We’re back with the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card!
This week Colorado was blanked in Buffalo, marking the first time they were shut out in back to back games since 2016, then laid the hammer down on St. Louis at home. But were they any good? Let’s find out!
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Mikko Rantanen: 1 Goals, 1 Assist
The Moose got very much loose against St. Louis, potting a beauty and setting up another to bring up his 9 game point total to 14, but that’s not why he’s my player of the week – that’d be the Buffalo game.
In Buffalo the Avs as a whole looked like the tired team who’d spent a month mostly on the road that they are, but Rantanen was awesome. His underlying metrics led the forward group and his play on both ends of the ice jumped out. On a night where some guys didn’t bring the effort, it’s great to see a star keep his legs moving and work even when the puck simply refused to go in for a second straight game.
Nathan MacKinnon: 2 Assists
The bottom line – Nate’s too good of a player to backcheck as poorly as he did on St. Louis’s only goal and we’d love to see more production night to night, but the Avalanche dominated the high danger scoring chance battle when he was on the ice this week even when it was clear he had more to give.
He’s great, but he needs to bring that greatness every shift and keep himself on the ice – his 10 minute misconduct penalty in Buffalo may have been a thin-skinned ref making a frustrating call on top of an insane non-call, but MacKinnon should not be putting himself in position to sit out for that long.
Cale Makar: 2 Assists
Cale took a nasty shove into the boards from Kyle Okposo in Buffalo but returned to that game and put up two points against the Blues, so I’m tempted to give him an A just for health, but he also struggled with the puck on his stick before that Okposo play and let the Blues rack up far too many high chances while he was on the ice.
I suspect he’s nursing something right now, but regardless there’s a better player in Cale than we saw this week.
MINDING THE NET
The Buffalo loss is not truly on Georgiev, but he wasn’t the stalwart backstop that he had been the first few games of the season. None of the goals were outright bad, but he clearly needed a night off and he got it against St. Louis. C
Love a W in his first Avalanche start, and to only give up one is very encouraging. He had some shaky positioning and puck tracking moments throughout, and was well off his angle on the Robert Thomas goal, but when Colorado started a little slow and let the Blues generate some early chances he shut the door and set the table for the Avs to get back in the win column. A
ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL
Ross Colton: Opened the scoring against St. Louis and his effort was strong in Buffalo despite some tough underlying stats. Tomas Tatar was not a good fit on his wing opposite Miles Wood that night, so I’ll let those stats slide a bit because I liked what I saw.
Moreso, I loved him centering Wood and Logan O’Connor on Wednesday – that trio should stick together, as Colton has the shot to finish what Wood and O’Connor start with their skating. O’Connor is a sneaky good passer, so with Wood banging, O’Connor digging, and Colton shooting I could see a very productive group here. B+
DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON
Jonathan Drouin and Tomas Tatar:
I don’t have to say much as Bednar already healthy scratched them in the home game against the Blues. They each left significant plays on the ice in Pittsburg and Buffalo, and their inefficient forechecking tanked their lines’ possession metrics.
It’s not a coincidence that high-motor forecheckers took their spots in Riley Tufte and Logan O’Connor, and I already lauded O’Connor’s fit on the third line. Both these guys have to be generating chances to contribute as they’re not good possession or defensive players, and that simply hasn’t been there consistently.
Bednar will not tolerate floaty play so they’ll need to fit his forechecking needs, or he’ll give LOC their minutes. F
Bowen Byram: Narrowly escaped an injury apparently and scored a nifty goal this week. B+
Andrew Cogliano: Strong PK play and some great possession metrics both games, but he has to stay out of the box if he’s gonna kill the penalties. C+
Sam Girard: One of the few bright spots in Buffalo, as he did not allow a single high danger chance while on the ice. Was then a bit ineffective at home. B
Ryan Johansen: The even strength production isn’t there, but I liked his line with Nichushkin and Tufte on Wednesday. There’s something there if Tufte can stick. C+
Jack Johnson: Was exactly him out there – some rough decisions with the puck led directly to chances against, but he defended well when not put in those positions. C
Artturi Lehkonen: A rare dud in Buffalo, where he just couldn’t seem to connect on a pass. Loved the patient finish on his goal the following game. B
Kurtis MacDermid: In limited minutes, the Avs actually rocked with him out there.Racked up 100% of the high danger chances with a whopping 2. B
Josh Manson: Was actually great against the Blues, despite being hung out to dry regularly by JJ. That built on a decent game individually in Buffalo. B+
Valeri Nichushkin: Production is down this year without PP1 time, but he’s carrying a struggling second line to decent possession metrics. A-
Logan O’Connor: Love his fit with Wood and Colton. Logan O’Colton-Wood should be a thing. B
Fredrik Olofsson: He’s proving every game that he’s a fantastic penalty killer who doesn’t bring much else, though it regularly feels like he and Cogliano are close to making offense happen. C+
Devon Toews: Quiet week from Toews, I barely noticed him either game. B-
Miles Wood: Fantastic pass to spring Colton’s goal. His board work isn’t high end-he lost the puck a LOT, but he’s always in there mucking it up and the havoc he creates will pay off with a linemate who can dig the puck out and feed the slot or the point. Maybe we call them Miles O’Colton? The MOC Line? B+
TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK
I actually liked most of their game in Buffalo despite the shutout – they needed to generate more chances and limit the turnovers, but the overall possession play was there and and most nights they’d connect on more of the chances they did muster.
Those turnovers continued against the Blues early in the first period, but St. Louis couldn’t beat Prosvetov and once Ross Colton finally broke the two game shutout streak the Avalanche never looked back on their way to a relatively easy win at home. B