The Colorado Avalanche continued their disappointing five-game homestand with a 7-2 loss to the Dallas Stars, dropping them to 1-3-0 in their first four games.

How did each of the players do? As you can imagine, not so great.

Sven Andrighetto (F) – Get ready for a whole of this tonight. Andrighetto was on the ice plenty but was consistently sloppy with the puck. He was involved in a couple scoring chances but nothing seems to be working for him right now. He was brutal again defensively and everything is slipping away from him offensively.

Mark Barberio (D) – His guided missile at Sam Girard was poorly handled and led to the turnover that gave way to the Stars’ second goal. Beyond that, he didn’t do much good or bad as the night went on. Little things here and there on both the good and bad sides but nothing substantial either way. His place in the lineup is bizarrely secure for a player who has struggled so much recently.

Tyson Barrie (C-) – I talked about it on the podcast but I’m struggling to reconcile what I’m seeing as a player struggling so much with a guy putting up great fancy stats. You can’t argue with numbers and Barrie potted yet another assist tonight but it continues to feel like fool’s gold. Something still feels missing in his game.

Jonathan Bernier (F) – Even though I don’t put the first two goals on him, that was still a disaster. Four goals on nine shots against meant Bednar had no choice but to pull him and his beeline for the locker room meant Bernier felt the same about his game as the those of us watching.

Gabriel Bourque (C) – He didn’t play much but he did have one nice sequence on the penalty kill that was useful. He could have had an assist had Yakupov gotten a better hold of a centering pass. Beyond that, the same struggles we see every night from a limited player. When Landeskog returns from suspension, it will be hard to justify keeping Bourque in the lineup.

Blake Comeau (B) – His goal was more of an accident than anything skillful but they all count the same. He continued his strong PK work as there were only two shots attempted at 4v5 with Comeau on the ice. He continued his pleasant bounce-back season tonight.

J.T. Compher (C+) – He played a ton tonight and good things happened for the Avalanche when he was out there. I’m nitpicking just a bit here but if you’re going to play on the top line, you need to finish and he had a couple of legitimate scoring chances he failed to bury.

Samuel Girard (C+) – Like Compher, he played well and there was plenty to like about his game tonight. He was aggressive offensively and he continues to be a surprisingly effective player in his own end, especially given the quality of competition he’s facing every night. You’d like to see him produce some points, though, and that’s really holding him back from blossoming.

Erik Johnson (D) – I had a lot of problems with Johnson’s game tonight. He made several baffling decisions that left me openly wondering what he was seeing out there. Multiple icings that resulted in extended zone time for the Stars were the direct result of Johnson flinging pucks almost at random down the ice where teammates weren’t even really in a position to do anything. Avs need much better from him to win games.

Tyson Jost (D+) – I’m giving Jost the plus just because I can’t remember anything particularly egregious that he did wrong. The rest of his night was extremely quiet, however, and he continues to look in over his head out there. I’m not sure how much longer the Avalanche can keep going down this road with Jost without any development.

Alexander Kerfoot (F) – For me, this was probably his worst game of the season. He got bodied several times, failing to make a play to make it worth it, he was too tentative with the puck, and the turnover that led to the back-breaking fifth Stars goal was completely inexcusable and something you never would have expected from such a heady player.

Anton Lindholm (B-) – In 12:52 of even strength ice time, Dallas only threw four shot attempts at the Colorado net. In 3:24 of penalty kill time, Dallas only managed three attempts with Lindholm on the ice. Only four shots made it on net while Lindholm was on the ice tonight. He doesn’t get 100% credit for that, of course, but tonight’s quiet effectiveness was what the coaching staff has been hoping to see from him. His grade would be higher but he’s still struggling to effectively move the puck out of the defensive zone.

Nathan MacKinnon (C+) – Kind of a tough game to grade MacKinnon here. He matched up against the Stars’ top line for nearly 11 minutes tonight and the scoring chances heavily favored the Avalanche. Seguin still scored twice and while MacKinnon and Rantanen got one back, they failed to bring the Avs back into a meaningful competition tonight. His work on the power play has stagnated a bit as he still appears far too unconfident in firing one-timers.

Matt Nieto (D) – As a noted critic of Nieto, this grade will likely come as no surprise. I really didn’t mind most his game tonight and he did pick up a hard-working assist on Comeau’s goal. His turnover that led to Seguin’s breakaway and subsequent goal was a terrible read and put the Avalanche behind the eight ball in a game they were starting to take control of at the time. Backbreaking mistakes just cannot happen on this team.

Mikko Rantanen (C+) – He still feels like he disappears for long stretches of the game and his all-around effort is questionable. Rantanen can flat shoot it, however, and he did so again tonight as he briefly brought life to the Pepsi Center with his early second-period goal. Along with MacKinnon, you’d like to see Rantanen feel more comfortable firing away on the power play. So much of his success still feels tied to MacKinnon feeding him pucks and at times it feels he’s too much of a passenger alongside the driving No. 29.

