The defenseman was scratched as the Colorado Avalanche finished their California road trip against the Anaheim Ducks.
As the Colorado Avalanche entered their fourth and last game of their okay California road trip, beginning with a nearly-cost win against the Kings, and featuring the long-awaited debut of Bowen Byram, it’s been a collection of strong points — Grubauer, Gabriel Landeskog, Byram’s first NHL point, Nathan MacKinnon, and one Cale Makar — and weak points.
It’s too bad arena security wasn’t present at ice level Friday night. Because Philip Grubauer was robbed of his rightful first star. And then the Avs were robbed of their win last night.
The Avs are genuinely still having trouble keeping the puck out of their zone, and that’s an enormous problem. Grubauer faced 38 shots, enough to keep the Avs in the game, but with poor performances from the Avs defense — namely Greg Pateryn and Ryan Graves, both playing with below 40% Corsi For games — it wasn’t enough to stop 2 goals.
It’s a performance Jared Bednar is very aware of. Coming hours before the game, The Athletic’s Peter Baugh notes Bednar’s unhappiness with the defenseman’s play.
It’s been a tough year for Graves. As I’ve mentioned before, not playing alongside Makar, his partner for the majority of 2020, has found the defenseman lost, and frequently out of position. With the Avs’ abundance of defenseman, not to mention the inevitable return of Erik Johnson and the play of Byram, it’s no surprise.
Perhaps the most glaring absence Friday was Andre Burakovsky, leaving the Nazem Kadri line in an abyss. The line genuinely seemed lost, an issue stemming from the first game, as a Saad giveaway would lead to the Ducks’ second goal. Combined with the Graves unit, it was just a glaring weak point.
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Luckily, the man himself returns to the roster, as Burakovsky finds himself situated on the wing of Saad and J.T. Compher, likely a move from Bednar to re-ignite some of what we saw against the Blues.
Going into tonight’s game, Johnson continued to sit, going off Jared Bednar’s decision to have him scratched for the rest of the road trip. Tonight saw, following the news Martin Kaut will go from the roster to the taxi squad.
With one game to go before returning home, there was plenty the Colorado Avalanche had to improve on. Some, with the return of Johnson, will likely see Pateryn, and now Graves, as the odd men out. Others will be fixing genuine weak spots in the Colorado Avalanche possession (forwards Matt Calvert and J.T. Compher saw weak Corsi For as well) in the performance of all the not first lines.
With Bednar’s scratching of Graves, it’s a clear message that he’s aware of the weak spots. And while there’s a treasure trove off strength, namely from the first line and Grubauer that displayed Friday, it’s laying down the law that close games aren’t an option.
It will be interesting to see what Bednar does with the lines and even the lineup after last night’s loss to the Ducks. The Colorado Avalanche have a two-game homestand against the San Jose Sharks. It marks an opportunity for them to regain ground lost in California.