We’re back with the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card!
This week Colorado lost a shootout, got rocked on a back-to-back, beat the Ducks, and beat themselves. But were they any good?
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Nathan MacKinnon: 2 Goals, 5 Assists
Nathan MacKinnon flat-out dominated when he was on the ice the last two games of the week, seemingly unshackled when Mikko Rantanen was removed from his line. He was undeniably the best player on the ice in both games and scored or assisted on all five Avalanche goals.
He also picked up assists in the first two games, including the 500th of his career, and looked great in Anaheim. Against the Kings he dug in and fought through the exhaustion of playing a back-to-back the night after skating nearly 30 minutes, and like the rest of the team just ran out of gas in the third period. The only knock I have on Nate’s game is the power play – it hasn’t scored in a while and hasn’t looked good in even longer, and while most of the blame for that has to fall on the coaching staff not finding a way to turn a MacKinnon – Cale Makar – Rantanen unit into a success, some does fall on the shoulders of the guy shooting the puck most often.
Cale Makar: 0 Points
He missed two games, the last couple minutes, and overtime of a third, so there is some justification to putting up a donut on the week, but it’s still very disappointing. He looked like he was playing hurt in the two games he did suit up for and particularly looked tentative last night against the Jets. He always has a rough night in his first game back from injury, so based on his history Cale should be able to be himself tomorrow night.
MINDING THE NET
None of the losing is on Georgiev, but this goal certainly is:
That replay shows some rough play from the Avs in front of him and you can argue that the Kyle Connor shot never should have happened, but it did and Georgiev saw it, was ready for it, and was off his angle and missed it. That’s pretty poor work on his part. Overall for the week though, Georgiev was quite good.
I like Prosvetov’s potential. He’s big and quick and competitive even on the pucks that get by him. His rebound control and puck tracking are just not NHL quality right now, and both of those things are what a young goalie drills on in the AHL. Statistically, his game in Anaheim grades out pretty well – a .919 SV% on 37 shots against while giving up three goals despite the Ducks generating 3.64 expected goals – but he failed the eye test pretty hard with this one:
Ponda Heating Up - Ducks Tie It ✅— Anaheim Sports (@AnaheimSports1) December 3, 2023
Alex Killorn (2)
Leo Carlsson (5)
Pavel Mintyukov (12)
Against: Ivan Prosvetov
Colorado Avalanche 3 - Anaheim Ducks 3 2nd
Credit: Ballys pic.twitter.com/ntWWeplZ2Q
That’s kind of the Prosvetov experience in general because he is so talented – he’s going to make incredible saves and keep games close, but he’s also going to create some of the high-danger chances he’s making those saves on with rebounds and whiff when he has to track through a little traffic. He needs a little more seasoning to be an NHL regular.
ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL
Logan O’Connor :
He just grinds and grinds his way up this lineup. LOC skated with MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin versus the Ducks and Jets and looked good on Nate’s wing, digging pucks out for him and even finishing a goal-mouth feed!
He continues to elevate whatever line he’s on with his work ethic and hockey smarts. He’s the model of what a guy who isn’t blessed with high-end skill can be in the NHL, and it’s a joy to watch every night. A
DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON
Mikko Rantanen: 2 Assists
There are stretches every season where Mikko Rantanen looks a little unengaged, and we’re in the middle of one right now. Is he pacing himself for the playoff push? Nursing an injury? Distracted by personal or world events? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. If he can’t bring his A game for whatever reason, Rantanen needs to at least bring his best effort to the rink every night and that does not appear to be happening.
He’s an anchor right now, pulling whatever line he’s on to depths of horrible underlying statistics. You could argue that reuniting him with MacKinnon against the Jets did more to prevent an Avs comeback than Connor Hellebuyck.
