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The Weekly Review: Bamboozled by Babcock

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November 19, 2015

Follow me on Twitter if you’re into hockey, numbers, and self-deprecation.

Welcome to my column The Weekly Review, now hosted by the wonderful folks over at BSN Denver. I use this segment primarily to analyze Colorado’s performance over the course of the previous week, although you should also expect the occasional misguided attempt at humour. Tonight, we’re coming to you live from Toronto, where the boys in burgundy and blue were recently ground into a fleshy pulp by the Leafs’ power-play.

The Week In Review

Colorado vs. Philadelphia
4 – 0

CTi2uxJW4AA7EnJ.png_largeFor me, this game was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, regardless of the how fleeting said light may be. Colorado consistently dictated play for arguably the first time all season, boasting a CF% of 55.9 and enjoying 12 high-danger scoring chances—a season high. The Avalanche were able to convert 4 of these chances while netminder Reto Berra stymied the understandably frustrated Flyers, who saw fit to hold a closed-door team meeting following the “unacceptable” loss.

gameShots-2015-11-10-2015020218-COLatPHIColorado’s top line (The 1, 2, 3 line? I’m still taking suggestions) ran roughshod over the Flyers, with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene Duchene posting Corsi differentials of 12, 11, and 9 respectively. I will admit, I was originally skeptical of head coach Patrick Roy playing those three together, especially given the Avalanche is seriously bereft of forward depth. However, it turned out to be a stroke of genius. Brandon Gormley (+6) was also able to buoy the typically abhorrent Brad Stuart (+5), which is nothing short of a miracle.

Update: Cheryl suggests “Palindrome line” (92-9-29), which I’m a big fan of.

matchups-2015-11-10-2015020218-COLatPHIColorado’s top trio made mincemeat of both Claude Giroux‘s line and the Flyers’ first pairing of Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto, the former being led by Duchene who erupted for 2 goals and an assist in response to circulating trade rumours. Not even future Selke candidate Sean Couturier was exempt from the onslaught. Tyson Barrie and Nick Holden also had a strong game, winning a high-event battle against the Flyers’ top unit.

Aside: Is Streit – Del Zotto really the Flyers’ top pairing? Good god.

Colorado vs. Boston
3 – 2

CTsrWtWWcAA_iay.png_largeOn their stop in Beantown, Colorado managed to win their second game in a row while posting a CF% of 57.9, a feat that’s practically unheard of for this motley crew. Berra was once again stellar, stopping a number of high-danger shots early in the first period which allowed the Avalanche to work their way back into the game. Unfortunately, Colorado lost Landeskog early in the second period following an ill-advised hit on local deviant Brad Marchand.

gameShots-2015-11-12-2015020230-COLatBOSDuchene and MacKinnon clearly suffered from non-optimal line matching and from the patchwork options available to them on the left wing following the departure of Landeskog. Fortunately, the Avs’ new second line dominated significant stretches of play, led by former Bruin Carl Soderberg. Soderberg managed the first goal in the Avs’ stirring turn-around, an absolute rocket off of a Blake Comeau feed, and his willingness to play the puck back to the defense when met with neutral zone pressure was nothing short of a revelation. matchups-2015-11-12-2015020230-COLatBOS

Landeskog’s departure aside, Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller beat up on Colorado’s top line. Badly. Conversely, Boston’s spritely rearguard Torey Krug had quite the off night and was personally victimized by nearly every player on Colorado’s roster. Patrice Bergeron‘s limited effectiveness against the Soderberg line was surprising, though he clearly did his job well against MacKinnon and Duchene. How about that Tyson Barrie!

Colorado vs. Montreal
6 – 1

CT3FjiZWcAEgXhp.png_largeThis was one of the weirdest routs I’ve ever seen. Colorado went up early (Mikhail Grigorenko! Nathan MacKinnon!), was absolutely bombarded through 40 minutes thanks to a combination of Dave Farrish and score effects, and then proceeded to roll right over the Canadiens after scoring their fifth. The scoring chances were closer than the shots, but it’s hard to feel positive about the possession aspect of things when you barely controlled play for the majority of the game. Let’s try to move on and forget about that 39.6 CF%, shall we?

gameShots-2015-11-14-2015020250-COLatMTLYes, Barrie is quite fun; I’m glad you’ve also noticed. Beyond that, I’m grateful to Gormley for again allowing an AHL-level defender to play at a team average rate. You’ve got to hope that he might have the opportunity to play with a partner that’s actually competent at some point. Speaking of AHL-level, I think it’s about time that Ben Street paid a visit to San Antonio.

matchups-2015-11-14-2015020250-COLatMTLWe’re not going to talk too much about this; this is very ugly. Shout out to Nathan Beaulieu and Jeff Petry for making the Soderberg trio look like they’d been plucked out of a PeeWee game. On the positive side of things, at least Barrie was able to generate some offense against the Canadiens’ top pairing. P.K. Subban had a rare off night.

Colorado vs. Toronto
1 – 5

CUGVo2iWsAEluRb.png_largeColorado’s stop in Toronto started poorly and rapidly degraded from there. The Leafs scored early—on the strength of a Leo Komarov shorthanded effort—and often, with former Avalanche P.A. Parenteau netting two of Toronto’s four power-play markers. Indeed, Colorado scored the game’s only 5v5 goal and managed a 47.7 CF%, but the Leafs’ power-play was in rare form and was not to be denied. Reimer’s pristine play at the other end of the ice didn’t help matters much either. Not a poor effort by any means, but the fact of the matter is that some nights you’re the lesser team.

gameShots-2015-11-17-2015020272-COLatTOR

Predictably, Parenteau put on an absolute clinic and was lauded by Toronto head coach Mike Babcock for “working probably as hard as he has in his career without the puck,” perhaps a not-so-subtle shot at Roy for his mismanagement of the talented forward. At any rate, Parenteau was clearly playing with something to prove, and if he keeps this up, I’m sure the Leafs will be able to turn him into a shiny second round pick at the trade deadline. Also, what’s up with Babcock’s reluctance to play Brad Boyes? Is he seeing something that I’m not?

The Avs’ top line had another relatively strong outing, and new roster addition Chris Wagner was clearly playing for his dinner. That’s a man who enjoys a controlled defensive zone exit, I’ll tell you that much.

matchups-2015-11-17-2015020272-COLatTOR

MacKinnon and Nazem Kadri went head-to-head for the entirety of the night, their match-up ending in a stalemate. Similarly, Babock explicity matched Morgan Rielly and Matt Hunwick against MacKinnon’s line in a successful attempt to negate MacKinnon and Duchene’s whirling majestry. Underrated rearguard Jake Gardiner took great pleasure in pulverizing the Avs’ 4th line, much to my dismay, and fended off attacks from Colorado’s other lines quite adequately.

Moving forward, this segment will be expanding a bit, and I’ll be taking a look at how the Avs are doing in the context of the rest of the league. Keep an eye out for next week’s post on Monday.

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