Tonight’s latest adventure for the Colorado Avalanche began with the news that Matt Duchene was too ill to dress and left the club short one skater because they failed to stock any healthy extras on the roster. Tyson Barrie, Rene Bourque and Semyon Varlomov remain on the roster but are sidelined with injury. Double shifting some players as a consequence isn't really a big deal but putting oneself in the position and not giving a player the opportunity for NHL minutes is the more troubling result.
The game itself against the San Jose Sharks was fairly even affair through two periods. Brent Burns scored on a tough angle shot with a minute to go in the first period. Jerome Iginla showed off his trade value with a power play goal off of a nice feed from Mikhail Grigorenko at 10:02 in the second period. Shots were even at 13 heading into the third period before the wheels fell off as Patrick Marleau scored a natural hat trick at 2:53, 5:57 and 10:35. Some excitement for the home team occurred when it appeared Nikita Zadorov scored his first goal in an Avs uniform at 11:57 and a lengthy goalie interference challenge from the Sharks ensued. The call on the ice stood but after the game it was determined Andreas Martinsen directed the puck in the net. After killing off a 5 on 3, the Avs gave up another goal to Marleau at 16:23 for good measure.
3 Keys to the Game
The development of Zadorov continues to happen before our eyes. Some good with the bad but he's figuring out how to use his size more frequently and how to create in the offensive zone. Despite getting robbed of his first goal, Zadorov finished with two assists on the night in 21:21 minutes of ice time. Cleaning up the turnover and penalties continues to be a work in progress but the ceiling is high for Big Z.
Spencer Martin put in an admirable performance in front of some of the defensive breakdowns he faced and made some very nice pad saves especially but tonight showed that he's not quite ready for prime time. Tonight’s performance also raises the question of what ceiling can reasonably be placed on any goaltending tandem this team puts out in its current state. Martin has come a long way this year and it shows what potential he has for the future. It is refreshing seeing a prospect with future potential get an opportunity and hopefully more will come. Depending on Varlamov’s injury situation for the rest of the season, Martin might find himself in the crease in Colorado again. I expect Martin to get sent down over the NHL all-star break and to still participate in the AHL all-star festivites on January 29th and 30th.
There’s showcasing veterans and then there's using them as a crutch. Francois Beauchemin playing 27:33 in a regulation game should never happen regardless of the situation. Also curious is over three minutes of power play time he was afforded. Eric Gelinas for yet another game doesn't crack the 10 minute mark. A coach that preaches accountability doesn't seem to mind the three goals against Beauchemin was on ice for and the numerous turnovers he's was responsible for. The dichotomy between the vets and those needing an opportunity feels heavier with every passing day and hopefully there's a solution soon.