Start flat, battle back, tie, lose in OT on a dumb mistake.
I think we all see the flaw in this formula, the Avs staff seems to get it too. The question is what are they willing to do in order to fix it. So far it’s been not enough.
Logan O’Connor was called up from the Eagles and made his NHL debut. Colin Wilson miraculously has been skating with the team in a non-contact jersey the last two days. Zadorov and Barberio also have been practicing in red. No timeline has been given for any but that’s promising news anyway. Varly got his 2nd start in a row.
Scratch: Andrighetto, Zadorov (LBI)
Injured: Wilson (UBI), Barberio (UBI), Kamenev (shoulder)
The Avs had one good shift early in the first but that was about it until the very end of the period. The Kings blocked nearly half their shot attempts, which takes away from decent scoring chance production, and yet another flaccid 4 minute power play that produced just a single shot on goal was a drag in general. On paper the Avs should have been ahead by 1st intermission. The second was choppy, starting with an LA power play goal then more penalties and another LA goal. Score effects began creeping in and the ice opened up a bit but Colorado couldn’t cut the lead before 2nd inters. Mack started off the 3rd with a goal then JT Compher fell down and crashed into the opposing goalie, which somehow was a penalty. After that we settled into a grindy, low-event 3rd until Carl Soderberg tied the game with less than 2 to go. A bad change early in OT gave LA a breakaway and the game-winner.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was a +46/-35, scoring chances were +23/-8 and shots on goal in all situations were 24-18. The game heat map shows conclusively what kind of advantage the Avs had:
The Kings barely touched the slot in the rare occasions they attempted shots on goal. Good on the Avs D I guess but that’s probably more a symptom of why LA is bad more than anything else. Shot pace at 5v5 was a sludgy 103 per hour.
The power play went 0-4 including the aforementioned double minor that netted them a single shot on goal. I think PKs around the league have tightened up and there’s a big push to deny zone entries now which is hampering the Avs badly. Once they actually get set up it looks fairly sound. The PK stopped 2 of 3 and continues to tread water in the bottom third of the league.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Landy, Mikko, Mack, Compher, Carl and Kerf and the same in all situations. Logan O’Connor was low man at 5:51 overall but he did edge Gabe Bourque out by a few seconds at 5v5.
The defensive regime at 5v5 went EJ, Sam, Barrie, Cole, then a massive 8+ minute gap down to Nemeth and Graves. Overall it was EJ (26+), Barrie (24+), Sam/Cole (22), Nemeth (11+) and Graves (9).
– I watched Coach Bednar’s post-game presser (find it here) a few times and it’s fairly interesting. He’s usually controlled but the aggravation over what happened in OT became more evident the more he talked about it. Take out the special teams OTs and they’re 0-6, each time it’s been an individual mistake that’s lost them a point. It’s very frustrating as a coach I’m sure but he’s the one making the same decisions and getting the same result every time.
Stubbornness is Jared Bednar’s biggest flaw as a coach and it’s tough to criticize because sticking with players is also a fair trait to have. There are several chronic issues that JB has been stubborn about that seem to be a root cause of the team’s recent struggles. He wants the guys to do the same things, just better, and they are not. The stubbornness about sticking with what has worked in the past has let a small slump snowball into an absolute disaster of a month.
Coach Bednar and the rest of the staff have to ask themselves what they are doing that isn’t getting the results and how far they are willing to change up systems and personnel deployment to get the Avs where they want to be. Right now it’s not far enough. Shuffling a couple left wings isn’t enough. Hoping to coast until a few injuries clear up isn’t enough. Keeping passengers in the lineup when they aren’t adding anything isn’t enough. Sticking with ineffective strategies that don’t fit the team’s strengths isn’t enough. The best time to make these changes was a month ago when the issues began cropping up, the second best time is right now. He criticized the guys for hoping for offense in OT and not being aggressive enough on a nightly basis. It’s easy to turn that around and ask why he’s not doing the same things behind the bench.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) …until OT
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (+) quality good, quantity good
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) I think we need a new zone entry, Ray
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) LA turtled, not us
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) That wraparound tho…
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) Other than the dumb GI call on Compher I was ok with this crew, which is surprising when Tim Peel comes to town.
The Sharks come to town Wednesday, maybe playing a good team will help the Avs play well themselves. Don’t laugh, it could happen.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals