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The Avs through two periods
Some context here is important: The Avs were playing their second game within 24 hours (tonight’s game started two hours earlier than last night’s game that ended in a shootout), traveled (Anaheim to LA is probably the easiest travel, but still) lost their best player in Cale Makar to injury, and were playing a Kings team that had been sitting around waiting for the Avs for four days.
To recap: Avs second game in as many days, Kings well-rested, Avs missing two of their top four D, each team missing a key top-six forward (Lehkonen and Arvidsson). This was as scheduled a loss as you will ever see.
Through two periods, the Avs were dead even with the Kings. Shots, scoring chances, everything, including goals, was dead even. The Avs played a great defensive game and left it all out on the ice. It came at a price, as I’ll talk about later, but this was a damn respectable effort through 40 minutes.
When the third period began, the Avs had nothing left. The legs were totally gone and the bus wasn’t even parked, it was broken down. How did Colorado manage to stay level on the scoreboard through roughly 15 minutes of the third period despite being completely dominated in every facet?
We knew he was going to have to have a special night to get the Avs a point in this one and Georgiev damn near pulled it off. Hell, you look at the three goals scored by the Kings on him tonight and there isn’t anything you ask him to do differently on those plays. Two of those pucks are into empty nets off great passing plays where the defense let him down and the third is a wonderful individual effort and a brilliant finish from Trevor Moore.
Georgiev was everything you want your starting goaltender to be in this atmosphere. He was tough, resilient, and battling like crazy to get his team at least to overtime. It was obvious once the third period began that Colorado wasn’t going to score unless the Kings handed them an odd-man rush and even then it was no sure bet. Georgiev did everything in his power to take the Avalanche to another standings point.
It didn’t work out, but I come out the other side of this hockey game feeling even better about Alexandar Georgiev than I did going in (I’m still awfully high on him).
No goals tonight but I thought he built off a strong performance in Anaheim last night with another sound showing. I mentioned last night that when his offensive game is going the way it was, I almost don’t care how Byram plays defensively.
Tonight was a night where Byram’s offense wasn’t humming the same way but his defense looked outstanding before the Avs ran out of gas. He was denying attackers easy entry into the zone, either by angling them off pucks or outright swiping the puck from their sticks.
He was aggressive and didn’t let the game come to him, an attribute that benefits a lot of players but not Byram. His natural state is to attack, attack, attack. He did that tonight in the defensive zone and it might be my favorite game of the year for him in that way.
The third period Avs
The Avs have been awesome in third periods this season, especially defensively.
This one will skew the numbers a bit because they got demolished. Shots were 23-5, shot attempts were 44-12, scoring chances 22-6 and high-danger chances 10-1. That’s all situations, which included an Avalanche power play mind you. So, not even close.
The Kings finally found their legs after the long layoff and the Avs finally lost theirs after two games in less than 24 hours. That’s a tough turnaround and the Avs were admirable through two, but it did not continue in the third period.
Georgiev did everything he could but the numbers say it all, especially the 3-0 on the scoreboard.
Colorado has been an exceptional third-period team this season and has a lot to be proud of in that regard. This road trip wasn’t very good overall and Colorado simply couldn’t stop the dam from breaking on a night where things were stacked against them. The Avs did something similar to Anaheim a few weeks ago in that 8-2 thrashing. These things happen.
There’s a lot going on here, but I’ll just say that the effort on the backcheck on the first Kings goal is extremely disappointing. It’s the kind of pouty thing we’ve seen so frequently from him over the years and it’s all good in the long run because he is such an overwhelming offensive dynamo that he makes up for those moments.
In the isolated case of this game, however, he did not make up for it and you’d like to see a little more leadership in the form of commitment to the details and not cheating the game with that effort on that goal. He’s better than what we saw tonight.
A downside to 25-year-old rookies? They don’t have a lot of runway to prove themselves. The upside? Maturity.
We saw that tonight with Malinski as he had some squirrely moments early but really settled into the game nicely. I love the way he has adapted in his two NHL games and eventually found his own rhythm.
He attacked with the puck at times and when the play stopped being there, instead of trying to do too much he made a smart play by either dumping the puck into space and letting a teammate go work for it or by reloading and finding another opportunity.
That kind of maturity is encouraging for a kid whose game has fully come online at the AHL level already and one whose playstyle is a nice fit while Cale Makar and Sam Girard remain out of the lineup. I’m open to seeing him stick in the lineup for a few more games regardless of Makar’s status.