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Weekly Report Card: Dumb loss to Anaheim spoils fantastic week

The Avs let the lowly Ducks wreck what could have been a perfect grade.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

We’re back with week three of the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card! And it tastes like a terrible one right now but that’s just because the garnish on the top went sour - underneath it’s still a high-quality dish. Did anyone else watch The Menu this week? That movie was like this Avs week - interesting and good until the end left you completely unsatisfied.

I give that movie a C-. Stick around to see if I give the Avs the same.

Colorado proved it could win a lot of different ways in continuing its unbeaten streak with dominant offensive work in Vancouver, a gritty shootout win in Seattle, and heroic goaltending work against the Capitals - all while Cale Makar nursed an injury in the press box.

Then they made a surprise trade, shipping out-of-favor Jacob MacDonald and Martin Kaut to San Jose for old friend Matt Nieto and reclamation project Ryan Merkley. Check out Evan’s take on the trade here!

And finally, they dominated Anaheim for two periods before taking the foot off the gas just enough to let a leaky Pavel Francouz flounder away what should have been an easy win.


Friday @ Vancouver: 4-1 Win

Saturday @ Seattle: 2-1 Shootout Win

Tuesday vs Washington: 3-2 Win

Thursday vs Anaheim: 5-3 Loss


Alex Newhook: Love the goals in Seattle and vs. Washington, love his work defensively, and his dig and grind game on the third line. He’s finding his stride as the skilled center between hard-working LOC and Cogliano.

He and O’Connor in particular have developed surprising chemistry, and this trio has consistently been the most reliable Avs line since it got put together. They worked this set play perfectly:

If I’m making the lineup when everyone’s healthy my third line is Newhook centering Landeskog and O’Connor, and they score every game and it’s beautiful. Pop Mikko or Nate in LOC’s place for some shifts for a little extra pop if you want. Ugh. I’m excited. A+


Nathan MacKinnon:

His defense was elite in the games without Makar – like he knew without three top-four defenseman he had to elevate, and he really did it. A couple of backchecks in Seattle prevented surefire scoring chances, though a failed clear at the point did set up Ovechkin’s inevitable goal.

He had a really hard time finding space in that Washington game, but showed off his sheer strength of body and will fighting through a Dmitry Orlov body shot to assist Lehkonen’s opening goal.

He also added a beautiful assist on Girard’s goal against Anaheim, but for the rest of that game, he disappeared. I guess with Makar back he decided not to do defense anymore.

Grade: B

Cale Makar:

Only played in the Ducks game and he didn’t love his work, saying postgame that he “played brutal.” Did assist on the opening Rantanen goal but was very quiet after that, particularly on the powerplay.

Grade: C+

Mikko Rantanen:

Just continues to score! Three goals and an assist in four games are pretty good. It’s not dominant though, and the dominant Moose we’ve come to expect this season really only showed up against Anaheim this week. He has earned his All-Star nod, and I won’t come down on him too hard for a couple nights where things weren’t clicking, but in Seattle and against Washington it felt like he had more to give.

Grade: B+


Alexandar Georgiev: FANTASTIC vs Washington. Truly the only reason Colorado hung on for a win was when the Capitals were flying like the eagle on their new Stadium Series jersey, with highlight reel save after highlight reel save throughout the third period. Vancouver also could solve him only once despite generating nearly 2.93 expected goals. He made that one look easy and dialed it up a notch against Ovechkin and the Caps.

Grade: A+

Pavel Francouz: Great game in Seattle, shrugging off an early bump to the head that put Yanni Gourde in the penalty box to shut the door on a number of great chances from the Kraken. The brutal game against Anaheim though single-handedly sank the ship in a game the Avalanche mostly dominated. When he can’t control his rebounds early in games, things tend to get ugly by the end.

Grade: C+


Ben Meyers: Had a should-be goal pulled off the goal line by Adam Larsson in Seattle and just continues to make the right plays in all situations. Earned some shifts with MacKinnon and Lehkonen against Washington with great effort throughout the night, and his underlying statistics against Anaheim were truly dominant. He deserves some points! B+


Kurtis MacDermid: Dear God! He was the worst player on the ice in Seattle by a country mile – every puck touch was a turnover and he couldn’t stay on his feet all night.

That game was so bad I still want to flunk him even though he bounced back nicely against Washington. And if he hadn’t let 5’9 Connor Sheary free in the slot to tip one past Georgiev, I would give him his flowers instead. But he did. Clear the crease, big man!

