The Colorado Avalanche are looking to turn things around this season, hoping to bounce back following a dismal 48-point effort last year.
They started off well, taking home a pretty acceptable victory against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the season.
Unfortunately, things were a bit derailed in Game 2; the Avalanche walked away with a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, failing to prove that they’ve done much to work on their penalty kill and missing out on the strong offense they boasted in the season opener.
New Jersey came out of the gate roaring, jumping ahead to a 1-0 lead and outshooting the Avalanche by a 17-10 margin.
Colorado managed to pick it up by the end of the first period, going from an alarming 14-4 shooting margin to putting up double-digits shots of their own by the end of the 20 minute frame, and ultimately ended up with the edge in shots by a 41-39 margin.
They looked ineffective on the penalty kill, though, and Cory Schneider’s ability to bounce back after a tough year last season certainly didn’t help the Denver team.
New Jersey managed to see points from six different players during the game, but by far the most noticeable presence on the ice for the home team was Will Butcher. For Colorado, that was particularly painful; although he isn’t Erik Karlsson by any stretch, his three assists in just 12:45 of ice time earned him the first star of the game.
Colorado saw some excellent moves from Jonathan Bernier, including two highlight-reel saves that were eye-catching, if not exactly what Colorado wants to see from him on a regular basis.
Just look at this first one:
I MEAN LOOK AT THAT.
Bernier, robbery, overhead. pic.twitter.com/j7jZJ7RwfX— Blinn Manuel Miranda (@NHLBlinn) October 7, 2017
Should he have been in a better position to begin with? Sure. He moved too far to the right posts and lagged a bit following the realization that the puck was being passed rather than shot. But he made the save, and was it ever beautiful.
Matt Duchene also took a whopping five shots on goal and won 67% of his faceoffs. Although the maligned vet would skate away from the game without getting on the board, he overall made a solid effort on both ends of the ice; he may still be on his way out, but it appears he isn’t going to do anything but give his best effort until that happens.
The penalty kill.
Colorado failed to get on the board once during six separate man-advantage opportunities. In contrast, New Jersey scored three of their four goals on the power-play, capitalizing on all but one of their own man-advantage chances.
Colorado struggled with transitional play, allowing six giveaways to New Jersey’s four and earning just 10 takeaways to New Jersey’s 15. They had a strong second period, but overall still look like a team that’s nowhere close to the postseason.
They need to work on foolish penalties, and they badly need to work on what to do when they do take them.
At least we aren’t the Pittsburgh Penguins.