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Avs-Senators Game 33 Studs & Duds

AJ Haefele Avatar
December 22, 2023

Studs

Nathan MacKinnon

A five-point night for the superstar and the first four-goal game in Avalanche history certainly qualifies him to be a Stud tonight. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled when he hears the news.

This was no paper tiger performance from MacKinnon. He looked the part and delivered when everyone else around him was struggling to finish.

It’s funny how I always seem to have so much to say about some guys but rarely have a lot to add with MacKinnon. When he’s special, he’s special. Elite. Best in the game. It’s a treat to watch him at his very best. He creates the kind of memories that make new and longtime fans of hockey sit back in the same state of awe.

Tonight was one of the nights we’ll probably remember the most when his incredible career is over.

Duds

The second period

I could throw a bunch of numbers at you about why Colorado’s second period was a teamwide fiasco, but you already know that it was bad. Somehow, it was significantly worse to the eyes than in the numbers (still bad, though) as it sure seemed like Ottawa was repeatedly springing odd-man rushes.

The fourth goal against was Georgiev’s worst of the night and it felt like no matter what the Avs did, they weren’t going to be able to punch their way out of the problems they helped create for themselves when it got to 4-2.

It did ultimately turn around, but another downright putrid second period is a serious cause for concern. They are consistently losing the middle frame and their best hope is to tread water. I have no idea why a team would consistently be middling in the first, bad in the second, and awesome in the third period. I really don’t have an explanation for it, but that’s where the Avs have been this season.

They damn near lost another game with a bad second period but they climbed back out of the cellar again. It’s nice to have superstars, eh?

Guys beyond the stars

Colorado scored six goals and only six players recorded points. Five came from your top line and top D pairing. Miles Wood had a couple of nice moments and I thought Jonathan Drouin was legitimately good again in extending his point streak to five games.

After that?

I didn’t feel there were very many good Avs. Sam Malinski and Josh Manson were both bad adventures defensively and took two penalties apiece. I can’t think of an Avalanche forward outside of the top line and Drouin that I thought was any good. Ryan Johansen at least killed it in the faceoff circle on the PK. The rest of his game was a total no-show, but hey, that’s something, I guess.

I’m venturing a guess that something is up with Ross Colton, not only because he once again played 10 minutes but because he hasn’t been a full participant in all team activities recently. Combine those two things and I can’t help but wonder if he’s battling something and Bednar is helping him manage it with a reduced role. His ice time has taken a drastic downturn the last six games and I don’t think his game has justified that, so I’m putting pieces together (that may not exist, to be fair) that there is something going on.

Regardless, playing Logan O’Connor 18 minutes is not a recipe for success most nights. He cannot be the J.T. Compher replacement for Bednar when he’s looking for that trustworthy guy to keep throwing over the boards. We’ve seen it not work anytime LOC gets overextended because it reduces his effectiveness in his proper role. Bednar is in a tough spot in games like this because the other guys are so hit-and-miss and that’s the real problem. Nobody is giving Bednar an obvious solution to turn to when MacKinnon and Friends aren’t on the ice.

Unsung Hero

Special teams

The power play did enough to be a Stud in most games but I wanted to leave that space all for MacKinnon tonight. He was miles above and I want to give him a small nod of appreciation for an incredible night.

That said, the Avs went 4/5 on the power play. They weren’t all great but when you score four times with the man advantage, you’ve had an unreal night. Four power play goals is a respectable week. In one game? You have to win. They did, so it’s all good.

Not to be lost in this is the penalty kill, though. They got scored on Ottawa’s first attempt but then slammed the door shut, especially in the third period when they were protecting their one-goal lead. They were called for three consecutive penalties in the final 12 minutes of the period, which created a significant challenge in protecting that lead.

The PK was more about survival than actually thriving as the Sens generated 17 of their 45 shots on goal on the power play but this is where Georgiev came up huge. They let him down early on and then he picked them up late. That’s why you pay a goalie, right?

Alexandar Georgiev

It was a really weird night for Georgiev. I don’t really have a ton to say about the first three goals. He never stands a chance on the first goal because of a ghastly defensive breakdown on the penalty kill, the second goal is an insane bouncing puck that goes against him, and the third goal is put into the net by his own defenseman. That’s a pretty hard-luck way to get three goals scored on you.

The fourth goal, however, is the kind of goal that gets you pulled when it’s the fourth goal against. It can’t happen. It’s a terrible goal to give up. He misplays it all the way and he knows it. As soon as it got scored, you could see he was dismayed that it went in.

I can’t help but wonder if Jared Bednar’s decision to keep Georgiev in the game wasn’t a little bit of a boost for the goaltender because there was no fifth goal for Ottawa. It wasn’t for a lack of opportunity as Colorado’s transition game was a downright disaster, especially in the second period. Georgiev came up with big stop after big stop and the team in front of him climbed back on the scoreboard, ultimately taking the lead.

Once given the lead, Georgiev’s strong play continued. Somehow, on a night he surrendered four goals, his season save percentage increased. It was a strong finish and the Avs needed it.

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