Colorado Avalanche: Chris Bigras’ All-Star Break Analysis

Jan 14, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Chris Bigras (3) controls the puck in the second period against the New Jersey Devils at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Chris Bigras (3) controls the puck in the second period against the New Jersey Devils at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Chris Bigras earned his current spot in the lineup. If he continues to play like he has, he’ll deserve to stay in the lineup when Brad Stuart returns.

First things first, let’s just take a little time to celebrate a clutch win for the Colorado Avalanche last night. Woohoo!!! Now, down to business.

The Colorado Avalanche are now on their All-Star Break — except for Matt Duchene — so let’s take a look at a new face in the lineup and see how he’s fared so far.

Chris Bigras joined the Avalanche just 8 games ago, yet he kept his spot in the lineup over Nikita Zadorov, which is saying a lot considering Zadorov has played 83 games in his career.

Chris Bigras deserves to be in the lineup, and perhaps stay in the lineup when Brad Stuart returns, but I’ll get to his play in a minute. First I’ll detail why he should stay in the lineup from a logical standpoint.

Chris Bigras and Tyson Barrie

I think this pairing makes sense because Bigras deserves a bigger role, and both defensemen get a good amount of offensive zone starts.

Bigras gets the most offensive zone starts on the team with 81.3% of his shifts starting there, while Barrie gets the most out of the other regulars besides Zach Redmond, with 46.9% of his shifts starting in the offensive end.

Patrick Roy could still rely on Erik Johnson and Francois Beauchemin for all the heavy lifting while giving Barrie and Bigras a whole bunch of offensive zone starts, and still using Barrie in his other regular roles.

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Finally, with a third pairing like Nick Holden and Brad Stuart, Roy has another set of defensemen he can rely on in limited defensive shifts against third and fourth lines, with some choice second lines mixed in between.

Furthermore, in order for Roy to fully take advantage of Chris Bigras, he needs to continue getting 16-17 minutes of ice time a night like he had in a few games before last night’s contest.

Plus, Nick Holden could always shift in with Tyson Barrie if Chris Bigras doesn’t seem up to the challenge, and Bigras could get a few pointers with Brad Stuart. I’m just entertaining the idea, especially since Bigras has shown a lot of promise so far this season.

How Patrick Roy Likes his Defensive Pairings

Patrick Roy likes to pair his defensemen based on handedness, and he seems to prefer pairing a left-shot with a right-shot.

Obviously that won’t be a factor when determining who stays in the lineup between Bigras and Stuart (both are left-shots), but if Zach Redmond gets the boot, it could make sense.

Now for the contradiction — don’t forget that Stuart and Nick Holden made a good pair last year.

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Before you call me crazy for considering a Bigras and Tyson Barrie pairing because of their size, consider a few things:

— Zach Redmond did not play in last night’s game. That doesn’t mean that Andrew Bodnarchuk should have because he had some glaring mistakes — particularly the Kings third goal last night — but that says something about Chris Bigras nonetheless.

— Also — somewhat unrelated — Alex Tanguay was out of the lineup last night.

Now, this could mean that both Redmond and Tanguay were sick since flu seems to be going around the locker room. Or, it could mean that since they both had dreadful games the night before, Roy decided to take them out of the lineup.

If it it’s the latter, then it shows that Roy is starting to shrug off biases because I never thought I’d see the day that Tanguay ended up a healthy scratch (if that is indeed the case), which is indicative of a coach wanting the best roster.

So, does Bigras facilitate that desire?

If you don’t think so, then you could also consider this:

I mean, Nick Holden just gets burned along the boards, and pays no heed to the streaking Drew Doughty flying passed him in the neutral zone.

And most certainly this:

What is going on? Nick Holden is just watching the puck while Trevor Lewis slips behind him and scores a relatively easy goal.

Luckily, Nick Holden played well the rest of the night, and made some smart zone exits to help the Avs mount the comeback.

Nonetheless, on both plays, Nick Holden just baffles me with his positioning. While Chris Bigras on the other hand was impressive last night, and has been impressive in his limited role since he joined the Avalanche (7:03 of ice time last night).

Chris Bigras’ Further Role With the Avalanche

After the lack of ice time Chris Bigras received last night (7:33), I’m not very optimistic that he’ll stick with the team much longer. He didn’t make any glaring mistakes besides his penalty, which I thought was questionable.

Unfortunately, he didn’t play much either, which infers implies a lack of trust from Patrick Roy, especially in close and hard fought game situations.

Still, that could have just been a symptom of the Avalanche going all out on the final game in order to fight for a win, which proved to be the result. So I can’t take his lack of ice time that seriously.

Nonetheless, at this point, he’d really have to earn his spot when Brad Stuart returns, but I didn’t think he’d stick around when EJ returned to the lineup, so…

He could certainly surprise us when Brad Stuart returns, and there’s plenty of time between games with the All-Star weekend beginning to heat up.

More than likely, Chris Bigras will find himself back in San Antonio sooner rather than later, especially if Stuart can make a return after the All-Star break.

What’s on Tap?

Well, the All-Star game in Nashville of course. Coverage begins Saturday with the Fasted Skater Competition on NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. MST. And, the big 3-3 shebang will be broadcast on NBCSN starting at 3 p.m. MST.

Tune in to see what Matt Duchene is able to do if he gets selected for the Breakaway Challenge. More on that here:

Next: Matt Duchene Eligible for ASG Breakaway Challenge

Finally, the Colorado Avalanche return to action Feb. 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks at 7 p.m. MST. That game will be broadcast on Altitude after a long break from our announcers.

I hope everyone enjoys the All-Star break. A cheers to the Colorado Avalanche holding a playoff spot at this point in the season.

Time to turn the jets on after the break because that’s when playoff rush time begins, and there are some teams nipping at the heels, like rabid chihuahuas.