Avalanche struggle without top talent against Canadiens


It has been a dramatic day for the Colorado Avalanche. Forward Valeri Nichushkin entered the NHL Player Assistance Program and two hours later, they had to play a game. The Montreal Canadiens should have been an easy opponent, but that was far from the case. The Avalanche are down Miles Wood, but he should be back soon, Artturi Lehkonen, and Nichushkin. Because of circumstances, Logan O’Connor, who usually plays on the third line, had to be moved up to the second line. Colorado just kept exchanging goals with the Canadiens, unlike running away with the game like they did in Toronto. Here are some takeaways from the 4–3 loss to Montreal tonight.


— Colorado struggled to get the puck out of their own zone. The Avalanche failed to clear the zone on a penalty kill and it led to a goal by the Canadiens. Another play in the third period where Nathan MacKinnon thought he had tripped a player and stopped playing. The Canadiens kept up with the pressure and scored a goal.


— Cale Makar had three points during the game and now sits at 297 career points. With the goal, Makar now has 75 career goals to tie for Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie for the franchise lead for defensemen. In what took Barrie eight seasons to do, Makar has done in only four and a half.

— The absence of Nichushkin was noticeable in every aspect of the game. Zone exits were not as fast or prevalent in the second line. The forecheck was almost nonexistent with both Wood and Nichushkin out of the lineup. The only player left to do the forechecking was O’Connor.

— Montreal held Nathan MacKinnon to one point tonight. It has gotten to where a lot of fans expect two or three points from MacKinnon. MacKinnon only contributed with an assist tonight, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t put in the effort. Montreal blocked 25 shots to Colorado’s nine. So they were playing to take away the angle from the shooter and help the goalie.


The Avalanche could get some healthy bodies back into the lineup as soon as tomorrow night. Coach Jared Bednar hinted that some fresh bodies may come into the lineup against Ottawa. Does this mean Wood? Lehkonen? Or some Colorado Eagles that are flying in to join the team? We will have to find out. Colorado will have to force the puck in north-south direction with Nichushkin on the ice and learn to adapt. It will be a quick turnaround as they play in Ottawa against the Senators tomorrow night at 5PM Mountain Time.

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