There it is. That’s what we’ve been waiting to see. Olausson played with passion and fire today as he took advantage of the third opportunity to put something on the ice that he can be proud of. It wasn’t that his first two games were terrible or anything close to it, just that for a player of his skill level it wasn’t quite what he should have been producing.
In today’s comeback win over Vegas, Olausson was a driving force and he was especially solid in helping run the Avalanche power play as one of the focal points of the attack. He found shooting lanes and put pressure on the Golden Knights before finally breaking through with an excellent finish that showcased his NHL-caliber shooting ability.
Olausson’s assist, however, might have been even more noteworthy because everyone knows he can shoot. When he repeatedly rocked back and took aim at the Vegas net in this game, VGK had no choice but to start doing something about it. Once they did, Olausson drew the defenders in and found an open teammate in front of the net for a game-tying goal in the third period. That’s what we’ve waited to see all weekend from him.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Hanzel is just getting the job done. It wasn’t just that he finished with three assists in today’s game, but for me, it was that he did it in an entirely different role than the previous two games.
With Sam Malinski in the lineup the first two games, Hanzel took a backseat in responsibility and primarily played a sound defensive game, especially in Game 2 when he was partnered with Malinski and was given the head-to-head matchup against Leo Carlsson.
Hanzel impressed in those spots, each of them playing on his natural left side, but today stepped into an even larger role with no Malinski around. He moved to the right side, played all situations, and had his best game of the weekend.
If that isn’t making a case to Colorado’s front office that he should be getting very serious consideration for a contract and turning pro this fall, I don’t know what more he can do. He has put himself in position to possibly get multiple preseason games to impress even more and earn that deal.
This space is typically reserved for players but I wanted to give the new Colorado Eagles head coach some love here because it was his first time running the bench in his new role and the results were impressive.
His Avalanche lineups were, at least on paper, not quite as talented as those of the Coyotes, Ducks, and Golden Knights but that didn’t stop the team from going 3-0 this weekend. All three wins were comeback victories as the Avalanche were outplayed for long stretches in each game but ultimately found their way to the winning side of things.
It’s not so much that the Avs won that I’m putting Schneekloth in this space but that he got so much out of his team. They played hard for him and took his messaging to heart. There is a lot on the line for some of these kids and you’d think that maximum effort would be given at this event but in previous years we’ve seen a lot of kids just pack it in for whatever reason.
Not this year’s group and I found that noteworthy. If Schneekloth can replicate that at the AHL level, the Eagles will be must-watch hockey more nights than not.
The injury bug
Last year was a nightmare scenario for the Avalanche organization on the injury front. The NHL team never got healthy and it bled into the AHL team’s ability to function in optimal conditions as the Eagles were constantly losing players to call-ups. The Eagles had to make multiple AHL trades just to have bodies on the blueline to push through last season.
Everyone was hoping this year would be a fresh start and a turning of the injury page but this weekend was not a great result in that regard. Jason Polin was having a fantastic weekend until an injury knocked him out for an undetermined amount of time, Ondrej Pavel traveled with the team but did not make any appearances as it sounds like he’s nursing some kind of injury, and Briley Wood also did not play.
The team had to put defenseman Bryan Yoon at forward for today’s contest to give them 11 forwards. Hell, even Ryan Sandelin got hurt during the game and missed a few shifts before ultimately returning to the action.
We don’t know the status of these guys right now but to suffer that level of carnage at the Rookie Faceoff is incredibly annoying. Let’s hope this is just an injury fluke and not a harbinger of injury doom.
Another game, another strong performance from Ivan. I don’t know where he fits into the Eagles forward picture this year but he’s on an AHL contract and it just feels like the Avs might have a little something with this kid.
His all-around play was consistently strong this weekend and he was a versatile, all-situations player.