When Bowen Byram scored late in the second period to make it 3-1, it was Makar’s third point of the game and all three were well earned. Three points in just under 38 minutes to put the Avs in prime territory to go away with a 4-0 road trip.
That’s how good it was today. While Detroit fans were on edge about Simon Edvinsson’s debut and his big hit on Nathan MacKinnon in the first period, the best real defenseman in the league that every kid aspires to be took over the game and put his team in the victory. path. His skating and aggressive decision making with the puck defined this game.
The play that put Byram on the pass for that third goal was solely Makar. No other defenseman, and really no other player, can manipulate the defense with the fast-twitch puck job he has. It’s devastatingly effective when it works, as he certainly did today. I don’t know if there’s enough of a clue for me to make a real load on voting for Norris, but I bet some people look at how the season is ending and are reminded of what a world we really live in.
MacKinnon’s game has been on a rocket for several months. He scored his 30th goal of the season today on a play where he beats three Red Wings skaters and then beats Ville Husso with a great shot. The setup of Makar and Malgin was sublime, but that was just to create space for MacKinnon, who abuses space as well as anyone in the league not named Connor McDavid.
It was a beautiful play through the neutral zone and ended up being the game-winner, but MacKinnon was just getting started. While Makar had the Avs early on, MacKinnon helped Colorado slam the door shut in this game and it feels like a pretty fun game between the two superstars.
While the fifth goal wasn’t NECESSARY, it completely eliminated any thoughts Detroit might have had about trying to make it competitive. It was also a terrific passing play that showed Colorado’s best players have something in their tank when they play together.
The truth of this game is that it turned out to be a runaway winner for the Avalanche, but it took them getting over a tough first quarter in which the Red Wings trampled Colorado. The main factor to come out of the opening frame with the game tied 1-1 was Georgiev, who once again was excellent in this game.
With 16 shots, 15 chances on goal and seven high-danger chances in the first period alone, Georgiev was pretty busy. The only shot that got past was a perfectly placed wrist strike from Pius Suter that sailed past Georgiev over the top. You can live with that goal against the goalie.
The rest of the game? She slammed the door shut. He was excellent at playing a calm and controlled game that looked like he might have gotten bored at some point. He stopped a couple of mini-breaks in the second period that could have tied the game or brought the game to one goal, but he held his own.
One thing I’ve come to appreciate about Georgiev when dealing with escapades is how calm he really is. He’s not overdoing it, reading things that aren’t there and forcing shooters to do something to get him to move out of his position. That patience in a no-penalty breakaway is difficult for shooters because, due to the pace of play, they know that time quickly runs out to make a move. Georgiev repeatedly wins that battle of wills and he did it again today.
The team in front of him played significantly better in periods two and three, but he was the best player on the team in the first period when they needed him most. He ends the tour by conceding two goals in his last two games.
Things started out HARD in this game with the Byram-Girard pairing together. As the game progressed, Girard’s struggles continued and Byram broke away. The decision to go 4v3 on the power play late in the second period was a great move by Jared Bednar and Nolan Pratt. They showed great confidence in their youngster and he rewarded them with that one time that is clearly the best single among defenders.
For Byram, it was another game where he got off to a slow start, but he got into the flow of the game and took over late on. Games like today are what make him such a different young player. Early fights aren’t necessarily a sign of things to come, as he has the rare ability to turn it around and get going in the middle of the game.
He has as many as 17 points in just 30 games this season.
The Avs finished 1-3 on the power play, scoring at their best opportunity with the 4v3 late in the second period to stretch the game to 3-1 and really start to put the game to bed. On the other hand, the penalty responded to a difficult outing in Ottawa to kill three power plays, including one early in the third period that had a game-changing effect on the result.
After Andrew Cogliano was penalized for Tripping, the Avs PK went to work just minutes into the third period with a 3-1 lead. If the Red Wings score there, it’s 3-2 with plenty of time to find an equalizer.
Detroit not only didn’t score, but Valeri Nichushkin and Lars Eller combined for a short-handed goal that really changed the outcome from “still in doubt” to “fairly solidified.”
This was just a disaster for G from the start. I didn’t have any of the tools working today. Puck movement was a problem and led directly to Detroit’s lone goal, his feet weren’t moving as well as usual, and the coaching staff knew he would have to find some answers today.
One of the “signs” from the coaching staff is how they handle the deployment of Brad Hunt and Jack Johnson. They’ve added a lot of Toews-Makar action to help them get through those minutes, but usually the guy who does it better is placed with Johnson and the guy who doesn’t do it as well is next to Hunt in more limited divisions.
Today, Byram went with Johnson and found success there and alongside Toews in odd shifts as well, but Girard was strictly with Hunt and both of his assignments produced poor results on the ice. It just wasn’t good for Girard.
The goal against was something we’ve seen all too often this season (though not as often recently) when Girard took Georgiev’s puck and shot it softly off the wall. He didn’t get much help from MacKinnon, but he was trying to avoid Larkin’s punch and pulled the puck out a second too early. If he takes the hit, he probably makes the play and MacKinnon is better positioned to do something there.
After the turnover, Girard really does not offer any resistance to Suter. He doesn’t put his stick in a competitive position to make the play and his shot-blocking stance accomplished nothing. Girard didn’t play particularly well on a day when he wasn’t anywhere near his best.
“The Other (Top Six) Boys”
The Colorado stars get as much shine, as they deserve, but today you saw every other member of the front six pick up points along the way. Malgin had the big assist on MacKinnon’s goal, Compher got an assist on Toews’ goal, Nichushkin had the assist on Eller’s SHG and Rodrigues got an assist on Rantanen’s goal with a beautiful pass through the box.
It’s not normal for all your top six forwards to contribute points, but in the games where it does, your team probably won. That was certainly the case today.
All of those guys had more moments than great individual games, but in the continued absence of Gabe Landeskog and Artturi Lehkonen, there’s a lot of pressure on these guys to help MacKinnon and Rantanen up front.
Today was a team pulling the rope in the same direction and getting a good result. You want to see more of this in the future.