As a hockey fan you will have heard commentator after commentator talk about consistency and how important it is for teams, especially when they have their sights set on the Stanley Cup., which is something the Colorado Avalanche have spoken about.
At the end of each Avalanche game, stars are awarded to players for their effort on the night. As a fan, I applaud those stars, especially when one, two or three Avalanche players are named, but I want to award stars for consistency.
Starting this week The-Rink Avalanche team will be awarding consistency stars for the past week of games played, which with this compacted season will be 3-4 games.
Here are this past weeks Star players for the four games played between March 6th – 12th inclusive.
Given that the Colorado Avalanche had four players who have been consistently showing up and playing their best, or better, each and every game this week and a fifth player who has been just as good, it made it difficult to pick the most consistent player. Awarding five stars to each of the first four players was an easy choice.
What can you not say about how consistent MacDonald has been? Night after night he is showing up and playing a big part in the Avalanches strong defensive game. MacDonald has been making the hits, jumping in the way of passes, going after the puck, and basically making a nuisance of himself on the ice. Just what the Avalanche need to stop their opponents from scoring goals.
MacDonald has very quickly gone to playing 20 minutes on the ice. That’s a big leap for a player that only joined the Avalanche organization in 2019 and went straight to the NHL. He has played 13 games in total with the NHL so far this season, four of which are in this past week.
Jacob MacDonald has quickly become a solid part of the Avalanches Defensive core due to his consistency. Go back to the start of the season and the thought of MacDonald being on the team would have led to people being worried. The aim would have been to shield him in a small role, when actually, if you look back, has he given you a moment of worry over the past week? He hasn’t for me.
Wow! Logan O’Connor has certainly earned and deserves his place in this Avalanche team. He came into play on the Fourth line with injuries to Matt Calvert and PE Bellemare and his consistent play to score and deliver pucks on the net has been outstanding.
Coach Bednar in a recent post-game press conference said that O’Connor won’t be going anywhere because he is the one player consistently getting in the way of opposition players. He is averaging 11 minutes on the ice, but for each and every minute of that ice time, he is delivering.
Logan along with his fourth line teammates in Calvert and Bellemare are a force to be reckoned with when they are on the ice. During these past four games, he’s put 5 SOG and scored once. And the other four were awfully close shaves.
Another positive note has been his penalty-killing skills. O’Connor has played in relief of Calvert, Bellemare and JT Compher recently, all of which are key to the Avs penalty kill. O’Connor stepped in, taking their place 5on5 and also ensured no gaps appeared on the penalty kill. Long term he is expected to be a penalty killing fourth liner on this team, and right now he is showing he is more than ready for it.
Nichushkin had a slow start to this season. Then all of a sudden in the game against the Anaheim Ducks he stepped up and hasn’t stopped during the other games this week. Val has found his drive. He now takes that puck and will not stop until he is in front of the net aiming to put the puck in the back of it.
During this week’s games, he put 12 shots on the net and scored 1 Goal and 1 Assist. Nichushkin has been the player that has broken through when it looks as if the Avs just weren’t going to get that game win. He has been delivering pucks to his teammates at key times.
You know when he’s on the ice, no matter what line he is playing on, he is going to deliver. The cynics out there will say that Nichushkin is a streaky player and goes through stages like this. They are of course right, but it is only fair to highlight good weeks as we know Twitter will be quick to point out the bad. The more week’s like this one from Nichushkin the better as far as the Avs are concerned.
Sam Girard’s game has improved leaps and bounds this season. He stands strong and defends the puck, no longer easily being pushed off it. He drives the puck and is strong in his defensive position. During these past four games, Sammy G has been another one of the core parts of the Avalanches ability to close down their opposition and keep them to 3 scoring shots per game.
His Time On Ice (TOI) has jumped to be on average around 26 minutes, yet Coach Bednar has so much faith in him that he had him play nearly 30 minutes last game. He has a role on the top power-play unit and although that hasn’t been scoring, he has been playing his part consistently.
Girard often misses the plaudits on this team, because if we are not talking about Cale Makar then we are talking about newcomer Devon Toews or up and coming stud Bowen Byram. He’s had two of those three out of the way recently, and Girard has shined exactly as we hoped he would, while also handling the most responsibility he has been given in his career so far.
This Weeks Honorable Mention
In the past four games, Tyson Jost has shown the true player that he is. He has been fast and active. Taking the puck and working the space behind the net. He’s been strong in his defensive play in the corners. His game has been strong, just not quite as consistently strong as the other four players that have been called out above.
Jost was a borderline player at the end of last season. He didn’t appear to have a place, and whilst there were one or two shows of brilliance, it wasn’t consistent. This season so far, that’s changed. He has been showing up consistently and doing things that make a difference.
He appears to have found his feet again and be playing his natural game.
However, this may now be what we have to expect from Jost. For the first time since being drafted back in 2016, Jost looks comfortable on this team. He may not be hitting the scoreboard on a regular basis, but his penalty killing has been excellent, and on both the third and fourth lines, he has put up some impressive defensive numbers.
The pressure on Jost to succeed has been taken away a little this season and that has allowed him to find a game he can play with great success.
Interestingly, if you only look at the statistics for each of these five players you would say they didn’t contribute much to the team, yet watching the games, you see something very different.