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Avs disconnected in Game 1 loss to Seattle Kraken

Meghan Angley Avatar
April 19, 2023

The NHL said, “Pencils down,” and another regular season came to an end. The real test has yet to come, and it started tonight for the Colorado Avalanche.

After battling it out for the top of the Central Division, the Avs secured home ice through the first round and solidified their round one opponent: the Seattle Kraken.

Colorado experienced the Kraken three times this year, each time on a back-to-back with two of their contests coming about on the second leg. The Avs went 1-1-1 and had to navigate a lineup without Cale Makar, Bo Byram, Josh Manson, and Devon Toews at points.

Tonight, the Avs had a chance to deliver the home crowd of Ball Arena a victory, and they’d have the help of the trusted six to get there. Returning to the lineup was Cale Makar and Josh Manson. They’d have the benefit of a complete D-corps for the first time in months.

Getting the start in net for Game 1 was Alexandar Georgiev. Andrew Cogliano, who sustained an upper-body injury in the Winnipeg Jets game on April 13th, missed morning skate and did not dress tonight. Jared Bednar described it as a maintenance day.

Jack Johnson was also ruled out at the last minute with a lower-body injury, so Erik Johnson would slot in on the third pairing.

Making their Stanley Cup Playoffs debut were Denis Malgin and Ben Meyers. 

First Period

Seattle came out flying. They held Colorado to zero shots on net in the opening minutes. Three minutes into its start, Georgiev played the puck to Devon Toews from behind the net. Toews meant to clear, but accidentally turned the puck over to Eeli Tolvanen. Tolvanen’s initial shot was stopped, but he cleaned up his own rebound to put the Kraken up early.

Halfway through the period, a failed pinch lead to a rush opportunity for Seattle, and Brandon Tanev skated in and tried to get the wrist shot off. Josh Manson tried to engage and instead hooked Tanev, taking a penalty in the process.

The subsequent penalty kill might have been the most cohesive the Avs looked yet. It was effective and held Seattle to zero shots on net.

The kill provided momentum. On the next shift in the offensive zone, Colorado won the draw. Nathan MacKinnon ripped a shot from the left circle to Mikko Rantanen at the right post, and it pinged off Rantanen and in.

With three minutes left to go, Josh Manson took his second penalty of the game. It was a tough look for the returning player, but a reminder of the way Manson likes to play: walking on a knife’s edge of punishing physicality.

Like the first kill, it was such an effective effort and the team seemed to derive energy from it. Seattle managed to get two shots on net through, but J.T. Compher made sure to occupy time in the offensive zone to apply pressure.

The period closed tied at 1-1.The Kraken led the shots battle 13-8.

Second Period

On their first shot of the second period, Jaden Schwartz passed across the slot to Alex Wennberg and Wennberg wristed it in from the right circle to make it 2-1 Seattle.

Shortly after, Lars Eller drew a high-sticking penalty and the Avs received their first powerplay of the game.

They created three chances on net and several additional attempts, but couldn’t convert. The Avs struggled to manage the puck at times, but Seattle deserved rightful credit.

The Kraken were doing a skilled job of tying up shooting lanes, eliminating seams, and dishing hits to make Colorado’s job harder to do.

As a result, the Avs had clear struggles getting passes tape-to-tape and it limited their puck touches.

Near the midway point, Artturi Lehkonen was taken down on a hard drive to the net and the Avs earned another powerplay chance. The Kraken did a nice job of limiting their chances and held on to their one-goal lead.

Colorado’s intent was pure. They were still very much engaged and creating more chances than they did from the first period, but there was work to do.

Third Period

In a continuing trend, the Avs allowed another goal within the first five minutes of the period. This time, a failed retrieval behind the net gave the puck to Alex Wennberg. Wennberg set Morgan Geekie up in the slot, and Geekie one-timed it past the top of Georgiev’s glove.

At 15:59, Artturi Lehkonen went to the box for slashing. It was another great kill, Devon Toews even created a shot against.

This was one of Colorado’s best periods. They outshot Seattle 14-5 and spent more significant time in their end with six dangerous chances, but it wouldn’t be enough.

The Avs fell 3-1 in Game 1.

Observations

Disconnected becomes disappointing: In the opening minutes, Seattle was clearly the energized team from the drop of the puck. Colorado’s play was not worrisome to start, but perhaps the more appropriate word would be disconnected. After allowing the first goal against on a bad giveaway, it’d be easy to panic if you were new to Avalanche hockey.

The response from the Avs that encouraged me upfront was not just the response in a tying goal in the first, but the momentum captured from the penalty kills and the reciprocal physicality from both teams.

Into the second, Colorado’s intentions remained pure. I didn’t see them skrimping on checks or bailing on plays – they just lacked cohesion.

Unfortunately for the Avs, pure intentions or not, better execution is the difference maker. Seattle was better prepared.

The Kraken deployed an effective strategy to shut down Colorado in multiple ways. Strong defense in the neutral zone limited the Avs in transition, and their d-zone coverage limited Colorado’s time spent in the offensive zone.

Unfortunately into the third period, Colorado didn’t quite look like themselves anymore. A team that demonstrated an aptitude to remain unfazed through the lows of a game seemed to be thinking too much and making plays out of desperation which led to poorly executed stretch passes and quick clears from Seattle.

“I didn’t like our execution – that was probably the first thing that stood out to me,” said Jared Bednar. “In a lot of areas of the ice, not just on our attack, but if you look at the goals, we gave them two on d-zone breakout turnovers that were gifts. Granted they’re coming hard, but we didn’t handle the pressure on those two occasions and other occasions. So we had to do a better job getting in and out of our zone with the puck, number one. And then, I felt like at times they had a relatively easy job getting out of their zone, so the forecheck part of it has to be more aggressive.

But then when we did do some good things on the forecheck and in o-zone play to open up some plays that were there to be made, we didn’t execute. We passed the puck out of the zone a couple of times and we had extended time, missed passes, bouncing pucks – just sloppy from our group a little bit. I liked some of the intensity that we played with at times.

But, I would say they won more than their fair share of races to pucks and probably won more than their fair share of battles for pucks too – better support for the puck and came up with more pucks and scrums and stuff.”

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