Well the Avalanche just won a meaningless game to bring the preseason record to a dismal (and meaningless) two wins and three losses. But this was a rather fun one to watch, and there were several interesting things observed here. While this game may not count in the standings, it is an opportunity to look at things that are perhaps to come. Hopefully a few of the things seen in this game carry over into the regular season (so maybe these aren’t entirely pointless, besides giving certain guys a look). With that, let’s get into it.
The period started with two great saves by Philip Grubauer after the second line for the Avalanche came on. Colorado got their own great chance when Nathan MacKinnon sliced through the defense like butter, who nearly scored.
A quarter into the period, Tyson Barrie missed the puck by the blue line in the offensive zone and was unable to chase it down when a Minnesota player flanked him to gain control. A quasi-breakout was looking to be formed, yet Nikita Zadorov came flying in to ruin the play for the Wild.
Shortly after, the Avalanche were able to grab some momentum with the Tyson Jost line, and held the puck in Minnesota’s end for two shifts. Minnesota then caught a break on an Alex Kerfoot interference call at 7:19. After some strong penalty killing, the Avs drew a 4-on-4 for 37 seconds via a Joel Eriksson Ek interference.
The power play looked good, but were unable to score. The Avalanche were still able to dominate the play though, both out-possessing and out-shooting the Wild. They were rewarded by a very smart goal by Alex Kerfoot.
Minnesota nearly put it in the net on a few dangerous chances, but due to some crazy luck nothing went in as the lastest went off the post. Colorado won back over control of the play, finishing the period still on top 1-0 and dominating shots 18-6.
Unfortunately Mikael Granlund tied the game up 14 seconds in. However, the even score wouldn’t last long. Colin Wilson held received the puck in deep, and passed to Kerfoot in the slot. He dished it out to a lurking Tyson Jost, who put it in an incredibly wide-open net. Game now sits two to one Avalanche.
A bad defensive turnover nearly led to a Wild score, but Grubauer made a good save against this quality opportunity. Alex Stalock would soon have to face some tough shots himself though, immediately after a Ryan Murphy tripping at 6:13.
The first power play unit was decent, yet where the Avs really got chances was with the second. They weren’t able to score, but they clearly struck some fear into the hearts of Minnesota.
Erik Johnson took a penalty that was perhaps necessary, preventing a possible breakaway score with a holding call at 9:16. Halfway through the penalty kill, Andrew Hammond came in for the Wild to replace Stalock, and despite some good shots Minny couldn’t convert.
Near the end of the period, Minnesota finally got some momentum, holding the puck for a long time in Colorado’s zone. Something awesome happened though—Mark Barberio made a great pass to Kerfoot, who found himself on a breakaway. Jonas Brodin grabbed on and kind of pushed Kerfoot over before he had a chance to shoot, which was called of course. But the Avs didn’t get a typical two minutes. We got a penalty shot!
Alex Kerfoot almost scored, ringing it off the post. Hey, but we all got some excitement in the preseason, so I’m not complaining. The period ended with the Avs still up by one goal, shots 30-16. Colorado still overall had the better period, but they weren’t walking all over the Wild.
About three minutes in, Nikita Zadorov lost his balance and missed a pass. This gave Minnesota a huge breakaway, yet Grubauer kept excellent position and made a very solid save. A minute later, Mark Barberio got cross-checked, leading to a powerplay at 4:42. The second unit was able to get it done, via a Matt Calvert redirect on an Alex Kerfoot long wrist shot. Avalanche up 3-1.
Nino Niederreiter cut the lead in half, on a backhand flick in the slot. Grubauer probably should’ve stopped that one. After this though, the Avalanche started to regain some of their first period dominance.
Despite this, the Wild started to get a couple of good (and even scary) chances. Grubauer was very good in net though, and was able to stop every one of them. But a momentum-killing penalty was committed by Matt Dumba at 17:39 for holding.
A 2-on-1 situation developed for the Wild though, leading to a Jason Zucker score, rebounding on his own shot. That clearly was not the netminder’s fault, as is shown here.
Regulation ended with the score tied 3-3, Avs still way up on the shots 40-24, yet they only have two more in the period.
I love 3-on-3 hockey, and interestingly, the Avalanche go with Girard, Barrie, and MacKinnon. I like it. I also like that Girard drew a tripping penalty, meaning the Avs have a dangerous 4-on-3.
Mikko Rantanen took a wicked one-timed shot from the circle, and he clearly thought it went in the net. Hammond thought differently, and it was difficult to tell, but after a quick review it was determined to be a good goal. Avalanche win 4-3.
- The score isn’t really indicative of the play here, as the Avalanche clearly dominated play, as they should have with Minnesota sitting some starters. The shots were 41-24 if that’s evidence enough.
- It would be nice to see the top line a bit more dominant, hopefully hitting the ground running before the season opener. MacK and Rants did combine to get the GWG though, so there is that.
- We may have our second line in Wilson - Jost - Kerfoot. All three were strong tonight, in particular Alex Kerfoot. He finished the night with a goal and two primary assists, all of them very solid plays. He is the player so far that I’ve been most impressed with, he’s truly looking like an offensive force.
- The second powerplay unit wasn’t very good last season, but that might turn around. Out of the Avs’ PP units, this one actually was in my opinion the better of the two. Two players headlined this: the aforementioned Kerfoot and Samuel Girard. Both were very effective at moving the puck around and clearly drove that second PP team. And speaking of Girard, I’ll finish the takeaways with this absolute gem:
Seriously, watch this. Maybe a couple of times, I sure did.
The next game is at 4:00 PM Mountain time on Sunday, September 30th in Dallas.