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The Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild by the score of 4-1. Below are player grades!
Tyson Barrie (C+) – When you have a 60% CF and are a negative relative to teammates, you know your team has had a very impressive night. Barrie had moments but his best of the night might have been defensive when he bodied a player off the puck when it looked like he was going to have a clean look at the net.
Gabriel Bourque (C) – I just didn’t notice much Bourque tonight and it felt like his line was pretty even throughout. I expect more Bourque nights will go this way.
Matt Calvert (B) – I really liked Calvert’s debut. He was flying all over the ice and was generating shot attempts. Four shots on goal and three hits for a guy who only played 12:52 is mighty fine. If this is the Calvert the Avs get most nights, he’ll be a hell of an addition for them.
Ian Cole (B) – Like Calvert, it was a stat-stuffing kind of night for Cole despite him being on the “third pairing.” He was effective defensively and chipped in offensively when asked. After a lackluster preseason, he looked like a completely different (read: effective) player once the game mattered.
J.T. Compher (B) – His combination with Calvert allowed the Avalanche to effectively devour the depth lines of Minnesota throughout. Four shots on goal, including an empty-net goal, in just 10 minutes of ice time? It might be a smaller role than he’d like for now but performances like this will earn him plenty of ice as the year goes on.
Sheldon Dries (C+) – Happy he made his NHL debut but he barely played and didn’t really move the needle either way. I’ll give him the plus just for the great story.
Samuel Girard (B-) – Girard was flat out awesome in the first period. He was all over the place on offense and defense and our preseason hype train suddenly felt lacking. He calmed down in the final two periods and was steady overall. It was a fine performance. He made a bad play that led to Minnesota’s only goal of the night.
Erik Johnson (B-) – Like Girard, I thought Johnson had a solid performance throughout. Their combination was very sound all night and outside of the one goal did not allow the Wild’s top line to really get going.
Tyson Jost (C+) – I thought he looked better than his stat line said and he definitely could have walked away with a point or two. He carried his preseason momentum over into a solid night.
Alexander Kerfoot (B) – I loved Kerfoot’s game tonight. He was effective throughout and while he wasn’t quite as shot-happy as he was in the preseason, I didn’t feel like he was passing opening shooting opportunities in favor of high-risk passes. He notched an assist but could have had at least one more.
Gabriel Landeskog (B-) – It was a slow start for the top line but once they found their legs, they really got going. Landeskog was back in his role doing the dirty work for his line and his only shots on the night missed the net entirely.
Nathan MacKinnon (A-) – As mentioned above, a slow start but once the train started moving, ho baby did it get going. MacKinnon’s goal ended up being the game-winner and he led all Avalanche players in ice time. He had eight shots on goal and while he only won eight of 19 faceoffs, he was still the man driving the offense.
Patrik Nemeth (A) – I thought he was Colorado’s best defenseman for long stretches tonight. One of my biggest complaints with Nemeth has been his unwillingness to create competitive pucks on offense but he was firing pucks at the net and notched the only assist from the blue line tonight. Defensively, he was a rock and he made several key plays on the penalty kill that ended Minnesota possessions. This might be the best we see from Nemeth all year.
Matt Nieto (C+) – He gets the plus for the assist on the Soderberg goal as he was fought through a man to move the puck ahead but overall I was pretty underwhelmed by his night. He was fine but he’ll need to pick it up if he doesn’t want his ice time to flip with Calvert or Compher.
Mikko Rantanen (B+) – His pass on the MacKinnon goal was picture perfect. He finished with two points on the night and his four shots on goal were dangerous. A good start for the young Finn.
Carl Soderberg (B) – Hell of a goal to get things going for Soderberg. His line is going to struggle to generate real scoring opportunities and he capitalized on their best chance tonight. A rock solid two-point performance from the man they call Carl.
Semyon Varlamov (A) – One goal against on just 21 shots show a lighter workload than he would expect to see most nights but he did his job. He was especially good on the penalty kill when the Wild created their best offensive chances on the night. He didn’t have to be spectacular but he didn’t do anything silly along the way either.
Colin Wilson (C+) – Had a goal disallowed that was mostly silly in rule but he was solid tonight overall. Lack of finish continues to hold his game back in a big way.
Nikita Zadorov (B-) – A pretty typical night for Zadorov really. He was physically imposing, created a little offense, and chipped in all over the ice. He was just fine even though his ice time was probably a little lower than you’d ideally like.