We’re back with the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card!
This week Colorado couldn’t solve Philadelphia, came back in the third to extinguish the Flames, and ran a Mack truck through the Buffalo Sabres. But were they any good?
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Mikko Rantanen: 2 Goals, 4 Assists
The Moose decided this week was time to finally get loose after 11 goalless games – it just took him one game to figure out how to unlock his cage. Against the Flyers, Mikko looked poised to breakout but couldn’t quite turn it up. Then he got a little extra salt poured in his wounds and got absolutely turnt!
If that’s what it took to spring Mikko to consecutive three-point nights, great. Hopefully, he stays awake the rest of the season because when he’s making plays, the team makes wins.
Nathan MacKinnon: 2 Goals, 3 Assists
Thirteen straight games with a point for Nathan MacKinnon, and he’s looking great doing it. He even popped off for a big hit against the Sabres.
Nate MacKinnon levels Jeff Skinner pic.twitter.com/uP9YN1dlWa— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 14, 2023
You don’t see a lot of that from Nate, but when he’s laying the body you know he’s engaged all over the ice. More impressive than the hit? This pass:
And this goal:
The game winning goal started with Cale Makar, shameful that he couldn't get an assist for it.— Avalanche Forever (@citchmook) December 12, 2023
Makar ➡️ Rantanen ➡️ Nichushkin ➡️ MacKinnon ➡️ back of the net. Every single player made a smart decision and it lead to victory. pic.twitter.com/hcMvgVMRG5
Just casually blew by everyone and won the game. He’s a human highlight reel right now.
Cale Makar: 1 Goal, 2 Assists
Cale’s clearly playing hurt, as whatever caused him to miss games this week is likely why he went to the room for part of the first period against Buffalo. But when he’s in, he’s electric. I couldn’t find a good replay of his defensive stick work against the Sabres, but multiple times guys were coming in one-on-one with him and he made it look so easy to take their cookies and turn the play up the ice.
No cookie jar is high enough to keep Makar from racking up the steals. Takeaways aren’t a stat I often cite because they’re not tracked consistently, but in that Sabres game Cale was credited with five and no one else got more than one. He’s a beast.
MINDING THE NET
I was rough on him last week, and he looked outright bad against the Flyers, but when called upon to fill in against Calgary he shut the door and gave the team a chance to come back and win. He was shaky against the Sabres, giving up huge rebounds and scrambling around his crease quite a bit, but giving up only a goal in a win is always a good thing. C+
ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL
The first goal of his career was a beauty!
He also tallied an assist against the Sabres and another in the comeback against Calgary, so you know he’s fitting in well offensively. Defensively, his metrics have been improving game by game despite some rookie miscues. A
DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON
Tough go for Georgiev against the Flames - giving up five goals on 18 shots is never good, and while there were certainly breakdowns in front of him none of them were truly unstoppable shots. He was pulled and given the next game off.
I’m not going to pile on here, he’s a better goalie than that showing and he’ll prove it next time out. But when you only get one game in a week and it’s terrible, you land here. D
Bowen Byram: Was a dominant force defensively in the Sabres win, and led the team in ice time doing it. B+
Andrew Cogliano: Did his thing! Great setup on Ben Meyers's first goal of the year. B
Ross Colton: His opportunistic goal against the Flames sparked the third-period comeback, and his defensive work helped shut down the Sabres.
And his assist on Tomas Tatar’s goal was a thing of beauty. B+
Jonathan Drouin: Just one assist on the week, but his motor is looking good right now. C+
Sam Girard: G checked himself into the player’s assistance program, and in my opinion asking for the help you need always gets an A.
Ryan Johansen: Responded well to his fourth-line demotion with an assist and a strong overall game against the Flyers, then disappeared again. C
Jack Johnson: The metrics were rough but he got the job done for the most part. B-
Joel Kiviranta: Was one of the better forwards in metrics against Philadelphia, then missed the rest of the week with an illness. C+
Kurtis MacDermid: Three ineffective minutes against the Flyers. C
Josh Manson: You have to love Manson’s game right now – he’s using his body to make plays not just lay hits, and put up a goal and two assists. A-
Ben Meyers: First game back in an Avs sweater he played hard and scored a fantastic goal:
Followed that up with another hard-working effort, but he needs to clean up his defensive zone reads to stick at this level. A-
Valeri Nichushkin: The TNT broadcast couldn’t stop talking about how fast Val was playing against the Sabres, and boy were they right – he popped off the screen every shift.
That’s a dirty work goal that capped off a first-period stretch where Nichushkin was a dominant force. He also tallied two assists against the Flames. A
Logan O’Connor: The Logan O’Colton Wood line is back and it rocks. They may not rack up stats but they set the tone every shift. B+
Fredrik Olofsson: Missed the Flyers game but returned strong with assists in both wins B+
Tomas Tatar: Finally put a puck in the net for the first time this season! He may not have done much else but he’s getting an A for booting that monkey off his back.
Devon Toews: When he plays mistake-free hockey, the Avalanche tend to win. Looked great all week. B+
Miles Wood: Love the finish on his one goal this week, and his defensive work continues to be a factor. B+
TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK
2-1 looks solid on paper, though that 1 was quite disappointing. The Flyers should be a beatable opponent. Here’s the rub – the goaltending was bad this week. Really bad. Philly lit up Prosvetov despite the Avs playing well in front of him, as the game chart shows:
Then the next night, the same thing with Georgiev – both guys routinely failed to come up with routine saves for the first three periods of the week.
But things changed when Bednar pulled Georgiev – Prosvetov stepped up and the team rallied behind him to come back and beat the Flames, then rode that high to totally dominate the Sabres in the first period and weather the storm of their attempted second-period comeback.
That’s who Colorado should be night in and night out, and when their goalie pulls his weight it’s who they are. Georgiev needs to prove the Calgary game was a fluke – and I for one am optimistic he will prove it quickly. B+