The Colorado Avalanche have swept the Flyers and completed a very successful four-game road trip.
The Colorado Avalanche have found their road identity. They rely on their top line to work magic — provided by all three forwards — and leave defense to their goalie. I don’t know that it’s a sustainable identity, but it’s what they’ve got working for them right now.
The Avs have now gone 3-0-1 during their East Coast road trip with their lone loss coming in the shootout at Madison Square Garden. They earned seven of eight possible points. They have 14 points in nine games.
I know it’s early days and we shouldn’t get too excited about standings (second in the impossible Central Division). However, a hot start allows them to accumulate a good foundation of points. So, when they hit the inevitable bump in the road later in the season, they have a little more leeway.
In any case, tonight the Colorado Avalanche beat the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 4-1. All four of the goals were beauties. Some more than others, but, hey, we love Avs goals, right?
Let’s start with… I guess you could call it the least impressive tally of the night. Right wing Mikko Rantanen scored on the empty net:
With that goal, Rantanen quietly joined Conor McDavid for most points in the NHL.
The goal was actually Rantanen’s second of the night. He both opened and closed scoring for the Avalanche. His first goal came in the first period when the Avs were on the power play thanks to a delay of game penalty on the Flyers.
The big players were passing the puck to each other while Tyson Jost was doing the dirty work in front of the net — more on him momentarily. Nathan MacKinnon gets the puck to Rantanen, and this happens:
No surprise MacKinnon earns the assist on Rantanen’s goal. The duo have now set a franchise record for points streaks (nine) to start the season.
Believe it or not, but it wasn’t part of the star line that scored the game-winning goal. That came from Long Beach Native Matthew Nieto, who netted his first goal of the year:
You can just see from his goal celebration, looking up to the heavens, that he’s relieved to finally get that first goal.
The sexiest goal of the night came from captain Gabriel Landeskog. Let me tell you, our captain is hot, and I don’t mean because of his classical good looks. Landeskog is in one of his goal-scoring clusters, and we couldn’t be happier.
Indeed, he’s so hot that he got named the NHL’s First Star of the Week.
He disrupts a Philly play and gains possession of the puck in his own zone. He pushes past fellow captain (for the Flyers) Claude Giroux and has open ice. He motors through the neutral zone and into the Flyers zone to score on the breakaway:
What I especially love about this goal is how he seems to shove Philadelphia defender Robert Hagg to the ice with just one hand.
Anyway, that goal was the third of the game. While it didn’t quite deflate the Flyers completely, it was a pretty good nail in the coffin.
About the Storylines
Coming into the game, I was watching three storylines to see how they’re play out.
The main question is whether the Avs could get some secondary scoring. Well, they didn’t get much. However, Nieto chipped in, and that’s all you can hope for.
I also wondered how the Flyers new defensive pairings would work out. Well, there’s no stopping the Avalanche’s top line right now. There was also a scary moment when Shayne Gostisbehere took a puck to the inner knee and couldn’t get up again. Landeskog was in his vicinity, so he should expect a call from the Department of Player Safety.
The last question was whether the Avs could generate their own defense. Semyon Varlamov faced 38 shots. I think that’s answer enough.
More from Analysis
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- What does Ross Colton bring to the Colorado Avalanche?
- Colorado Avalanche in-depth look at Jonathan Drouin
- Colorado Avalanche without Gabriel Landeskog, will another wear the “C”?
- Avalanche vs. Kraken prediction and odds for NHL playoffs Game 3
Coach Jared Bednar demoted Tyson Jost to the fourth line, and I’m not happy about it. He replaced Jost with Sven Andrighetto on the second line. Jost skated with two journeymen, Gabriel Bourque and newbie Marko Dano.
I can understand giving a youngster sheltered minutes. However, Jost was second only to Dano for least time on ice with 11:16. That feels like punishment rather than sheltered minutes. And Jost has done nothing to deserve punishment. That’s supposed to be reserved for players who aren’t giving 100%. As I noted above, Jost is getting into the dirty areas. He’s all heart.
Tyson Jost is supposed to be a big part of the Colorado Avalanche’s future, their second-line center, or at least a second-line forward. If he’s not playing the way you want at center, scoot him over to wing and let Alexander Kerfoot play center. Jost is not a fourth-line forward.
Read more about what I think of how the Colorado Avalanche are developing one of their youngsters:
I can just hope that tonight’s demotion was simply to shake the kid up, in case he needed reminding he’s in the NHL. Drop Colin Wilson to the fourth line — last season Jost played very well with Kerfoot and Andrighetto.
Anyway, the Avs return home tonight. They are unlikely to have a practice tomorrow. On Wednesday night they’ll host the Tampa Bay Lightning — hopefully they can keep up their winning ways.