In Las Vegas, a “tell” is a dirty word. You don’t want to give away your hand with some kind of twitch or habit. But when it comes to the Colorado Avalanche making the final decision on its final top-six defenseman, the team might have made a tell Thursday night in Vegas.

Chris Bigras – not Duncan Siemens, not Andrei Mironov – got the start in the Avs’ preseason finale at T-Mobile Arena against the Vegas Golden Knights. It was Bigras’ chance to show coach Jared Bednar why he deserves one of the top-six spots, and he definitely seemed to make the most of it.

Bigras played 17 minutes, 40 seconds in the Avalanche’s 4-2 victory, which concluded their preseason with the same record. He had two assists, was a plus-1 and blocked two shots in the victory.

Wednesday, Bednar was asked how close Bigras was to making the team.

“For me, his play has gotten better and better as camp has gone on,” he said.

It got better against the Golden Knights. The question Bednar now has to face: Would he be OK with having another mobile, finesse-type D-man in Bigras, or is he going to want more of the banging, tough, stay-at-home types that Mironov and Siemens are?

Bednar has less than a week to decide, as final cuts down to the 23-man roster have to be made by the mid part of next week, when the regular season starts.

OTHER TAKEAWAYS FROM THE PRESEASON FINALE

  • Nail Yakupov sniped a great first-period goal from the left faceoff circle against Marc-Andre Fleury. Yak played just a little more than 13 minutes, but again looked comfortable on a line with Matt Duchene and Alex Kerfoot.
  • Another strong night for Semyon Varlamov. He stopped 24-of-26 shots for his third straight win of the preseason.
  • Defenseman Anton Lindholm probably sewed up a roster spot with a fine game. He played nearly 18 minutes, assisted on a goal and was credited with four hits.
  • Erik Johnson’s first-period touchdown pass to Sven Andrighetto was a thing of beauty.
  • The Avs didn’t possess the puck enough. They were outshot 36-22 and they had to block 18 more Vegas shots, to just six the other way. The defense, needless to say, remains something of a work in progress.

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Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, Versus.com and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • david 1.982k

    Yes it should, he belongs in the NHL I think Greer and Bourque should go back to SA with Colborne on IR and Comeau as the 13th forward. I’d keep Duncan and Mironov and send Warsofsky to SA. I think I’d waive Comeau and or one of the extra D if waivers dropped a better player to me, as I’m pretty sure it will, for Comeau at least.

  • cerveau

    The last goal by Jost was a lucky bounce, but it’s nice to have lucky bounces go our way. Plus, the first three goals were definitely definitely things of beauty.

    That said, Vegas seemed the more dominating team. They seemed bigger and stronger. Plus, it’s hard for us to be more dominating when we keep getting penalties, one after the next.

    It was Varly that saved our *ss. Let’s hope that Varly can remain as consistently phenomenal as he was last night. It will be a challenge to not over work him and over stress him.

    • Blackboard Warrior

      I thought the same thing about the lucky bounce. Last year, the puck would have bounced off Jost’s skate, but he would have been in front of OUR net.

      Could it be our luck is changing?

      • Pixelrebirth

        Not if Dater says anything about it… …

    • Unit5

      It was a lucky bounce, but we had someone in front of the net to take advantage of it.

      • cerveau

        Truer words have never been said, Unit5… half of luck is just showing up to begin with.
        Jost seemed just as surprised as everybody else. 🙂

  • cerveau

    By the way, Dater, I liked your intro about a tell in Vegas. Nice job with your word crafting.

  • “Defenseman Anton Lindholm probably sewed up a roster spot with a fine game.”

    “Chris Bigras’ big night”

    “The defense, needless to say, remains something of a work in progress.”

    I’m a bit confused. Are the young guys actually playing well, or are they just playing better than each other yet still overall playing poorly? I mean, when the defense was bad last season, there were clear reason why. Beauchemin and Tyutin were old and slow, EJ was injured, Barrie isn’t a defenseman, and the other guys were fringe NHL players at best. What’s the reason now for the defense being bad (other than Barrie still being actually a forward playing defense for some reason)?

    • MikeL

      I think that’s a dam good question. I guess we’ll find out when the season starts. I do think they’ll improve over the course of the season.

    • Dario

      I thought Lindholm had a rough night myself. I didn’t like his anticipation nor his speed on to the puck. His positioning is what helps him on a night like that, it makes up for a rusty night on the ice. He should be a little rusty with how little he’s played in the preseason.

      Bednar experimented with some pairings and EJ and Z did not play together as he said they would in the season. So EJ basically did 26 minutes with a variety of partners. None of which played more than 19 minutes. So, for the D group it seemed like an evaluation kind of game and it was pretty disjointed.

      I thought the defense was super soft through the neutral zone last night. Vegas owned the neutral zone and they cruised in to the zone w/out pressure while the Avs had to battle through the NZ all night.

      TLDR; I thought the D had some good play at times but they were a bit hung out to dry on all the pressure coming in to the zone w/ little back pressure.

    • Adrian Dater

      Well, I thought Lindholm was fine, but some may disagree. There were some moments when he was caught running around a little, but otherwise I thought he did several good things.

    • Charlie Anderson

      It looked like it was an experimentation night for Bednar with defense pairings. Including playing Warsofsky, whom I don’t think is going to be able to make it in the NHL. Doesn’t seem to me like a guy can be any smaller than Barrie and make it as an offensive defenseman in the NHL. Probably can’t be much smaller than Barrie and make it as a defenseman at all in the big league.

  • bd15

    Shorthanded 7 times and got outshot 36-22 to one of the worst rosters in the NHL. Not a great look.

    • Jon E.

      Being short handed 7 times will generally show a shot disparity against even the best rosters in the NHL so I fail to see your point…

      • Chris DeMott

        Sometimes I wonder if these commentators watched the game or just read the box score. It wasn’t like the Avs were hemmed in all night.

  • WorkingMan

    Good to hear Bigras had another good game. I think he has for sure played himself into a roster spot and it wouldn’t shock me if he gets an opportunity to play with Barrie at some point early in the season. It sounds like Barberio and Lindholm will round out the top 6.

    I personally hope that Mironov is the 7th defensemen just because I think he’ll need to the support of the other Russians on the team. He can’t speak english yet and having Varlamov, Yakupov and Zadorov around will help him adjust to North America.

  • Charlie Anderson

    Mironov is for sure more likely to cut it as an NHL defenseman than Warsofsky, anyone that says otherwise must be friends with Warsofsky or something.

  • Lefseeter

    I was a little concerned when the VGK forward drove straight at Lindholm after the opening face-off and shot through his legs like it was child’s play.

  • Lefseeter

    One other thing, John-Michael Liles needs a cup of coffee before the broadcast. He is way too subdued.

    • Mark Kinz

      Not to mention some wilder suits if he’s gonna sit in Rycroft’s chair!

    • Jose

      He was my favorite player when he was with the AVs. It was great to see him begin his broadcasting career. He will become less subdued as he becomes more comfortable with the “position”.