Avalanche Game 48 Plus/Minus: Elite Being Elite, Cogliano Kills

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 Washington Capitals for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ Elite Players Being Elite

Eventually, players get older, their skills diminish, and they aren’t as effective as they used to be. The team opposite the Avalanche is evidence of that, especially Alex Ovechkin, who looks nothing like the guy we saw even just last year. That’s why you shouldn’t ever take for granted being able to watch superstars on a nightly basis when they’re on their game.

Cale Makar seemed to have more jump last night than he has in weeks, and Mikko Rantanen just quietly racked up five points to move into top five in the league in scoring. The three stars combined for 13 points on six goals.

And Nathan MacKinnon? Well…

+ Nathan MacKinnon

MacKinnon is on another level right now. He and Nikita Kucherov are going punch-for-punch every other night for who is going to lead the league in scoring. One night, MacKinnon puts up four points. The next night, Kucherov matches him with four of his own. Last night, MacKinnon decided to one-up him with a five point night. It’s fun to watch, and it seems like it’s going to be that way the rest of the season.

After the win, MacKinnon was in as good a mood as I’ve seen him all year. I asked him about the chants from the crowd, and you can tell that the Hart Trophy would mean something to him. His eyes are always set on the Stanley Cup, but being named league MVP would be an honor for just about anyone in the league.

We’re running out of things to say about the guy. He’s possessed right now. No one can match what he’s doing, and Avalanche fans are running out of clothes to throw on the ice after he scores. A bra? Do you know how expensive those are? If someone is willing to toss one of those on the ice for you, then you’re having a special season.

+ Cogliano On The Penalty Kill

The Avalanche had nothing going for the first 10-15 minutes of the game. They looked like a team that wasn’t used to an extended break, and the legs weren’t there.

Except for Andrew Cogliano, who might have relished the fact that he got a few days off to recover. On the first two penalty kills, he was a demon. Instead of dumping the puck down the ice, he just weaved in and out of Capitals defenders to kill time. He picked up an assist on Makar’s goal simply because he kept pressuring the Capitals players and forced them into a mistake. Great start for him, and the Avalanche might be bringing in a forward even older than him to help get him into a more ideal role.

+ Alexandar Georgiev

Washington really didn’t generate all that much, but the Avalanche did get sloppy towards the end of the second period, and Georgiev looked super confident in net. When he has a bit of swagger to his game, you know he’s really going, and on his glove save on Protas late in the second, he looked really confident.

+ Lehkonen Is Back

Did Artturi Lehkonen have his best game ever? Not at all, but he showed just how important he is to the team. For a guy returning from a major neck injury, he looked fearless, just like he always does, and that’s huge. While he didn’t score, he came real close a few times, and was robbed by Lindgren on a great passing play in the second period.

I also felt like that was the most jump we’ve seen Ryan Johansen have in weeks. Is a part of that from having a guy like Lehkonen on his line? I’m sure it is. When a guy like Lehky plays with you, you know you’re going to get some more ice-time, and Johansen did after being under 10 minutes last game.

– The Start

I thought we were in for an extremely boring game after the first 15 minutes. While the Avalanche looked rusty and out of it, the Capitals looked like a team that had played just the night before.

Luckily, Cale Makar snapped everyone out of it with his shorthanded goal late, and the Avalanche more than made up for it with the way the final two periods went.

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