probably, booting the 4 minute PP in the mid-2nd basically killed the game for them. Second time in 3 games they’ve been casual with an extended PP and gotten nothing out of it. The PK was disgusting, stopped only 2 of 4 and now sit at 77% for the year and hanging around with all the really bad teams.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Landy, Mikko, Mack, Compher, Calvert, Soderberg and the same in all situations. JT Compher broke the 20 minute barrier at 21:20 total. Sheldon Dries was low man at 5:48 and the staff still don’t like playing Bourque at 5v5 where he was bottom of the barrel at just 5:19.
Sam Girard topped the defensive regime at 5v5 by almost 2 minutes over EJ then Barrie, Cole, Z and Patrik Nemeth who had less than 9 minutes. Overall it went Barrie by nearly 4 minutes over EJ & Sam then Cole and a 3 minute gap down to Z and Nemeth.
– Captain Gabe scored the lone goal with Mack picking up an assist. The top line was very good at controlling play, +21/-4 when they were out together, but just didn’t have the chops to produce. It happens. Mikko’s point streak ends but he’s still leading the league by 7 points over the nearest non-teammate. He and Nate are the only NHLers over 50 points. Despite looking pretty shabby via the eye test all night I find it hard to put much blame on these 3, sixteen other guys didn’t get anything done.
– Someone I don’t find hard to lay some blame upon is Nolan Pratt. I still have some major concerns about defenseman usage and the fact they don’t have regular pairs half the time but the D was ok last night so we’ll drop that for now.
The penalty kill has been flat out awful for weeks now and getting worse by the game. Yes, the Avs take too many penalties and that needs to be addressed somehow but what’s happening when the PK is on the ice has to change. System-wise there have been some changes from last year’s 4th best unit to this year’s 23rd. Goals against rate has gone from 5.9 per hour to over 8 per hour. Unblocked shots per hour has actually gone down and scoring chances are about the same, which sounds like a good thing but apparently is not. Goalies are a factor for sure. Last year Varly let in 5 goals per hour on the PK, now it’s almost 7. Last year Bernier let in 7.42 goals per hour, this year Grubauer gets torched for over 10 per hour. I’m not prepared to say that Varly has fallen off a cliff and that Jon Bernier is a whole lot better that Grubi so this falls on the system and players executing it.
Matt Calvert and Ian Cole were brought in over the summer because they were experienced role players and played on the penalty kill. Whether they have made it worse themselves is debatable but when I looked at their PK numbers in Columbus last year I came to the conclusion that they actually were not very good at all on the penalty kill. Columbus had one of the worst PKs in the league last season and Calvert was a big reason why, Cole was too although he only spent a quarter of the year there. Both of them have goals against rates among the worst of the PKers this year, in all likelihood they are a big reason why the unit has fallen to one of the worst of the league. The talent evaluation process that management used when targeting these two was flawed and now they’re stuck with both for the next 2 and a half years. Not a pretty situation.
– Varly is in a bad rut and the staff have to get him out of it. For the second time this month they started him after a shaky outing and it didn’t pay off. With the schedule the way it is they don’t have the luxury of giving him a week or more off to focus on getting back up to speed but they don’t have to keep making the same play and getting the same results. Francouz is killing it in the AHL right now, we might be getting to the point where he should get a start and give Varly the time to get his game together.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) nope
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) plenty of both for all the good it did
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) not clutch
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) not applicable
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (-) another really rough start for Varly
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (-) Called way too many penalties in the 2nd, didn’t manage the game effectively. I doubt either coach was happy with the stripes last night.
Le CH comes to town tomorrow fresh off a very similar performance to the Avs vs Boston last night. Should be very interesting.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals