Colorado Avalanche Second Line Hopes to Come Alive Again Against Wild

After sinking the Sharks in both games, the Colorado Avalanche, with a rejuvenated second line and missing depth, as well as Bo Byram’s season on the line, take on a familiar and larger rival.

You know the expression “a watched pot never boils?”

Nazem Kadri does. Very well.

After only getting one assist the last five games, Kadri emerged from his slump midway through the third period against the San Jose Sharks, with 2 goals and an assist, not to mention a barrage of 10 shots, to sink the Sharks and take the two game series. He didn’t add to it in the first game against the WIld, but he did get some good looks.

No matter the setbacks — losing Pierre-Édouard Bellemare for what Jared Bednar calls ‘some time’ or losing Devon Toews who left the game — the Avs, despite playing a team at the bottom of their division, managed to put together some of their underlying problems.

 

For Saad as well, the results were sparse. Scoring his first Avs goal against the Kings, he managed to pick it up against the Sharks, scoring 2 goals and 2 assists this series. During the California series, he clearly struggled, perhaps a symptom of playing with the similarly struggling Kadri, coming from three games with minuses.

It could have been moving Andrei Burakovsky with Kadri and Saad, something that worked games ago. Altogether the three amounted to a 73.9 median in CF%, with 6 points. While Burakovsky doesn’t have a set place on a line, especially after collaborating so well with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, he brings something out in the second line. Jared Bednar isn’t one to put a stop to it.

Both Burakovsky and Saad contributed to Joonas Donskoi’s goal.

The Colorado Avalanche had a 5-3-0 record going into the series. Guess who else had a 5-3-0 record? Of course, course who has a 6-3-0 record while the other team dropped to 5-4-0.

It’s hard to imagine, but the Wild have been sprouting something other than the mush of mediocrity in the form of Kirill Kaprizov. Being led in a three-way tie by Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson-Ek and Jordan Greenway, the Wild have been doing something. With the Avs having just played the three California teams, all likely to finish at the bottom of the league, this is a challenge.

With the two teams tied in 2nd in the West, some notes as the two teams continue the series. the series:

  • With Bellemare, and Calvert, out, Shane Bowers is up, and Sheldon Dries, Logan O’Connor, and Jacob MacDonald will travel with the team. While Bowers is likely to start tonight, don’t be surprised if O’Connor to get his rightful season debut. In all honesty, Bellemare doesn’t look like he’s coming back any time soon, so any one of these guys could get their shot
  • Bo Byram. His sixth game — shocking I know — was last night, and he’s made his case for staying in the NHL. Seeing how out of place some of the Avs’ other defense options have looked, Byram plays like an NHLer. Whether it be the third line, or on a higher unit, letting him gain experience has no downside.
  • Hunter Miska, from Stacy, Minnesota, is probably going to get a start in his home state. Miska suffered from an injury-riddled team a few games ago, and honestly — as I helpfully noted — has kept the Avs in the game. Miskacrobat has a good ring to it.
  • Cale Makar has 10 points in 9 games. Do you?

The Colorado Avalanche took the first game of the series with a decisive 5-1 win. They’re right back at it tonight as they face the selfsame Wild in Minnesota.