The Colorado Avalanche were flat early in New Jersey and horrendous special teams cost them on every single goal, as they fell to the Devils 4-1.

How did each player perform?  Let’s find out…

Sven Andrighetto (D) – The Ghetto we saw at the end of last year has yet to make an appearance this year.  He’s making poor decisions with the puck and has really struggled in the defensive zone in clearing it out, particularly today.

Tyson Barrie (B-) – Barrie, like most of the team, had his struggles on special teams, but he was dynamite at even strength, creating chances and ended with 6 shots on goal.  He has been the teams best defenseman through two games.

Jonathan Bernier (B) – There was a stretch in the third period where he was left on an island for basically 3 minutes and went into Prime Patrick Roy-mode, making at least 4 absurd saves.  He was good throughout but looked off balance on the third goal.

Chris Bigras (B-) – Bigras had a hero shift in the third period, where he dove to break up a rush, and then rushed it up the ice himself.  He’s looked good through two games and should be in no danger of coming out, but he has also been very high event, having been on the ice for 32 shot attempts against in only 18 even strength minutes.

Blake Comeau (C) – Laid a massive hit on the shift that drew the penalty that led to the Avs only goal, but later ruined the Avs longest run in the offensive zone with a poor pass to the point, resulting in a rush the other way.  He is what he is, and that’s a frustrating player.

J.T. Compher (D) – He ended up with an assist on the lone goal but he was a complete disaster defensively, which is a surprise since that’s usually a strong suit of his.  He lost his guy a few times in the defensive zone, and on one of them, Bernier had to make not one, but two ridiculous saves.  We have yet to see the feisty side of him through two games.

Matt Duchene (B) – His line was easily the Avs most consistent at even strength today, but they didn’t get a ton of even strength ice time.  He ended the night with 5 shots on goal.  Of the “star” forwards on the team, he was the best today.

Erik Johnson (D) – The second penalty call on him was awful, but it was also created by his own turnover.  He really played out of control today, and when he has those games, he rarely settles down in the game.  The Avs are asking for a lot from him in terms of minutes so hopefully, he can hold up.

Tyson Jost (C-) – He was very much lost on the third Devils goal, as he was for some reason covering the forward in the slot and left his position.  Once he got moved up to the Compher line, he looked significantly better, as did the entire line.  It’ll be interesting to see if he ends up there starting next game.

Alexander Kerfoot (C+) – Considering he didn’t have a single shot attempt at 5 on 5 Thursday, I’ll take his 2 attempts tonight.  His patience with the puck in all three zones is a welcome addition to the team.

Gabriel Landeskog (F) – The Captain looked slow all night, and was on the ice for a team-high 14 scoring chances against.  Unlike last game, that line got pounded in the defensive zone.

Anton Lindholm (D) – He made a few passes in the defensive zone that missed and led to extended zone time for the Devils, but also had a nice rush in the first.  He ended with the Avs only controlling 25% of the shot attempts with him on the ice.

Nathan MacKinnon (F) – One even strength shot attempt.  One.  For Nathan MacKinnon, that is unacceptable.  His game overall was not good today, and through two games, has been a mess at clearing the puck on the penalty kill.

Patrik Nemeth (B) – If you watched the game and didn’t notice Nemeth, you are not alone.  He was very quiet, in a good way, and did his job.

Mikko Rantanen (D) – Everyone had to have been yelling for him to shoot the puck when he got it all alone in the slot in the third.  Instead, he chose to pass to Andrighetto, who wasn’t expecting it and had a poor angle.  Their 5 on 5 numbers weren’t terrible, but they haven’t looked in sync.

Carl Soderberg (A-) – The minus is because he had a terrible clearing attempt on the penalty kill in the second, but other than that, he was great.  He was a weapon on the power play two years ago around the net and showed it again today.  There’s no way he’s coming out of the lineup Monday.

Colin Wilson (D) – To my surprise, he ended up with 6 shots on goal, but a lot of those came from the front of the net on the power play.  He was a mess at even strength and was demoted to the 4th line.

Nail Yakupov (C+) – He had some good moments, and got more power play time today, it seemed, but he also whiffed horribly on a low percentage play, that led to the odd man rush and the Devils’ final goal.

Nikita Zadorov (C-) – Z came back in and was physical, even joining the offense a bit, finishing third on the team with 4 shot attempts at even strength.  He was high event today, and his penalty is one he just needs to know he can’t take.  He was likely trying to be mean to make an impression on the coaches, but he can’t take that one.  For someone who supposedly had conditioning issues, he played nearly 20 minutes.

The Avs are back on the ice Monday afternoon when they take on the Boston Bruins.  The game starts at 11 AM MST.

