The Colorado Avalanche kicked off their 2017 pre-season against the Vegas Golden Knights, and before the blink of an eye were already down 3-0 due to disorganized play and penalty trouble. The penalties slowed down a little bit, but the team was unable to mount a comeback and began their pre-season with a 4-1 loss.
How did each player perform? Let’s find out…
Andrew Agozzino (C) – The smaller forward who found his way back into the Avs organization this summer played on the Avs most consistent even-strength line, and was one of the few forwards to finish with positive shot numbers when he was out there. He had a good chance late in the game off a feed in front but was unable to finish.
Travis Barron (D) – Barron was really good in the B+W game on Sunday, but failed to make an impact tonight. It’s not totally surprising, as he will likely head back to Ottawa here in the near future. He continued to play physical in the corners but was unable to create any sort of impact offensively.
J.C. Beaudin (C) – I found it to be a very up and down night for J.C. He was good at ES, leading the Avs in shot differential while he was out there, but made some poor decisions with the puck on the power play. He had a nice rush up the ice in the first that ended in a decent scoring chance with a quick wrister.
Gabriel Bourque (C) – Bourque played the type of game he will always play. He was physical and energetic but just doesn’t have enough talent to do much at the next level.
Jared Cowen (D) – Cowen was 1/2 of the worst pairing on the team tonight. His inability to move the puck was evident early in the game, and he had poor stick positioning on the third Vegas goal on the PK. He did throw a nice hit in the first period, but moments later, instead of going to the puck to clear hit, he chose to hit someone who didn’t have the puck, allowing Vegas to recover and continue with their zone time. He was caught running around a lot in the second period.
Mason Geertsen (C-) – Geertsen has had an up and down camp, looking so-so on Friday and then great on Saturday, and following it up with a very average B+W game. He got into a fight early in the game, and he certainly knows how to handle himself in those situations, but failed to make an impact elsewhere.
Rocco Grimaldi (B) – Arguably the Avs most consistent forward from start to finish. He created some chances with his speed, including a shorthanded rush early in the game, and fed Agozzino late for a great chance. He’s in tough for a roster spot but started his pre-season off well.
Erik Johnson (B-) – EJ had a pedestrian first like most of the team but picked it up as the game went on. He made a great read in the second to pick off a pass by Vegas in the offensive zone and create probably the Avs best chance up to that time. He did well to get his shot through to create MacKinnon’s goal as well.
Alexander Kerfoot (C) – I thought Kerfoot showed really well on the power play, where he had time and space to make plays, but at even strength, he sort of disappeared. Missing a wide open net late in the game more or less ended the Avs comeback attempt. He tried some passes that showed his creativity, but they didn’t always work. He’s going to need to learn to shoot more.
Ty Lewis (D) – All the special teams work more or less killed any chance for a guy like Lewis to make an impression because his ice time was very limited. He lost his man on the opening goal by Vegas, as he was not anywhere near the point to cover Hunt.
Nathan MacKinnon (C) – In a game like this, you would have liked to see MacK be more dominant at even strength, but he was just OK. He maybe hit the batting cages this summer, given how he batted the puck out of mid-air for the only goal for the Avs. Didn’t like seeing him start his season with an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Spencer Martin (D) – From the sounds of it, this was his only chance to get a game in this preseason, and I’m sure he wishes he could have another chance at it. The second goal, in particular, was very weak, as he was deep in his net and well off his angle. He rebounded OK before getting beat five-hole late. He had a poor end to the season last year and has done nothing to make people more comfortable early on this year. Goaltending depth is a very real concern for this team.
Nicolas Meloche (D-) – Meloche was great in the rookie tournament but really struggled tonight, making several poor decisions with the puck. He wasn’t alone in that, but it was disappointing seeing the struggles after a strong weekend. He had the worst possession numbers on the team tonight.
Matt Nieto (D) – I would think Nieto is relatively safe with his roster spot, but two penalties early in the game weren’t great. Everyone is getting used to the new roles and obviously, there will be some adjustments, but two from the same player in a quick span isn’t ideal.
Mikko Rantanen (C+) – Much like with MacKinnon, you would have hoped to see a top-flight talent like dominate against inferior competition, and it just didn’t happen. Mikko did draw a tripping penalty in the neutral zone, and hit the crossbar late in the game, but only finished the night with a single shot on net.
Duncan Siemens (D-) – Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night, Siemens struggled from the drop of the puck, falling over in the neutral zone on his first shift, and later turning it over for a rush up the ice. He continued to have issues with the puck all night and tried a few too many risky plays up the middle. For someone fighting for an NHL career, this was not a night he could afford to have.
Carl Soderberg (C) – This may not be a popular opinion, but I thought Soderberg played hard. He took a beating in front of the net on every power play, including on the power play goal, and did nice things in that part of the game. He made a great feed to MacKinnon late in the game, but MacK wasn’t ready to shoot, and instead fed it to Kerfoot, who missed the empty net.
Conor Timmins (B) – Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night. I think most would assume Timmins was going to be sent back after this game, but he played so well that he might have earned another look. His skating didn’t stand out in a bad way, and he made quite a few impressive rushes, and a beautiful toe drag in the third almost led to a goal. He’s been slowly improving each day of camp.
Dominic Toninato (C-) – His adjusted possession numbers were bad, and he doesn’t do much in the way of standing out. He had some OK moments on the PK, but in his limited even strength time, didn’t do a ton.
The Avs are back on the ice at home on Thursday night when they take on the Dallas Stars.