The Colorado Avalanche squeaked out a point against the reigning Stanley Cup-champion Washington Capitals at home.
Luckily for the Colorado Avalanche the Washington Capitals are an injured team, and its affecting their machine-like precision. Because if Washington had played their best game last night, it would have been a blowout.
The Avs played sloppy hockey, and you can’t do that against the reigning Stanley Cup champions and hope to win.
There were definitely bright moments in last night’s game. The first period looked solid for Colorado — in fact, they had their own machine going. The last 10 minutes or so looked solid, too, and they definitely deserved to earn the game-tying goal that eventually earned them a point.
However, the middle 30 minutes are the reason they only deserved that one point despite leading for most of the game. Sloppy. Just sloppy.
Let’s look at how some of the keys of the game played out.
The Former Teammates Effect
Philipp Grubauer played very well against his former team. The stats don’t show it precisely — two goals against on 29 shots, which leads to a .897 save percentage. However, he’s part of the reason the game didn’t get out of hand in that 30 minutes of mistake-ridden hockey in front of him.
The Tom Wilson Effect
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Wilson earned two assists on the night, including on the game-winning goal in overtime. He did not injure any Colorado Avalanche players nor play a particularly physical style of hockey.
In the first period, he was matched up against Samuel Girard. That could have been worrisome, but our little whirli-gig just spun around him and squirted out of the way when Wilson tried to make a check. It was effective against the big forward — which is surely why we never saw that matchup again after the first.
It’s almost as if the Avalanche didn’t have the home-ice advantage of choosing matchups…
The Top Line Effect
The effect was a few breath-stealing plays that resulted in half the Pepsi Center crowd moaning, “Awww” in disappointment. (The other half of the crowd were Caps fans — it was annoying to see the ratio was 50-50.)
No one on the top line earned a point. They didn’t even take any penalties — they were complete non-actors in the game despite playing almost 22 minutes each.
The giveaway to takeaway ratio was 8:6 — it felt like the Avs gave the puck away more than eight times. Maybe because pretty much every single one of those times resulted in a scoring chance for the Caps.
The officials swallowed their whistles for most of the game, which was nice. Unfortunately, they found their whistles when Ian Cole wrestled Devante Smith-Pelly to the ice with just over a minute left to the game. Dammit, Ian. The resulting penalty gave the Caps the man-advantage going into overtime, which they capitalized on 22 seconds in.
I thought this was a high sticking penalty at the time. Turns out it was just Michal Kempny being super-rude and throwing the puck into Tyson Jost’s face:
No really, you can see Kempny taking aim. What a tool.
Jared Bednar has no idea how to ice an overtime roster. He started his best defenseman, Erik Johnson, with two players who ride the pine as healthy scratches — Gabriel Bourque and Patrik Nemeth. I get that the Avs were on the penalty kill and one of their best killers, Cole, was in the box. However, Gabriel Landeskog plays a lot on the penalty kill and would have been a significant improvement over the other Gabriel, or even Nemeth.
Watch Nemeth trip over his own feet — creating one of those aforementioned turnovers:
You know who else would have been an improvement over Patrik Nemeth? Nikita Zadorov. But the talented blueliner is back in Bednar’s doghouse. He played a season-low 7:22 against Boston and was a healthy scratch for last night’s game. According to Avs insider Rick Sadowski, Jared Bednar “hasn’t been particularly happy with Zadorov for much of the season.”
I wonder what GM Joe Sakic thinks of Bednar wasting the defenseman the HHOFer stated would be a big part of the team for “the next 10 years.”
After last night’s game, the Colorado Avalanche are heading west. They’ll be playing the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. They play the Kings in LA the day before Thanksgiving and the Coyotes in Arizona the day after. Hopefully a little turkey on the road can get them back on track — team chemistry and all that.