Shark Nuggets: Lessons from the Avs-Sharks Game


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In the tenth game of the Colorado Avalanche’s season, they hosted the San Jose Sharks in Pepsi Center. The Avs lost 3-2 in overtime.

The match up between the Avalanche and the Sharks was one of good news and bad news.

Shark Nugget 1: Overtime

The good news is that the Avalanche survived overtime. Prior to the San Jose game, the Avs were 0-3 in overtime. However, they made it through five minutes of OT against the Sharks without giving up a goal.

The bad news is that they went on to lose in the shootout. Alex Tanguay and Matt Duchene were the shooters, and neither could convert for the Avs.

Lesson: The Avs are taking baby steps to learn how to win this season. As head coach Patrick Roy was so fond of saying last season, it’s a process.

Shark Nugget 2:Varlamov

The good news is that Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov made 49 saves on 51 shots faced. He tied his own career-best of making 22 saves in the first period, and he was just one save shy of tying his overall career-best of 50 saves in a game.

The bad news is that Varlamov faced 51 shots — including 23 in the first period. Captain Gabriel Landeskog acknowledged:

"“Sure it shows how good he is and sure it shows how well he played tonight, but it also showed how we left him hanging and we didn’t play well enough in front of him. That’s unacceptable, and that’s something that we have to talk about and something that we have to correct.”"

Lesson: This is a no-brainer — the Avalanche skaters need to limit the shots taken against them. Granted, the Sharks are notorious for throwing everything at the net, but that kind of shot differential makes winning unsustainable.

Shark Nugget 3: Intensity

The good news is that the Avalanche played very well in the second and third periods. In fact, they were exceptional in the second half of the third period. Their big guns made incredible plays that left the crowd gasping, “How did that not go in?” One notable play was Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson diving for the puck, skidding across the slot on his knees and still getting a shot off.

The bad news is that the Avs didn’t have that intensity in the first period. Coach Roy stated that Colorado’s play was “not very pretty,” adding:

"“When they scored the first goal and took a 1-0 lead. We just lost our focus. I was looking at shots on net and it was 6-6 or 7-6 and the next time I turned around, it was almost 18 to six or seven.”"

Lesson: After the game in Montreal during which he recorded 10 shots, star center Matt Duchene remarked that, if he could guarantee every 10 shots would net him a goal, he’d be throwing the puck at the net all the time. Well, I can guarantee that if the Avs take their skill and talent and add the intensity they showed in the third period, they’ll win more games than they lose.

Shark Nugget 4: Nate

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon displays his hockey flow after losing his helmet in the game against the San Jose Sharks. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon recorded four shots on net — only Landeskog and, interestingly, Johnson recorded more, five apiece. He laid two hits on San Jose players (John Mitchell went Shark hunting five times), recorded two takeaways and had the best faceoff percentage of centers with 58 percent. He also has mad hockey flow, as evidenced in the picture.

The bad news is that MacKinnon still hasn’t gotten a goal. At this point, he’d probably shave his hockey flow if he thought it would net him a goal.

Lesson: MacKinnon is playing good hockey — he’s just snake-bitten. Once he gets his first of the season, it’ll be interesting to see his goal celly. (Last season, Duchene mimicked throwing a monkey off his back after breaking one goal slump. Another time, he let out a rebel yell and ice-picked the glass with enough intensity that the announcers stated he had not actually scored the goal — he looked that fierce.) And once Nate starts scoring, he’s bound to keep it up — Duchene always does.

The Colorado Avalanche host the red hot New York Islanders (who knew I’d ever type that?) on Thursday.