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Avs-Flyers Game 27 Studs & Duds

AJ Haefele Avatar
December 10, 2023

Studs

Discipline

Lost in what was ultimately a disappointing night, one upside I enjoyed was that the Avalanche only had to kill one penalty on the night. It’s a little skewed because they also were called for another one that resulted in a penalty shot, but both situations were thisclose to going well for the Avalanche.

They didn’t, however, but for a team that was regularly killing three or four penalties per night for much of this season, seeing them only called for two penalties felt like a small win. It would be great to see that translate to more games in the future, but it really does drive home what a missed opportunity last night was for the team.

Nathan MacKinnon

His goal was the kind of solo act that is hard to come by in the NHL and he was looking like he might be on his way to another superstar kind of night. It didn’t end that way but he looked like he was again locked in and playing at the high level we have come to expect from him.

There were certainly some things defensively I didn’t love but he made an all-out effort to stop Travis Konecny on what was ultimately called a penalty shot. Given the way that has been called this year, I do wonder if he thought there was no way they’d call that and give him two minutes instead. It didn’t go his way, which happens sometimes.

I ultimately liked a lot of what he brought to the table.

Ryan Johansen

I don’t know about “stud” but the pickings were a little slim in this one. His demotion to 4C didn’t last very long and his 14:05 was the most he’s played since November 15 against Anaheim. The lineup placement seemed to kickstart his effort level, which has always been his biggest problem.

His skating isn’t a good fit in Colorado but you can still see where he has the chops to be a good NHL player when he wants to be. He was more engaged than most nights and had strong moments throughout. He even nabbed his second assist of the season on Josh Manson’s goal.

It wasn’t an overwhelming night for him but the Avs would be thrilled if this version showed up more often than not.

Duds

Mikko Rantanen

This feels like a nightly ritual at this point but I’ll say that I thought he was playing really well outside of the part where he couldn’t beat Carter Hart. He had a golden opportunity early in the third period when the game was still 3-2 and…nothing. The beat goes on with Rantanen having not beaten a goalie since November 18. The longest goalless drought of his career is 14 games so he still has a little way to go since he’s only at nine (his last goal being an empty-net goal) but you have to start worrying that he’s going to start getting in his head about this.

Team defense

When you go through the numbers of this one, you start to wonder how in the world the Avalanche gave up five goals. They had the advantage in shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances, ohhhhhh there it is. High-danger chances were 13-7 at 5v5 in favor of the Flyers. Anecdotally, it sure felt like that’s where the goals were coming from, too.

Both of Konecny’s goals were essentially breakaways and Farabee’s goal was into an open net. Tippett’s goal was on his second shot from in tight with no Avalanche defender on him. Sanheim’s goal was keyed by Rantanen falling down and he walked in unopposed.

All of that is a mess. How bad was this epidemic across the team?

Only four Avalanche skaters last night were not on the ice for a goal against. That…is not great.

Every defenseman had a turn being part of a crucial mistake on a goal against. The defense never fully got it together. What NHL team wins games when its defense can’t get it going?

Unsung Hero

Josh Manson

Okay, I know I said above that the defense could never get it going, and Manson is no exception. He got torched by Tippett on that goal and as much you would like to see something better from Ivan Prosvetov, Manson didn’t do a damn thing to help his goalie out in that situation.

So why is he here?

If you’re going to have that kind of moment, adding a goal and an assist for a two-point night is a decent way to make up for a mistake like that. Manson’s offensive contributions have been heating up as five of his six points on the season have come in the last five games. His defensive work has taken a lift, as well, but you just can’t ignore how badly he got beaten on the Tippett goal.

Such a large part of his meaning on this Colorado defense is his physicality, so when he engages with a guy near the boards at the blueline, he has to make it count and can’t let a guy fight through it. Credit to Tippett and all, but Manson has to finish him off and not let it get to that point. Easy to say from my seat, of course.

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