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Avs-Rangers Game 73 Studs & Duds

AJ Haefele Avatar
March 29, 2024


Devon Toews and Cale Makar

Colorado’s top D pairing has had some up-and-down games recently but in a game against a big-time opponent, they got up and showed why they have been one of the league’s best pairings for the last few years.

They were excellent tonight and produced eye-popping shot metrics but Toews was also credited with the game-tying goal in a tough beat for all of Nathan MacKinnon’s scoring streaks.

Jared Bednar used the last change to his advantage as he aggressively put Makar out there against New York’s weaker lines but even against the top guys on the Rangers, these guys had a great deal of success.

Tonight was one of those nights where they flexed their muscle specifically in the neutral zone. They are both masters with the stickwork and Makar loves to jump passing lanes and take control of the play going the other way.

We saw a bit of that throughout the game and the Rangers eventually gave way to trying to play with possession and turned into dump-and-chase against this pairing. The whole concept of making Toews and Makar turn their back and retrieve pucks is a sound one because teams have had limited success over the years doing it, but tonight was not one of those times.

It was encouraging to see these two step up in such a high-intensity game and thrive the way they did. If only Makar had finished that aggressive cut to the net move…

The third period

The Avs walked into the third period with a 1-0 lead and exited it in a 2-2 tie, so they lost the period 2-1 but I thought it was a hard-luck result given how well they played.

The first Rangers goal is a bank from behind the goal line off of Alexandar Georgiev and then their second goal is a picture-perfect sideways bounce of the puck off one player and to another’s stick. That’s hockey sometimes, but the Avs didn’t get discouraged by any of it and kept at it.

The tough luck seemed to even out when Ryan Lindgren put the puck into his own net for the game-tying goal but the Avalanche had been dominating leading up to that moment.

Overall, in 17:03 of 5v5 time, the Avs outshot the Rangers 16-4 (on goal), outchanced them 14-7, and had an 8-3 advantage in high-danger chances. They had a great period, especially Colorado’s top line.

In watching it, I thought they deserved a better fate. Hockey be like that, though, but I think this is ultimately something the Avs should be positive about despite the end result.

Alexandar Georgiev

Igor Shesterkin was a world-beating monster tonight, but I thought Georgiev was also excellent. I’m just not here for any slander on the guy tonight. You can quibble with the first goal all you want, but he kept a great Rangers team to two.

If you think he should be better in shootouts, that’s fair play.

In the portion of the game that is translatable to the postseason, which is what everything is about this deep into the season, Georgiev’s game is ascending and I thought he was very good again.

He made several big-time stops while the game was still 0-0, including a clean Artemi Panarin breakaway that he turned away with ease. The Avs didn’t give up many scoring chances or high-danger chances in front of him but he was there time and time again.

It was a high-intensity atmosphere and I thought he matched that moment well. He got outplayed by his counterpart, but I’d be willing to bet that was one of Shesterkin’s best games this season. I thoroughly enjoyed the goaltender duel between former teammates.


Nathan MacKinnon’s scoring streaks

The home-scoring streak ends at 35 and the overall streak ends at 19, his second of the season to stop just one shy of Paul Stastny’s Avalanche record. That Stastny record has some resiliency to it!

It was a tough way for his streak to end because he would have had an assist had Mikko Rantanen gotten credit for the goal instead, which brings up the interesting scoring nuance because it appeared Rantanen was in the shooting motion and hit Lindgren’s stick and helped create the own-goal.

I think it’s correctly scored based on past precedent (Cale Makar’s own goal in Arizona earlier this year was also unassisted, for example), but it really sucks to see such a fun streak end that way, especially because MacKinnon plays such a key role in the goal even happening. It wasn’t as if he was sitting on the bench or something.

A good example of “just one of those nights”, I suppose. I was rooting for history but Wayne Gretzky’s record is safe for another year. Gross.

Jack Johnson

I have liked Johnson’s play quite a bit recently (on the whole) but I thought he was absolutely awful early on. He eventually stabilized but I think the coaching staff agreed with me because he finished with only 14:14 of ice time.

The fact that his skating can be timed with a sundial makes his continued effectiveness as a bottom-pairing defenseman all the more impressive. He relies on smarts and guile at this point in his career and when those traits are failing him, the holes in game get exposed very quickly.

His first-pass work tonight was ghastly and he helped create multiple second chances on Rangers possessions. The skating was a problem as the Rangers went right at him in open ice, a situation that always causes problems for Johnson.

He is the weak link on the Avalanche defense and when he gets exposed, the Avs have to be quick with the hook and tonight they were, slipping Sean Walker out with Sam Girard to great effect.

Josh Manson

The reason Girard was getting the nod alongside Walker is at least in part due to handedness, but also Manson was having his own struggles with the puck. He made a nice play and got the secondary assist on Colorado’s first goal, but the real plays were made by Girard and Brandon Duhaime around him. It takes a village and all, but Manson’s part in that goal was the easiest.

It was Manson’s role in the first Rangers goal that was ghastly. Multiple turnovers, lost footing, and general chaos. He was Colorado’s worst enemy on that entire sequence and made life hard for Georgiev as his goaltender thought Manson was going to make a play with the puck but when Manson misplayed it behind his own net, it left Kakko the chance for the bank shot goal. That’s what happened and it felt bad for both Avalanche players.

Having both of Colorado’s noted defensive defensemen play poorly in the same game is a difficult thing for the Avalanche to overcome in a game that was 1-0 after 40 minutes.

Jared Bednar needs to be able to rely on those guys, Manson especially, to close games and Manson’s struggles tonight left them having to lean more on the other guys. With the top pairing playing so well, it was a manageable task that Colorado just couldn’t quite close.

Unsung Hero

Brandon Duhaime

He got moved into Val Nichushkin’s spot as Nichushkin is day-to-day with an injury and it’s the second time we’ve seen Duhaime moonlight in Colorado’s top six. The reality is he only played 10:53 so it’s not like Duhaime was heavily leaned on, but the results were once again interesting.

His physicality plays and with four hits and two shots on goal, you have to love the elements he’s bringing to this hockey team right now. He continues to be a guy I think is really earning ice time and I would like to see him start to get some of the shifts Miles Wood is currently getting because I think Duhaime is outplaying Wood by a decent margin.

The assist is effective and smart work from Duhaime. Great puck protection, nice patience. I love that Duhaime understands how to keep his game simple and what he does best is very repeatable.


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