Bowen Byram: The penalties stopped! Being forced into more minutes with Sam Girard’s and Makar’s absence this week has seemed to settle Bo down a bit – he looks great out there and while there are of course still mistakes, you love his shot going in twice in Anaheim B+
Andrew Cogliano: Missed a game with injury but otherwise no complaints. B
Ross Colton: He failed to find chemistry with Rantanen in two games centering him, but how could he with Mikko playing like a ghost? Wasn’t particularly impactful in his PP1 minutes either though. B-
Jonathan Drouin: He’s working his tail off out there forechecking and backchecking, and looked good on MacKinnon’s wing. But then:
That did not look good. I get the intention, but you have to make a higher percentage choice with the net empty. 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: I don’t even see him anymore. D
Jack Johnson: Stepped up with Cale out and Byram in the room against the Ducks, skating over 21 minutes and playing quite well during them. His underlying stats topped the defense that night but weren’t strong in the other games. B
Caleb Jones: I liked him all week, but understood the healthy scratch in favor of Sam Malinski against the Jets. B
Joel Kiviranta: Nifty goal from Kivi!
And good PK work too. B
Kurtis MacDermid: OK let’s talk about it. This goal was sick:
Hell yeah Dermy. But what the hell are you thinking here man?!?:
macdermid and olofsson when i catch you… pic.twitter.com/QztxrU9hNw— aly (@heartz4aly) December 6, 2023
Olofsson is going off for tripping, and he decides to instigate a scrum by going after young star Leo Carlsson and put the team down two men while trying to defend a lead? Stupid!
Now, it is insane that the ref decided to put the Avs in a 5-on-3 situation for such a minor infraction – the kind of scrum that happens all the time every night in the NHL. But that doesn’t make it any less stupid for MacDermid to give the ref a chance to make that call.
It’s no wonder he only got two minutes of ice time against the Jets. Of course, that begs the question, why dress him at all when Caleb Jones is playing so well? D+
Sam Malinski: Earned a ton of ice time with his strong play in Makar’s absence, to the point that he got the nod over Jones last night. Then this happened:
Josh Morrissey pushes the Jets lead to 2! pic.twitter.com/DdTZczEPqZ— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 8, 2023
You get what he’s trying to do - box out the man in front - but you also get why Georgiev was pissed off - by getting lost in the box-out attempt, Malinski became the perfect screen for Morrissey. B+
Josh Manson: He was a monster on the top pair while Cale was out and seems to have found his A-game again after a brutal series of injuries last year. A
Valeri Nichushkin: Out sick the last two games, he was sorely missed. Didn’t put up any points in the first two though. C+
Fredrik Olofsson: The penalties are becoming a problem, and he hasn’t been otherwise impactful of late. C-
Tomas Tatar: What can you say at this point? He’s trying, but pucks will not go in and if he’s not putting up points he’s not very useful. C-
Devon Toews: This bonehead play will not make me overlook his otherwise strong week:
Literally every other choice would have been fine there, but that’s the one he made!? Ok, I changed my mind – I’m ignoring the rest of the week. That play is the reason the Jets game went from a strong first period to a frustrating loss — you cannot make mistakes like that in the final seconds of a period. C-
Miles Wood: Just doesn’t have the skill to be a top-six guy, but you gotta love the effort. And I think he might not be capable of bleeding because somehow his nose didn’t even drip once when Brenden Dillon tried to break it off with his stick. (Sorry I couldn’t find a video of it). Superhuman stuff. B
TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK
It’s the self-inflicted wounds for me. I’ll write off the Kings' loss as a scheduling problem since LA got three nights of rest while the Avs played two games leading into it, but the loss in Anaheim was derailed by Ivan Prosvetov, the redemptive win against the Ducks at home was nearly wrecked by Kurtis MacDermid, and Devon Toews, Alexandar Georgiev, and Jonathan Drouin all had mental lapses that killed that Jets game.
Mistakes happen and usually, the Avs have enough firepower at the top of the lineup to overcome them, but this week Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar were essentially absent, the should be second line tandem of Ryan Johansen and Tomas Tatar continued to be ghosts out there, and the powerplay was a stagnant, stinky pile of garbage every chance it got.
But despite all that, the team had strong possession numbers in every game except the third period against LA. They’re the ones holding opponents at gunpoint right now – the problem is, they keep finding ways to shoot themselves in the foot. C-