Matt Calvert was the answer to getting the line combinations for the Colorado Avalanche to click. Placing him on the top line worked for the Avs.
The top line has seen Nazem Kadri and JT Compher fill spots and yet the chemistry just didn’t click. These players are great in their own ways and yet they just didn’t seem to have the same drive and pace to match Nathan MacKinnon‘s play.
It’s taken five games and finally, the magic piece was found. Matt Calvert.
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The Avalanches’ #11 is usually one of the driving forces in the scoring fourth line. And I find it fascinating that players seem to be slotted onto a line and gain the reputation for “only being a fourth-line player.”
That’s clearly the wrong way to think about players like Calvert. He is fast. He’s shown many times that he can outpace other players and score. He’s got a hockey brain, and being small he gets in and digs deep with grit and determination that counts.
And, it counts on the scoreboard.
So, last night the Coach made the choice to put Matt on the top line. And it was the answer to what hasn’t been working.
The top line came out with speed. All three players were pacing at the same level. That’s what was missing in the other top-line combinations.
It worked. It sure did work.
And interestingly enough, when Coach Bednar made that change and the combination clicked, so did all the other line combinations.
Did it mean that anyone was ‘demoted’ to the fourth line? Not in my mind. What I saw were four lines that clicked and had great chemistry.
With so many different players on the team scoring what does it matter which line they play on?
It wasn’t one of those games where the balance hung on which ‘line’ was on the ice.
The Avalanche have been relying so heavily on the top line of Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog for so long, not having them together has been a good thing.
And it still didn’t mean that Coach Bednar didn’t switch things up during the game itself too.
Every time we looked there were new combinations on and off the ice in the quick shifts that were taking place.
What we are seeing playing out is the depth of talent that the Avalanche has picked up during the offseason. The new players Joonas Donskoi, Andre Burakovsky, Pierre-Edouard Bellamere and Nazem Kadri are showing their skills and talents on the ice, in combination with the players that we already had.
In last night’s game, it became a count off of who hadn’t scored, because so many of the team had. If they weren’t scoring the goals themselves they were part of the play and gained points for assists.
So, thank you to the Hockey Gods or whoever it was that had Coach Bednar make the decision to move Matt Calvert up to the top line. You deserve a High Five for smarts.
It was the magic piece of the puzzle that turned the Colorado Avalanche’s losing streak around. And of course, the players’ belief in themselves and their ability to get themselves out of their losing rut helped.
Let’s keep it going Avs.