The Colorado Avalanche went down 4:3 to Vegas in the decider of the Round Robin Series. Why? Special teams played an important role.
Interesting watching the replay of yesterdays game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights. I listened to the game, live, and it felt like the Avalanche played a poor game of hockey, yet watching the replay that’s not the case at all.
I can see why Coach Bednar wasn’t unhappy with the team’s effort.
The key problems in the first period all related to poor passing. Many times the Avalanche didn’t shoot those strong sharp passes that we have been used to seeing. Passes were sloppy and weak, in terms of intensity.
Maybe the Avalanche players were second-guessing themselves, who knows, it was just evident that they fumbled a lot of passes. The other difference was that when they Avalanche were thinking about their passes it allowed the Knights players to jump into the passing lane, and deflect it or take it.
Not the outcome you want at any time.
The Avalanches second line performed strong. Mikko Rantanen shows signs of the strong play he has had previously, which was great to see.
Valerie Nichuschkin made the rebound of the game but unfortunately couldn’t get the puck home in the back of the net. That was a noticeable piece of play to me.
Aside from the passing, the other huge problem was the fact that the Avalanche had three Power Play opportunities in that period and didn’t score. One of those included a period of 5:3 play.
That’s a massive opportunity gone to waste.
Sure, you have to factor in the oppositions ability to be great at Penalty Killing, which the Knights are. They choke up the front of the net and leave very little room for the puck to get to the back of the net.
But if the Avalanche is going to move to the Stanley Cup final they need to find a way to maximize their opportunities on any Power Play.
Nathan MacKinnon took a very unnecessary penalty at the start of the second period. He is a season enough player now to know that continuing to mouth off at the Referee is not going to win him any friends. And as happened yesterday, it had him spend time in the penalty box.
It looked as though the Avalanche were doing their usual best at the Penalty Kill until Grubauer ended up at the front of the blue paint, where the Knights then put one home.
This was the turning point in the game.
Two poor choices by Avalanche players that should know better.
The Avalanches goal came from a really strong Power Play. What was noticeable was the consistency of movement by the players to keep the puck in the zone and put shots on net. Cale Makar had a strong part to play in what eventually became goal number one for the Avalanche.
He had several scoring shots, the first criticized by Mikko Rantanen, and the second that hit the crossbar. This shot though and the subsequent follow-up play led to Nathan MacKinnon scoring the goal.
Interestingly the Vegas Commentators were commenting on the number of loud shouts coming from the Colorado bench as the players were calling out to the on-ice players that the puck was still loose.
That Power Play alone was a highlight at the nearly halfway point of the game.
One take away from the period was that the Avalanches passing game got back to what it is at it’s best. The team turned up the heat on their speed and there passing and it showed.
Hopefully, the hit that Nazim Kadri took, which looked like ribs, doesn’t have a long-lasting effect on him in the upcoming games.
I wonder at what constitutes ‘goaltender interference’ at times. The play that led to the Knights second goal included up to five players being in the goal space with Grubauer pushed aside. The Knights player was clearly obstructing Grubauer from getting back into his crease, and yet because there were Avalanche players there, trying to defend the goal for their goalie who couldn’t, it was not considered.
Begs the question ‘when is interference, interference?’ The online dictionary will tell you that interference is “the action of interfering or the process of being interfered with.” Grubauer will most likely tell you that is what happened to him during that passage of play. Yet the referees didn’t define it that way.
The equalizer was a great team effort by Donskoi and Compher. Shows what the Avalanche can do when they are persistent. This third line has proven itself on the ice over this past couple of games.
The Avalanche found their mojo in the second period. They played more the game that we are used to seeing. Each of the players contributed. And the Penalty Kill was strong
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Power Play number six for the Avalanche saw the Knights control most of the two minutes. The Power Play continues to be a problem for the Avalanche.
The fact that the Knights ended up with a penalty shot due to Ryan Graves upsetting the Knights player turned out in the worst possible way: a goal for the Knights.
Grubauer came too far out of his crease in his European manner of defending. The commentators also said “he carried his glove down low” which basically meant he wasn’t going to stop the shot no matter what he did. Not what you want when you are at 2:2 in the third.
Burakovsky did a fantastic job of getting the puck out of the zone, playing against two players and having no stick.
Matt Calvert did his best to show the Knights that he was on the ice by having a tussle with more than one of them. Matching penalties were a good outcome.
Poor play in the four on four saw the Avalanche not take advantage. They made a number of mistakes with passes. Whilst Erik Johnson had one good shot on goal, it wasn’t enough.
Coach Bednar pulled Grubauer with just over two minutes to go. The Avalanche played a mixture of losing control and control with Nazem Kadri pushing that shot that hit the top bar that didn’t bounce in, but JT Compher pushed it over the line.
The Avalanche played good enough to deserve that equalizer.
In this game, as in the last, there was not one player that I would have said hadn’t contributed.
It was an odd-man rush that beat the Avalanche in OT. Up until the time, most of the five minutes was even. Each team put three shots on goal and had control on the ice. There were great opportunities for both teams.
Overall, my takeaway is that again the Power Play let the Avalanche down. Only scoring one goal from six opportunities isn’t the way you would want it. Does that mean that the Knights Penalty Kill was good, yes, and the Avalanche had opportunities that they didn’t take control of, absolutely! Let’s hope that in the future they can score on more Power Play opportunities.