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Avs-Jets Game 26 Studs & Duds

AJ Haefele Avatar
December 8, 2023

Studs

Nathan MacKinnon

Remember two whole games ago when I was frustrated that Nathan MacKinnon hadn’t taken over a game in a while and even though he was finding his way to points, he just didn’t look like Nathan MacKinnon?

Fair to say that’s over.

His goal and assist tonight felt like the Jets got off easy as he was flying around and dictating play once again. I almost don’t even know what more to say about MacKinnon when he’s this good. It wasn’t hard to see why Colorado is the envy of (most) of the league with him as their 1C.

Bowen Byram

In the absence of high-end performances from either Cale Makar or Devon Toews, it was Byram who really stole the spotlight for me on the defense. I thought he was having a great two-way game and while I would like to see a touch more activation offensively, it stands as a real nitpick given how involved he really was tonight.

His defense was also great as the Jets were able to generate a couple of quality chances with him on the ice but not much and not largely because of him. He was fantastic all around tonight and made one of my favorite plays that led to his assist on Colorado’s second goal.

He catches it out of the air and backhands it straight to a teammate to create a rush the other way. It’s that awareness of the situation that created a goal, the exact opposite of what we saw from Toews in not respecting the situation at the end of the first period. Great work from Byram (and obviously insane work from MacKinnon in outworking every Jets defender).

Duds

Mikko Rantanen

Rantanen probably wasn’t as bad as it feels because expectations for him are pretty high but he is simply too talented of a player to drift through games. Had this been a down game after a couple of great nights, the conversation would be very different.

Mikko Rantanen, however, is way too talented and too important to the Avalanche to go this long without a goal (8 games and counting) while also not impacting the game in any other ways. He made a couple of nice passes early on and then slowly retreated from the game.

He got put back alongside MacKinnon when his longtime running mate was having a dominant night and it didn’t seem to wake him from his lengthy slumber at all. He isn’t showing any signs of aggression, he isn’t playing with any power, and he is making himself very easy to defend.

This is too talented a player to keep looking like this. He hasn’t beaten a goaltender since November 18. It has to end soon.

Alexandar Georgiev

I don’t think Georgiev was a major problem tonight but this was a close hockey game and the margin of error was one goal. One misplayed shot. The one by Kyle Connor to start the second period that put the Jets up 2-0.

That’s the goal that Georgiev allowed that Hellebuyck did not on the other end. That’s the goal that Georgiev allowed that makes you a little nervous when you think about these two going head-to-head in a playoff series. Is Georgiev really going to outplay Hellebuyck? He didn’t tonight, even though you would be lying if you said he was the primary problem tonight.

The 5v3 power play

You’re down by one goal and you get a two-man advantage for just under a minute in the third period? That’s a gift from the hockey gods.

What do you do with it?

Zero shots on goal. It was a terrible showing with all three of Colorado’s best players on the ice contributing to, well, nothing.

I thought it was a poor showing from the coaching staff to move Rantanen around the way they did, then by the players to not execute anything positive. That was a game-changing situation that was heavily in Colorado’s favor.

The Avs did nothing with it and the Jets built momentum for the rest of the game from it.

Disappointing.

Situational awareness

This is the moment when Devon Toews gets the puck on his stick at the end of the first period.

There are roughly six seconds on the clock here. In the absolute best case scenario, the puck gets up the wall and the Avs almost have a great scoring chance with the Jets in the middle of a line change.

The worst case scenario is exactly what happened. Why even do that? I’ve always said I would live with aggressive mistakes and that’s exactly what this is, but an aggressive mistake that doesn’t have the upside of creating a goal? A real rarity from Devon Toews here when any single other decision, including doing nothing and just pinning it against the boards, would have resulted in a 0-0 game at the first intermission.

Add in the mistake that Jonathan Drouin made in the 6v5 situation at the end of the game that led to Kyle Connor’s empty-net goal, and you have two players who did something incredibly dumb that turned into two Winnipeg goals. What’s the final score? 4-2. Boy math.

Unsung Hero

Sam Malinski

This is very good aggressive hockey against a tired Jets group.

Great job seeing the opportunity and attacking. That’s Avalanche hockey.

This, however, is not quite as good. He screens Georgiev while not really defending a guy or accomplishing much of anything…except the screen.

Georgiev gave Malinski a whack on the ankles after the play and then apologized after the game but it’s clear the frustration was there on this. Can’t screen your goalie for no reason in this league.

Overall, I thought Malinski had his ups and downs and the up is something you can’t teach while the down is very much something Georgiev tried to teach right then and there. The loss isn’t fun but if Malinski learns and moves forward, he will keep building on this experience. He’s firmly in a position to earn a job on this defense while Sam Girard remains out.

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