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.

AJ Haefele

This Aurora, Colorado native moved to Katy, Texas at a young age but found himself right back at home in 2009 and would begin covering the Avalanche a year later.

Before joining BSN Denver, A.J. had been writing for and briefly managed the popular Avalanche blog, Mile High Hockey. A.J. has been providing detailed practice reports, training camp coverage, and in-depth looks at the Avalanche and their divisional foes since 2010.

  • Av-a-dabba-doo

    Thx, AJ. Just a couple thoughts in response from one dude (me):
    – Have you ever devoted a segment of a podcast to explaining some of the analytics that you feel are most significant (e.g. individual possession numbers, etc.)? If you think such material would be too ‘dense’ and tedious for airplay, I understand. On the other hand, I might not be the only one whose hockey IQ would benefit. It might help me, for example, better understand grades as low as a “D+” for Nemeth in last night’s game.
    – I thought (as did you) that Matt Duchene was so good in this one. I know I sound like a simpleton asking, but why is the possibility of salvaging the ‘Duchene as an Av’ situation definitely NOT a possibility? (I know it is not even entertained by you guys.)
    – Sure was glad to see the ‘end of the alphabet guys’ (Yak & Z) have the games they did. Both went in somewhat ‘precarious’, both came out positive. Hope it continues tonight.

    • OCMS

      I, too, would enjoy a bit of a dive into these stats during the post game podcasts. I could use the hockey IQ boost as well. The segment could be sponsored by a company that makes Ginko Biloboa or fish oil pills, perhaps.

      As far as Duchene goes, I just don’t think management can dangle a guy out there to trade for such a long and protracted time before the player finally agrees and says, “OK, I agree with you. You’d be better off without me.”

      • Av-a-dabba-doo

        “The segment could be sponsored by a company that makes Ginko Biloboa or fish oil pills, perhaps.” LOL I love it.

      • AJ Haefele

        We have an entire series of posts prepared for the Sweden off week where we break down the analytics. They are long and a bit cumbersome but if you power through, it’ll be a whole new world of numbers opened up to you.

        • Av-a-dabba-doo

          @ AJ: Can’t wait.

      • cerveau

        @ocms It has been my impression (based on speculation only) that Duchene has indeed said as much already.

        • OCMS

          Right. Which is why the relationship is not salvageable. My post was in response to Av-a-dab… asking why people do not consider the relationship salvageable.

          They need someone whose name has an X in it, so they can have the “XYZ” line. Nothing else matters, really except a good line name.

          • cerveau

            Thing is, his mood seems to improve when he scores and the team wins, etc.
            and then whenever the trade rumors come up again he looks glum again.
            Since I only live in speculation-land I can only gues which causes which, but if I were management I’d still try to quash the leaks, out of simple professionalism and consideration.

          • AJ Haefele

            Can speak to this. He hasn’t been much different regardless of wins or losses. He looks like a man who knows his future is elsewhere and he’s just gritting it out and trying not to drag his team down. Credit to him for trying to make the most of a bad situation but it’s just bad news bears in there.

          • Av-a-dabba-doo

            . . . aaaaannd Duchene has left the ice in Brooklyn. Oh well … hope it’s for the best. If you’re gone, Matt, thank you for many, many great Avalanche moments. I sincerely wish you well.

  • Jimbotronn

    It’s your list so do it how you want, but I have a bit of an issue with giving Mironov a D just because Bednar chose to play him. You focused on Bednar’s decision in your explanation for the grade anyway, so why not just give Mironov the grade he deserved for what he actually did on the ice? Just seems kinda petty to withhold a better grade just because you think he shouldn’t have played in the first place, it’s not his fault the coach put him in the lineup.

    …Although I probably wouldn’t have given him a much better grade anyway, he was pretty much a non-factor, so probably a C at best.

    • OCMS

      I agree that the grade should be about on ice performance, not a coaches decision. That being said, if Mironov was a ‘non-factor’ and that is actually good for a guy who all you want is for him to stay out of the box and no goals against, then wouldn’t grade be higher than a C? Aren’t we glad he was a non-factor and shouldn’t he get graded on that scale?

      Essentially, he was there to suck up ice time and did his job. He wasn’t really put in a position to do much else.

      • Jimbotronn

        True, there’s something to be said for a guy who goes out there and doesn’t hurt the team. But he didn’t stay out of the box though, he took a penalty in the 3rd. And if I’m going to give him a boost for sucking up ice time, I’d want it to be more than 8 minutes’ worth. I just find it tough to give him any higher than a C based on what little he did.

        But it’s nice that this is the sort of thing we have to quibble about right now!

        • OCMS

          Fair enough, although his TOI was 8:53. 🙂

          I’m not advocating he get a grade higher than a C, but just that grades are based on what players are put in a position to do.

    • MikeL

      I see a little more in Mironov. Every time I see him, he’s doing his job. Not flashy, but steady. He may not be getting a lot of minutes but he’s adjusting to the NA game. It seems as though the Avs promised to keep him on the team in order to sign him. I’m not a big Bigras fan at this time altho he really looked good the first few games. I think it will all settle out as the season goes on, but I feel that Barberio is probably going to be the odd man out.

    • jpwheels

      Agreed.
      Grading a player should be based on performance not the coach’s decision to play him. It’s just silly.
      Maybe BSN should start including a separate grade for Bednar.

    • AJ Haefele

      It’s a totally fair criticism and I knew it would come. But for me, Mironov plays so little and impacts the game so little when he’s out there, nothing is being provided. Now someone might argue “Well he’s not making any mistakes either” but to me that’s kind of a ridiculously low bar to set for a player. This is the NHL. Games can be won or lost based on a good or bad shift and if the upside of Mironov is “he might not make a mistake that costs COL the game” then what are we even doing here? His fancy stats were bad, the coaches don’t trust him, and there wasn’t a single instance last night where I saw him do something beyond the very basic. Some of that is very low ice time and some of that is his discomfort at this level. All of it is bad. So that’s why I gave him a D.

      • OCMS

        That makes sense, so what would be the minimum amount of ice time required to earn a C? I can get that below that standard lowers the grade to D or F, because if the coaches don’t trust you enough to play to that minimum, then you have failed or almost failed.

        Did he get ice time after the 3rd period penalty?

        • AJ Haefele

          I don’t think there’s a minimum in terms of ice time. Lindholm only played 11 minutes but he did some good while he was out there. Mironov is just sort of there right now. I’d have to check the shift chart to see if he played after the penalty but gut instinct says very unlikely. If I saw Miro do anything positive, I’d be down for bumping it up to a C. The only noteworthy thing he did all game was take a penalty.

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