clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Weekly Grades: Goalie Frustration Edition

The Avs went 2-2 on the road this week, but were they any good?

NHL: JAN 15 Avalanche at Canadiens

We’re back with the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card!

This week Colorado was on the road in Canada and Boston, and split the trip 2-2 up to this point, with comeback wins over Toronto and Ottawa and failed comeback bids against Montreal and Boston. But were they any good?

THE GAMES

Saturday @ Toronto: 5-3 W

Monday @ Montreal: 4-3 L

Tuesday @ Ottawa: 7-4 W

Thursday @ Boston: 5-2 L

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Alexandar Georgiev:

He’s an NHL All-Star! But he’s not the player of the week because of that, he’s the payer of the week because all four games this week were entirely about him, his struggles, and how much the team in front of him had in the tank to overcome them.

Georgiev didn’t dress for the Ottawa game but started the other three and gave up seven (!) first-period goals, setting the team on the back foot after the first down 3-0 in Toronto and 3-1 in Boston. He was better in Montreal in the first period, but in that game the Avalanche absolutely dominated play and he let in some softies to give up the lead:

They say goaltending is voodoo, and if that’s true right now somebody is poking holes all over their Georgiev doll because the man is leaky. Now, some of that is on the front office failing to bring in a capable backup or give Justus Annunen a chance to be one, because the Prosvetov experiment has not worked and Georgiev has had to play far too much – he’s on pace for 67 starts, a massive number for a guy who spent most of his career as a backup.

But only some. The rest is on Georgiev’s consistent inconsistency - he looks rattled out there at times and gives up goals in bunches, then locks things down once the Avs ramp up their play in front of him to try to mount comebacks. It’s been working more than it hasn’t, as evidenced by his league-leading 24 wins, but it’s not sustainable and he will be broken down into a shell of even this version of himself if Annunen or someone else can’t come in and provide quality starts.

Grade: F

STAR WATCH

Nathan MacKinnon: 2 Goals, 4 Assists

Six points in four games feels like a letdown from MacKinnon after his torrid December, but in reality, it’s wonderful production from a phenomenal player who makes his mark all over the ice. He’s streaking again, and it’s beautiful to watch.

That said, he was visibly out of gas in the Ottawa game (the second of a back-to-back) and late in the Boston game, and wasn’t able to will the Avs to a comeback like he had been consistently in previous weeks. That’s a lot to ask, but he’s atop the MVP conversation right now because he’s been up to the task – like this winner in Toronto:

Watch the hands work again:

And look what happens when teams get caught watching:

Yeah, he’s incredible, and even in a relatively down week where he isn’t magical every night, he puts up 6 points and highlights like that. On top of that, his underlying statistics were dominant even in the losses – against Boston, MacK was on the ice for 10 total high-danger chances, and 8 were for the Avs. More like NatHART MacKinnon.

Grade: A+

Cale Makar: 1 Goal, 4 Assists

If not for Georgiev’s struggles in Montreal, we’d be hailing Cale for torching the Canadiens with a goal and two assists. He was a dominant force that game, looking like peak Cale from the cup run with excellent defensive metrics, highlight reel skating, and this:

He did struggle mightily in the Boston game, however, including this brutal turnover on the opening goal:

Really want a save from Georgiev there, but a safer play from Cale would have worked too.

Grade: B

Valeri Nichushkin:

Well, I bumped him up to the Star section and the added pressure proved to be too much. It’s my fault, I’m sorry Avs faithful and I’m sorry Val. He’s checked himself into the NHL Player Assistance Program.

As I said when Sam Girard sought help from the program earlier this year, anyone who recognizes they need help and is strong enough to seek it out gets an A from me. Get well and come back to us Nuke!

Grade: A

Mikko Rantanen: 3 Goals, 2 Assists

I really didn’t like his game in Boston. He was invisible and didn’t even have a sneaky assist like he normally does in games he appears to float through. I’m trying not to let this grade be overly impacted by recency bias though, because the Moose was freakin’ loose earlier in the week.

That’s some excellent Mikko right there – navigates through traffic, gets knocked down, pops up, and makes a subtle skill play to sneak a rebound through Martin Jones. But of course, this one is the most Mikko goal there could ever be:

I had you all watch Nate on this goal earlier and it should be in Cale’s section for that beauty of a pass, but I love a Mikko knee goal – it’s so smart, skillful, and surprisingly graceful from a big guy like him, and that combo epitomizes what makes Rantanen such a special player.

