Studs

Alexandar Georgiev

I’ll start this by saying I really don’t like the first goal by Will Borgen. It’s yet another shot from distance that beats Georgiev cleanly. I don’t think Georgiev plays it very well and makes himself really small as the shot is getting released. I don’t like it.

I’ve also always said that I can dislike the goals given up all I want, but if a goaltender stops that number at two and gives his team a chance to win, he’s done his job. With a 40-save effort tonight, Georgiev absolutely did what was asked of him.

The score got to 2-0 (and let’s not pretend the second goal wasn’t a wonderful shot) and Georgiev battened down the hatches and was spectacular until he got beat by the overtime game-winning goal.

This was the performance we knew this year’s Avs were going to need at some point and there was a question if Georgiev could provide it. He did, and I really hate that it comes in a loss. It’s disappointing the team in front of him couldn’t put it together enough to get this one for the goaltender who did everything he could to steal this game.

Duds

The first period

You knew Seattle was going to come out guns blazing in this game with their season essentially on the line. They’ve been a fast-starting team all series to begin with but with their back against the wall and a raucous crowd cheering them on from beyond that wall, the Avs were going into a hostile environment.

That championship swagger was supposed to be a major feather in Colorado’s cap. In the third period of Games 2 and 3, it was. To begin this game, however, it was nowhere to be found. The Avs took two penalties in the first five minutes, shortened their own power play with another penalty, and ended the period trailing 2-0 while being whistled for five infractions, three of which resulted in power plays in the first period while the final two (one matching) gave Seattle a man advantage to start the second period.

That’s a nightmare, the worst hockey you can possibly imagine being played. Colorado has given up the first goal in each of the four games but they’ve also played three very poor first periods. They’ve earned the deficits they’ve found themselves in so far this series.

If Colorado wants to win this series, they need to turn this around immediately. They need to come out far more competitive than we’ve seen. They are spending the opening frames chasing the game, which leads to them chasing on the scoreboard. That plays into the heart of what the Kraken do well.

It’s unacceptable what this team put on the ice tonight. Nobody will know that better than them, but it’s still a giant red flag and massive letdown to see the team come out and meet the moment so poorly.

The penalty kill

Two PPGs against really hurt. The big difference in Seattle’s ability to generate offense with the man advantage starts with the faceoffs. We’ve talked all year that faceoffs are irrelevant as a team stat but situationally are extremely important.

Colorado has been able to clear the zone when they’ve won possession and forced Seattle to enter the zone with the puck. It hasn’t gone well and that’s where the Avs have really eaten up the Kraken power play.

That wasn’t the case tonight and while the team’s discipline problems put them on four PKs early in the game, they still gave up a goal on a perfect shot from Daniel Sprong but the Kraken clearly found something in that unit in this game. The game-winning goal was more of classic hockey chaos breaking for Seattle, but this game really drives home the importance of Colorado focusing on being disruptive before the Kraken can setup in the offensive zone and start trying to find weak spots.

Colorado’s stars

The trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen is the main reason that you bet against Colorado in a best-of-seven series at your own peril. They are special players capable of special things and saw that in Game 3 and again a bit tonight.

Overall, I think it was a poor game from Colorado’s big three despite combining for three points, including Rantanen scoring both goals for the Avs tonight.

This was about process as MacKinnon didn’t record a shot on goal for the first time in eons and Rantanen only managed two (they both went in, so hey). Makar had a team-high four, but he came with his own problems tonight after he smoked Jared McCann while defending a shorthanded scoring chance.

McCann was hurt on the exchange and left the game and has already been ruled out for Game 5 back in Denver. Makar, however, played the rest of the night and struggled with his puck management and defense at times.

After a Game 3 showcase that showed how special Colorado’s stars can be when they’re playing great, Game 4 showed up but the Avalanche stars…didn’t. It’s just disappointing to see the level drop so far from the last game.

Josh Manson

This is turning into a real problem. It was one thing in Game 1 when Manson was shaking off the rust. Game 2 wasn’t a ton better, but Game 3 was a real step forward for Manson’s overall game and defensive work.

He got rocked again tonight, however, and it was all capped off by a mess of a penalty in overtime. His read through the neutral zone was terrible, allowing Jaden Schwartz to get outside position on him and then Manson was too slow to react. He trips Schwartz and goes into the box.

On one hand, Schwartz 10000000000000000000000% dove on that play. He did. He literally puts his skates together and takes a little hop over Manson’s stick. It wasn’t called, but what was called was absolutely a penalty on Manson. It’s unacceptable from him despite the amusing little diving program Schwartz added to it.

Unsung Hero

Emotional maturity

I thought Seattle had it tonight and Colorado wasn’t within 100 square miles of being a team that kept their composure and fed off the excitement of the crowd and the energy of the moment.

The Avs chased the game the entire game, finally showing a little better jump in the opening minutes of overtime, which was just enough to take another penalty. They’ve had 11 power plays in the last two games. Stop taking penalties grow up.

When do we see that championship swagger?

Now, they need it.

Author

A.J. Haefele was born in Aurora, Colorado, raised in Katy, Texas and is the Colorado Avalanche beat reporter for DNVR. AJ helped launch the network back in 2015 and has filled roles as a team leader and Editor-In- Chief, along with co-hosting the DNVR draft podcasts along with his other duties. You can hear him every weekday on the DNVR Avalanche podcast. Follow AJ on Twitter - @returnofaj

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