We’re back with week two of the Avalanche weekly report card! The first installment was a huge success, you all loved it and completely agreed with everything I said. Good job.
My process for this is pretty simple: Every game I’ll make note of a couple of standout players and moments to myself and give letter grades to the rest of the roster, then average those grades out for the week to determine the final report card.
The Avalanche had a much-needed dominant week against lesser opponents, playing better each game even though the scores got closer. You love to see a good last week to a tough first half of the season.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Nathan MacKinnon: A couple of wild turnovers in Calgary notwithstanding, Nate was fantastic in all facets of the game all three games and picked up two assists in each of them. He also scored two against Detroit - that’s two goals and six assists in three games. Fantastic.
Beyond just the counting stats, he also was a huge factor in getting the powerplay going again, looking to distribute a bit more rather than bomb away with the one-timer. He assisted on a power play goal in all three games - that’s the best news of the week (beyond the wins, obviously.) If the powerplay starts clicking again it’s going to be really hard to keep this team down. The road to the playoffs looks promising again.
Cale Makar: Hopefully not going to miss extended time after completely dominating the homestand and sitting out against the Flames with an undisclosed injury. Two goals, two assists, two thumbs up.
Cale Makar scores against the Detroit Red Wings to make it 3-0#DETvsCOL pic.twitter.com/vgtuRxPNe7— PeckBot_001 (@PeckBot_001) January 16, 2023
More of that, please!
Mikko Rantanen: Four goals and an assist is nothing to complain about! Though how he managed to put up no points in the rout of Detroit is hard to understand. He was his casually dominant self, not the actively dominant one who kept the Avalanche afloat all season. Good to see his temper under control.
Mikko Rantanen scores against the Calgary Flames to make it 1-0#COLvsCGY pic.twitter.com/GKgRrDn5mG— PeckBot_001 (@PeckBot_001) January 19, 2023
Still great, obviously, just not at his peak.
MINDING THE NET
Fantastic game in Calgary. The Flames pushed back hard after going down 3-0 and Georgiev is the biggest reason they couldn’t claw their way back in. He gave up one powerplay goal that you could maybe ask him to track better through traffic, but he stopped so many quality chances the rest of the way that you just forgive that one.
Excellent v Ottawa, though he didn’t have to do much. Would like at least the Chiarot goal back against Detroit.
ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL
Artturi Lehkonen: Totally complete game against Ottawa plus a goal against Detroit and two more in Calgary - seven goals in three games is ... good! And his details were excellent this week as well, with underlying statistics painting a very pretty picture.
Artturi Lehkonen scores a power-play goal against the Calgary Flames to make it 3-0#COLvsCGY pic.twitter.com/q4aNQPKyGZ— PeckBot_001 (@PeckBot_001) January 19, 2023
This is a perfect example - he wins a board battle, finds his way into open ice, and capitalizes.
DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON
Martin Kaut: Got sent down to the Eagles after a largely ineffective game against Ottawa, but I was surprised to see the demotion since he seemed to be playing like at least an average NHL depth guy. The simple truth is he hasn’t produced and he’s making me look like a fool for sticking by him for so long. I don’t want to be a fool, Martin. Step up. D
Andrew Cogliano: Solid possession work, one assist. C
J.T. Compher: Goal and an assist against Detroit, two more assists in Calgary, and kept up his excellent puck possession game. B
Sam Girard: Absolutely excellent against Ottawa, though only got 1 assist on the board. Followed that up with another assist vs Detroit and an uneventful Flames game. B
Brad Hunt: Rough defense against Ottawa, but also put another goal on the board. Led the defense in xGF% in Calgary. B
Erik Johnson: Looked 5 years younger against Ottawa and kept that jump in his step vs Detroit and Calgary as well. C+
Kurtis MacDermid: His lost board battle led to David Perron’s last-minute goal against Detroit. It was garbage time, but still hate to see Perron get one. C-
Jacob MacDonald: A little skittish early in Calgary but settled in and was okay. C-
Valeri Nichushkin: Great to have the big man back against Detroit. He was working through the rust a bit but set a great screen to create Makar’s first goal. B-
Ben Meyers: Really responsible center play from him at home, winning board battles and creating chances, and narrowly couldn’t finish a great feed from Rodrigues in Detroit. Horrific underlying stats in Calgary though. C
Alex Newhook: Phenomenal game in Ottawa capitalizing on his hard work with two goals and an assist. Stayed tough on pucks in a lesser role in Detroit and Calgary A-
Logan O’Connor: Really solid in all three games, but 30 games without a goal is rough. C-
Sampo Ranta: Not a good callup for Sampo. Got sent right back down after terrible work in the defensive zone early in Ottawa put him on the end of the bench. F
Evan Rodrigues. Strong play all week, plus got a little scrappy against the Red Wings B+
Devon Toews: Seems to have bounced back - maybe the baby is finally sleeping through the night! Stepped up huge with the A on his chest in Makar’s absence in Calgary A
For the first time since what feels like the Vietnam War, the Avalanche scored a powerplay goal in three straight games. I touched on this a bit in the Mackinnon section above, but it seems like he has taken it upon himself to shoot less and distribute more, and that is fantastic news - the powerplay is far more dangerous when it’s less predictable.
And the second unit got on the board too, with Rodrigues distributing from MacKinnon’s spot on the wall.
J.T. Compher redirects Evan Rodrigues' feed for a power-play goal that extends the lead to 4-0 in the 2nd period#DETvsCOL pic.twitter.com/qoaJFfKUfM— PeckBot_001 (@PeckBot_001) January 16, 2023
If this keeps up, the Avs will not miss the playoffs. It’s really that simple - they need special team goals, especially while they wait for reinforcements to return from injury.
In short: Effective process + great results = A
The PK only gave up one goal on seven chances this week, combining strong work and a few more bounces to keep the scoresheet pretty clean. The goal against was the one I mentioned Georgiev might want back, though you can see here that Erik Johnson really should have tried to block it.
Tyler Toffoli scores a power-play goal against the Colorado Avalanche to make it 3-1#COLvsCGY pic.twitter.com/DJ37y9WDj3— PeckBot_001 (@PeckBot_001) January 19, 2023
Still, having just one goal against that isn’t a coverage breakdown against three teams with legit offensive weapons - though, admittedly, not great powerplay stats - is a quality week.
In short: great results + good process = A
By the eye test, the Avalanche controlled all three games this week and avoided any of the defensive breakdowns that sunk them in their recent losses.
There were some odd exchanges among the defense with Makar sitting out against Calgary - especially a play where Brad Hunt accidentally forced Sam Girard into a near turnover behind Georgiev’s net when both players tried to skate through the same ice to avoid a forechecker - but overall things looked much better despite adjusting to a seven defenseman lineup.
Against Ottawa, the stats show the Sens pushed back a bit in the second but Colorado stamped out any hopes of a comeback and then sat back and defended.
Detroit, on the other hand, got spanked in the second and barely hung on before scoring a couple of garbage goals.
And then in Calgary, things were much more even, with Colorado unable to pull away before Calgary pushed hard for a comeback in the third. Fortunately, Georgiev shut the door on any of that business.
Can’t complain about anything here, really. Thirteen goals for and just three against is very good work at even strength, and they looked good doing it too.
In short: very good process + great results = A
CLIP OF THE WEEK: LET’S CELEBRATE
It’s just a simple play but it’s so smooth. I want this space to be something funny that happened in the past week, but all I could think about was Nathan MacKinnon making Andrew Copp look like a child and then turning Magnus Hellberg into a shooter tutor.
Nathan MacKinnon scores against the Detroit Red Wings to make it 6-2#DETvsCOL pic.twitter.com/bwFREhCaB1— PeckBot_001 (@PeckBot_001) January 16, 2023
TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK
Three wins, seventeen goals, effective special teams, and dominant play from the big guns?? That’s exactly what a great week looks like to me. The only thing that could make it better is a little tertiary scoring from the bottom six.
I’ll give the team a big A