Evan Rawal

An Avs season ticket holder since 2011, Evan has been watching and playing the game for over 20 years, coming up through the Colorado Youth Hockey system through AAA hockey and then juniors. Prior to joining BSN, he wrote for Sports303. He covers the Avs and grades the players after each game.

  • Av-a-dabba-doo

    As usual, a pretty fair assessment, ER, wherever one might choose to quibble (e.g. I felt Barrie had a poorer game than you thought). What isn’t debatable is that Nathan MacKinnon, possessing all the considerable skills that he does, has begun the year in no man’s land. A virtual nonentity physically, and worse than that mentally. Send in the funk-rescue team ASAP.

  • I think the lines need to be shaken up a bit. I’d put Landeskog up with MacKinnon and Rantenen, having Ghetto play with Jost and Compher, bring Nieto back in place of Comeau and have him play with Wilson and Soderberg, then let the players sort out which will be lines 1-4 with their play.

    In any case, something needs to be done about that MacKinnon line. They have been awful compared to how they are capable of playing. Rantanen has looked tentative and MacKinnon seems to be just skating without a purpose. And that whole line seems incapable of making a simple, effective play – it’s all skate it in, then either lose it or take a low percentage shot and lose it.

    • Jimbotronn

      I agree that MacKinnon’s line needs to be shaken up, but I hope it doesn’t mean they mess with Duchene’s line looking for a combination that fixes MacKinnon’s. The Duchene line has been their best and most exciting line through the first two games, and they really should leave it alone for a while and see what happens. IMO the biggest problem with Duchene’s Avs career is that they have rarely found linemates that can think and skate as fast as he can, and the few times they have found a guy he meshes with, they yank him to another line (or off the team) too fast.

      • I agree. That’s why my suggested changes didn’t do anything to the Duchene line.

        • Jimbotronn

          I noticed that, but will the Avs listen to you? It seems like they always take the guys who are playing well together and split them up, trying to spread them around I guess.

          • The Avs tend to ignore my suggestions for some reason. They really should hire me but they keep forgetting to call me. I suppose they’re busy. *pout*

  • Chris Hopkins

    Slow slow slow slow slow. I’ll say it again, slow. I don’t know what to do with Landeskog, he’s the human rally killer at this point. It seems to me he came into this league during the chip and chase and play heavy days of the la kings and that suited Gabe’s skillset beautifully. Then overnight the league transitioned into blazing speed through the neutral zone, fast fast fast and I think the league has passed him by. He’s going to need a change of scenery at some point, because the acquisitions and drafting the Avs are doing say they are fully embracing the speed game and gabe needs to find a team like Boston or philly that has social pressure to still play physical. The problem is he skates like he’s 230 lbs and hits like he’s 180.

    As for guys this team is tailor made for, wtf is up with MacKinnon. Yuck. I had to keep reminding myself to look for him as he did nothing in either game to be noticeable (other than failed clearing attempts). He needed a fast start more than anyone to get some of the pressure of last seasons goal total off his back and he’s done nothing to help himself at all thusfar. Yikes.

    Shooooooooooot that MFing puck Mikko. I was 7 rows behind that goal and Cory looked like one of those goalie cutouts you place in front of your net at home as a kid when the puck hit Rantanen’s blade. Just pick a corner, man.

    I continue to be impressed by Kerfoot. Glad he let one fly on net too. I want to keep seeing that 13-9-64 line, they’ve been the most enjoyable to watch at 5v5 through two.

    We killed this on Twitter, but I still just have such a problem with reffing to injury. That play also happened right in front of me. EJ went in shoulder first, palmieri kinda tried to jump him last second and they hit knees. The ref stares down palmieri, and soon as it’s apparent he’s not getting right back up THEN the arm goes up. If EJ is the one that goes down with a knee injury from that collision, does Palmieri get 2? I have to lean toward yes. I have a buddy that’s a ref in junior, and these guys make these calls to save their ass because of how they’re graded. So it’s more of an insitutional problem with the NHL than anything.

    Lastly, there’s few sounds as cool as the collective gasp of a charged home crowd when Bernier made that save. That was cool.

    One more game for me then I’ll send em back home to you to carry them the rest of the way!

    See you in Boston.

    Go Avs!

    • Av-a-dabba-doo

      Have really enjoyed your in-person observations, CH. I hope you (we) see more spark from the outset in Boston from the Avs. When I saw that we weren’t winning the puck battles or showing any energy/urgency early on in NJ, I had a sinking feeling. Let’s hope for a turnaround in Bean Town, more like the jump in MSG.

    • Great analysis Chris.