The Colorado Avalanche rolled into Bridgestone Arena riding a 6 game losing streak to the Preds. The last time the Avalanche beat the Predators? March 28th, 2016. Needless to say, the Avalanche needed this one.
Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Avalanche looked like the team of 2016/17. They lacked any sort of a notable power play, the speed that makes this team dangerous was non-existent, and were completely out-played in their defensive zone.
Mark it a 7 game losing streak dude.
The Avalanche almost immediately started the game with a power play as Pontus Aberg took a hooking call early. The Preds started the game as one of the worst penalty kills in the league averaging around 50% kill rate. The Avalanche only managed 1 shot on their first man advantage before Erik Johnson took a bad delay of game penalty.
JT Compher took a pretty big hit later in the period by Matt Irwin but seemed to be ok. If Compher is going to do any damage in the corners playing center, he’ll need to hit the gym and gain some mass. Throughout the season he’s been constantly out-muscled by bigger and stronger defencemen.
Another Avs power play came with 3:25 left in the 1st and were almost immediately punished by a slick Victor Arvidsson move to go 1 on 1 shorthanded. Thank goodness for Varly. The Avalanche were never able to sustain the puck in the Predators zone and managed only 1 shot. This power play has got to be better.
The Avs outshot the Preds 8-7 that period but overall wasn’t a great period by either team. Sloppy puck possession had the game tied 0-0 after 1.
Right out of the gate the Avs generate a couple shots and looked good.
The Avalanche were rewarded with their third power play of the game by another penalty by Aberg. This time the Avalanche connect on a goal by Nathan MacKinnon, his first of the year. It wasn’t the prettiest goal of the year as it slowly trickled by Rinne off a Preds defender but it still counts.
Almost exactly 3 minutes later, the Predators get a 4 on 1 opportunity by a horrible pinch from EJ and Arvidsson gets the Preds on the board with a nifty triple deke past Varlamov’s pad.
Another delay of game penalty with 7:56 left in the 2nd gave the Preds their second PP of the night. The first 2 Avs penalties of the game were for shooting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. Something the coaches absolutely hate.
Not even 1 minute into the power play, Gabriel Landeskog goes to the box for a slash on Johansen and the Preds get a 5 on 3. Captain Roman Josi buries one on his own rebound to put the Predators up 2-1. The Preds never looked back.
The end of the period turned into absolute chaos on both sides of the ice.
In a wild scrum in front of Pekka Pinne and with many Predators players out of position, Tyson Barrie had a great opportunity to tie up the game but Scott Hartnell comes out of nowhere and intentionally knocks the net off its moarings to stop play. The refs deliberated on what to do and finally sent Hartnell to the box for delay of game. Rules are rules and the right call was made according to the book but it certainly looked penalty shot worthy. If a player covers the puck with his glove in the crease, that is a penalty shot. This seemed no different.
Only a short time after that another stretch pass from the Preds leads to another odd man rush and Colton Sissons puts it through Varly’s 5-hole but gets a charging penalty AFTER the goal for running into Varlamov. Strange sequence of events no doubt.
Biggest take away from the second was the Predators ability to use stretch passes to catch the Avalanche on their heels. Time and time again the Avs gave up odd-man rushes to the Preds because of stretch passes and players being out of position.
Predators out shot the Avalanche 14 to 6 that period and looked to be in complete control of the game.
The third period started with short 4-4 before the Avs got a little work on the power play. All in all the Avs were awarded 6 PP’s on the night and only converted on 1. Currently the Avalanche rank 21 of 31 on the man advantage.
A bad give away from Barrie and an unlucky bounce added to the Predators lead by an Austin Watson goal that Varlamov had no chance of saving.
Much like halfway through the second, the third was dominated by the Preds. Throughout, the Avalanche looked like a team who were out-worked, out-matched and out-played.
Once the Predators were up 4-1, they locked down the neutral zone for the better half of the period. Doesn’t help that the Avalanche could not transition up the ice from their defensive zone. Much like the troubles they had last year.
The Avalanche started the game hot generating more shots and scoring chances than their opponents. They even picked up the first goal of the game and the long overdue first of the season for Nathan MacKinnon. However, that was all the good hockey we’d see from the Avalanche tonight.
The wheels came to a grinding halt in the second. With a Nashville team that is giving up 30+ shots in each of their first 5 games, the Avalanche only managed 21 total shots. That’s not going to cut it if you’re going to give up 30+ shots of your own.
Too many times this game the Avalanche tried to make the pretty play instead of the smart play, coughing up the puck more than a handful of times.
After two days rest from the Dallas loss, the Avalanche should have look rejuvenated and ready to go. Wasn’t the case tonight. A lot of the demons that haunted the Avalanche last year were present tonight. Too many mistakes in the defensive zone, neutral zone and offensive zone led to their worst game of the season yet.
The only bright spot the Avalanche had tonight was the play from Seymon Varlamov. 2 goals against were from defensive breakdowns and odd-man rushes. 1 goal against was a rebound from Josi on the power play and the other goal came from an unlucky bounce behind his net. The stat sheet won’t look good for Varlamov tonight but he made some big saves in key situations.
These are one of those games where the stink can linger. It will be key for the Avalanche to regroup fast from this and leave this game in the rear view mirror.
Game Grade - D+
If it weren’t for the stellar play from Varly and a so-so 1st period, this could have been further down the alphabet.
What’s on Tap
The Avalanche come home after going 0-2 on their short road trip to take on the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. Puck drop is 7pm at the Pepsi Center.