The Colorado Avalanche lost to the Edmonton Oilers 6-4, a score that was only made respectable by a late push at the end.
The Colorado Avalanche lost 6-4 to the Edmonton Oilers. I started writing this post before Mikko Rantanen took over and made the game respectable, when the score was 6-2.
But the message is still the same. While some tough breaks and some surprisingly stellar goal tending early on (from Mikko Koskinen) were contributing factors, some bad decision-making lost the game.
It all started with the coach. (Don’t roll your eyes.) Coach Bednar had a sensible plan a few weeks ago. He stated he was either going to play the hot goalie or the rested goalie on any given night. After the 1-2-0 roadie in which Semyon Varlamov allowed 11 goals in two games, and the fact that Varlamov played three of those four games, no way was he that goalie.
And yet he got the start against the Edmonton Oilers. And then he proceeded to allow three goals in 15 shots before getting pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer.
Did Grubauer do any better? No. He was cold going in and allowed two goals almost right away. Would he have done better if he’d started the game? I believe so. And he should have had the start because of Bednar’s own logic. It was a bad decision to start Varlamov.
I might even argue it was a bad decision to pull Varlamov in the middle of a period, but I also applaud that he was trying to shake the team up.
What Bednar said in his post-game presser about pulling the goalie:
"“I would have liked to see him come up with the first goal against. I felt like it was three-nothing and they were starting to get steam. At that point, I felt like we were pretty good early, then we were down three-nothing.”"
So, he decided to implement, not a “Varly pull” but a team momentum changer. Unfortunately, one of the best players in the NHL, Connor McDavid, came up on Grubauer, and the cold goalie never had a chance.
Another area that hurt the Avalanche was in taking penalties. You never want to take a penalty — and the Oilers capitalized on two of the Avs’ five penalties. However, you definitely don’t want to take a penalty after your team just scored.
I’m looking at you, Sven Andrighetto. He took an unnecessary hooking penalty right after Colin Wilson scored to bring the Avs to within three. Not only did that penalty take the momentum away from Colorado, the ensuing power play goal stole the wind right out of their sails.
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And, sorry Nate, but you also don’t want to take many penalties when you’re named Nathan MacKinnon. While I appreciate that MacKinnon doesn’t dive like his mentor, his Irish temper got him into hot water twice.
And the first time Edmonton scored a power play goal. The second time was even worse as MacKinnon almost got in a fight — you don’t want your superstar to risk his hands in a fight.
While not strictly a matter of decision-making, the Colorado Avalanche had way too many turnovers. Bednar also blamed turnovers for at least two of the goals.
There were more turnovers in this game than in a British bakery. Unfortunately, most of them were committed by the Avalanche. And many of those came from Tyson Barrie. Berry turnovers are delicious — Barrie turnovers, not so much.
If you look at stats, Barrie didn’t have a bad night. The eye test told a different story. His play was brutal.
Normally Barrie is a good puck-handling defenseman. However, here he just gets stripped of the puck, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scores:
He got out-played by Milan Lucic.
It’s not time to hit the panic button yet. The Colorado Avalanche went through a stretch like this in late October, early November when they lost six out of seven games. They followed that with some dominant play, winning nine out of 11 and getting points in their two overtime losses.
Tonight, with their first home game of the month, would have been a good time to get on the winning track again. They did not. And now they head onto the road again. But that’s ok, because the Avalanche have been good on the road this season.
Let’s see how they respond to tonight’s game when they play in St. Louis.