Avalanche Game 77 Plus/Minus: Leaky Georgiev, Missing Mikko

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 Edmonton Oilers for the Colorado Avalanche.

+ The Penalty Kill

If I told you the Avalanche managed to go 5-for-5 on the penalty kill against the deadly Oilers powerplay, you probably would assume they walked away with a victory.

Not exactly, but at least the penalty kill did what they had to do. You’re not going to completely shut down a powerplay that can throw Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the ice, but you can at least limit what they’re able to do, and Colorado did that. The return of Yakov Trenin and Valeri Nichushkin definitely helped in this area.

Alexandar Georgiev

It’s not all on Alexandar Georgiev. It’s just not. The Avalanche gave up 47 shots, and looked completely out of the game for the last 30 minutes. Playing the night before never helps, but Colorado has historically been a pretty good team on the second half of a back-to-back.

All those shots aside, some of the goals given up by Georgiev on Friday were just unacceptable. The opening goal was a fantastic deflection by Perry, but it all started because of an ugly play with the puck by Georgiev. The third goal was flukey as can be, but definitely felt like Georgiev could have just covered that puck up. Instead, it hits his stick, bounces off Lehkonen’s leg, and goes back through Georgiev’s legs. Just a mess, but the next goal was a total backbreaker.

McLeod’s shot somehow managed to squeak out of Georgiev’s glove and go back against the grain, hitting Kane and going into the net. If he just controls that shot, the Avalanche head into the locker room down by just one. Does Colorado find a way to comeback? Judging by their energy levels in the third, probably not, but you at least give your team a chance. That goal killed any opportunity they had. Unfortunately, the bad goals weren’t done. I still don’t quite know how Kane’s second goal snuck through his legs, but it did.

The only playoff team Justus Annunen has started against this season is the Tampa Bay Lightning back in February. Based off that, I have a hard time seeing the team hand the reigns over to him, but we’re going to have to see how he can handle a tougher opponent before the playoffs start. Four of Colorado’s last five games are against Western Conference playoff teams. He has to start against at least one of those playoff teams, right? If that doesn’t happen, then it’s clear they’re riding with Georgiev down the stretch, if it isn’t clear already.

– Losing Mikko

Will it matter who is in net if the Avalanche don’t have Mikko Rantanen? Colorado has been able to outscore some goaltending issues this year. It’s harder to do that if you’re missing a 100 point player.

I really don’t have a problem with the hit. It was clean. The result just stinks, though. Rantanen didn’t look right getting off the ice. He looked really wobbly and needed a fair bit of help. If it’s indeed a head injury, that’s scary because they’re just so unpredictable. He could clear protocol in a week, or it could linger. You just don’t know.

The Avalanche have barely been able to play with the top six they envisioned after the trade deadline, and barring some incredible injury news, they probably won’t be able to play with them together on Sunday in a huge game against the Stars. Just have to hope for the best with Rantanen.

+ Getting Trenin and Nichushkin Back

Neither of these guys registered a shot on goal, so they didn’t exactly make a huge impact or provide an energy boost up front, but they’re both important players on this team, especially Nichushkin. If they’re healthy and good to go the rest of the way, that’s good news for the Avalanche.

– The Top Pair

Connor McDavid can make a lot of great players look average, and he did that to Cale Makar and Devon Toews on Friday. Head-to-head, the matchup wasn’t even that close. McDavid outscored them 2-0, outshot them 10-4, and the shot attempts were 17-7 in favor of Edmonton when the best player in the world was out against Makar and Toews. Hard to win when that happens.

– Shot Suppression

46 shots given up to the Wild, and 47 given up to the Oilers. A lot came from the perimeter against Minnesota, but that wasn’t the case against the Oilers. Regardless of where they’re coming from, you can’t be giving up that many shots against. Not when you’re trying to ramp things up for the postseason. There’s a lot to clean up right now.

– Casey Mittelstadt

It feels like his game has slowed down a bit of late, especially on the defensive end. The fourth Oilers goal was ugly on Georgiev’s part, but Mittelstadt got the puck taken right away from him in the neutral zone by McLeod. It was way too easy, and just have to be harder to play against than that.

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