Colorado Avalanche Escape with 5-4 Win Against Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Gabriel Bourque
BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Gabriel Bourque /

After watching my second, and final, Colorado Avalanche game of the season, in person, I had a few takeaways coming out of the Buffalo game.

The first, and most important thing for the Colorado Avalanche to take out of the game was two points. At this time of year, it doesn’t matter how pretty the game is. What matters is who gets the two points. Despite the lack of style points, the Avs were the team to get a much-needed win.

Colorado’s Power Play Woes

The Colorado Avalanche power play, especially on the road, has officially become a liability. It is too easy to simply say that the team misses Nathan MacKinnon, and that is why the PP is struggling. The problem is deeper than that. The Avs are way too predictable when trying to enter the opponent’s zone with the puck. Not every zone entry requires a center ice drop pass!

Beyond that, Jared Bednar, and the coaching staff, insists on putting 4 forwards on the ice with a man advantage, regardless of the score, or time remaining. I believe it would be wise to put a second d-man on the ice, especially with a multi-goal lead in the third period. The Avs are also extremely lackadaisical on the back check with the extra man. It cost them 2 goals on Sunday.

General Player Observations

Tyson Barrie flat-out needs to be better. Barrie is at a point in his career where he needs to be the second best d-man on the roster. The Avs will have a hard time succeeding, if he continues to make as many mistakes as his neophyte teammates. Erik Johnson is clearly the team’s best defender, but he can’t carry the group by himself. Barrie needs to pull his weight, and not just on offense.

More from Mile High Sticking

Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog are very good players. Rants may score thirty goals this year. Landy’s leadership this year has been invaluable. However, without Nathan MacKinnon to create extra space for them at even strength, they are just good. Neither of them can carry a line offensively at 5-on-5 with any sort of consistency.

There isn’t a ton of offensive skill with either player, but Matt Nieto and Gabriel Bourque each bring a great compete level to every shift. I’m not suggesting they should be given more responsibility, but having those two players on the fourth line next season would be something I would be completely fine with. It also makes a potential Blake Comeau move easier to digest.

A Few Players Who are Really Struggling

Nail Yakupov is a complete liability right now. Early in the season, he made roughly one great play for every boneheaded play. Now, as the mistakes continue to occur with alarming regularity, I can’t remember the last spectacular play he made, which succeeded. Right now, I would like to see the team call up Rocco Grimaldi to take his spot in the lineup on Wednesday. At least he wouldn’t scare me when he came on the ice.

Next: Colorado Avalanche May Have the Worst Power Play in the NHL

Finally, Patrik Nemeth is a wreck with the puck on his stick. He gets in good position defensively. He often makes the right read on a play. Often times, he blocks shots effectively. However, at least once, or twice, per game, Nemeth makes a play with the puck that is just awful. He ices the puck far to often. He also commits far too many giveaways for my liking. It may be time to give Andrei Mironov another look.