The penalty kill
I’m not sure what to say about a unit that is just doing its job every night. That’s just it. The penalty kill is absolutely on fire right now and it’s not just about killing the penalties, but the way the penalties are being killed.
In eight minutes of power play time, the Kings racked up five shot attempts, two shots on goal, two scoring chances, and one high-danger chance. IN EIGHT MINUTES!
For the sake of comparison, the worst team in the NHL at generation shots on goal on the power play (the Philadelphia Flyers) generates about .7 shots every 60 seconds. That’s brutally bad, but tonight the Kings generated .25 shots per 60 seconds. That’s outrageously, comically, hilariously bad. For that, you credit the Colorado penalty kill.
I thought Georgiev was great tonight. Goals 1, 2, and 4 he can’t do a damn thing about. Those are either great teamwork or great individual finishes. The third goal I think he could have had, but it’s literally a backhand from an uncovered guy two feet from him. What the hell is the defense doing in front of him to even allow that chance?
He also made multiple huge saves throughout the game to keep the Avalanche into things. Saves on breakaways, toe saves, glove saves, the works. Georgiev wasn’t remotely the problem tonight and for him to get dinged for the loss and the bad save percentage is the second time in three games the team in front of him has owed him better.
Colorado’s power play
I know it finished 1-for-3 on the night, but it wasn’t any good. The second power play of the game was particularly galling. The Avs had finally scored, the game was 2-1, the arena was rocking with energy and the team had found its footing in the game. The Avs were headed to the power play with just over two minutes remaining in the second period.
What followed was a display of true futility, a sequence of abhorrent hockey from Nathan MacKinnon failing several zone entry attempts. The Avs never threatened, never got into the zone, never threatened the Kings, never made that move towards equalizing the game that would push the building into a downright fervor heading into the third period.
The third attempt was a must-score to keep the game close and MacKinnon did that, but the Avs gave it back moments later and it didn’t matter at all. That second power play, though, was the real death of the comeback in my eyes. Just sucked the energy right out of the building.
The work in front of Georgiev
This is all the Avs should really show during their video review of this game.
Unacceptable. You don’t even give your goaltender a damn chance.
One of my favorite things about hockey as a sport is that teams are successful or not largely based on how they play as a unit, not defined by the greatness of individuals. Plenty of amazing solo efforts get highlights every night, but the teams that win the most and win at the highest level combine elite individual brilliance with the brutal effectiveness of 18 skaters acting in lockstep to achieve a common goal.
The Avs weren’t bad in this hockey game, but they were not connected. They were individuals, the Kings a team. This is not what we’ve become accustomed to in Colorado the previous few years.
Not only was it untimely penalties, and extremely obvious and easy calls at that, but it was falling asleep during huge moments. Giving up a goal 30 seconds into the third period after you’d made it a one-goal game? Unacceptable. Giving up the 4-2 goal immediately after cutting the deficit to 3-2 and getting everyone back into believing this game was winnable? Unacceptable. The caliber of mistakes (see: above)? Unacceptable. Your best players being at the heart of those mistakes? Unacceptable.
What really killed me, though, is that the Kings just appeared to want it more than the Avalanche. They played with a sense of urgency, a desperation that had become a staple of Colorado hockey in the last few seasons. That was notably lacking, especially in the third period when the Avs couldn’t get out of their own way. They just seemed to accept that they were losing this hockey game and that felt like the most unacceptable of all. A truly, truly disappointing feel to this game.
Was there one?
I thought Logan O’Connor was awesome on the penalty kill, but he also flubbed multiple scoring chances that could have changed the game. I know goal-scoring isn’t LOC’s primary function on the team, but he continues to throw golden scoring chances away at an alarming rate. A slump is one thing. Two goals in 51 games is a serious, serious problem.
Sam Girard got another assist tonight and his strong play continued, but you could point to his defense on the Kings’ fourth goal and say “what is happening here?” and I would concede the point.
Evan Rodrigues had an awesome tip for Colorado’s first goal but he was far too involved in the rest of the game in not great ways for me to give it to him. So instead, let’s give it to each of the positive contributions of these three players and recognize the rough edges around their games are why they weren’t elevated to the “Studs” section.