The Colorado Avalanche escaped with a point but ultimately lost in the shootout because of mismanagement of extra hockey.
The Colorado Avalanche dropped a shootout loss against the New York Rangers. They mismanaged the overtime and shootout — otherwise, a highly-skilled skating and puck-handling team should have won in either of those situations.
So, correction, the coaching staff mismanaged the overtime and shootout. There’s no reason that roster should be out-skated in overtime and out-skilled in the shootout.
Let’s look at how the extra hockey went awry for the Colorado Avalanche.
Journeyman forward Ray Bourque got exponentially more time in overtime than Tyson Jost did. That timing wasn’t hard to figure out — our second-line center never made an appearance in the overtime. But think about that — a scrub saw ice time in important overtime hockey that one of our best young players didn’t even skate in.
Coach Jared Bednar put out a reasonable trio to start overtime — Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Barrie. That line seems a little bit more feasible than last game’s MacKinnon, Barrie and Erik Johnson. Unfortunately, MacKinnon took a hooking penalty 20 seconds in, and Colorado had to waste two minutes on the penalty kill.
Bednar proceeded to put the following players on the ice in different configurations for the two minutes MacKinnon was in the box:
Ok, now is the time to put out one of the most gifted two-way defensemen in the NHL, Erik Johnson. It’s probably also a good time for power forward Gabriel Landeskog. Heck, you could even make a case for our wild mustang, Nikita Zadorov or our lethal swallow, Samuel Girard.
Instead, Nemeth was out almost the entire time, and Bourque took two shifts. That’s a definite over-reliance on journeymen.
Once MacKinnon was out of the box, Bednar returned to his old line of MacKinnon, Rantanen and Barrie. That was supplanted with Landeskog, Johnson and Alexander Kerfoot. We finished with MacK, Rants and Girard.
Weird lines. Just weird. Landeskog and Johnson on the PK make more sense.
Anyway, thanks to some ridiculous goal tending by Semyon Varlamov — who continues to dominate — the Avalanche made it through overtime without losing.
Here’s the entire overtime, thanks to Nathan Rudolph of Burgundy Rainbow.
The question has come up about how much time you should dedicate in practice to 3-on-3 overtime since it doesn’t come up as often as other hockey plays. To me the answer is that a well-played 3-on-3 overtime can spell the difference between one point and two, and that can spell the difference between making the playoffs and not.
In other words, I’d practice it now and again.
Unpopular opinion: I usually love the shootout. Yes, it’s a skills competition. I love those, too.
Anyway, you already know this one didn’t go the Colorado Avalanche’s way. Let’s explore why. Spoiler alert: I’m not pleased with Bednar’s decisions here either.
Here’s how the shootout went:
- Mats Zuccarello, goal
- Nathan MacKinnon, miss
- Mika Zibanejad, miss
- Mikko Rantanen, goal
- Kevin Shattenkirk, goal
- Gabriel Landeskog, miss
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Now, hopefully something jumps out at you besides the fact that the Curse of the Former Avs (Shattenkirk) is still alive and well.
That thing should be Landeskog as a top-three shooter. There’s a reason he’s only taken 13 shootout attempts in his eight-year career — he only has five shootout goals in that time. (By contrast, MacKinnon has 10 goals in 21 attempts in five years.)
You all know I love me some Landy, and I’d never throw shade at our captain. However, Gabriel is not a skill player by NHL standards. He’s a power forward, a leader, a fierce competitor. He’s a man who scores ugly and/or persistent goals. By NHL standards, he simply doesn’t have soft hands.
He’s not a player you put into a top-three shootout situation. That said, Bednar has done it before, though it did work out that time.
Literally anyone on the second line — Jost, Kerfoot, or Wilson — is known for being more of a stick handler than Landeskog. All three are known for having soft hands. Those are the players you put in for a skills competition.
I’m also not even a big fan of putting MacKinnon first. Once Zuccarello scored, you need your ace in the hole — your most skill guy to swoop in last.
Side note: Nate tried to get too fancy. Two less moves, and he has Henrik Lunkdqvist beat.
Anyway, here’s the full shootout, again thanks to Nathan Rudolph:
Some fans are asking if Semyon Varlamov has lost his mojo in the shootout — he’s historically a goalie who does extremely well in shootout situations. Well, I can’t speak too much to that except to say he looked pretty solid to me. And he faced 43 shots in the game. As well as he played this whole game, we’re not going to hang this one on him.
We were all hoping for a bounceback game from the Colorado Avalanche. There were good moments in the game, especially the second and third period. They unfortunately still played a fair amount of undisciplined hockey. But it was mostly the management of the overtime and shootout that doomed them.