Avs/Bruins Grades – Younger, faster, better

The Colorado Avalanche dominated the Boston Bruins for the majority of the game and came away with an impressive 6-3 victory.

How did each player perform?  Let's find out...

Sven Andrighetto (A) - After a so-so start in his first two games, he's come on in his last two, and scored a crucial power play goal tonight for a team that needed one badly.  There has been less fumbling of the puck for him the last two games, and he looks a lot more comfortable.

Mark Barberio (C) - It was a mild surprise to see him get into the lineup, and an even bigger surprise to see him fight.  You can tell the internal competition on the team is making guys give a little more than what they normally would.  He had a so-so night overall, and the Bigras/Barberio pairing had some sketchy moments in their own end.

Tyson Barrie (B-) - The bar has been set high for Barrie early in the year, and this was probably his weakest game overall, but that doesn't mean he was bad.  He has consistently led the team in shots on net and led them again with 5 shots tonight.

Chris Bigras (C) - Tonight was probably Bigras weakest effort of the season, but he wasn't terrible.  He was maybe a little too aggressive on the Bruins' first goal, but he also had players backing him up so it wasn't technically a bad pinch.  He had a few turnovers in the defensive zone, but once again, used his skating to escape from pressure in tough spots.

Blake Comeau (C) - I think the majority of people would agree they'd rather see Nieto in this spot, but Comeau hasn't done anything terrible to be taken out just yet.  In fact, Bednar seems to be getting more comfortable playing that 4th line.

J.T. Compher (C+) - Another tough game for Compher matchup-wise, as he only got to start one shift in the offensive zone.  He's still got 3 points this season despite not having much offensive zone time, and he was robbed late in the game on an odd-man rush.  He did have a better night in the faceoff circle.

Matt Duchene (A) - He's holding up his end of the bargain in terms of his play right now, and that line is on fire.  That goal of his was a pure snipe, and that line got rewarded with a little bit more ice time.

Erik Johnson (A) - I would say tonight was probably EJ's most complete game of the year, and the pairing of him and Zadorov was dominant against the Bruins top line.  It's remarkable that he doesn't have a point yet, but he's still a +7.

Tyson Jost (C+) - Nice of him to get on the board this year, even if it was an empty netter, but even nicer to see him back on the ice after the scare in the second period.  Outside of that crazy shift in the third where that line had some great chances, they were not able to create much.

Alexander Kerfoot (A) - This guy's hockey IQ is off the charts.  The goal was great, but he created the play by not panicking in the defensive zone with the puck about 20 seconds earlier, allowing the Avs to successfully break out of their own zone and enter the offensive zone.   I don't know why he didn't get an assist on the Duchene goal.

Gabriel Landeskog (B) - Still looking for more consistent pressure from that line, but Landy was good on the power play, and showed nice patience behind the net, drawing a defenseman to him just prior to the Andrighetto goal.  His role early in the year seems to be to babysit the kids while they get their feet under them.

Nathan MacKinnon (B+) - A much better showing from MacK tonight.  It would be nice to see him get on the board, but primary assists are very important too, and the backhand pass to Yakupov was perfect.  His struggles in the faceoff circle are a little concerning, but it's early.

Patrik Nemeth (C+) - There were a few more kinks in the armor of his game tonight, but he still managed to pick up another point and is a +7 right now.  He looks like a younger Jan Hejda.

Mikko Rantanen (B+) - Mikko was the Avs best forward in terms of possession tonight, and he's still not fully in gear and you know he's capable of more.  Tonight was hopefully the start of him picking it up.

Carl Soderberg (C) - Soda has taken a couple of bad penalties the last few games, and that is something that will need to stop as he's looked pretty good when on the penalty kill.

Semyon Varlamov (B-) - Varly wasn't really tested through two periods, and was having some trouble freezing the puck on the two goals in the third.  For the most part, though, he looks very calm in net and there haven't been any mobility issues, which may be the most important thing.

Colin Wilson (C+) - I thought Wilson was having himself another fine game until that really bad penalty in the third, which allowed the Bruins to get a little bit closer.  He looks like a guy that's going to move up and down the lineup all year.

Nail Yakupov (A) - It's hard not to be excited at what we're seeing out of this guy.  It's not just the goals, as the Avs haven't had a pure goal scorer in a long time, but he's shown some nice vision and playmaking skills as well, including another assist tonight.  We're going to enjoy this while it lasts, and it sure looks like Yak is as well.

Nikita Zadorov (A) - Big Z was dominant on the ice tonight, and the Avs were dominant when he was out there, controlling 66% of the shot attempts.  He was particularly good against the Bruins top line and was only on the ice for one scoring chance against on 5 on 5.  You'd prefer not to see him fighting much, but you know his teammates loved it.

The Avalanche are back on home ice on Friday night, taking on the visiting Anaheim Ducks.  The game starts at 7 PM MST.

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