Carl Soderberg (B-) – I’ve liked his game a lot recently and his effectiveness centering a line that can comfortably take on almost any assignment is proving valuable to Jared Bednar. Tonight, Soderberg and the boys moved through the Stars’ lineup with great effectiveness against Dallas’ number two and three lines. His scoring is still lacking a bit for a player with his skill level but given his linemates and everchanging role, it’s just nice to see that highly effective player from his first Colorado season back in action.

Dominic Toninato (C) – I wanted to give Toninato “INC” just to stay consistent but he played a few more minutes tonight. Again, his ice time led to low-event hockey for both teams. I’d rather that than getting hemmed in your own zone giving up buckets of shot attempts like the old Marc-Andre Cliche fourth lines used to.

Semyon Varlamov (C) – Tough spot for Varlamov to come into a 4-1 game and try to keep his team in it, especially as they were taking their foot off the gas and giving up on themselves. He couldn’t do a damn thing about either goal scored on him tonight. The biggest criticism involving Varlamov was why he didn’t start in the first place, which of course isn’t about Varlamov as much as it is Bednar’s staunch refusal to fully trust his number one goaltender.

Nail Yakupov (F) – He had that nifty backhand that nearly found its way into the net but beyond that, there were some more sloppy turnovers and the electricity that he can bring to the ice was completely gone tonight. Nights like tonight inch him ever closer to being another failed Avalanche reclamation project.

Nikita Zadorov (C) – It was what seems like a pretty typical Zadorov night at this point. He threw a couple big hits, made some silly plays with the puck, and played roller coaster defense. He struggled against the Stars’ fourth line, which was his secondary matchup assignment tonight. That can’t happen. He did well against the Stars’ second line. That needs to happen.

The Avalanche have one last game to salvage something from this homestand as the Buffalo Sabres come calling Tuesday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.

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.

  • Jose

    Not a fun game to watch, and, yes, it brought back the nightmares of last season. How much of this is because of the absence of Landy?

  • Av-a-dabba-doo

    Solid grading, unfortunately. Don’t even want to quibble. I mean, even if a couple of the “F’s” were made “D’s”, does it really matter?

    Just a thought: What about giving the coach a grade after each game? Here’s my case: I don’t see anything unfair about it, and it sometimes carries real importance concerning the game. Also, it would be another point of interest and discussion for your readers, and would further educate fans like me about the game of hockey (pregame personnel decisions, line changing, strategies, challenges, etc. — all that would go into the coach’s grading. Obviously it would NOT be an opportunity to just tee off on the coach after a frustrating loss. Hopefully it would be a fair evaluation of his role — nothing more, nothing less.

  • Av-a-dabba-doo

    Solid grading, unfortunately. Not going to quibble. I mean, even if a couple of the F’s were made D’s, does it really matter? Poor product put forth.

    Idea to consider: What about giving the coach a grade after each game? Here’s my case for it: It’s a fair topic, and sometimes can have real bearing on a game. It would also make for an additional point of interest and discussion for readers of your ‘grades’ write-ups, would it not? Finally, it would provide an opportunity to further educate fans like me about the intricacies of hockey. Such items as pregame personnel decisions, line combinations and changes, defensive pairings, in-game adjustments, coach’s challenges, overall strategy and more — all that would go into the coach’s grading. Obviously it should NOT be used as an opportunity to just ‘tee off’ after a frustrating loss, but would aim to be a fair evaluation of the coaching performance pertaining to that particular game — nothing more, nothing less.

    Just a thought. What do you think?

    • AJ Haefele

      I like the idea of giving a coach a grade. I think a lot of games I wouldn’t have too much to say about it. And it’s tough to grade a coach when pregame decisions (starting Bernier last night, for example) and in-game decisions (the decision to pull Bernier) might clash. How do I grade Bednar for last night when his pregame decision was bunk but his in-game decision was the correct one? I also liked that Bednar, in an attempt to kickstart some offense, was pairing Barrie with EJ and Girard in offensive zone faceoffs in the third period last night. That’s smart coaching. I like the idea of giving Bednar a grade. It would probably be the toughest grade to give out haha.

      • Av-a-dabba-doo

        Appreciate the response. Sure, the coach’s evaluation would sometimes be a balancing act of factors, but the same can be said of the players. A recent example has been your comments on Mikko Rantanen: “disappears for long stretches of the game and his all-around effort is questionable” … next sentence … “Rantanen can flat shoot it, however”. Both statements true, yet you arrived at an overall grade. In the Bednar example you gave (Bernier instead of Varlamov), I don’t think both moves were of equal importance. My opinion is that not starting Varly was a much bigger minus than pulling Bernier was a plus, and thus I would give it more weight. So yes, a lot to factor in, but I’m confident you could do it. (We really do anyway, we just don’t post an official letter grade.)

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