He was moved to a new position and told by the coach he needed to be harder on the puck. On a night when Jared Bednar ripped into a couple of “passengers” who “didn’t show up to play”, Alexander Kerfoot was exempt, doing just what was asked of him in Thursday’s tough 4-3 Colorado Avalanche loss to St. Louis.
Kerfoot had the best game of his very short NHL career, scoring two goals and assisting on another. He had six shots on goal, not bad for a guy who has caused many an Avs fan prior to Thursday yelling “Shoooooot” at a player who prefers the pass instead of the shot.
On an otherwise hugely frustrating night, this would have to suffice as the big positive. For the Harvard grad with a degree in economics, the numbers were outstanding not just on the score sheet. He won all three faceoffs he took in his first game at his true position – center – and was a plus-2 in a game in which only he and Blake Comeau finished in plus territory.
“I think I just got some good bounces tonight,” Kerfoot said. “I thought we battled back toward the end of the game and had an opportunity to tie it up. But in this game you have to play 60 minutes.”
Bednar had praise for Kerfoot’s effort, but not that of Nail Yakupov. In his 300th NHL game, Yakupov was benched midway through the second period. He sat the rest of the game in the middle of the bench, even though the Avs lost forwards J.T. Compher (broken right thumb) and Tyson Jost (lower body). It was a stunning rebuke of Yakupov’s play, as he finished with just 8:11 of ice time, and Bednar did not hide his displeasure at what he saw from the Russian winger.
“He was one of them, yeah,” Bednar said, when asked if Yakupov was one of the passengers who didn’t show up. “A couple of bonehead plays, you can’t make when you’re playing the best team in the division. A handful of plays that we can’t continue to make cost us the hockey game.”
Yakupov was unavailable for comment.
Defenseman Nikita Zadorov was probably another object of Bednar’s ire. Zadorov gave the puck away a few times and blew his defensive coverage in the corner on a critical goal score by the Blues’ Vince Dunn with 6:35 left in the second that made it 3-1. Nathan MacKinnon (minus-3, no points, three shots) had a rough night too.
Otherwise, Bednar said the rest of his players “played their hearts out.”
“Guys were pushing to the end, laying it all on the line,” Bednar said.
- Compher suffered the broken right thumb, his shooting hand, when he took a booming slap shot to the hand from the Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo. A further prognosis on his recovery time will be made soon, but Bednar said he’ll “be out a while.”
- The severity of Jost’s lower-body injury has yet to be determined. The Avs also lost defenseman Patrik Nemeth to a lower-body injury in the third period.