The Colorado Avalanche took their show on the road and beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in a shootout in what was a wildly entertaining hockey game. How did each player grade out?
Let’s take a look!
Sven Andrighetto (B) – We would remember this night more fondly for Andrighetto had that shot Michael Neuvirth got a piece of actually gone in versus the soul-crushing post-and-out path it took. Still, he clicked next to Duchene and Yakupov and even though he was the only scoreless member of the trio, he still produced a solid effort.
Mark Barberio (D) – Getting paired next to Erik Johnson was a homecoming of sorts as he spent plenty of his time last year next to Johnson. Tonight, it did not fare well and the analytics that paired them will likely suggest splitting them up in the future. Barberio was caved in and spent very little time in the offensive zone.
Tyson Barrie (B-) – It was a wild night for Barrie, who made an exceptional play to get the shot on goal that led to Colorado’s first goal and added another assist later in the game. His turnover late in overtime almost overshadowed the good he did but the breakaway didn’t result in a goal against so we’ll call it a “teaching moment” for Barrie.
Gabriel Bourque (C) – He didn’t play much and when he did, he certainly didn’t have the same impact Matt Nieto has had in that spot in recent weeks. Not good, not bad. Bourque simply existed on this night.
Blake Comeau (A-) – I said recently I only like to give out the A grade for truly great performances. Comeau’s night certainly qualifies in my eyes as his shorthanded goal might have been lucky but it was crucial in swinging momentum back to Colorado. He’s become an ace penalty killer on an increasingly sturdy unit and his line continued to handle themselves admirably at even strength.
Matt Duchene (A) – It wasn’t a perfect night for Duchene but boy does his offensive prowess really shine when he’s locked in. He notched and a goal and assist and while the goal was more the result of great playmaking by MacKinnon, his assist was all hard work and great stickwork on the backcheck. He led the Avs forwards in ESTOI and absolutely earned it.
A.J. Greer (C) – It’s hard to grade Greer on six minutes of ice time. His penalty was careless but the ensuing Flyers power play resulted in Comeau’s shorthanded goal and he drew the penalty immediately after getting out of the box that led to Colorado’s third goal. He still managed a shot on goal and a hit despite barely playing.
Erik Johnson (B+) – Another stat-stuffed evening for Johnson as he played just under 30 minutes again tonight. He recorded five shots on goal and even blocked two shots for good measure. He made several crucial defensive plays on odd-man rushes that broke up high-quality scoring chances. He continues to be the heartbeat of this team’s fire wagon defense.
Alexander Kerfoot (C+) – Kerfoot is another guy whose game has started to slip since a strong early showing but he notched an assist on the power play and he’s going to need to continue to produce there while he’s hogtied to the fourth line and hand-holding duties.
Gabriel Landeskog (C) – It hasn’t happened much this season but Landeskog got beat up in the fancy stats tonight. Part of that is the quality of competition and unparalleled forward ice time as he played a ridiculous 23 minutes tonight and most of that was against Couturier/Giroux/Voracek. He still stuffed the stat sheet though, showing his patented versatility.
Anton Lindholm (C) – Tonight saw Lindholm’s ice time cut significantly. With seven defensemen in the rotation, he saw just 11 minutes and two of those were on the penalty kill. He played his typical safe, quiet game but avoided the puck pitfalls that have plagued him recently.
Nathan MacKinnon (B) – His assists tonight were both great and game-changing. The play he made to Duchene at the end of the first was world class hockey and his assist on Comeau’s shorthanded goal helps explain why he’s part of the PK rotation.
Andrei Mironov (D) – I didn’t really mind Mironov’s game that much and the low grade has more to do with Bednar’s decision to ice him instead of Chris Bigras than poor play on Mironov’s part. He didn’t see the ice much and didn’t do much when he was out there. What is this point of this?
Patrik Nemeth (D+) – Another assist for the suddenly offensively-oriented Nemeth but he’s getting crushed every night in shot attempts at even strength. You can only take the shot quality argument so far and tonight continued a disturbing trend of seeing Nemeth on the ice for far more shots against than for. This might be unfairly harsh but this trend has to reverse course quickly or Nemeth needs a night off.
Mikko Rantanen (A) – It wasn’t entirely intentional or always pretty but Rantanen was a joy to watch tonight. He worked hard along the wall and dug pucks out of tough situations and created offense from unlikely situations. His goal was obviously a great break for Colorado but his shootout game-winner was as cold-blooded as it comes.
Carl Soderberg (C+) – Soderberg continues solid even strength work and his contributions on the penalty kill cannot be overlooked. He’s filled in admirably in a defensive stopper role for the injured J.T. Compher. What Bednar does with him when Compher returns to health will be very interesting.
Semyon Varlamov (B-) – Nowhere near the level he was against Carolina, Varlamov nonetheless came up huge when he had to as he made numerous great saves in overtime and then he stopped two of three in the shootout to give Colorado a chance. Four goals against on 37 shots isn’t a terrible performance and his OT/SO heroics bumped this up late.
Nail Yakupov (B-) – He notched a grinder’s point against Carolina and then was promoted to his old spot next to Duchene and rewarded Bednar with a hell of a game. He scored Colorado’s fourth goal and was part of several high-quality scoring chances. The only thing holding down his grade, and likely his ice time tomorrow night, was his two careless penalties.
Nikita Zadorov (B-) – Big Z returned to the lineup with a little thunder as he registered over 16 minutes of ice time but laid out four hits all while avoiding the penalty box and holding his own in shot attempts. A solid showing he definitely needed after three consecutive healthy scratches.
Colorado returns to action tomorrow night in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders before departing for Sweden.