Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Colorado Avalanche Community!

Avs/Coyotes Series Grades: A lesson in patience

AJ Haefele Avatar
August 20, 2020

With the Avalanche wrapping up their series against with a win over the Arizona Coyotes, instead of game grades, I’m doing series grades as the Avs are on to Round 2.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – B

This was a solid series for Bellemare. The offense isn’t really there but that isn’t why they got him. He did his job well in providing energy on the fourth line and that line really helped drive play against Arizona when the stars were sitting. His play on the PK was great as the only time Arizona scored on the PP in the series was a goal that didn’t matter. This is what meeting expectations looks like.

Andre Burakovsky – A

And this is what exceeding expectations looks like. Burakovsky wasn’t the excellent sniper we’ve seen during the season where he was going bar-down and making goalies second guess their life choices. He was much more of a playmaker throughout but he scored the game-winning goal late in Game 2 and finished with five points in five games.

Matt Calvert – B+

Loved his play throughout the series. He found his footing more and more as the games went on. He was great on the PK and helped opened the floodgates in Game 4, which was when the series really ended.

Ian Cole – B

There were some questionable moments in Game 1 with the puck and then Ian Cole largely disappeared because Arizona couldn’t manage any kind of offense. There wasn’t much here for Cole to do. I imagine his importance will take an exponential leap from here on out.

J.T. Compher – B+

Loved Compher in this series. He was so solid, albeit unspectacular. There weren’t many huge moments for him but he looks really good out there. I’m all about this version of J.T. Compher moving forward. He’s going to play a huge role in what comes next.

Joonas Donskoi – A-

His underlying numbers weren’t very good despite being on a team that completely dominated but…so what? He scored big goals, including the one that felt like it ended the series in Game 4.

Samuel Girard – B-

It got a lot better as it went on for Girard but it had a rough start. The goal in Game 5 was great. Everything else was a work in progress. He really struggled to make anything happen offensively at even strength. He’s got a lot more to give and Colorado will need it.

Ryan Graves – C+

I have almost nothing to say about Graves. I only noticed him a few times throughout and in four games where the Avs dominated, his role was pretty minimal. Nothing bad but nothing good. As the physicality picks up, I expect we’ll see more from Graves.

Philipp Grubauer – A+

It’s tough for a goaltender to stay focused when he’s barely seeing any action but Grubauer managed to do it all four games. He wasn’t asked to do much because of the volume of shots thrown his way but he was up to the task. The numbers are ridiculous but this will likely go down as the easiest series of his life.

Erik Johnson – A-

Loved his game. It looked like old-school EJ. Some games were better than others but he was an impact player for them and that wasn’t always true during the season. If he’s able to continue this fountain of youth routine, it simply enhances how scary good this club can be.

Tyson Jost – B-

“Playoff Jost” has looked a whole lot like “Regular Season Jost” so far. He had one point in the series (a goal in the Game 3 loss) but the underlying numbers were very good during the competitive portions of the series. He looked really good next to Compher but they didn’t produce a lot. He played quite well, however.

Nazem Kadri – S

For any gamers out there, you’ll recognize the “S” ranking. I very rarely give it out but come on. Nazem Kadri almost put Arizona away by himself in Games 4 and 5. He was spectacular and has lived up to every expectation imaginable. The guy was incredible.

Gabriel Landeskog – A-

Another guy whose series was a slow burn, Landeskog found his legs more and more and eventually looked like what we’ve all come to expect by the end. His elevation back to MacKinnon’s line is interesting and puts a ton of pressure on Burakovsky and Kadri to play that secondary scoring role but they didn’t have too much trouble living up to it against Arizona. Landeskog remains the linchpin of the entire forward corps and where he lines up drastically changes the entire dynamic.

Nathan MacKinnon – A+

Where are Leon Draisaitl and Artemi Panarin? I understand the Hart Trophy is a regular season award and there’s an MVP for the postseason. I get it. But for all the people who didn’t vote MacKinnon for Hart, they can put this series in their pipe and smoke it. Congrats on being wrong. The Conn Smythe hunt is officially underway for the guy who has scored in every game since play resumed. 10 points in a five-game series? That’ll do.

Cale Makar – B

His underlying numbers caused my eyes to bug out live on the podcast after Game 4. He certainly wasn’t looking like the same caliber of superstar that he did so frequently throughout the season and then he had a spectacular Game 4. There’s a totally different level for him to get to.

Valeri Nichushkin – C-

I’m not going to give anyone a “bad grade” for this series but Nichushkin was as close as it got to a guy who had a bad series. His complete lack of finish offensively forced the Avs to rearrange their lineup because he could not continue to weigh down the Kadri line. While Kadri did most of his damage on the power play, everything about his play offensively improved when Nichushkin got moved off that line. Major offensive struggles throughout for Nichushkin despite playing his usual strong defensive game.

Matt Nieto – B+

Loved his game, loved his work ethic, loved his impact when the games were still competitive. He is reliably solid and his goal to break through in Game 4 really set the tone for the beatdowns in Games 4 and 5.

Mikko Rantanen – C+

This was the toughest grade to give. The eyes said he badly struggled in all facets. Then you look and see he finished with six points in five games. Oh to be that successful while still struggling, right? Of all the Avs, nobody has more room for improvement in Round 2 than Mikko Rantanen.

Nikita Zadorov – A-

This is might be an aggressively high grade for Zadorov but I really did love his play throughout the five games. He was physical while staying disciplined, he was effective throughout, and he didn’t have any of those major classic Zadorov turnovers that leave you so frustrated and leads to him getting benched. Just good, hard, mean, consistent hockey and he even got a fancy deflection goal in Game 5 to boot.

Note: No series grades for Namestnikov or Francouz as they each only really played one game (Namestnikov only played five minutes in his second game, the one in which he suffered the injury).


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?