The Avs avoided going below the .500 mark for the first time this season with a gift point in a game they could have easily lost in regulation. There were some glimpses of improved play but still too many of the same errors that have plagued them for months now.
AJ Greer and Anton Lindholm were called up from the Eagles for the trip East but not in time for practice or even to make the team flight. Someone should be fired for that. Greer played, Lindy did not. Other than that and the goalie swap the lineup remained unchanged from the CBJ game.
Scratch: Lindholm, Bourque
Injured: Barberio (???), Kamenev (shoulder)
The 1st period was a series of back and forth runs with the Caps getting an early goal when a typical coverage breakdown left an opponent alone in front of the net. We embarked on a penalty parade for most of the middle part of the game with both teams scoring twice, although the Caps had a goal called back on some sort of weird technicality. Colin Wilson scored a fluky but well-deserved goal with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to send it to overtime. The usual chaos ensued in OT and Washington won it on an easy breakaway with less than a minute to go.
Tale of the tape at 5v5 was +55/-41 with the great majority of the differential coming in P1. Shots in all situations favored the Caps 42-37. There was little quality generated by the Avs and they ended the night +11/-14 in high-danger chances. Shot pace at 5v5 was a volcanic 140 per hour.
The power play struggled even to break out of their own zone and went 0-2. PK stopped 5 out of 6, nice job.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Mikko, Landy then a big gap down to Kerfoot, Compher and Wilson. In all situations it was the top line, Compher, Carl and Kerf. The 4th line was gently used with all the PKs and chasing from behind all night. Sheldon Dries was low man 5v5 with 3:43 and AJ Greer overall at 4:11.
The defensive regime at 5v5 went Girard, Barrie, EJ, Z, Cole and Nemeth. Overall it went EJ (22), Barrie (21+), Nemeth (21), Sam (21), Cole (18+) and Z (16). Fun fact: Patrik Nemeth had more than 9 minutes on PK, Cole and EJ more than 6.
– I guess it was inevitable that Ian Cole would become the vet that’s terrible when grossly overplayed, a.k.a. Francois Beauchemin version 2.0 or 3.0 or whatever we’re on now. Coaches love losing games with guys like this because it’s easy to point out how hard they work and all the grit and leadership they bring. Those were things I was glad to see when he was signed, the fears were that he would take too many penalties (√) and slide into a top pair role displacing better players (√) during the season. Not only did he take a dumb tripping call that resulted in a PPG for the Caps in the 2nd period, but down a goal in the 3rd he took a reckless elbow/interference major and made sure the refs saw it. Tom Wilson beat the living shit out of him afterwards and deservedly so. The Avs could definitely use some more sandpaper in their game but he doesn’t need to make up for that all by himself.
– Sam Girard is one of the few D that’s continued to play a steady game during the collapse, perhaps the only one. It’s interesting to see fans perceptions of his game because they’ll inevitably point out a turnover or a shot passed up in the offensive zone and say he’s playing poorly. He’s not. If you took any of the regular D’s out of the lineup, Sam would be the one that’s missed the most. He’s by far the best at breaking the puck out of the d-zone and entering the offensive zone. Last night he tied Mack for the team lead in individual shot attempts with 9 and was on-ice for more attempts than anyone on the team with 28. Every player on the team had positive shot share when Girard was on the ice vs Washington except Ian Cole (+1/-7), which says something. He drives play, pure and simple.
– Colorado is now 1-9 in overtime and although they made it out of the first minute without giving up a goal last night many of the same issues were on display. The way they play defensively is outdated, they use a zone while just about every other team in the NHL has moved on to man on man coverage, which might explain why they have problems in the offensive end. Practicing against zone coverage doesn’t prepare them for what actually happens in games so they’re lost. Zone or man/man aside, having 3 players below the goal line in the o-zone is a really bad idea as the Caps demonstrated so reading the play needs big work too.
– AJ Greer had his 4th callup of the season and played in his 6th game. Without any practice (again) he wasn’t able to take part in special teams which dominated the game. In 4:10, he was on-ice for 8 shot attempts for and none against. He had a decent scoring chance of his own and drew a penalty. It was a solid performance and I’d like to see more. Nothing said that he was over his head, on the contrary it looked like he should have been with the team a month or two ago when there was still some season left to save. Instead of sticking with guys that don’t help the team win, by now Greer could be solid enough to play 10-12 minutes a night but every time he gets called up we have to start over with the 4-5 minute deal and work from there. Now it’s too late to make a difference. Does anyone in the organization realize that’s how this works?
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) they were ok at times
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) mucho quantity, poquito quality
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) so bad
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) Caps shelled up a bit, thank you
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) better I think?
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) Was this a Tim Peel game or what? No reason to try and make sense of any of it. Not good.
A pair of matinees this weekend in Brooklyn and Boston
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals