We’re back with the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card!
Every game I’ll make note of a couple of standout players and moments give letter grades to the rest of the roster, then average those grades out for the week to determine the final report card.
I have a couple of superlatives for players to win and those grades will get more in-depth notes, then the rest of the roster will get brief thoughts. Feel free to pitch other categories if you think something is missing!
Two games, two wins over Western Conference rivals. Do you remember them? They were so long ago!
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
J.T. Compher: The Avs simply do not come back to beat the Oilers without JT Compher. His screen on the first goal was so perfect the puck went in off his hip, and his three assists included the game-winner and a great shot for a tip-off a set play to tie the game at five and send it to OT.
It doesn’t look like much here, but J.T. walked the blueline and managed to get that shot through to Lehkonen’s stick perfectly. Hopefully, Cale can come back soon, but if not maybe throw J.T. in his power play spot…
This great game followed up a dominant performance from his line that netted him two assists against the Blues, meaning JT Compher put up a goal and five assists in two games. That’s really good. No notes. A+
A goal and four assists in two games earning the second star of the week? Not too shabby.
This is more bad goaltending by Jack Campbell than it is great work from Nate, but clearly, it just takes a little opening for MacKinnon to snap one home. Campbell is just slightly off his angle and that exposes the top corner for Nate to snipe, and snipe he did.
The Avs actually lost the underlying play battle with MacKinnon on the ice against Edmonton, but on the second half of a back-to-back that’ll happen.
Came back against St Louis and left again after head contact. Then he re-entered the game and Adrian Hernandez doesn’t think that was good – how his concussions were handled sparked debate around the hockey world this week. He won’t play this weekend but hopefully can return soon.
He was fine in the short time he played.
Managed a goal in each game, and crushed the underlying stats against St Louis. His line with Evan Rodrigues and JT Compher absolutely dominated puck possession and put up 76 percent expected goals for, leading the team by a mile.
They then got totally caved in by Edmonton and broken up as a line, mostly because Mikko was struggling out there. 30 percent Corsi For in regulation is not pretty, but he played almost all of overtime and then did this:
Extra credit for the extra-time winner!
MINDING THE NET
Gave up five goals to Edmonton but got the W in overtime nonetheless. It wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t bad either – the surprisingly porous defense in front of him was to blame for those goals and he shut the door in OT to allow the completion of the comeback.
Should have had a shutout in St Louis! The too many men goal counted though and was a minor ding on an otherwise stellar night from the kid. As Coach Bednar put it, “He looked sharp. He looks good. Looks like he’s made a lot of progress.”
ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL
Bowen Byram: Absolutely dominated the Blues, leading the team with 87 percent expected goals for while scoring twice, on a killer slapshot and this roofer while leading the rush:
You gotta love that. Bo struggled a bit against Edmonton but still managed to chip in an assist during the comeback push. A-
DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON
Evan Rodrigues: Really strong play in St Louis but hopped back on the struggle bus before the Oilers game. He’s been unable to contribute points lately, and worse he’s been turning pucks over and defending poorly too.
These two games were actually better than last week, but I didn’t have anyone else to be mad at. C-
Andrew Cogliano: Oddly, his underlyings were bad in St Louis and good against the Oilers. Great penalty kill work both nights. C+
Andreas Englund: The underlying statistics don’t paint a pretty picture because he just doesn’t create much, but defensively he was really solid. If he can take shifts against Connor McDavid and keep him off the scoresheet, he can do anything. B
Sam Girard: Two assists in both games, plus some great plays against McDavid in overtime.
Underlying stats were just middle of the pack, but four assists is four assists. B+
Artturi Lehkonen: Goal, assist, and hard-nosed work on both ends of the ice. Surprisingly poor underlying stats. B-
Kurtis MacDermid: Limited minutes, limited impact. No big mistakes! C+
Dennis Malgin: Barely saw the ice, and wasn’t able to follow up on last week’s performance. C
Josh Manson: Got the day off in St. Louis as he’s still working his way back into full form following his extended injury absence, then used his fresh legs to put up an assist and eat heavy minutes against Leon Draisaitl. Colorado outscored Edmonton 4-2 with Manson on the ice. A-
Alex Newhook: Strong underlyings in both games, and got moved up the lineup against the Oilers. Wasn’t able to turn that into points though. C+
Valeri Nichushkin: His goal against Edmonton was a pass attempt that went in off a skate, but it still counts! The St Louis powerplay tally was a little greasier:
Happy to see him rewarded for making the right play in both games, however, they got in the net. A
Matt Nieto: Really didn’t notice him. C
Logan O’Connor: This goal is so stupid.
I don’t know how Jack Campbell let this happen, but you gotta love LOC’s effort – he could have easily stayed on the other side of the net assuming that puck was covered. B+
Devon Toews: He’s eating up really tough minutes right now and while he isn’t looking good statistically, he is keeping pucks out of his net - including this game-saving block:
He’s so steady. I just wish he was more creative on the powerplay. B+
Two goals on four tries in St Louis is good! Zero on four against Edmonton is not. But that makes the total 25 percent on the week, which is right around the league average.
Both the first and second units put a puck in the net, with Val Nichushkin burying a rebound and Bo Byram decimating a puck:
I really like the creativity from Newhook in setting all this up with his drive from the wall to the net and the little dish to Compher. I love when powerplays generate chances from places other than out high.
I am struggling to feel too enthusiastic about any of this though, as when playing a goalie who isn’t Jordan Binnington the powerplay still struggled – and that goalie was Jack Campbell, who is also bad.
The top unit is still playing its simple pass the puck around up high til MacKinnon can wind up a one-timer style that has been so ineffective, and with Toews in Makar’s place, nothing ever surprised Campbell. This team should be so much more dangerous on the man advantage.
In short: Frustrating Process + Almost Good Results = C+
Another shutout week for the PK! They’re looking really good, and I want to use this space to compliment the team for taking only one penalty against Edmonton. The best way to stop your PK from getting scored on is to simply stay out of the box, and against the Oilers’ notoriously great powerplay that is even more true. Good job!
In short: Great Process + Great Results = A+
All these back-to-backs make it tough to stay strong at even strength, but Colorado mostly did. In the first game, they flat-out dominated St Louis for two periods, then let the Blues play around with the puck a bit once the final score seemed settled.
That first period in particular was fantastic, and the second and beginning of the third were good enough to keep the lead. The next night, not so much.
You can see the team getting tired as the game wore on directly on this graph, but keeping things close through two periods on the second half of a back-to-back is exactly what teams have to do. And taking advantage of Jack Campbell to come back and win makes it all better.
In short: Good Process + Great Results = A-
CLIP OF THE WEEK: BOKKO BYRAMTANEN
Superstition is weird.
TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK
Dominating St Louis, then coming back to beat Edmonton despite having dead back-to-back game legs?? What a great way to rack up standings points. I’ll forgive everything I complained about for that — A