Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie played forward the last two games due to injuries to John Mitchell, P.A. Parenteau, and Paul Stastny. Against the Winnipeg Jets, Barrie played on the right side with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog on the Avs 2nd line. In the next game against the Bruins, with Stastny returning, Barrie was dropped to the 3rd line with Max Talbot and Cody McLeod.
In those two games, Barrie registered one assist and looked very comfortable playing up front. But how does he feel about things? Speaking to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post, Barrie gave his thoughts.
“It’s an experiment. It’s a learning curve, but we got Mitchy (and Parenteau) out and I’m a defenseman, and that’s where I want to be, but anytime the team needs me to do something you have to step in and do your best.”
It’s good that Barrie is versatile to step up and play forward when called upon, but, as I wrote after the Avalanche vs. Bruins game, I think the Avs miss something when Barrie isn’t playing defense.
His 30 points in 54 games is second among Avalanche defensemen to Erik Johnson, who has 34 points in 69 games. He’s also plus 14, which is tops among Avs defensemen. It’d be one thing if Barrie was a skilled offensive defenseman who struggled defensively, but it can be argued that the Avs actually are worse defensively with Barrie at forward as well.
Barrie reminds me a lot of Sandis Ozolinsh with the way he jumps up in the play and is all over the offensive zone. That’s what makes him a special player and what makes the Avalanche offense so dangerous. One second he’s on the blueline, the next second he’s below the face-off dot. As a forward, that threat isn’t there.
The Avs can’t get healthy and Barrie can’t return to his natural position quick enough.