Avs Game 68 Studs & Duds: Road trip perfection


Kal Makar

When Bowen Byram scored to make it 3-1 late in the second half, it was Makar’s third point of the game and all three were well deserved. Three points in just under 38 minutes to put the Avs in prime territory to come away with a 4-0 away game.

He was that good today. While Detroit fans were excited for the debut of Simon Edvinsson and his big hit against Nathan MacKinnon in the first half, the league’s arguably best defenseman, whom all kids aspire to, took over the game and guided his team to victory. His skating and aggressive decision-making with the puck defined this game.

The move he put on the pass to Byram for that third goal was unique to Makar. No other defender and really no other player can manipulate the defense with his quick puck work. It’s devastatingly effective when it works, as it certainly did today. I don’t know if there’s enough runway for him to make a real charge in the Norris vote, but I bet some people watch him finish the season and remember whose world we’re really in life.

Nathan MacKinnon

MacKinnon’s game has been on a rocket for a few months. He scored his 30th goal of the season today in a game in which he outplayed three Red Wings skaters and then defeated Ville Husso with a great shot. Makar and Malgin’s setup was great, but that was only to make room for MacKinnon, who abuses space as much as anyone in the league whose name isn’t Connor McDavid.

It was a nice play through the neutral zone and ended in the game-winning goal, but MacKinnon was just getting started. While Makar had the avs early on, MacKinnon helped Colorado slam the door on this game and it feels like a pretty fun game between the two Superstars.

While the fifth goal wasn’t REQUIRED, it absolutely eliminated any thoughts Detroit might have had about trying to make it competitive. It was also a great passing game that showed Colorado’s best players have something in their tanks when they play together.

Alexander Georgiev

The truth of this game is that it became a runaway winner for the Avalanche, but it took them to get through a difficult first period that saw the Red Wings ruthlessly treat Colorado. The main factor that made it come out of the opening frame in the 1-1 draw was Georgiev, who once again excelled in that game.

Georgiev was busy with 16 shots, 15 chances and seven dangerous chances in the first period alone. The only shot that got past him was a perfectly placed wrister from Pius Suter that knocked Georgiev up. You can live with this goalkeeper’s goal.

The rest of the game? Slammed the door. He was excellent at playing a calm, controlled game that looked like he eventually got bored. He stopped a couple of mini breakaways in the second half that could have leveled the game or brought it back on goal, but he stayed big.

One thing I’ve come to appreciate about Georgiev when it comes to breakaways is how calm he really is. He doesn’t overdo it, reads things that aren’t there, and forces shooters to do something to make him move out of his stance. This patience with a breakaway without a shootout is difficult for shooters because they know that at the pace of the game, they can quickly run out of time on a move. Georgiev wins this battle of wills repeatedly and did so again today.

The team ahead of him played significantly better in periods two and three, but he was the team’s best player in the first period when they needed him most. He ends the road trip, giving up two goals in his last two games.

Bowen Byram

Things started in this game with the Byram-Girard HARD pairing. As the game went on, Girard’s struggles continued with Byram getting separated. The decision to play the 4v3 on the power play late in the second half was one hell of a move by Jared Bednar and Nolan Pratt. They had great confidence in their youngster and he rewarded them with clearly the best one-timer among defenders.

It was another game for Byram where he got off to a slow start but settled into the flow of the game and eventually took over. Games like today make him such a different young player. Early fights don’t necessarily bode well for the future, as he has the rare ability to turn things around and choose the right path mid-game.

He has accumulated as many as 17 points in just 30 games this season.

Special teams

The Avs finished 3-1 on the power play and created their best chances with the 4v3 late in the second half to stretch the game to 3-1 and truly end the game. On the other hand, after a tough game in Ottawa, the penalty reacted to kill three power plays, including one early in the third period that had a game-changing effect on the result.

With Andrew Cogliano called up for Tripping, Avs PK went to work just minutes into the third period and led 3-1. If the Red Wings score there, it will be 3-2 with plenty of time to find the equalizer.

Not only did Detroit not score, but Valeri Nichushkin and Lars Eller combined to score a goal while shorthanded that really took the score from ‘doubtful’ to ‘fairly solid’.


Sam Girard

This was just a mess for G from the start. He didn’t have any of the tools that worked today. Moving the puck was a problem and led straight to Detroit’s only goal, feet didn’t move nearly as well as normal, and the coaching staff knew they had to find some answers today.

One of the coaching staff’s “tells” is how they handle the use of Brad Hunt and Jack Johnson. They’ve thrown in a lot of Toews-Makar action to help them get through those minutes, but usually the guy who’s running best is paired with Johnson and the guy who’s not running so well is in alongside Hunt more limited splits.

Today Byram went with Johnson and found success on one or two shifts there and alongside Toews, but Girard was strict with Hunt and his two duties led to poor results on the ice. It just wasn’t good for Girard.

The clean sheet was something we’ve seen too many times this season (though not nearly as often lately) as Girard took the puck from Georgiev and gently fired it into the wall. He didn’t get much help from MacKinnon, but he tried to avoid Larkin’s hit and forced the puck out a second early. If he takes the shot, he’s probably making the play and MacKinnon is better positioned to do something there.

After the turnover, Girard Suter offers no real resistance. He doesn’t put his racquet in a competitive position to make the game and his shot-blocking stance didn’t do anything. It just wasn’t played very well by Girard on a day when he wasn’t nearly as good as he was.

Secret hero

“The Other (Top 6) Boys”

Colorado’s stars are getting all the shine they deserve, but today you saw every single other member of the top six forwards earn points along the way. Malgin had the great assist on MacKinnon’s goal, Compher assisted on Toews’ goal, Nichushkin had the assist on Eller’s SHG and Rodrigues assisted on Rantanen’s goal with a nice pass over the crease.

It’s not normal for all of your top six forwards to contribute points, but in games where it happens your team has likely won. That was definitely the case today.

All of these guys had moments that were more than great games individually, but with 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 a team pulled the rope in the same direction and got a good result. They want to see more of this in the future.


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