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Avs-Golden Knights Game 81 Studs & Duds

AJ Haefele Avatar
April 14, 2024


Cale Makar

For my money, I thought Makar was pretty great in this game. He had a goal and an assist as the Avs built their lead and might have added to those totals had Nathan MacKinnon been able to slip a puck across to him on a 2v1.

Defensively, Makar still hasn’t found a groove in front of his own net but I feel good about him everywhere else. His board work is solid and he gets pucks out of his end quite a bit, although his failed clear on the PK in overtime was frustrating after Andrew Cogliano improbably won the faceoff.

Ultimately, he was dynamic offensively and good defensively, which is where you want his game to be. I’ve felt he was trending upwards over the last few weeks and I thought he was a bright spot for the Avalanche today. His chasing down of Ivan Barbashev on the first goal against would not even be remembered had Alexandar Georgiev bothered to do his damn job.

Casey Mittelstadt

He didn’t end up on the box score, but I loved Mittelstadt’s game. His remade line alongside Val Nichushkin and Mikko Rantanen took on various matchups throughout but saw quite a bit on time against Jack Eichel’s line, which is another top assignment for him.

Mittelstadt held his own and I thought his all-around game was really strong. I loved his work in the dirty areas and it was his work through the neutral zone that created Colorado’s third goal, the chip-in by Rantanen. His skating was clicking and he was working hard along the walls.

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks for Colorado’s 2C but I liked a lot of what he put out there today. Hopefully his game trends more in this direction.


The entire third period

Coming off a 7-0 loss on home ice that essentially ended Colorado’s chase for home-ice advantage in Round 1, I was really hoping to see a strong rebound from the Avalanche. We got that through the first two periods, but the third-period collapse was quite disheartening.

I’ll get to the goaltending problem but they didn’t even bother playing offense in the third period. On the second night of a back-to-back against a team that was sitting at home hanging out yesterday, it’s no surprise that Colorado’s legs went and Vegas fed off that momentum swing.

I get all of that, but you can’t just keep finding any old excuse to wave away Colorado’s inability to play with the lead in the last month. Today’s result isn’t particularly meaningful but the process absolutely was something to care about and Colorado falling apart late in the game further shreds confidence that this club is ready for the commitment required to win four playoff rounds.

Alexandar Georgiev

I’m just exhausted at this point. Georgiev showed life but the last seven games have been nothing short of a disaster. The numbers are video game-like and it’s really not inspiring any belief that he’s going to be able to outduel Connor Hellebuyck in Round 1 of the playoffs.

He was brutal again today. The first goal against is a basic wraparound that simply shouldn’t go in against NHL goaltending. I’m curious what he’s doing with his stick because he’s got it tucked tight to prevent the five-hole stuff but he’s also sealed tight against his post. It looks to me like he could have gotten more aggressive with his stick instead of letting Barbashev just do whatever, but I’m no goalie expert.

The rest of it is a mess. You just need a save somewhere. His job is to be one save better than his counterpart and he was spotted a three-goal lead. In 22 minutes of game time, he fell apart and couldn’t hold that lead. It’s extremely concerning that his game is trending downward this hard in Game 81.

Josh Manson

What a nightmare of a third period for Manson. He takes two penalties, both incredibly dumb, and fails to get back and play defense on the game-tying goal.

What’s more is that Georgiev even bailed Manson out at the end of the second period when Manson was lazy on his backcheck and let a Vegas player get to the front of the net.

That laziness continued in the third period, beginning with the mind-boggling interference penalty where he skated to a guy nowhere near the puck and dropped him on his ass. Why? What are you doing? The high-sticking penalty at the end of regulation was a no-upside play but purely instinctual as the puck was in the air and he was trying to bat it out of the zone. I get why it happened, but some situational awareness would have done wonders for Manson today.

Tough for Colorado’s most important “defensive defenseman” to spend crucial moments in the third period in the penalty box not, you know, defending anything. When Manson has bad games, they go horribly and today was that game.

Unsung Hero

Nathan MacKinnon

MacKinnon was incredible in the first half of the game, flying around and creating scoring chances left and right. His pass to Makar on Makar’s goal was incredible and with better finish from Jonathan Drouin he could have easily had three assists on the day.

The offense was what you wanted from MacKinnon early in the game. Why he’s in this spot and not as a Stud, however, is his defensive work on the game-tying goal.

Manson had pinched in and dumped the puck in and retreated to the neutral zone. Even as it was happening I was yelling for him to get back with more urgency and that laziness still irks me, but I can see what Manson was seeing as the teams were going through line changes.

Manson saw MacKinnon back and in position to defend what should have been a standard, unexciting 2v2 situation. When Brett Howden got hold of the puck just inside the blueline, MacKinnon inexplicably went to pressure a guy who was already covered, leaving William Karlsson completely alone on the other side of the ice to smoke a puck past Georgiev to tie the game.

It was brutally bad defense from MacKinnon, who made a bad or apathetic read on the play. It doesn’t matter which one it was because they are both bad and the outcome was obviously a mess. It’s a huge mistake for Colorado’s best player and his ability to read the game defensively remains a concern for me heading into the toughest time of year.


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