It was bound to happen eventually, but the 3-0 loss the Colorado Avalanche suffered against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night stung nonetheless.
It was a game that looked ominous from the onset, with Washington doing the most damage in the first period, outshooting Colorado 20-5 and getting their first tally courtesy of Alex Ovechkin’s laser shot on the power play at 15:44 in the period. Colorado managed to claw their way to more even play but by then Washington was on auto pilot and added two more goals from TJ Oshie at 11:32 in the second period on the power play and 13:35 in the third period. Colorado’s best chances were a couple of plays by Nathan MacKinnon including a missed wide open net and a blocked point blank shot after dragging the puck around two Capitals.
Physicality was the story of the game as well as Duchene got upended by Dmitry Orlov on a massive low-bridge hip check and Jarome Iginla sat for most of the second half after taking an instigator penalty in a tussle with Tom Wilson. Goaltending won’t look good in the boxscore but Semyon Varlamov stood tall most of the game and made some huge saves particularly in the first period while the Avalanche were getting shelled. Erik Johnson also continued his strong early season play as he was moving his feet well and was the only player to finish with positive possession numbers.
3 Keys to the Game
It shouldn’t be an excuse but the reality is playing two tough opponents on a back to back was going to bite the Avalanche at some point. Possibly an even larger factor is the three games in four nights including two emotional come from behind victories against Dallas and Pittsburgh. The energy and execution was low in this game and certainly understandable. However, Bednar calling the effort unacceptable is also the right call.
Washington owned the neutral zone against the Avalanche and were forcing them to get into bad habits of completing longer passes and low percentage plays. Bednar’s adjustments through the season are going to quietly become a storyline and something to notice as time goes on. So far, Bednar seems as if he can calm the troops down and get them to play more cohesive hockey in the second and third periods but how he adjusts to schematic strategies from the opponent will be interesting to watch.
The Avalanche might be improved but they aren’t there yet. Playing a strong contender in Washington showed the disparity in talent and execution between the two teams. There’s no shame in that as good teams often win and win convincingly. Moving around pieces such as Blake Comeau, Rene Bourque and Jarome Iginla in and out of the top six and in prominent roles should also signal the depth and quality of the roster is not there yet either. Bednar needs to find a bit more chemistry and continuity with his lines and hopefully impending the addition of Mikko Rantanen and John Mitchell back in the lineup before more injuries hit should help as well.
A day off and then back at it on Thursday, October 20th in Tampa Bay to face the Lightning at 5:30pm Mountain Time