Avalanche Game 31 Plus/Minus: Makar Uncertainty, New Role For Johansen

Colorado Hockey Now

As with every game, you take the good with the bad, so time to take a look at the pluses and the minuses in the game against the Sharks for the Colorado Avalanche.

+/- The Full Miles Wood Experience

To date, I feel like we’ve mostly gotten the good version of Miles Wood. He’s been pretty consistent in his play, and most importantly, he’s stayed out of the penalty box.

On Sunday night, we got the full Miles Wood experience, the type of game I saw quite a bit of when watching his New Jersey tape.

In the first period, he scored a great goal, with a perfect snipe over Blackwood’s left shoulder. This came just a few minutes after he exited the box for tripping, although I didn’t think that was a great call. In the second, he found himself in the box again, and he kind of earned this one, taking a high-sticking penalty after a failed clear along the wall. The next penalty kill, he burst around the defenseman for a nice shorthanded chance.

It’s the type of chaos I expected this year, and we got a little tase of everything on Sunday.

+ Nathan MacKinnon…Again

It’s December, but it does feel like we’re running out of things to say about MacKinnon. With four points, he moved into second place in the NHL in scoring, and he’s taken his game to a new level this month. After the win, he talked about how the game feels “slow” for him right now, which is a scary sign for the rest of the league. He’s got 27 points in his 15 game point streak, and has a point in every single home game this season.

He’s on a heater, and if it’s anything like last season, he might do this the rest of the year.

– The Cale Makar Uncertainty

“He’s got a nagging injury.”

That was Jared Bednar after the game on Sunday. It seems like something has been nagging Makar all season long, which makes it even more remarkable what he’s done this year. The Avalanche sat him in both games over the weekend, but if it was me in charge of things, I’d sit him until the start of 2024.

If you look at the schedule until the New Year, the Avalanche don’t exactly play any real powerhouses. Chicago is up next, then Ottawa, then Arizona twice, St. Louis, and finally, the Sharks again. This team should be able to survive until the New Year, and that would give Makar some time to rest up. I don’t know if that fixes any problem, but if you’re going to do it, now might be the time.

+ Johansen’s Role

It’s pretty clear the Avalanche do not have a 2C at the moment, and the lines that Jared Bednar is rolling with are a pretty clear indication that he probably agrees with that sentiment.

If you ask me, Johansen’s best games over the last few weeks have come when he’s played with grinders and not skill players. Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so. Last night, he played with Andrew Cogliano and Logan O’Connor, two guys who will get in on the forecheck, can skate, and will do a lot of the dirty work. Maybe that’s what he needs at this point in his career. It led to a late goal, and he looked good in the role he was used in.

It’s unfortunate that the team still needs to find a 2C, but at least they’re seeing Johansen may help in a smaller role if it comes to that.

+ Alexandar Georgiev

No, the Sharks aren’t a very good team, but they have been scoring more goals of late. Georgiev was solid in net, didn’t allow any bad goals, and made some flashy glove saves, including a nice one on Zetterlund late.

+ Sam Malinski

I continue to be impressed with his game. He’s not lacking confidence at all right now, and after taking a hit from behind very early in the game, he came back and played his game. The Avalanche aren’t exactly sheltering him, either. He’s playing a decent amount, and spent most of the night paired with Bowen Byram. I like what I see.

– The Penalty Kill

While Colorado’s powerplay chipped in with two goals, it was evened out by them giving up two goals to the Sharks powerplay. The first one? That was nice execution, and a great deflection by Hertl. The second one wasn’t so great, as Byram got caught between trying to defend a few guys in front, and reaching to clear a rebound. Neither worked, and it ended up in the back of the net. It was also way too easy of a play to set up after a face-off win for the Sharks.

+ Drouin Keeps Producing

I said before the year that I thought Drouin could work with Miles Wood and Ross Colton, and in every game he’s played with them this year, I’ve liked them as a group. He adds a little skill to a few guys who prefer to grind it out, and it led to a goal on Sunday. His production is skewed a bit towards the powerplay, but at least he’s producing some points. That’s 11 points in his last 19 games. After a slow start, he seems to have found a fit in the system, and the staff is trusting him more.

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