The Colorado Avalanche went into Madison Square Garden and quieted the crowd early, and Semyon Varlamov held the Rangers at bay for the final two periods, leading to a 4-2 season-opening victory.

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

Sven Andrighetto (D) – If there was a weak spot on the power play or at even strength on that line, it was definitely Andrighetto.  He made a nice pass in the second to hit Rantanen for a mini break, but beyond that had some pretty rough turnovers.

Mark Barberio (C-) – That was a very up and down game for Barberio.  He made some hideous turnovers but also helped break it out a few times with his feet.  I can’t imagine he’s played the penalty kill at a high level at any point recently, and he looked very out of place there with his positioning.

Tyson Barrie (A) – That was Tyson Barrie at his finest, joining the rush consistently and providing that next wave of attack.  He’s in for a big year if he plays like that, and he’s normally a slow starter.

Chris Bigras (B) – He was put in some tough spots by his partner in the first period but did his part to prevent any major chances.  Made a nice play to get the puck out of the zone on the game-winning goal, and Bednar mentioned him specifically in the post-game press conference.  A good start to his season.

Blake Comeau (D) – This guy is frustrating.  He’ll make a heavy play and throw someone off the puck, only to blindly give the puck away up the middle of the ice.  As one of the few veterans out there, he needs to be way better.

J.T. Compher (B-) – I don’t think that line did a ton of things offensively, but their main role this year might be in the defensive zone, and they were the Avs best line in terms of shot suppression.  He had a nice rush that nearly ended in a goal in the second.

Matt Duchene (B) – Even if it’s very apparent in his interviews that he does not want to be here, he’s putting in some effort out there.  Getting him on the scoresheet almost immediately could have been the best thing to happen to the Avs, both for the team and for management.

Erik Johnson (B+) – EJ was a horse tonight, and he did it with several partners, playing at least 2:30 at ES with 4 different defensemen.  He did screen Varly a bit on the second goal, but that’s better than his leg getting shattered by the shot.

Tyson Jost (D) – You can say he’s not in a great spot, and he isn’t, but his decisions with the puck tonight were very poor.  He had the disastrous turnover right before the end of the second that nearly led to a Rangers goal, and had a few more in the offensive zone.

Alexander Kerfoot (B-) – Even though he’s going to drive me crazy with his unwillingness to shoot the puck, his playmaking and vision are very apparent.  That pass on the Barrie goal was perfect, as he hit him in stride and allowed him to keep his momentum going.

Gabriel Landeskog (B) – The ultimate shot suppression night for him, which I’m worried will hurt his offensive output.  But maybe the best thing of all is he led the team with 5 shots on goal.

Nathan MacKinnon (C) – That pass to Rantanen was a thing of beauty, but he had a pretty sloppy night overall.  I like him on the PK, but he played a lot of PK tonight, and that energy is better served elsewhere.

Andrei Mironov (F) – Oh my.  That was a rough start for him.  He had far and away the worst possession numbers on the team, and considering two of his biggest blunders in the first period (poor pinches) didn’t lead to shots because of his partner and a penalty, that’s saying something.  Coaches don’t like to make changes after wins…but he looks in over his head.

Patrik Nemeth (B-) – A great read on the opening goal to join the play, and had a quietly steady game, but there were at least two instances of him icing the puck rather than taking two extra strides to hit the red line.  A decent debut.

Matt Nieto (F) – Why the heck is a guy who skates so well hooking and slashing so much?  There’s no excuse for him getting three penalties.

Mikko Rantanen (C) – Expected a little bit more from that line at even strength, but that power play goal was great.  Rantanen could score a ton of goals from that position this season.

Semyon Varlamov (A) – Praise be to Varly.  That was as good as he’s looked in a long time.  He was moving well, and you can tell he’s on his game when he’s got some swagger going.  Comeau tried to block a shot and missed in the third, Varly made the save, and Varly screamed at him to get the hell out of the way.

Colin Wilson (C) – Wilson was the least noticeable on that line, but that wasn’t a terrible thing tonight.  He’s good along the boards but so far, through the preseason to now, he’s shown very little offense.

Nail Yakupov (B+) – That was a beauty of a setup that led to the first goal, but if Duchene had buried the puck after his absurd spin-o-rama pass in the third, we’d all be talking about that.  You’d think they’d want to utilize his shot on the power play some more.

The Avs are back on the ice on Saturday when they take on the New Jersey Devils.  That game starts at noon MST.

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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.

  • cerveau

    Maybe part of the reason Duchene doesn’t look so happy in interviews is that he’s tired of being asked the same questions over and over by the reporters ad nauseum about how he feels about possibly being traded.

    Aside from that, we were well prepared to expect dumb moves by a young team, and lo and behold that happened but all in all it’s nice to see their strengths made up for it.

    Go Avs!!!

    • OCMS

      I’m sure that gets old and no doubt he’s tired of the question. Too bad Sakic hasn’t put it to rest one way or the other. Then the questions will stop.

      • What if the reporters are right and the only way Sakic could “put it to rest” is to lie?

    • Chris DeMott

      Agreed on both points. It would be nice if lazy reporters were called out for bad questions once in a while.

  • i2strange97

    I see what you did there….

    “EJ was a horse tonight, and he did it with several partners”

    Guys a stud.

  • AvsFinn

    Sloppy for MacKinnon is right and then some. You can put both Ranger goals on his account, he played like a rookie on those, and he’s suppose to be a star on his fifth NHL season. Unacceptable. I liked the idea of him on PK last season but that maybe led to a couple of shorthanded goals which is not worth it if this is how he’s going to play. Let him learn defense five on five and get him out of PK.

