When you lose a one-goal game after receiving two late power plays the instinct is to blame special teams but this one the Avs lost squarely because of their even strength play. Vegas had a rhythm last night at 5v5, furious sustained attacks followed by consolidation. They went through this cycle 5 times, capitalizing twice, and that was the difference in the end.
Pavel Francouz, AJ Greer and Anton Lindholm were re-assigned to the Eagles following the Arizona game. Nikita Zadorov skated on Wednesday but wasn’t close. No new word on the IR crew. Sheldon Dries enters the lineup after not being able to go on Saturday. Varly is over his illness and returns as the backup. Ryan Graves gets his first NHL callup and debut.
Scratch: Zadorov (LBI)
Injured: Barberio (UBI), Wilson (UBI), Kamenev (shoulder)
After a tentative opening by both teams the Avs drew a power play and scored right off the draw. Vegas answered with a 9-3 run and a goal of their own. The Avs pushed back thanks mainly to a solid shift from the 4th line then Vegas went on another run, 7-0. After a solid PK early in the 2nd the Avs got mauled once again as the Knights went on a strong 10-0 run which Colorado countered again. Then we got into a long stretch of penalties, mostly on the Avs, with Vegas controlling play on another run 11-2 then the Avs taking control briefly. The 5th and final cycle saw a 7-0 VGK run and what turned out to be the winning goal halfway through the 3rd. The Avs had the final 11 shot attempts of the game, mostly on a couple of PPs and some 6v5 time, but couldn’t solve Fleury.
Tale of the tape was a +46/-59 at 5v5 and shots on goal in all situations were 43-32 Knights. Scoring chances were highly in Vegas’ favor and high danger chances the Avs trailed +7/-14. That’s rough. Shot pace at 5v5 was a rockin’ 142 per hour.
PP was 1 for 4 and PK stopped all 4 chances they had. On paper that’s a solid night for the special teams group.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Landy, Mikko, then a 3 minute gap down to Kerfoot, Compher and Soderberg and the same in all situations. Sheldon Dries was low man at 5:11.
The defensive regime went EJ, Barrie, Cole, Sam then a gap down to Nemeth and an even bigger gap to Ryan Graves. In all situations EJ, Barrie and Cole were all clustered around 23 minutes, then Sam and Nemo both around 18 minutes. Graves played 8:36 in his debut with a PK shift in the 3rd period.
– Mikko had an assist to get to 60 points but he’s in 2nd place now behind Kucherov. The top line has 12 points combined in the last 5 games, that’s ok but the Avs are built on the premise that they’ll produce more than that consistently. Mack had 7 shots on goal, Mikko and Gabe 2 each. Even with merely human shooting percentages they should have had at least one goal last night, they just couldn’t get one to fall.
– The first power play was as good as it gets. A (rare) faceoff win, a shot from the point, a deflection and in taking just 6 seconds. When asked about what’s not happening consistently there Coach Bednar pointed to being overly selective and looking for perfect plays, something that just about every PP struggles with. I saw quite a few seam passes get through last night and decent puck movement. I also saw the usual overpassing, then panic then a bad shot that self-cleared. This is what PPs do, counting on a PP to score 2 goals in a game just to get a 2-2 tie in regulation is going to leave everyone disappointed most of the time.
– I’ve lost count of how many times the staff has gone back to the “frat” line of Jost, Kerfoot and Compher over the past year or so but every time they do they get the same result. It’s not even worth analyzing anymore, it doesn’t work and the reasons are obvious. Coach Bednar is unwilling to spread out talent and experience among the bottom 3 lines so we continue to see games like last night where nothing works well enough and consistently enough and the top line is hampered by having to carry too much of the load. No one wants to see a losing stretch like this continue but sooner or later JB’s going to have to balance his aversion to risk with what’s going to win games. Hopefully he does it in time.
– Ryan Graves got his first NHL callup and made his debut last night. After the Mark Alt and Anton Lindholm debacles it was a breath of fresh air. He kept his shifts short and contributed offensively with 4 shot attempts and 2 SOG. He was a net positive in on-ice unblocked shot attempts and outside of a few shifts with the ill-fated frat line was a very positive impact player. Nothing fancy, just solid play. We can speculate why it took 3 tries to get a defenseman from the Eagles that can play spot duty and look decent doing it but the main thing that the staff should take from this is that there are a couple guys down there that can help out, just not who they thought they were.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) best perhaps but still not great
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) decent quantity, low quality
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) skewed by the 6 second goal but pretty blah
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) no turtle
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) Grubi was good, needed to be better
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) I bet the VGKs hated these guys. A couple soft calls I wish they had let slide, I’d say it was slightly overofficiated.
Rematch with the Hawks at the Pepsi Center Saturday night.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals