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Alexandar Georgiev's Emotional Displays Raise Questions for the Avs

Meghan Angley Avatar
April 6, 2024

Let’s face it, Colorado’s outing in Edmonton was nothing short of disastrous for the sheer loss of Mikko Rantanen alone. Rantanen left the game with an upper-body injury after a heavy hit from Mattias Ekholm.

Jared Bednar said that he’d be under evaluation for a while, and the hits kept coming.

In their 6-2 loss to Edmonton, glaring concerns were brought to the forefront and it’d be irresponsible not to address them at least in part.

Before I begin, the Avs were on the second leg of a back-to-back. They probably got to their hotel in Edmonton at 3:30 AM the day of, so some tired legs were to be expected.

Last year Colorado went 19-5-2 in 13 back-to-backs for the 2nd best record in the league behind Boston. They are 3-2-2 in the first contest of a back-to-back this year and now 4-3-0 in the second.

Perhaps last year fueled some misplaced optimism in what the Avs could have accomplished in Edmonton, but it didn’t erase the validity of some of the concerns that emerged.

Val Nichushkin and Yakov Trenin returned to the lineup with fresh legs, but by my eye, they weren’t at 100% and may need a couple games to return to form. Trenin did bring much needed energy – his rust was more so mental/disciplinary.

So, what went so wrong in Edmonton?

Georgiev’s Gloom

Alexandar Georgiev earned his 58th start against Edmonton and played his 250th career game.

After Justus Annunen started in Minnesota, Georgiev had several days off to rest and recuperate after he was pulled against the Nashville Predators last Saturday.

Georgiev launched a puck into the stands out of frustration after the fourth goal-against and earned an unsportsmanlike conduct. Bednar made the decision to pull him.

It wasn’t the first visible display of frustration this season. All in the month of December: he smacked Sam Malinski with his stick, slammed his stick against the boards in Arizona, and got pulled against Calgary after it was clear they were in his head.

After Edmonton’s fourth goal, he experienced another meltdown in net.

Bednar has discussed how these types of displays from any of his players expose a vulnerability to the other team that gives them an advantage. Once they know they’re in your head, they’ll move to capitalize on that.

There’s probably a couple viable reasons Georgiev stayed in the net against Edmonton in spite of this. If Annunen gets the start against Dallas on Sunday, Bednar might have wanted to keep him fresh.

Colorado didn’t give Edmonton their best, and Bednar probably knew that Annunen going in cold with a tired Avs group in front of him could spell disaster and harm his confidence needlessly. The win was pretty out of reach.

Maybe Bednar wanted to see how Georgiev worked through the rest of the game after the obvious frustration following the fourth goal.

It’s concerning that Georgiev followed up his Nashville performance with an even uglier outing in Edmonton.

He didn’t look sharp at the drop of the puck. Edmonton dumped the puck in Colorado’s end and Georgiev left the crease to play the puck. He rimmed it around the boards straight to Ryan McLeod.

The Oilers cycled the puck from low to high and Darnell Nurse ripped a shot toward the net. Corey Perry was in the shot lane to deflect it in. Jack Johnson got tied up behind the net trying to prevent Evander Kane from moving the puck. Ross Colton did successfully corral Perry to the outside – it was just an unlikely tip.

He should have secured the puck on the Ekholm and Kane goals in the second period.

Last year Georgiev put together an impressive inaugural season in the starter’s net. He was fine in the Seattle series too, the Avs just didn’t have the horses.

I believe in Georgiev’s skillset enough to get the job done, but I’m concerned with how he processes the game mentally.

Nothing good has come from the anger. It hasn’t inspired a better performance from him inside games. With exception to the games he’s been pulled from, the Avs have lost each one that has had a meltdown.

There are only five games left in the season. Short of a deep commitment to some soul searching, the Avs’ goaltending situation is on a knife’s edge.

Bednar has a challenging task at hand with how he manages his starts down the stretch, and it will be revealing. Annunen should get another start against one of Dallas, Vegas, Edmonton, or Winnipeg at minimum. We need to see how he stacks up against playoff teams.

As for Georgiev, I hope he has a strong support system around him – one that strikes the right balance of care and kindness as well as accountability.

Blasé Backcheck

The wheels came off after Edmonton’s third goal because it got in Georgiev’s head (and led to the fourth goal’s snafu), but the second goal-against was a symptom of another issue.

Evan Bouchard sent a stretch pass to Leon Draisaitl at the Avs defensive blueline. Draisaitl fell back and teed up Ekholm out high. Ekholm sent a pass behind the net to Connor McDavid and McDavid tried for the wraparound.

Devon Toews put his stick at the post to cover it since Georgiev’s pad wasn’t quite there, but it created a perfect storm of Georgiev’s pad sliding to the post and knocking the puck in.

This instance wasn’t as egregious because everybody got back. Draisaitl pulled a move upon entry similar to what Jonathan Drouin did for his goal, so I’m not faulting Cale Makar’s coverage for that. As a result, Edmonton moved the puck high to low and Nathan MacKinnon was the forward tasked with going behind the goal line to confront McDavid.

Perhaps a little more aggression from MacKinnon there wouldn’t have emboldened McDavid to try for the wraparound in the first place.

The obvious issue with this goal is more so the lack of trust Toews had in Georgiev’s ability to seal his post – and it wasn’t misplaced. If Georgiev’s pad was there in time, Toews’ stick placement wouldn’t have mattered.

Sticking to the backcheck theme, a failed keep at the offensive blueline slipped past MacKinnon’s stick and Ekholm sent the puck ahead to Draisaitl for a three-on-two.

Sam Girard was back on the play, but he had to decide if Ekholm or Draisaitl was the threat and he couldn’t tie up that passing lane. 

Draisaitl got the puck through to Ekholm in the slot and Ekholm drove to the net with Artturi Lehkonen in tow. Georgiev’s glove nearly had the save, but it slipped from his grasp and Lehkonen’s skate knocked it five-hole.

Bednar challenged the play for goaltender interference because Ekholm’s skate dragged Georgiev’s left pad out to open his five-hole, but it was unsuccessful and the Avs went on the kill.

Not unlike the Columbus game, a broken play in the offensive zone put them on their toes, and it cost them the other way.

With seconds left to go in the second period, it was hard to watch the play begin with the puck on an Avs’ stick and end with the puck in the back of their net.

There wasn’t much time for a backcheck because the play unfolded so quickly the other way.

Casey Mittelstadt attempted to dump-in from inside the neutral zone, but he received pressure from McLeod and released the puck in a panic straight to Cody Ceci.

Ceci sent the puck back out to McLeod and Mittelstadt got tangled up trying to engage him, so McLeod burst ahead.

McLeod sent a snap shot on net from out high. Sean Walker tried to clog his shooting lane but he got the shot through.

It went straight into Georgiev’s glove, but he didn’t secure it and the puck fell at the net-front. 

Kane got inside Jack Johnson just outside the crease and the falling puck was directed in off his leg.

The final goals emphasized Colorado’s defeat.

Another Edmonton transition put Makar and Toews alone on the backcheck against Zach Hyman.

Toews tried to get the puck away from him, but McDavid managed to escape with it and sent it across the blue paint. Makar attempted to sweep it from the crease to Mittelstadt coming down the slot, but McDavid got to it instead and sent it short-side. Georgiev was pulled to the other post to address Evan Bouchard as his shooter. McDavid was all alone.

On their sixth goal, Edmonton moved the puck to the neutral zone and Walker tried to stop the play at center ice, but McLeod gathered the bouncing puck and charged ahead. Mittelstadt, Walker, and Johnson tried to get back, but Kane sent a shot on net from the outside and some bodies at the netfront knocked the loose puck five-hole.

Walker had Kane as his man out wide, but Kane had a step on him. This is another instance where a little more pressure might have helped them out.

After Rantanen left the game, I wanted to see the Avs respond with a little aggression through their backcheck. Nothing dirty, nothing illegal, just heavy pressure on the puck carrier to make Colorado’s end an unwelcome place.

The neutral zone was a freeway and the blueline tolls were waived.

I’m granting Colorado allowances because it was difficult scheduling. But after the Columbus game with similar troubles, I want to see them ramp it up in preparation for the hockey that matters most.

Their path through the West will inevitably come with teams who will make them pay, and they need to be ready.


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