Avalanche Game Three Plus/Minus: Constantly Chasing, Top Six Combos

Author:
Colorado Hockey Now

It’s time for playoff plus/minus! As with every game, you take the good with the bad, so time to take a look at the pluses and the minuses in Game Three against the Dallas Stars for the Colorado Avalanche.

– Constantly Chasing

Bednar always says that he tells is his the only score that matters is the one at the end of the game. He’s not wrong about that, but when you’re constantly chasing the game, you end up exerting a lot more energy over the course of 60 minutes than you would otherwise.

The amount of seconds the Avalanche have held a lead in this series: 0

This team can come back from anything. We’ve seen it all year long, and it sure made for some exciting games. In the playoffs, when you’re playing against the best-of-the-best on a nightly basis, it’s going to get harder and harder to do that, and while the Avalanche have pushed the last two games to come back to win games, you can’t do it every night and it’s simply not a recipe for success. Dallas is a really good team, and last night, they figured out how to properly defend the lead in the third period, giving the Avalanche nothing. After the first few minutes of that third, it didn’t feel like Colorado got close to tying it up. The road team deserves credit for that, but the Avalanche have to figure out how to get ahead in Game Four and make the Stars chase the game for once.

– Ugly Powerplay

That’s now two games in a row where Colorado’s powerplay has been held in check. Not very surprising that they lost both those games.

The issue on Saturday night is that they barely even generated chances. On the first powerplay, MacKinnon had a one-timer that was blocked, but that was the only decent look. Powerplay two, they couldn’t even get in the zone and the only chance was off a rush. I don’t think there was a decent look on powerplay three either. Those were three chances pretty early in the game to control the momentum and they did the exact opposite. Man advantage has to figure things out and adjust to Dallas‘ pressure.

Mikko Rantanen and Artturi Lehkonen

I’m not sure anyone in the top six had a “great” game, but I thought both Rantanen and Lehkonen were sub-par. Rantanen deserves credit for going to the net and picking up the only goal of the game, but the puck was not his friend in Game Three and he had one of those nights where his balance appeared to be an issue.

With Lehkonen, I think that’s now two games in a row where he hasn’t looked like himself. He went to the bench in a lot of pain after his first shift in Game Two, and hasn’t looked the same since. I don’t know if that’s an issue or not, but simple, short passes that he normally excels at were a pain to execute for him. On powerplay two, I think he passed the puck twice to no one, forcing the Avalanche to regroup in the neutral zone. That top line dominated possession, but a lot of that seemed like it had to do with MacKinnon (and Devon Toews when he was out there).

+ Sam Girard and Devon Toews

He just keeps chugging along with his strong season. That penalty kill in the second period, that seemed to give the Avalanche and the fans some much needed life, was fantastic. He tracked and followed the shooter and came up with a big block late in the penalty kill, and seconds later, blocked a cross-ice pass to fully kill it off. He and Toews seemed like the best defensemen on the ice by far. Toews was up in the play a lot more than his defensive partner, who seemed to struggle to corral passes (he wasn’t alone in that).

– Jack Johnson

Johnson has been a lot steadier than I expected this season, but last night, he seemed to be running into teammates with consistency and had some ugly zone exit attempts that led to turnovers. He did have one moment where he danced Wyatt Johnston at the offensive blueline, which caught everyone off guard, but outside of that, not a huge fan of his game.

– The New Top Six Combinations

Lehkonen is normally very strong on the top line, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that trio overall, even though the number suggest they were dominant. The biggest issue was the second line. They had a nice passing play in the second that led to Valeri Nichushkin hitting the post, but they didn’t look like they gelled most of the night. Zach Parise is still working his butt off, but the limitations are starting to show in a top six role. If Jonathan Drouin is able to return in Game Four, that would be a huge boost for this team and give the staff a few more options.

+ Third Line

Once again, they created some momentum for the team and played physical. Joel Kiviranta was a difference maker again, but he might be in some pain today after Ross Colton got him good with a hit in the second period.

-/+ Pressure Is On

Listen, the Avalanche are about to face some real pressure. They have to hold serve at home on Monday. Otherwise, they’ll be in a scenario where they need to win three straight against a really good Dallas team. I think the Avalanche are a really good team, but I’m not sure that’s something they can pull off. Monday night is a must-win game.

The reason why this is both a plus and a minus is because you don’t want to be in this situation, and Colorado has no one to blame but themselves for being in this situation. That being said, these are the spots where you find you what you are made of. Will Colorado step up to the challenge, or will the Stars take a stranglehold of the series?

– Bad Ice

I don’t actually know if there was an event at Ball Arena on Friday night, but the ice looked sub-par. This was the case in Game Two in Dallas, but I wasn’t expecting it to be the case in Denver as well. Hopefully they can get that figured out before Monday night.

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