It was another frustrating night for the Colorado Avalanche. For 30 minutes they showed the quality of a team that could beat the Dallas Stars, but hockey is 60 minutes long and that wasted half hour led the team towards a 2-1 loss, their third in a row.
Nathan MacKinnon extended his point streak to 13 games with a power play goal, but even that feels hollow after a loss like this. Philipp Grubauer stopped 27 of 29 in the loss in what was one of his better performances of the season. Unfortunately, the only two pucks to pass him were an even strength and shorthanded goal scored by Roope Hintz.
After the game, Coach Jared Bednar called out his team for not starting on time for the third time this week. There is lots to talk about in the takeaways, but first, let’s recap the game.
The Avalanche were poor starting the game, despite two power plays within the first half. They were lazy at even strength and it cost them on the first goal of the game. After a slow back-check, the Stars second line of Hintz, Joe Pavelski, and Denis Gurianov swept into the offensive zone, overwhelmed Sam Girard and Erik Johnson, and Hintz got two chances to beat Grubauer, succeeding on the final try.
MacKinnon, Kadri, and Donskoi were all slow to get back. For two of the veteran leaders of this team, it’s not good when they’re not showing the effort needed to play on both sides of the ice, especially when they don’t have the same support down the lineup as they usually do.
The Stars once again took a penalty early in the period, but instead of scoring, they had to dig the puck out of their own net. I’ll talk about this more in the takeaways, but this goal happened because of a lack of patience. The Avalanche had the puck and were trying to get into the offensive zone, but while Donskoi was trying to get past Mattias Janmark, Cale Makar was changing for Girard. Because Girard was out of position, he wasn’t able to support the failed zone entry and swing the puck over to a wide open MacKinnon. Instead, Hintz sped down the ice and beat Grubauer with a shorthanded breakaway goal. It didn’t help that this, too, was through the five-hole.
Feeling guilty, or something, the Avs made good on their very next power play. After a won faceoff by Kadri, Makar facilitated the puck to MacKinnon, who attacked the space in front of him and whipped a shot from the faceoff dot that beat Anton Khudobin.
Corey Perry did something trashy, drink! Credit to J.T. Compher for jumping on Perry so Grubauer didn’t have to, both got unsportsmanlike conduct penalties because of it.
The Avs played well in the period! They certainly out-chanced the Stars with a strong start and finish to the period, but again, it wasn’t enough as a result of the hole they put themselves in at the start of the game. The Stars were able to hold their lead and they didn’t have to take risks. They controlled the game and used their depth to beat the Avs.
- With Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog both out with injuries, the Avalanche have once again been reduced to a one-line team. The Stars attached their top defense pair of John Klingberg and Esa Lindell and won that battle handily. MacKinnon and his trio weren’t able to get better than 35% of the shot share against those two. They made up for it against the other defenseman when the matchup could be avoided, but it wasn’t enough to break the game open.
- The power play scored, but didn’t have the best game. They went 1/5 — including three chances in the second period — and it pulled the team out of the shots hole they put themselves in the first period, but there wasn’t enough to give them a goal in the third.
Harping back to the second period again, scoring one goal on the power play means nothing when you gave one up shorthanded earlier in the period. Watching the video, there was a level of inexperience and awareness that led to lack of support at the blueline. Donskoi tried to push his way through a Stars defense that was standing tall at the blueline without support behind his to move the puck to the weak side in case it failed. Girard was just getting off the bench and onto the play. There was no need to rush, but they did, and it cost them.
- In the press conference at the end of the game, coach Bednar spoke about readiness out of his players and starting on time. Looking at the quotes and video, he’s right. It’s not the coach’s job to motivate players to do their best right before a game, it’s their job to create a game plan that will win the game. There was a plan for this game, but the team didn’t execute.
Bednar said his team was coming out to play hockey, not win hockey games. Theme of the presser was Bednar's frustration at his team's lack of readiness once the game started. Said he can help by giving them a game plan but they have to go play and they weren't ready again tonight— AJ Haefele (@AJHaefele) November 2, 2019
- Bednar is dead on here. The second 30 minutes, they were great. 10 scoring chances in the second half of the second period alone. He mentions the Anaheim Ducks game over the weekend, that was also a game the Avs didn’t start on time.
- When players go down with injuries, others need to step up. We haven’t seen that out of the Avs this week. Nathan MacKinnon showed up; eight shot attempts (six on net) at 5v5 and the only goal of the game. I saw a good game out of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. He was second in forward icetime at 5v5 and produced four shots in those minutes. Nazem Kadri had four hits, but what does that do on the scoresheet? He needs to be better, and honestly, he needs to drive his own line. He can do it. He did it in Toronto. Someone get that going.