Lessons Learned: Avalanche Comeback Falls Short In Edmonton


A Microcosm of the Season

There is a lesson in starting well, and not putting yourself behind the 8-ball in life. The Colorado Avalanche hopefully learned that lesson this season. Tonight was a friendly reminder.

I was amused at the parallels tonight’s game in Edmonton had to the arc of the season for the Avalanche. Tonight featured an atrocious start. The Avalanche gave up 3 goals in the first 10 minutes, and Semyon Varlamov had an unusual off night, giving up 3 goals on just 7 shots.

The Avalanche stabilized, and got things going in the 2nd period. Jarome Iginla scored a pretty power play goal, showing that a wicked shot is ageless. Alex Tanguay also found the net, setting the stage for a great third period. The Avalanche also had some missed opportunities along the way. Tyson Barrie pinged iron not once, but twice.

The third period saw the Avalanche climb all the way back on Ryan O’Reilly‘s 14th goal of the season. The real beauty of the play was the setup by Alex Tanguay, and O’Reilly, who had 3 points on the night, had the easy job of tapping the puck into an open net.

Unfortunately, the Avs fell short in the end. The Oilers got a late power play goal from Derek Roy (pronounced the lame way) to secure the 4-3 victory.

Sounds just like the Avalanche’s season: bad start, fought back, missed opportunities, came close in the end, ultimately fell short.

This Joey Hishon kid can play

Hishon hasn’t picked up a point in his short time with the Avalanche yet this season, but he has shown he belongs. If Hishon can stay healthy, the dude is an NHL talent.

The talent part isn’t surprising with Hishon. Everyone knew he had the raw skill after being drafted in the first-round by Colorado, and being voted top playmaker in the OHL.

The surprise for me is how much Hishon has rounded out his game. He is extremely smart away from the puck, plays an intelligent game, and works hard to put himself in positions to create options for his teammates. He hasn’t looked in over his head defensively… not one bit.

I thought the “Audition Line” of Hishon, Jordan Caron, and Freddie Hamilton had a strong showing tonight. All three guys are fighting for an opportunity to make playing for the Avalanche a full-time gig. I think Hamilton has shown flashes of being a really strong player on the 4th line. Caron I had hoped would be able to find his scoring game a bit more with the Avs. He looks like a 4th liner as well at this point.

Hishon looks like a guy who might have a bit of flex potential. He has shown he can hold his own playing more of a checking line role, while adding a bit of an offensive threat. I’d love to see what an Iginla, Duchene, Hishon line could do tomorrow night. It was refreshing to see Hish get some PP time, and I think his role should only expand as the season winds down. Let’s really see what the Magician can do.

Ice time

The beauty of this heading, is the number of directions I can go with it.

First off, I think it’s totally safe to say this season is on ice for the Avalanche. This doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy watching Colorado Avalanche hockey for 9 more games. If anything, we try to enjoy it even more, because we know that’s all we are getting.

Secondly, let’s dig into the ice time Avalanche players got tonight.

I’ll start with Tyson Barrie. The box-score says that Barrie logged 28:44 of ice time tonight, but I’m still not convinced he ever left the ice. Barrie had such a strong game for the Avs. He was dynamic, sound defensively, and in true Tyson Barrie form, he often was a one-man-puck-transition-unit from the d-zone to offense. The Avs often struggle to make this transition, so having a player who can literally do it all by himself is not only a joy to watch, but it takes the pressure off everyone else on the ice.

The second player I’d like to talk about is Matt Duchene. I’m just not digging that he isn’t playing a bigger role on the Avalanche power play, and isn’t getting a chance to play with the Avalanche’s best offensive players. Duchene got 2:38 of PP ice-time tonight, and most of that was with the leftover scraps on the 2nd-unit.

I get that you only have so much room on the first unit, but Duchene is such a dynamic creator, it seems like a waste. I don’t hate having O’Reilly, Landeskog, Iginla, Tanguay, and Barrie as the primary power play unit (all of these guys got over 5 minutes of PP time tonight). I just feel like Roy should find a way to give Duchene a little more face-time, and a chance to create with a little more firepower on the ice beside him.

Next: Tyson Barrie is a Stud

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