What in the name of Joe Sakic’s wrister was that last night? It certainly wasn’t NHL caliber hockey. The Avs might as well have been the Danbury Thrashers, a team that was owned by a mobster who bought his way into the UHL as a present for his son. For fook sake, the Thrashers logo was a stick wielding trash can, an homage to the fact team owner James Galante made his fortune in the garbage disposal industry. That’s the caliber of hockey we were subjected to, a steaming dumpster of an effort wherein the Avs played with all the intensity of the first 60 minutes of training camp. They were skating as if they were working off 15 pounds of beer belly weight they put on in the offseason by drinking copious amounts of Labatt’s or Elsinore. Keep in mind, the Thrashers set the UHL record for penalty minutes in their first season, a mark that has yet to be broken. That brand of oafishness would’ve been far more preferable than last night’s slog. Bob and Doug Mackenzie could’ve outplayed the Avs last night.
Ordinarily, the Avs can skate rings around anybody but against the Preds, they couldn’t have outskated a traffic cone. Prior to the opening faceoff they find out that Cale Makar, Darcy Kuemper, J.T. Compher, and Andre Burakovsky were all in covid protocol, which left them down to 16 skaters and their "oh shit!" goalie backing up Francouz. Before anyone goes, "that’s why they lost" and resign themselves to the trash heap of willful ignorance, remember that Nashville was led by their AHL coaching staff and damn near half their roster was in the minor leagues less than two weeks ago. So, the manpower issues actually favored Colorado, not that it mattered with the way they slept walked for 60 minutes. They looked like extras from the Walking Dead, the slow ones with their lower jaws missing.
Did anyone play well?
Yes. Pavel Francouz looked really good, flat out robbing the Preds at least three times. But therein lay the conundrum…after stoning the Preds in Period 1, he lets in a soft goal that opened the scoring. Nashville’s second wasn’t Francouz’s fault, it was a gorgeous set up by precision passing on a powerplay (more on that in a second). The third Preds goal was an unlucky deflection off Girard’s half ass block attempt on Forsberg’s wrist shot. The fourth goal was the product of just silly penalty killing by the Avs. They let Roman Josi stroll into the slot and just hum one by Francouz, nothing he could’ve done except flog Tyson Jost, Jack Johnson, et al for dereliction of duty.
Justin Barron showed up last night, playing a really nice two-way game and at times he looked like a seasoned, responsible, near unflappable veteran. He looks so damn calm.
MacKinnon at times looked dynamic, at other times he was invisible. He’s skating in peak form. But how does he go from looking like the best player in the world like he did against the Rangers and Red Wings to looking like the reincarnation of Hugh Jessiman…in the same period?! And no, the previous name was not made up, even my sardonic wit has its limits. MacKinnon has been mercurial, to say the least.
The Avs need to do something about the penalty kill. As of right now, December 17, 2021, they sit in 28th in the NHL on the kill with a percentage of 75.6. That’s pathetic. Jost, O’Connor, Nichushkin, Helm, and JT Compher lead the Avs forwards in PK toi while Toews, EJ, and JJ lead the defensemen. Maybe Bednar should switch it up because it’s obvious the PK issues are still not resolved. How do they let Josi get so close to the net without somebody at least waving a stick at him? Why did they let Jeanott occupy the slot unmolested? It’s no secret that the slot on a powerplay is solid gold real estate yet the Avs simply don’t protect it with any conviction or consistency.
The next four games have been postponed so we get to nurse this loss for two weeks, oh the joy!