No need for much of a recap - the Colorado Avalanche have dropped Games 1 and 2 on the road to the Nashville Predators. It’s been two good games. Pushing the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Preds a lot further than most thought the Avs could. Despite being scored against too often, the eye test tells us that the match-up isn’t as bad as some would think; there have been long stretches in both games where the Avs dominated the play. So, what changes did the coaching staff make between game 1 and Game 2, and what should we expect going forward?
Let’s start on defense. A few obvious adjustments - Patrik Nemeth saw a huge TOI upgrade due to the injury to Samuel Girard. We can probably expect this to either stay the same in Game 3 or totally reverse should Girard be ready. He saw a ridiculous 7:46 on the PK - let’s hope that isn’t necessary again.
Time on Ice
|Player||Game 1 TOI||Game 2 TOI|
|Player||Game 1 TOI||Game 2 TOI|
Duncan Siemens also passed the eye test, engaging in battles while not getting caught too often lost in his own end, but saw pretty measly minutes. We can see that David Warsofsky, Mark Barberio, and Nemeth were all given extra shifts rather than give Siemens more, and that could be a notable change coming up. Siemens looked comfortable on the PK by the end of the match (he got over 4 minutes of practice) and may have earned a little trust.
The big guns on the back end (Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov) saw a slight drop on total TOI in Game 2 but that’s due to the decrease in man-advantages given out (Barrie had more PP time in G1, Big Z had more PK time). Zadorov has had flashes of beast-mode in both contests and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get some big-minute games at home when he can be used more strategically thanks to having the last change.
Onto the forward corps...it took me a second to figure out why the total TOI seems to drop between games - I believe it’s thanks to a lot of 4-on-4 time handed out by the refs in Game 2. This explains why centerman Nathan MacKinnon saw almost 25 minutes(!) while linemates Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog both appeared to lose time. I expect all three to be back in the 22:00 range for Game 3. MacKinnon didn’t look tired by the end, so hopefully, they keep pushing him.
Gabriel Bourque, Blake Comeau, Matt Nieto, and Rants all saw pretty much the same amount of ice in game two as their first contest; Bourque had some big hits and could definitely be used more often to keep the pressure on the Preds who often got through the neutral zone a little too easily. Comeau still can’t finish and I’m surprised he didn’t see a dip. Speaking of…
Sven Andrighetto, Tyson Jost, Alex Kerfoot, J.T. Compher, and Carl Soderberg all saw notable decreases in ice time, likely related to what coaches saw in their play. Admittedly, Jost and Compher did not look like key players in Game 2. Compher had a nice forecheck in the first goal of the game, but was otherwise quiet, and Jost still hasn’t totally clicked yet. I could easily see their lower numbers carrying on to the homestand. On the other hand, I though Kerfoot and Soderberg provided game-breaking chances at various moments and are more likely to be rewarded once back at the Pepsi Center.
To summarize my Game 3 predictions:
- I expect bigger minutes from Big Z and Siemens
- Landy and Rants should see more ice unless more 4-on-4 weirdness occurs
- Jost and Compher’s dips in TOI might be warranted and continue
- Soderberg’s decrease confuses me, and I hope it gets remedied
What do you think of the usage adjustments? Who should we see more or less of back on home ice?