Avalanche sweep Southern California

  

Two regulation goals, two wins. That wasn’t a sentence I expected to write about the Avalanche at any point this season, but it’s exactly what they accomplished in the back-to-back against the Anaheim Ducks and the L.A. Kings.

I recapped the Ducks game previously and my hopes for the team came true – A continuation of their strong defensive effort and Pavel Francouz playing lights-out yet again. The game against the Kings wasn’t quite the blowout revenge that many fans wanted as a followup to the Stadium Series game, but pulling off a 2-1 shootout win should provide a lot of hope for the rest of the season.

How it went down

The Kings didn’t technically score a 5v5 goal, with their only tally of the evening coming off of a penalty shot. I thought the call for a penalty shot was questionable, but this isn’t the time to complain about reffing.

It would have been nice to get the save there, but Francouz locked down the net after allowing it, stopping the rest of the shots he faced in regulation, overtime, and all three L.A. shootout attempts. He’s been very solid as a backup this season and it looks like he’s really settling in as the starter, as Philipp Grubauer’s status is still uncertain. Francouz now sits at a 2.27 GAA and a .927 Sv%.

The Avs’ sole regulation tally of the evening came off of the stick of Ryan Graves, who picked up his 9th goal of the season. That’s 25 points so far on the season for Graves, who also sits at a +43. Plus/minus isn’t the most significant stat, and his is surely inflated from the players he’s deployed with, but it’s great to see him having such a good season. I’m of the strong opinion he’s going to get better as time goes on and I doubt we’ll see him move before the deadline. What I don’t doubt is that he’s going to get a hefty extension after this season, especially if his point production keeps up.

It’s never inspiring to see the Avalanche go into overtime. Their 3v3 play is better this season than it was last year, but we’ve seen a few too many overtime meltdowns this season to be comfortable. The highlight of OT was the penalty kill. J.T. Compher went off for a hook and the Avs finished out the overtime period playing 4v3. They weren’t organized, exactly, but they did a good job of blocking shots around the net and Francouz held strong.

The Kings didn’t score on a single attempt in the shootout and Joonas Donskoi collected the win for the Avs with a filthy move in the third round of the shootout.

Takeaways

The Avalanche didn’t play the best game in L.A. It was messy. The passing didn’t look good and they lacked in speed, some of which can be attributed to the back-to-back. Despite that, they pulled it off. The lineup is currently ravaged by injury and the top line isn’t producing, so the depth has had to step up to keep the wins coming.

While blowout games might be more satisfying to watch, the one-goal games are won by tight fundamentals. Battling back from a deficit, continuing to find ways to solve goalies, and locking down the net are all going to be crucial going forward.

The Avalanche need to improve the powerplay above all else. They went 0/5 in this game, unable to get set up enough to attempt quality shots. Granted, a number of their usual powerplay faces are out, with Mikko Rantanen injured and André Burakovsky out of the lineup for what was reported differently as illness and an injury at different points throughout the night. It hasn’t been outstanding for most of the season, though, and it’s going to need some changes through March and into the post-season.

The Avalanche don’t play again until Wednesday, which will be a home game against the Sabres. With the trade deadline fast approaching, the exact lineup for that game may be in question, but it’s going to be an important game to win in front of the home crowd. After this short break, the Avalanche play at least a game every other day for the rest of the season, with two more weekend back-to-backs.

They trail St. Louis by one point and are only one point ahead of the Stars, so the race to the top isn’t settled quite yet – Even if playoffs are nearly a certainty.

Center Ice Forums Avalanche sweep Southern California

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    Lucas Rozell
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    Two regulation goals, two wins. That wasn’t a sentence I expected to write about the Avalanche at any point this season, but it’s exactly what they ac
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