The Colorado Avalanche went into their two-game series with San Jose staring at a 3–3 record and desperately needing to find scoring the scoring touch on any line beyond their first.
After taking both games, the Avs not only moved to 5–3 on the season, but they scored 10 goals, with numerous depth players playing their best hockey thus far. Secondary scoring has finally arrived in Denver.
Avs fire without the top line
Of those 10 goals, Mikko Rantanen scored one, while both Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog were kept off the scoresheet. Two goals came from defensemen, with the remaining seven all being scored by depth forwards—the players fans were hoping would step up soon.
Brandon Saad put just one point on the board in his first six games with the Avs, a disappointing start for someone expected to add a little more offense to the team. But he scored two goals against San Jose, and also had two assists, giving him a far more respectable five points over eight games.
Nazem Kadri is another player who has received a little bit of criticism for his start, with just two points from the opening six games. An assist in the first game against the Sharks helped Kadri to his best game of the season so far, but that was eclipsed in the second, with a three-point night (two goals, one assist). Kadri now has six points through eight outings.
Nazem Kadri (2-1—3) factored on all three unanswered goals and Philipp Grubauer made 21 saves on 21 shots as the @Avalanche outscored the Sharks by a 10-3 margin across their two straight meetings. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/QU6QshtBNQ
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 29, 2021
Despite missing time already this season, Andre Burakovsky now has six points in five games, with three goals and three assists. He bagged two assists in the first game, while adding a goal in the second, to continue his bright start to the season. Burakovsky has been one of a small number of shining lights away from the top line.
Other important notes included first points of the season for Valeri Nichushkin, bagging a goal and an assist in the 7–3 win on Tuesday. Tyson Jost and Kiefer Sherwood also notched assists—their first points of the season—in the first game.
Injuries necessitate more secondary scoring
The Avs are going to be without Matt Calvert and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare for quite some time it seems, and that is going to put more pressure on the second and third lines to deliver.
Kiefer Sherwood has stepped into a role on the fourth line in place of Calvert and performed well so far, certainly not making any mistakes. Someone will have to fill in for Bellemare and the favorite to do that is Logan O’Connor, who will add grit and penalty killing ability, but may not add much in terms of scoring.
It would be no surprise to see the fourth line move into a full shutdown role, especially on the road in Minnesota this weekend, so scoring will have to come from the top three lines if the Avs are to continue their winning run.