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.