Okay, let’s dispense the obvious right off the bat, rip it off like a crusty Band-Aid, quick so the sting wears off.
Ordinarily the officiating in most sports leagues is spot on. Very few game altering mistakes are made because the officials are highly trained and actually care about doing a god job. For the most part, bad calls are sorted out out on a period-by-period basis; a bad call in the first mostly warrants a makeup call later in, and in general officiating evens itself out so one side isn’t favored over another. Over the course of the season, a playoff series, and actual games, the referees in the NHL are the best at what they do.
That said…holy shit that overtime too many men on the ice penalty was a steaming pile of Serengeti feces. First of all, the replay shows that while the line change in question was a skosh sloppy, in no way should that have drawn a call. Given the totality of the circumstances, the whistle should’ve never been blown. In overtime of a tightly contested divisional showdown, officials need to be judicious with their calls. If the NHL truly wants the refs to scrutinize line changes that tightly, be prepared for 40+ minutes of sin bin offenses for both sides.
Did this blown call cost the Avs a victory? It’s arguable and in all honesty, those who blame the officiating for wins & losses aren’t paying attention. Keep in mind, the Avs second goal from Burakovsky could’ve been whistled dead as Nashville’s Mark Borwiecki crumpled down on the ice and was clearly incapacitated. Preds fans were heated about the non-call but this kind of evened out later in overtime.
A bad penalty in OT that handed Nashville a dub doesn’t excuse the myriad of mistakes the Avs made last night. Mikko Rantanen deserved the double minor for not controlling his stick and the Preds capitalized on the ensuing powerplay. How does Luke Kunin get that wide open in the low slot on the second Nashville goal? Mikhail Maltsev deserves a smack on the head for awful defense on the Tanner Jeannot goal…in M&M’s 6:08 of toi, he was a -1, and that’s understating how bad he played. That idiotic backhand pass from J.T. Compher with 2:37 left in the 2nd period was a killer…you can’t throw no-lookers like that in your own end with all ten skaters crammed behind the blueline, dump the puck out of the zone and out of harm’s way. Why did the Avs defenders let Matt Duchenne park his ass in front of Kuemper for hours at a time? Jack Johnson was right there and should’ve knocked Duchenne into the pipes.
Then we have the penalty kill. At this point, every PK specialist, looking at you Erik Johnson, J.T. Compher, Logan O’Connor, Tyson Jost, should be jettisoned from odd man situations because they stink on ice. Last tight was more of the same, nonphysical play that allowed the Preds to camp in front of goal with little to no consequences. The Avs added to the lack of physicality by not paying attention to their assignments. The PK isn’t even hot garbage at this point, it’s more like a bloating corpse left out in the sun so it can draw copious amounts of carrion.
Let’s look at some positives from last night.
Cale Makar and Devon Toews are establishing themselves as the best defensive tandem in the NHL. Makar had a goal and two assists, including the game tying third period tally that sent the game into overtime. How does he get so much starch on the puck with uncanny accuracy while using such wonky body mechanics? His edge work on that goal was incredible as he managed to fake out Eeli Tolvanen, shield the puck, wheel and fire one over Juuse Saros shoulder. Makar is truly special with ACL’s made out of elastic. He and Toews had 25+ minutes of ice time, a reflection of how much trust has been placed on them. And they’re both brilliant in clutch situations.
Food for thought…through his first 29 games, Makar has 16 goals, 18 assists, and is playing at +16. The only other defenseman in NHL history to have this good of a first half of the season as Makar is having is Bobby Orr, that’s it, that’s the list.
Andre Burakovsky was magnificent. He netted a goal, was +3, and his defense was solid.
The Avs escaped with a point despite giving up another two goal deficit. Colorado now has fallen behind in every game of calendar year 2022. So far this season, the Avs have spent an average of 25:21/game while in the lead, 15:56 while tied, and 19:08 while behind. If you look at win probabilities when you get the first goal, it becomes evident scoring first is huge. On average, teams that get the first goal have a win probability of roughly 65%. For a 2-0 lead, your win probability jumps to around 80%. In contrast, your win probability if you fall behind 0-2 is less than 20%, a three goal deficit equates to a win probability of less than 10%. When you look at these numbers, it’s clear the Avs have been playing with molten lava by falling behind six games in a row.