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Weekly Grades: Extended Vacation Edition

The Avs piled up the Ls this week. But were they actually good? (Hint: no)

Colorado Avalanche v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

We’re back from the All-Star Break with the Colorado Avalanche weekly report card!

This week Colorado couldn’t solve Jonathan Quick and the New York Rangers, failed a comeback bid in New Jersey, and fell to the Carolina Hurricanes. But were they any good?

THE GAMES

Monday @ NYR: 2-1 OTL
Tuesday @ New Jersey: 4-3 L
Thursday @ Caroline: 5-3 L

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Sam Girard: This was silly:

But also a good reward for one of the only Avs who played a full 60 that night. Also scored in New Jersey, and was very strong against the Rangers.

When Girard defends like this and finds his way into the offense, he’s one of the best second-pairing defensemen in the league – and coupled with a resurgent Josh Manson the Avs have an elite middle pair. A+

STAR WATCH

Nathan MacKinnon: 1 Goal

Mack had the magic in New York, but only for one goal. The Rangers defended really well, and unfortunately so did the Devils and Hurricanes. He also had some pucks just not cooperate with him on one-timers. Offensively, a down week but not a bad one in terms of shot volume and chances.

Defensively, Nate was like the rest of the team – just not quite dialed in after the break. This was lackadaisical work from him compounded by downright lacking work from Justus Annunen:

I also want to point out his body language after that goes in. Combined with smashing his stick after the game, I think it’s fair to say Nate is frustrated right now – with himself, but also perhaps with his inconsistent goaltenders.

Grade: C+

Cale Makar: 1 Goal, 1 Assist

Converted this beautiful gift from Artturi Lehkonen!

But otherwise, was … kind of a liability defensively? Racked up turnovers? Did Taylor replace Cale this weekend so he could extend his vacation? This was not the No. 8 we’ve come to expect.

Grade: C-

MINDING THE NET

Justus Annunen:

He’s just not comfortable at the NHL level yet. You could see how good he can be in the second period against the Devils, and it’s hard to blame Justus on the first two goals against him in just his sixth NHL start. But the third goal was caused purely by Annunen’s shakiness in handling rebounds and a lack of feel for the puck that can come from nerves, and the fourth goal you can chalk up to a combination of late recognition of the pass from Hischier to Marino and poor positioning as he had drifted over beyond the left post. C-

Alexandar Georgiev:

He looked like a full Vezina candidate against the Rangers, coming off his All-Star Skills Top Goalie honors (and payout) against his former team, then looked a lot like Annunen against the Hurricanes giving up a Natural hattrick to Martin Necas – who scored three goals on the Canes first four shots of the game.

That’s a hole that’s nearly impossible to dig out of, and the team in front of him looked disinterested in bailing him out. That part is not really his fault, but these slow starts have become the norm for Fourgiev and they can only be disheartening to his team. D

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

ROLE PLAYER HONOR ROLL

Zach Parise:

The first goal in an Avs sweater!

Not only that, he looked like a fit in the lineup, got some time on both special teams, and helped Ryan Johansen not put up his typically atrocious underlying statistics. Welcome to the team No. 9! A

DUNCE CAP IN MY DOGHOUSE DUNGEON

Mikko Rantanen: 1 Goal

A goal’s a goal, and I’ll show it to you:

Glad he was awake enough to bury that, but Mikko Rantanen looked asleep for two and a half games this week. He got into it with K’Andre Miller in the Rangers game and got butthurt, then disappeared.

That was bizarre, and I don’t know how the Rangers fan who posted the clip thinks any of what he said - terrible take. But Mikko’s disappearing act was worse - he’s been known to take it easy at times in the regular season, but that’s usually overblown. Not this week.

Grade: D

THE REST

Bowen Byram: He’s not being aggressive on offense or defense, and it’s hurting the team. C+

Andrew Cogliano: Picked up an assist in the ‘Canes game, and should have had a net-front goal but couldn’t quite find the puck. B-

Ross Colton: The penalty he picked up for berating a ref after the third New Jersey goal is just stupid – on his part and the ref’s, frankly. But Colton is too important to this team to be in the box for that kind of thing. He also needs to put up some points, but bageled this week. C-

Jonathan Drouin: Was probably Colorado’s best forward in the Devils game, but couldn’t follow that up on the second line in Carolina. B

Ryan Johansen: STELLAR underlying statistics in the Rangers game. Like truly unbelievably good – led the team in every stat I look at. Was middle of the pack the rest of the week - which is above average for him - and didn’t score or impress with the eye test. C+

Jack Johnson: Sat out the Devils game to give Malinski some ice time, and was fine in the minutes he played. B-

Joel Kiviranta: I got heated when he was called for high-sticking Michael Bunting because Bunting grabbed his stick, pulled it toward his own face, and threw his head back. The call was trash, Bunting is garbage, and Kiviranta overall for the week was not terrible. C

Kurtis MacDermid: Didn’t play!!! A+

Josh Manson: His play maintained the strong level he was at before the break, though he only put up one assist. A-

Sam Malinski: Had a rough night against the Devils. Going from the AHL back to NHL speed is challenging but we had higher expectations for him. C-

Logan O’Connor: Love the assist on Parise’s goal, and his PK work continues to be elite. Is playing too high in the lineup as he just can’t be a consistent offensive threat. B+

Fredrik Olofsson: I expected him to pop more with better linemates, but he, Kivi and Cogs haven’t found much chemistry yet. C-

Devon Toews: A rare offensive zone penalty and two subpar games offset a very impressive outing in New York City. B-

Miles Wood: Rang one off the crossbar against the ‘Canes that would have salvaged an otherwise mediocre week. He was bumped down to Johansen’s wing to make room for Lehky in the top six and needs to find chemistry with Parise if that line is going to work. C+

TEAM GRADE FOR THE WEEK

Brutal. The Rangers game was really fun to watch and was not a bad loss – they even got a loser point out of it — but it started a terrible trend we have to talk about: the powerplay went 0-12 this week. Three were cut short by penalties on Colorado but still twelve is still twelve!

That’s unacceptable from any team, but especially one with Nate, Mikko, and Cale on the ice at the same time. All three teams this week played aggressively on the PK, denying any time or space to the Avs rather than trying to take away passing lanes. With the skill Colorado has, they should be able to pass out of those situations but they just could not.

It’s a very serious problem if teams have a way to stifle this powerplay, as Colorado doesn’t have consistent enough depth scoring to overcome its top guys getting bottled up. They need points from the top powerplay unit AND the top line every game to win, especially if Georgiev can’t be who he was against New York consistently without that extra motivation of facing his old team.

This week was bad; it’ll be even worse if they don’t learn from it quickly. D