    Can’t be too happy about this win. It looked too much like any win last season. The Avs gave the game away after Rangers’ second goal, but the Rangers didn’t want it. The freezing over really looks like a leadership problem. They fall asleep when something, anything goes south. Just like last season. Landy was grinding and leading by example but who’s doing the talking on this team??

    Excuse the rant and thanks. Was really looking forward to this game and after getting this, despite the W, I’m sourpuss.

    • Ryan James McManus

      Bruh…… we won 22 games last year. Are you really going to complain that we just beat one of last years playoff teams in their building on opening night, which might we one of the better home ice advantages in the league?

      Take your sourpuss attitude to Minnesota or Detroit we don’t need any more of that shit here.

      • AvsFinn

        I’m saying this win looked just like one of those 22 wins last season. So yeah they’ve got to do better. A lot better!

        And for my attitude, with respect, I’ve devoted enough of my lifetime following the Avs to feel like I can voice my opinion. I’m a fan, just a realistic one, and a demanding one.

        • Ryan James McManus

          A realistic fan for this team will be happy and not find the negatives in any of the wins that we great this year. How can you demand this team do better while still being a realistic fan? ha

          • AvsFinn

            How is that being realistic? It’s not. I get it, it’s all about fun for you and that’s ok. You must really enjoy the broadcasts of Altitude where they only talk the positive. Don’t know if you watch all games like I do, I tell you last season it was as frustrating as it gets to listen to just the positive when it all goes wrong. So what being realistic is, that you analyze the game behind the score. Otherwise you could just keep cheering the victor/good loss, why even read anything about it.

          • Ryan James McManus

            1 month late buddy but you make no sense here. Your not the only fan that watches all the games and I watched enough bad hockey over the last two years to just be glad when this team gets a win no matter how we get it. A realistic fan for this team should demand nothing more than .500 hockey right now. These kids are young and are going to go through growing pains and us fans should realize it. Look how bad Toronto was for years before their young kids started to get it figured out. You obviously aren’t a good/smart fan if you expect more out of this team right now.

          • AvsFinn

            Well there’s the difference. You can be happy about a win with crappy play. I don’t because it gives no promise of the better. I do expect them to do better than last year who doesn’t. My point here was that, behind the result, it looked too much like last season.

          • Ryan James McManus

            I think that’s silly your taking one game and comparing an entire different team to last years team. there are so many new faces that’s just ridiculous. we have not see this team play more than 20 games so for us to even expect anything other than being not bad is not ok. we need a larger sample size with this team because it is a completely different team than last year and you cant compare a team made up of 20 year olds to last years team made up of 30 + year olds.

  • I agree with pretty much all your ratings. I don’t think this game was really representative of anyone as I’m sure there were some nerves going for a lot of the guys and everyone reacts differently to that.

    Some other thoughts: I was interested to see that our #1 forward in terms of ice time at even strength was none other than J.T. Compher. His line was also out there with less than two minutes to go. I think they might actually be our second line, with Duchene centering the third. Yakupov, for example, had a decent game, but he actually played less than *anyone* else on the team.

    For next game I think it’s got to be Zadorov in place of Mironov. Send Mironov down and call up Warsofksy to be the healthy scratch. The kid’s clearly not ready.

    • Charlie Anderson

      I think you mean Lindholm…

      • Well the Avs sadly don’t always do what I tell them 😉

        • Charlie Anderson

          Brilliant, reverse psychology, I totally get it.

  • OCMS

    The part that concerns me is that these grades may actually be the ones each player earns on a regular basis. While I am sure we’ll see improvement in some areas, this could be exactly who they are.

  • Jose

    Jost just does not fit well on the 4th line. It will be interesting to see what changes Bednar makes for the next game. Zadorov should be in and maybe Bigras will get more time. EJ can’t play that much every game. Maybe Mac was trying to do too much and got himself in trouble by not thinking and being tired?

  • Av-a-dabba-doo

    Similar impressions. Feel Varlamov deserved an A+, and would’ve given Duchene at B+, but half-grades are a minor difference. A Nieto nightmare for sure! Let’s hope he got his worst outing for the season out of the way first thing. Glad for the opening win on the road, but must admit that our defensive ineptitude to clear the puck out at several crucial junctures was all too reminiscent of a season ago. #We’llTakeIt!

  • Chris Hopkins

    As the only Avs jersey in site, duchene gave me a “what up” nod when he was out doing his drinking his water bottle and watching the Jumbotron before the pregame skate routine. So that’s something. Coulda ripped my jersey off and burned it lol.

    As for the game, some of the calls last night were tough. I had an friendly ongoing convo with some rangers fans sitting next to me and even they couldn’t believe some of the penalties nieto was called for (and they hated that call to set up the Rantanen PP goal in the first, clearly). Overall, I was really pleased to see the Avs speed through the neutral zone. They looked really fast all night. Bigras was incredibly noticeable, not just on the step up where he hit the post, but all night. The flow makes him look bigger too. It felt like the Avs coulda scored 6-7 goals with the chances they were generating, which is something you couldn’t say much last year. For the downside for me obviously MacK was pretty invisible, which was disappointing, and I know the love affair with Landeskog’s peripherals is strong, but man his skating was lacking last night. It felt like whenever the Avs wanted to go fast and he was on the ice his skating held them back. Idk. Plus he kept getting punked by Rick Nash, that’s never a good look! Just curious to see his fit on the team this season. Hes got my early vote for next to to have a long drawn out exit…

    Anyway, see you in Newark tomorrow

    Go Avs

    • Charlie Anderson

      Great comments. Go Avs