We’re back with the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card!
This week the Avs stayed undefeated despite some lackluster play in the middle. They dominated San Jose and Chicago but almost got goalied, and capitalized on enough Seattle mistakes to win that one too. But were they actually good? Let’s find out.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alexandar Georgiev: Having a goalie this good is a beautiful thing! When nothing would go in against the Sharks, Georgiev kept the Avs in striking distance til they were able to tie it up in the final minute and win in the shootout. Then with the Kraken sending waves of attackers his way, Georgie kept his head above water and the team afloat til they could turn some turnovers into goals and get the W.
He didn’t have to do much against Chicago, but the game nearly started horribly if not for this insane toe save:
Did his leg get longer to make that stop? The clear MVP through four games this season. A+
Nathan MacKinnon: 1 Goal
Just a goal in three games, but he put up 23 shots so his shooting percentage for the week was an abysmal four percent — it’s essentially impossible that that continues. He’ll get a couple more on his next 23.
That said, MacKinnon really didn’t look good in Seattle. The Kraken truly does know how to frustrate him and he didn’t do himself any favors either with an interference penalty and some floaty play. And oddly his underlying numbers were better in Seattle than against San Jose or Chicago, so overall just not Nate’s best week.
Cale Makar: 1 Goal, 1 Assist
Cale also couldn’t get anything to go against San Jose right up until the last minute when he put a wrister through traffic that found the net and sent the game to OT. In Seattle, Cale led the defense in possession metrics and with his assist became the fastest defenseman in NHL history to 250 points.
No points against Chicago and oddly the worst xGF% on the team. This is likely due to the rough start to the game where Georgiev bailed the team out before they put their foot down and beat down the Hawks. Makar was much better as the game went on.
Mikko Rantanen: 1 Goals, 1 Assist
Mikko’s underlying metrics in San Jose were brutal, but the shootout winner was a thing of beauty. Then he was pretty absent in the Seattle game, til he buried his only shot on a one-timer from Sam Girard. Against Chicago though, Mikko looked right. He stickhandled through guys on seemingly every shift and didn’t put up great metrics but was visibly a man amongst boys out there.
Once Tomas Tatar was elevated to the left wing with Nate and Mikko, their shifts became truly dominant. It seems like Rantanen just hasn’t clicked with Jonathan Drouin, so perhaps that explains the somewhat tough week for the big guys up front.
ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL
Logan O’Connor: Two games in a row with shorthanded game-winning goals!? Yeah, that’s honor roll stuff. Plus you have to love him standing up for his boy (father?) Andrew Cogliano by fighting Jordan Eberle, who broke Cogs’ neck in the Kraken playoff series last season.
Logan O'Connor is terrorizing teams on the penalty kill.pic.twitter.com/WKruyyTsFL— Avalanche Forever (@citchmook) October 20, 2023
On top of that, the fourth line with Cogliano back on the left wing was dominant in San Jose and against Chicago, controlling play and generating chances seemingly at will in their limited minutes AND the penalty kill hasn’t given up a goal this season behind great work from LOC and of course Georgiev.
You can’t ask for more from a fourth-line PK guy. A+
DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON
Bowen Byram: The penalties have to stop, Bo. Two minutes in Seattle and four against Chicago bring his season total up to 10 – he’s too important to spend this much time in the box. And it’s not like these were effort penalties or roughings after the whistle. They’ve all been bad choices within the flow of play that young players have to learn to curtail, and frankly, it seems his lack of seasoning is showing.
Beyond the penalties, Byram has been struggling to find consistency next to Sam Girard. The positioning has been questionable from time to time and he hasn’t been as offensively dynamic as we’ve come to expect. He’ll find his game again, but so far not so good. C-
Ross Colton: No points, middling underlying stats, but fantastic penalty kill work and it looked like the Drouin-Colton-Wood combination has some juice as they put up a goal that got called back for offside against Chicago. C
Jonathan Drouin just fired off a MISSILE for this surgical assist pic.twitter.com/1fK895KJ7D— Liam (@Blutman27) October 20, 2023
Jonathan Drouin: He hasn’t clicked with Mikko and Nate and clearly lost some trust from Bednar, but his would-be assist on the called-back Wood goal was incredible and his overall metrics were encouraging! C+
Sam Girard: His passing in Seattle was on point and rewarded with an assist. Otherwise a steady, heady week from Sammy G. B+
Ryan Johansen: He hasn’t found his footing in this system yet, but it was great to see him pot a power play goal in the home opener. He was removed from PP1 later that same game though. C+
Jack Johnson: Was exposed a bit in Seattle, but against teams like the Sharks and Hawks, he’s totally fine. C
Artturi Lehkonen: He was a one-man shooting gallery in the two road games and put up a goal and assist overall. B
Kurtis MacDermid: Perfect week from the big guy. He didn’t play and was fun to have in the locker room. A
Josh Manson: See the Jack Johnson section. Manson has more to give as he gets back in the swing of things after his injury-plagued ‘22-23 season. C
Valeri Nichushkin: His work ethic carries this team at times, and so does his scoring – the only player with points in all three games. A
Fredrik Olofsson: Better week from Freddy O, particularly on the penalty kill! He needs to start winning some faceoffs though, particularly on the penalty kill. B
Tomas Tatar: Elevated to the top line and top powerplay unit in Chicago, Tatar finally looked like the smart offensive mind he’s billed as. Clearly needs a lot of skill around him to succeed, and with it there, he put up 2 assists. B
Devon Toews: I’m still over the moon at his contract, plus he controlled play in that silky smooth way he does in all three games. His easy goal against Chicago was actually a brilliant choice to stay involved deep in the offensive zone. A
Miles Wood: I love his PK work, and man if this goal would have counted his week would have been excellent. It didn’t though, and his underlyings were less than stellar in all three games ... but he does stuff like this:
You gotta love Wood. B-
TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK
I do still want some more from this team against real competition - The Seattle game ended up good but under the hood it had a lot of problems, and the powerplay hasn’t been able to set up and create consistently. But the penalty kill and Georgiev have been incredible, and ultimately undefeated is undefeated! A