And then he somehow got worse against Anaheim, culminating in this monstrosity:

Maybe do… something, big man!?! Bednar agreed, benching him the rest of the night. F


Anton Blidh: Did his job out there! I always love his forecheck game if he’s not taking penalties from getting too aggressive with the stick. Doesn’t do much else, but that’s ok. C+

Andrew Cogliano: Knocked a MacDermid shot into the net against Washington to continue his resurgent offensive season, and his work with LOC and Newhook has been excellent. B

J.T. Compher: Really struggled against Washington. Seems to be bottoming out after playing at his peak for much of the season. Historically he’s been streaky, though this season he’s avoided that so far. It might be happening now. C-

Sam Girard: Would have loved to see him finish that OT breakaway in Seattle! But he’s stepped up in a big way without Makar defensively – especially vs. Washington – and put up a goal and two assists this week. Take that, toxic fans. A

Andreas Englund: Forgot to grade him last week, as he just kinda played (oops), but in Seattle, he was really good defensively and made smart little passes in the ozone to create shots for others. Did not understand his lack of usage vs Anaheim. B

Brad Hunt: Picked up a goal in Vancouver and looked solid playing up the lineup with Makar out. C+

Erik Johnson: Handled top pairing work surprisingly well in Vancouver and Seattle, then fell back to earth hard against the Caps and Ducks. Woof. D

Artturi Lehkonen: You don’t see much hitting in OT but he nailed Matty Beniers clean in the neutral zone to top off a hard-working game. Pucks just wouldn’t go in, but he was creating chances all night. B

Jacob MacDonald: A much more competent defensive game in Seattle than we’ve come to expect from him. Need him to stop trying to make moves to create breakouts and just find an outlet pass, though, and he cannot be taking penalties in the offensive zone. Then he got traded to San Jose – best of luck JMac! C+

Dennis Malgin: Looked solid in his return to the lineup against Anaheim, and picked up a power-play assist. C+

Valeri Nichushkin: Beautiful forecheck and dish to set up MacKinnon in overtime against Seattle. His absence seems to correlate directly with losses, hope he gets back soon. B+

Matt Nieto: It’s great to see him back in burgundy and blue! His screen in front of Gibson helped create the rebound that Mikko buried to open the scoring against the Ducks. Also had the third-highest xGF% on the night. B

Logan O’Connor: Is there anyone more snakebit in the league right now? Had a couple of empty nets to shoot at where pucks jumped or a defender barely got a stick on it. Great little pass on Newhook’s goal vs the Caps. C+

Evan Rodrigues: Didn’t do much to stand out this other than a wild turnover where he blew a tire and tried to sweep a puck to Toews but gave it right to Kuznetsov. C

Devon Toews: So smooth out there against Seattle, made everything look easy defensively, and if not for a puck hopping his stick backdoor would have had a nifty goal too. A



Losing Cale Makar for most of the week should hurt the powerplay, but … it didn’t. With Devon Toews quarterbacking, Colorado was consistently dangerous and put two in the net in Vancouver. They couldn’t get one to go in Seattle despite creating chances and somehow didn’t have any powerplay chances against Washington.

Then Makar returned against the Ducks and the top unit lost their mojo. Rantanen buried a one-timer while moonlighting with the second unit, but Makar clearly wasn’t himself after a couple of games off and his unit suffered for it.

But overall they went 3-of-8 on the week - very good! In short: Effective process + very good results = A


Truly phenomenal work all week, completely shutting out all four opponents on the man advantage and making it look easy while they did it. No notes.

In short: perfect process + perfect results = A++++


The Ducks game is going to leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth since they should not have lost it, but it was actually one of their strongest nights of the week at even strength – they had a rough opening to the third period, yes, but ultimately Francouz just didn’t do his job in net.

The Avs started strong in Vancouver, ending the first and second periods with dominant flurries to cap off some relatively even stretches in the middle of those frames before protecting the lead in the third.

In Seattle, Colorado got worked for most of the first and third periods, but controlled play for stretches in the middle of the game. If not for the heroic work at the top and bottom of this game from Francouz, it could have been ugly. Instead, they got to the shootout - where Frankie has yet to give up a goal in the NHL.

Back on home ice things went more in the Avalanche’s favor, though they were never able to truly assert their will on the game and pull away. In the third, Washington channeled their desperation into a strong pushback but Georgiev kept them at bay.

And finally, the ugly Ducks loss. Again, the result was stupid and we hate it. But a game graph that looks like this is going to be a win nearly every time – their play just slipped in the third for a bit and Francouz was off his game too much to overcome that.

Obviously, that lull cannot happen and it’s not my job to make excuses for the Avalanche, but when you play two dominant periods as they did in this game, it’s hard to grade the whole game too harshly.

In short: mostly good process + mostly great results = A-


How did he track this through traffic?!? And you gotta love his heady play to put his entire face in front of the puck.

This perfectly capped off one of his best games of the season thus far.


Hated the third period in Anaheim, but loved the rest. A-.