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The hat trick from LOC is awesome as he set a new career-high for goals in a season. He is on pace to obliterate his best-scoring season and has been rocking a point-per-game for the last 14 (!) games.
In this game, you saw a little of everything from LOC. A weirdo double-deflection goal kicked off the scoring in the game, then you saw his disruptive play in the neutral zone capped off by his speed getting him alone in front of the Flyers net where he chipped a puck past Carter Hart.
In the third period with things going sideways for the Avs, LOC drew a penalty that led to Colorado’s sixth goal, a huge relief valve for a team under siege at the time. Then he was on the ice for the extra-attacker situation from the Flyers, a sign of great trust from the coaching staff.
Sure, Nathan MacKinnon did him a solid in giving him the empty-net goal, but LOC’s fingerprints are all over this win. His line was Colorado’s best and the only one to actually drive possession in the correct direction. A day to remember for Logan O’Connor.
Four more points for MacKinnon puts him into first place in the NHL’s scoring lead. That’s pretty cool. He was excellent in creating play and capitalizing on his chances today. He added the ultimate good-guy move in giving up a hat trick of his own so LOC could have the first one of his career. He is the league’s best player right now. The Flyers just got a firsthand viewing of his dominance. If you’re an Avs fan, it was fun.
Miles Wood/Ross Colton
These guys have been nearly inseparable this year and that chemistry shows up regularly. Wood makes Colton’s game pop just a little more than it does without him and they are operating as Colorado’s second line (alongside hat-trick man Logan O’Connor) right now.
It will be interesting to see where Artturi Lehkonen fits when he returns (likely for Colorado’s next game) but Wood had two more assists and has points in all three games since returning from his illness. He’s been great. Ross Colton had three assists today and was productive on Colorado’s top power play unit and at 5v5. He’s at the center of one of the league’s best third lines, even if it is currently Colorado’s second line.
Their competitiveness together helps get Colorado through some games when things aren’t going as well, such as today against the Flyers. They can elevate and be a safety net for Jared Bednar alongside Colorado’s reliable top line, which will play a ton regardless of how well things are going.
The Avs overall
Just for me, I didn’t think the Avs played a very strong game overall. They got thoroughly outplayed in the first period but were leading 2-0 by the end of it because that’s how hockey goes sometimes. They nearly coughed up a 5-2 lead in the third period but got a good call to go their way and then capitalized.
Without awful goaltending from the Flyers, the Avs probably lose this game. They didn’t, obviously, and this is the world we live in but as a person who uses this space to thoroughly talk through the process of how games unfold, this was one of Colorado’s worst games in a while.
Hockey is silly, though, and sometimes a team can outscore their problems. That’s what the Avs did today.
I’m not sure what to do with Johansen at this point. Jared Bednar continues to try to find ways to make him a fit, but he hasn’t found a viable path forward right now.
Johansen is so often invisible, as he was again today, that it’s hard to even call him a Dud most nights because he usually has no meaningful impact at all. If he was getting paid $1M and the 4C, that would be completely fine. He isn’t, however, and is not a good fit in a bottom-six role, yet he has lost the trust of the staff so much so that he is now doing that job. He spends 50 of the 60 minutes of a hockey game sitting on the bench watching.
He didn’t generate anything offensively but was on the ice for two goals against and what’s the most positive thing you can say about his game? That he won one of his two faceoffs on the penalty kill?
If you’re not playing great at 5v5, you should win the special teams battle. That’s a pretty good way to win a hockey game.
The Avs did that today by not allowing a goal on three Flyers power plays but also by really locking it down. In six minutes of power play time, the Flyers didn’t even create a single expected goal. Compare to just 2:49 of power play time for the Avs, who created .91 expected goals to Philadelphia’s .86 and you’ll see a much more potent attack for the Avs.
Colorado’s power play technically finished at 1-for-2 on the day but their first attempt generated a goal just seconds after the Flyers returned to full strength, so we’ll call it an honorary power play goal.
That’s a de facto 2-0 advantage on special teams. Without the empty-net goal, what was the margin of victory? Two. Hockey math.