The Colorado Avalanche will face the Arizona Coyotes for Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs. They’re coming off a 3-2 loss.
Yes, the Colorado Avalanche lost their last game.
As the old adage goes, no team completes Mission 16W in just 16 games. Every team, including eventual Stanley Cup winners, suffer losses. Therefore, there’s no reason to panic just because the Avalanche lost a game in the playoffs.
Now, I’m not panicking. And, interestingly, I had thought even a month ago during Phase 3, that Colorado would lose Game 3 of this series. I thought it would be because they’d be coming off two games of victory and would get a little too casual. That casual play came in Game 2, though, which they still won.
What bothers me is that they came on like gangbusters in Game 3, and Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was largely the equal. Colorado volleyed 51 shots at Kuemper, and he turned away all but two. Meanwhile, Avs goalie Pavel Francouz allowed two goals on 21 shots, with Arizona scoring twice into an empty net.
I’m not going to point out what a hot goalie can do in the playoffs — we’re all well aware.
Well, memories have to be short, especially in these condensed playoffs. Colorado faces off against Arizona again this afternoon. So, let’s look at some focus areas for the team.
Traffic in Front of Kuemper
The Colorado Avalanche beat Darcy Kuemper when they create a scrum in front of the net, And yet they volley shot after shot at him with no one creating that traffic. Why?
Colorado loves their tip-in. They love to park a player in front of the goalie and try to tip a shot past him. They also love to score off the rush or in the wraparound. That’s not working on Kuemper. Cutting his sightlines and getting greasy goals is working on Kuemper. So why don’t they create that chaos?
Let’s hope today they do.
Ok, it’s got to be demoralizing to fire 51 shots at a goalie and only get two past him. According to defenseman Erik Johnson, the team doesn’t dwell on issues like that. However, such statistics can start to loom in your head.
Well, no matter. Colorado needs to keep shooting. If it takes 50+ shots to get goals past Kuemper, then fire them. Who cares? You don’t have to pay extra for shots. And if you get those bodies in his sightline, you might actually get more of those shots past him.
Except for starting goalie Philipp Grubauer, the Colorado Avalanche shouldn’t make any lineup adjustments. There is no reason to change the lineup they iced on Saturday.
That lineup included a freshly-returning Joonas Donskoi, who had been unfit to play in Game 2. It also included Tyson Jost, playing in his second game after replacing first the unfit Donskoi and then Vladislav Namestnikov.
Namestnikov is day-to-day with his “unfitness” after taking a big hit in Game 2. Whether he becomes fit or not, he shouldn’t replace Jost in the lineup. Tyson Jost does a better job of stepping up his game in the playoffs, and he was useful in different line combinations. I’m going to show this stat:
Jost: 33 CF, 15.97 CF% Rel
Namestnikov: 19 CF, -1.08 CF% Rel
Namestnikov’s stats mostly come from a game the Avalanche dominated. Jost didn’t get that benefit, and yet his advanced stats still crush the rental player’s. Also, he has a goal in this series. Any way you slice it, Namestnikov hasn’t earned the right to play over Jost.
How to Enjoy the Game
Time: August 17,3:30 PM MDT
TV: NHLN, SN360, ALT, FS-A, FS-A PLUS
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