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.

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“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.

NOTEBOOK

  • 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.

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.

  • jpwheels

    I think Bednar nailed it in his post-game presser. And I love that he sat Yak despite losing forwards too injuries. It’s fairly unusual for a coach to name guys that didn’t play well. And there’s a risk that some of the players won’t like that having been made public, but I loved it. I think Bednar being more assertive, even in public, will wake some guys up.

  • Jose

    The injuries and the lack of depth are going to be a real challenge. The next few weeks will be “gut check” time.

  • J.T. Nutt

    a coach holding his players accountable for the lack of effort is the type of coach you need to take a team out of the basement. the utter lack off effort by the team last year was disgusting. This team is frustrating but the talent and EFFORT is there. I can live with frustrating, I can not live with disgusting. I’m glad Bednar ripped the guys in the media too. So far he’s benched Zadorov for missing camp, and Yakupov for his lack of effort. Veterans, rookies, depth guys, star players, all getting the same treatment and held to the same standard. Might be in the minority, but i love that out of Bednar.

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