The Colorado Avalanche traveled to Minnesota for an afternoon affair for their second exhibition contest. The Wild dressed most of their NHL lineup after a large cut on Saturday morning in seek of their first preseason win. The Avalanche also looking for their first victory of the preseason brought a less experienced lineup yet loaded with their most talented prospects in hope the skill and talent would show through.
What looked like a NHL squad against an AHL one is about what this game devolved into ending in a 7-0 shutout for the Wild. It was a special teams filled affair with nine minor penalties handed out and the Avalanche receiving two thirds of them. The Avalanche weathered the storm in the first period only giving up one goal to Jason Zucker at 8:32 despite getting outshot 12-5 in that period. They then started to claw back in the second period, which was Colorado’s best of the game but Philipp Grubauer let in a couple soft goals which left the Avalanche down 4-0 at the end of the period. The third period started with two goals given up in the first 2:15 and pretty much set the tone that the game was over.
Despite the ugliness on the scoreboard the game was not a total disaster for several of the Avalanche’s top prospects. Igor Shvyrev looked quick and decisive with the puck and he ended up with the best possession numbers on the team at 62.5% Corsi For. It was a good showing especially for his first pro game on North American ice.
Vladislav Kamenev was another who had a showing which will put him a step further to securing a NHL roster spot. He finished with 47.83% CF and two shots on goal with 5 individual shot attempts. He also was heavily involved in the penalty kill and held up defensively with only 14% of his starts in the offensive zone.
Martin Kaut was on the right side of the top line with Tyson Jost and Alexander Kerfoot as a trio they started out strong. The line faded as the game went on and got buried with their matchup against Charlie Coyle and Joel Eriksson Ek. Kaut showed he is a monster on the forecheck but made a couple skill plays with the puck as well. Ty Lewis is another who raised his play even if he is not quite at NHL speed but despite being an undrafted prospect showed he has the skill to be an impact player and came out of the game with 50% CF.
On the defensive side, this is likely the culprit of where the tough night began. There was only one NHL defenseman in the lineup and that was Samuel Girard who played almost 24 minutes and had to do a lot of heavy lifting defensively. He looks ready to take on that larger role this coming season. Anton Lindholm had a tougher night and did not look comfortable with the increased minutes.
As disappointing it was to see the Avalanche fail to generate goals and the lack of proper defense, this game serves as a reminder that the preseason is largely about player evaluation and the coaching staff got a good look at some players who hope to be part of the future sooner than later.
A rematch with the Golden Knights in Vegas at 8pm MT on Monday, September 24th.