We’re back with the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card!
This week the Avs won at home, set the NHL record by extending their road winning streak to 15, and then got shut out in Pittsburgh for their first loss of the season. But were they any good? Let’s find out.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ryan Johansen: His streak of three straight games with a power play goal was snapped in Pittsburgh, but overall RyJo rocked on the man advantage this week with two goals and an assist.
Nathan MacKinnon doing this to Jaccob Slavin is insane. Also, Ryan Johansen winning the faceoff was big with so little time left in the first period. pic.twitter.com/wueKFlzNi1— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) October 22, 2023
He added another goal into an empty net, and Johansen was the only Avs forward to generate over 70 xGF% in all three games. That’s exactly the kind of consistency this team needs from its 2C. A-
Nathan MacKinnon: 2 Goals, 1 Assist
Despite that ridiculous highlight against the Canes, Nate hasn’t looked like himself for a few games – he’s turning pucks over too often, and while he’s still generating shots at a high rate they just haven’t been particularly dangerous. Part of that might be playing apart from Mikko Rantanen, an excellent passer, but it’s happening on the power play too and they’re both out there for that.
Cale Makar: 1 Goal, 4 Assists
Five points and stellar underlying numbers in all three games paint the picture of a strong week, but the power play struggles against the Pens fall squarely on his shoulders as the QB of PP1. His passing wasn’t crisp and we never saw any of the creativity we saw in New York.
You can’t expect that every night, but bottom line Cale is an excellent player and when he struggles to stand out the team struggles to win. That’s what happened in Pittsburgh, and it’ll happen from time to time even when his overall numbers are quite good.
Mikko Rantanen: 2 Goals, 3 Assists
Mikko went full moose against the Canes and Islanders but forgot to bring his antlers to Pittsburgh. I had him penciled in as player of the week, but his underlying numbers and somewhat lethargic play against the Penguins torpedoed his bid to secure that dearly coveted accolade.
Rantanen has had a habit of floating through games and finishing with a couple of points anyway, but his effort level was fully there all week – it just looked like he was fighting through a swamp on Thursday night.
MINDING THE NET
Alexandar Georgiev: Came back to earth a bit this week, giving up four goals in all three games. Only a couple were really errors on Georgiev’s part though, as the defense in front of him was far more porous than the Avs’ netminder is accustomed to. He got pulled in the third against Pittsburgh. C+
Ivan Prosvetov: Not great circumstances to get his first Avalanche ice time in a 4-0 loss, but he was perfect in eight minutes of play. He did have some funky moments, including a Sidney Crosby shot that bounced off of him and he clearly thought he had it tied up. B
ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL
Artturi Lehkonen: Last week he put up a ton of shots, and this week a ton of points starting with a four-point night against the Hurricanes. The Avs didn’t play all that well that night – especially in the second period - and needed Lehkonen’s heroics to get the win.
He’s just such a perfect fit next to Nathan MacKinnon, digging out pucks and feeding them to Nate and Nuke. He couldn’t get anything to go in Pittsburgh obviously and the numbers paint a grisly picture. B+
DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON
Josh Manson: Really hated some decisions this week, especially this sequence:
Lars Eller certainly earned this goal. Near the net, stayed with the puck, and cashed it home pic.twitter.com/JpovPSC7zl— Jason Shetler (@Jason_Shetler) October 27, 2023
A bad turnover and a worse recovery - you just don’t have time for multiple puck touches in tight like that. He also put up the worst numbers on the defense against the Islanders. I think part of his struggles is being paired with Jack Johnson, as they do not complement each other well. But that doesn’t explain the choices he’s making out there. D
Bowen Byram: Much better week including his first goal of the season that keyed the comeback in New York. You can see the confidence returning to his game, but still suffering through some ghastly turnovers as well. B
Ross Colton: Positive underlying stats in all three games including the team lead in xGF% in New York somehow didn’t convert to any points, but being the last guy to touch a puck the Isles dropped into their own net got Colton his first tally as an Av. B+
Jonathan Drouin: A ton of chances against Tristan Jarry that just wouldn’t go. He’s looked a lot better of late but is still snakebit. B
Sam Girard: G has been rocking the underlying stats this season, but that was not the case in any game this week. Among the D, only Jack Johnson put up worse numbers than Sam against Pittsburgh. C
Jack Johnson: Speaking of Jack, his play is asking for a night off right now. It’s not atrocious, but it’s not good and it’s getting close to Caleb Jones's time in Denver. C-
Kurtis MacDermid: Didn’t play, gets an A!
Valeri Nichushkin: A yeoman’s week from Val with his usual strong defense and three assists. B
Logan O’Connor: Only one shorty this week!?! Abject failure. But his underlying numbers were stellar and the fourth line was the only one that looked dialed in against the Pens. B
Fredrik Olofsson: I’m happy with his play and have no complaints. C+
Tomas Tatar: Skating with Mikko and RyJo all week and only managing one assist is just a little disappointing, and the penalties in New York didn’t help. He went full ghost in Pittsburgh too. C
Devon Toews: Very quiet week from Toews, with no points and middle-of-the-pack underlying stats. I thought he defended well every game but didn’t find opportunities to jump up and contribute to the offense. B
Miles Wood: The dude flies around out there and bodies people up well. As long as he’s hustling and staying out of the box, he’s going to get decent grades from me. I would like to see that third line tally some points soon, though. B
TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK
The Pittsburgh game was very disappointing, but let’s not forget that was a desperate team coming off three straight losses facing an Avs group that was getting comfortable winning even when they played below their standard.
Hopefully, it serves as a little wake-up call to dial up the attention to detail from game to game, as even the New York and Carolina wins had some major flaws. But at the end of the day, picking up two wins makes for a very good week. B+