Grade: B+

MINDING THE NET

Justus Annunen: He got his first NHL start of the season following strong play for the AHL Eagles and did enough to win despite giving up four goals. That’s too many to earn an A, but he made some excellent saves down the stretch to keep the Avs comeback bid alive including this sequence:

Annunen needed to show something in this start to prove he’s a better option than Prosvetov, and he did – he was the backup in Boston and seems likely to get some more looks in the coming weeks. B+

ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL

Miles Wood: He missed the first two games of the week with an illness, and when he got back he GOT BACK. Two games, two goals, one assist, and a million vibes. Wood puts the work in and sets the tone for the team in largely the same way Logan O’Connor does, but with just a touch more skill and speed. The tying goal in Ottawa was an emphatic exclamation point on the comeback push:

He’s continuing to prove the contract he got wasn’t as crazy as people thought. A

DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON

Ivan Prosvetov

This isn’t fair to Prosvetov – he has potential and needs consistent AHL starts to reach it. I’m really using him to talk about the front office – their decision not to find a more capable backup earlier this season is the reason we’re seeing Georgiev struggle, and it’s very frustrating.

I’m unsure who the affordable backup they could have brought in sooner. There are question marks around every veteran backup, and sometimes guys we all assume are cooked get hot when called upon like Martin Jones in Toronto. It’s hard to predict.

But this hasn’t been working and if Georgiev isn’t fresh enough to play well in the playoffs we’ll spend the entire offseason second-guessing the choice not to upgrade on Prosvetov as soon as Bednar lost trust in him.

THE REST

Andrew Cogliano: Potted the game tying goal in the Toronto comeback!

He’s being asked to do more than be a fourth-line PK guy due to injuries up the lineup, and he’s handling it pretty well. B+

Ross Colton: Started strong filling in for Nichushkin on the top powerplay unit, though that group struggled later in the week.

Love seeing him reunited with the Logan O’Colton Wood line – they were a dominant force in the Boston game! B+

Jonathan Drouin: Was excellent against the Leafs but by the end of the week, he looked flat-out gassed against the Bruins, as pucks were just bouncing off his stick all night. It’s reasonable to wonder if the elevated minutes he’s getting on the top line are too much more than he’s been used to after a career bouncing between middle six and doghouse usage. B

Sam Girard: Was the primary play driver in the Ottawa comeback with three assists and a steady presence the rest of the week. Joel Armia made him look stupid here, though:

It happens, but you’d like it to not. A-

Jack Johnson: Really bad in Boston. Underlying stats were trash and this was just… blindness?

I get how he could not see Pasta from where he ended up after coming off the wall with Zacha, but I do not understand why he floated out so high to end up there instead of playing his position in the PK formation down lower where he’d absolutely have seen Pastrnak cutting and could have made the play.

His underlyings were also rough in Montreal, but they were ok in Ottawa and downright excellent in Toronto – the best among the defenseman. C-

Caleb Jones: He played two games at forward due to injuries and clearly didn’t fit there. Not his fault. C

Joel Kiviranta: He’s just over his head right now as a middle-six winger. He is sorely lacking NHL quality finishing skill and it’s exposed up the lineup. D

Kurtis MacDermid: There’s nothing new to say. He should not be playing. F

Sam Malinski: Had his ups and downs, with excellent nights in Toronto and Montreal and rough ones against the Sens and Bs. Oddly, his goal and two assists came in the latter two games when his underlying stats were pretty bad. B-

Josh Manson: Love his game when he’s not in the box. The high sticking penalty against Boston was somewhat bad luck but also a careless play he needs to tighten up. B

Logan O’Connor: He’s been surprisingly excellent playing second-line minutes, so much so that a goal and two assists were actually a down week for OC. B

Fredrik Olofsson: He can’t win faceoffs consistently, but managed to look decent centering lines featuring Jones, MacDermid, and rookie Jason Polin. C+

Jason Polin: Got his first NHL goal by preying on the weak!

Mads Sogaard is bad, but Polin is looking good – he’s showing he’s got the jam and smarts to stick as an NHL fourth-liner. A

Devon Toews: 2 goals, 2 assists, and Toewser continues to be a consistent shot-suppressing force who drives play the other way.

Love it. Love him. A

TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK

If the Avalanche could get a goalie to post a save percentage over .900 consistently, I don’t they’d ever lose a game again. They’re playing great hockey right now. The only game that Colorado wasn’t able to put up a dominant stretch of hockey was the Ottawa game, the second of a back-to-back, and because both teams played rookie goalies and Annunen was far better than Sogaard they still managed to win.

Look at these game charts:

The third period in Boston was bad, but that’s an excellent defensive team who knows how to lock it down with a lead. The second period was amazing and deserved better results. But the Leafs and Canadiens were crushed all night by this depleted version of the Avalanche lineup. Imagine what they can do healthy. B+