The Avs played a decent game overall but they were reacting to the Blues style rather than dictating play all afternoon. Not a great setup and a couple of hideous breakdowns in the 3rd period gave St Louis all they would need to grab the two points.
Same lineup as against Winnipeg. After the game Mark Barberio was activated off IR and Dries & Toninato re-assigned to the Eagles. We’ll see who comes back for tomorrow’s game.
Scratch: Bourque, Dries
Injured: Barberio (???), Wilson (???), Cole (orbital bone), Kamenev (shoulder)
A scratchy shift early by the frat line gave the Blues a 9 shot run but no damage on the scoreboard. The whole game was a lot of really grindy back and forth play. The Avs took control for a lot of the 2nd period but couldn’t capitalize on a back-to-back power play situation. The outcome was determined early in the 3rd on a couple of disappointing defensive breakdowns, Mikko floating unaware in the d-zone then a 3v2 that Graves/Barrie couldn’t have played worse. In a game this even it came down to details and the Avs letting their guard down for less than a minute.
Tale if the tape at 5v5 was dead even at 43 and shots in all situations barely favored STL at 33-32. Statistically this game was pretty much a dead heat other than on the scoreboard. Game pace at 5v5 was a fairly sludgy 118 per hour.
The power play continued it’s futility streak with no end in sight. Went 0-for-3 and now up to 24 straight with no glory. PK stopped all 3 chances so good on them. JB mentioned some changes they made, most likely after the Toronto debacle, that have paid off recently.
Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Landy, Mikko, Mack, Compher, Kerfoot, Jost and in all situations the top line then Comphs, Carl and big gap down to Jost. Dom Toninato was low man at 5:51, including 28 seconds of PK time.
The defensive regime went EJ, Sam, Barrie, Z, then a big gap down to Graves and Nemeth. In all situations it was EJ (26), Barrie (22), Sam (21), Z (20), Nemeth (12+) and Graves (12).
Fans are pretty gloomy after this loss but there are some positives to take from it and the past few games. First and perhaps most important, Varly has played great for a while now. The goaltending isn’t the problem lately. Second, the PK adjustments have made that competitive again thank goodness. Third, there have been some subtle adjustments to how they are attacking offensively over the past 2 games, mainly to do with using forwards to shoot from the slot rather than having the D’s whale away from the point constantly. Finally, there has been quite a bit less dump & chase in the past two games. This is really big. I’ve seen a renewed effort to attack the middle of the ice in the neutral zone and to enter the zone with possession. It’s probably too late in the season for these things to make much of a difference in the standings but playing like this leads to more entertaining hockey and more success on the ice.
Now for the negative. Anyone surprised that the “frat line” of Tyson Jost, JT Compher and Alexander Kerfoot struggles massively shouldn’t be. It’s never been good and it’s never going to be good. I’ve lost count of how many times it’s been broken up for ineffectiveness yet it always seems to re-coagulate and disappoint. The Avs middle 6 is made up of a veteran 2nd line that rarely scores and an inexperienced 3rd line that almost never scores. The talent is there along with what’s available on the 4th to make a couple of effective lines that can score, defend and play in any situation but there’s no desire by the staff to improve the team by doing so.
The power play has been a special kind of awful lately. Zone entries are tougher than they need to be, no one wants to shoot and scoring chances from dangerous areas are rare. They play slow and passive. This is all system and bad coaching. I’m a big fan of winning the game at 5v5 and using your PP to make up for PK goals against or to run up the lead. Yesterday the Avs really needed a goal in a 0-0 game mid-2nd period and the power play did nothing but waste energy and momentum. Sometimes a team needs the PP to jumpstart the offense but this year’s version has the opposite effect.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) no scoring = no +
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) quantity mediocre, no quality
– Power Play Watchability gets a (-) total failure
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (+) nope, as usual
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) Varly was awesome for all the good it did
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) No issues really
Vegas comes to town tomorrow night
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals