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Avs-Lightning grades - Moral victory? Not quite

Adrian Dater Avatar
December 8, 2017

The Avalanche started a four-game Eastern road trip Thursday at Amalie Arena in Tampa. The Avs found out just why the Lightning is the NHL’s best team to this point, losing 5-2.

How did Avs players fare individually? Let’s find out, in some post-game grades:

Mikko Rantanen (D) – He was absolutely furious after the game, throwing some curse words around the dressing room. Mostly, that was because of a penalty called on him late in the game, a holding-the-stick call against Victor Hedman. Rantanen said he never touched the stick, and replays showed he was right. Still, the refs weren’t all to blame for his 0-0-0 night, with just two shots on goal. His defensive play continues to be worrisome.

Nathan MacKinnon (C+) – MacK assisted on Gabe Landeskog’s goal and had four shots on net. I thought he was really moving the puck well at times, but in the final analysis he had, for him, a pretty average night. He almost beat Peter Budaj with a shot from the right side later in the game.

Gabe Landeskog (C+) – The captain scored on his first shift, his 10th goal of the season. That’s good. He also took two stick fouls – a slash and a trip. That’s bad. He was one of the forwards asked to double-shift at times, with Jared Bednar only using 11 forwards, and he seemed a bit gassed at times.

Erik Johnson (A-) – The Condor scored a goal, played 28 minutes and played his heart out in those 28 minutes. He continues to be the Avs’ best defenseman on the season, by a mile. He started the game paired with Nikita Zadorov, after several games with Sam Girard.

Nikita Zadorov (D) – On his first shift, Zads was confused on a pinball, pass-to-himself-off-the-boards play by Steven Stamkos. He would go on to play only 10:51, the fewest minutes of any defenseman. He keeps playing like a guy who is nervous, afraid of making mistakes and what the consequences will be from the coach. And, so, it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy too often.

Alexander Kerfoot (D) – No shots on goal and a minus-1 for the kid from Harvard. He didn’t play with the puck too often, which he needs to do to be effective. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of chemistry with College Kid linemates J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost right now, either.

J.T. Compher (B) – He had two breakaways, but was stopped on both. He probably was held some on the first one, by Hedman, but there was no call. He was just plain stopped by Peter Budaj on the second one. I talked with Scotty Bowman after the first period, though, and the one Avs player he said he noticed and liked in the period was Compher. That’s a UGGE compliment.

 Tyson Jost (C-) – He got some power-play time in the second period, and I thought looked good while out there. But then Jared Bednar never seemed to go back to him on future PPs and he finished a minus-3. You wonder whether Jost is being rushed right now. He’s only 19 and has one goal in his first 17 NHL games. He needs to get some confidence. Expect him to be allowed to play for Canada in the upcoming World Juniors, for the express purpose of gaining some in a big-time, honored tournament.

Patrik Nemeth (C) – After missing 12 games with a back injury, I thought Nemeth was pretty decent out there. He was on the ice for the game-winning goal, by Vladislav Namestikov, but I blame Tyson Barrie more for that one with some sloppy puck management. I like his game overall and think he’ll be a nice help moving forward, though he does have moments where he seems a bit gassed.

Tyson Barrie (D) – Along with the aforementioned mistakes on the Namestikov goal, Barrie just seemed a step slow all night. He claims he isn’t hurt still, but he’s not flying with the puck like we’re accustomed to seeing. Or, maybe, he’s not being allowed to as much, in Jared Bednar’s system? Whatever the reason, Barrie just doesn’t seem as engaged in the play like he used to, despite a good point total on the season.

Matt Nieto (D) – No shots, no points, no penalties, nothing of any tangible proof that he was ever even in this game. The score sheet said he played more than 14 minutes, but I never noticed him once.

Carl Soderberg (B) – I thought he played well, despite nothing on the score sheet and a mistaken clear attempt in the first period that resulted in a delay-of-game penalty. He had three shots on goal and was engaged in the play. The points aren’t coming as easily as they did earlier in the year, but you can start saying that about a few guys now.

Blake Comeau (C-) – As always, the veteran worked hard but…yeah, a pretty quiet night overall for him. With so much puck-possession time for the Lightning, Comeau, like most Avs, seemed to spend most of his time just chasing around out there.

Semyon Varlamov (B-) – I was probably a bit too hard on him in the game story. I don’t know, though, I just feel like Varly has more to give right now. He’s regularly giving up 3-4 goals a night lately. Has the defense in front of him been faulty on many of the goals against? Oh, hell yes. But the D has been good enough to warrant him stealing a game or two. Right now, that’s not happening.

Mark Barberio (B-) – There were no glaring turnovers, and for the most part, Barberio was an effective D-man out there. He was even in more than 18 minutes. What happened to some of that offensive production he gave last year, though? He averaged one point every 3.5 games last year with the Avs. This season, it’s been an average of about one every six games.

Anton Lindholm (D) – He played only a bit more than 10 minutes, and just didn’t do anything noticeable. What happened to the more physical guy we saw last year? It seems like he’s trying to be really safe now. But safe, as they say, is death.

Sam Girard (D) – I thought it was his worst game with the Avs. He played with seemingly only minimal energy. He didn’t create offensively. It seems like he’s becoming a bit robotic with some of his moves and overall play. Again, I wonder if Bednar’s system is stifling the offensive creativity of the D-men? Check with me later on this question.

Colin Wilson (D) – He played only 11:07, so tough to get on him too much. But he just was not noticeable at all out there. He’s been so in and out of the lineup because of injuries that it just doesn’t seem like he has any defined role yet on this team, other than being “grinder.” That’s fine, but you have to play a lot to gain chemistry with others, as that kind of player.

Sven Andrighetto (C) – No goals in 10 games now. He had a great chance on one sequence, a partially-open net after a nice cross pass, but fiddled around too long trying to tee up his shot and that allowed Peter Budaj to slide over in time to stop it. I thought he did skate hard, but not much is happening offensively. He did pick up an assist, at least.

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