Usually, we’d wait until the Avs had at least hit the double-digit mark before we took a real look at the season start. But, given the random and strange schedule the Avs were handed to start the 2016-2017 season, we find ourselves with time to ponder the team play and that of a few individual players. So we do.
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In a previous podcast, we spoke about the 24-hour rule. In short, it looks like this:
You get exactly 24-hours to celebrate or commiserate after a game. Once that 24-hours is over you have to move on.
Not to be confused with this 24 hour rule
I’d like to think that the airplane flight home for the Avs – Which Peter McNab noted is the longest of the year – will give each player just enough time to process the road trip. What went right, what went wrong and so on.
The average flying time for a direct flight from Denver, CO to Orlando is 3 hours 42 minutes.
NHL Central Standings (from Yahoo.com)
The above graphic lays out a pretty clear picture of what needs to change. Simply put:
- We take too many penalties and we suck at killing them.
- We are middle-of-the-road in goals against/for
- We have a pretty good powerplay, surprisingly
Here’s what working
Caveat, it’s early in the season. But things move fast and getting in a hole now it’s like showing up late to a frat party – It’s hard to catch-up once you’re behind.
- The Avs are scoring. Not in bunches but enough to win games if we could stay out of the box and off the PK.
- Landy is showing up more often than not. He’s scored some big-time goals when we needed them and he’s been physical on occasion as well.
- It’s only 5 games into the season and we’re right in the middle of the pack. Within striking distance.
- Dutchy is “in the game” EA sports style. Making highlight reel entries on both ends of the spectrum. It took Dutchy a month or so to show up last season and he still got 30 goals. With the puck going in for Dutchy, this could be an even better season.
Duchene goal pic.twitter.com/IIsFp4qitQ
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) October 21, 2016
Orlov hit on Duchene pic.twitter.com/EdgrVTEQWc
10/18/16, 5:27 PM
But, let’s not forget that hockey is a give-and-take sport. While this isn’t as bad as the hit above, it shows that Dutchy can give as well as he gets
Duchene hit on Muzzin pic.twitter.com/XKQcXyllY1
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) October 9, 2016
Duchene hit on Muzzin pic.twitter.com/XKQcXyllY1
Room for improvement
Penalties: We’re getting killed on the PK and taking more penalties than almost every other team in the league. This isn’t going to win many games. We’re taking dumb penalties and at the wrong times, usually as a result of bad discipline – in both system and personal play – and from missed defensive assignments and, worst of all, lazy/soft efforts.
Note: The phantom roughing penalty on Martinsen does not count? I still can’t make sense of this penalty…. And I”m not the only one.
Another look at the Martinsen hit and still don’t see anything wrong with it. Yikes.
10/22/16, 7:24 PM
- Goaltending: Consistency in net. I love Varly as much as the next homer but we’d all by lying if we said that there was nothing he could do about all of the goals in each game. The fact is, he lets in strange and sometimes soft goals at the worst of times. On the flip side, he makes some of the best save I’ve ever seen and can take over a game when he’s on. But, it’s a pendulum of sorts Varly that can go from one extreme to the other every now and then.
- Odd-Man Rushes: We give up too many odd-man rushes. You have to expect a bit of this as a “fast-paced attacking team” but We’ve had too much of it coming our way and not enough going back the other way. I’m not sure what to make of this right now. I want to chalk it up to a new coach, new system and limited time to perfect from players and coaches perspectives. But, it’s a concern for sure. On the plus side of this, Dutchy seems to thrive in this type of back and forth attacking style. But to flip that again, I worry that even if we can make it work in the regular season, the NHL playoffs might just shut that style down with the physical playoff style of hockey.
Nathan MacKinnon always seems to be on the verge of greatness. Coming off the World Cup of Hockey he looked like he’d really turned a corner in his development and was ready to take over in the NHL.
But then the regular season rolls around and he’s just kind of average.
He’s still faster than everyone else and he does have some good chances here and there, but there is not magic. Not yet anyway.
One thing that I think isn’t lost on Nathan MacKinnon is that this is a team sport and so long as the team is winning, he’s probably doing a “good enough” job. But, I have to think he still strives for the greatness that he’s been foreseen to have. Whether it’s true or not, he’s always had the “special player” tag on him and it’s a lot to live up too.
But then you look at the stats for the first 5 games of the season
MacKinnon is averaging a point per game right now.
If he kept this up he’d have 82 points in the regular season.
All of this is happening while he’s not playing amazing hockey… so when he does go on a streak, he could add even more points. But, there’s a good chance that he’ll also trend into slumps through the season as well.
For a guy like MacK he should probably have more shots on goal. He has 13 after 5 games and that’s a pretty dismal number for someone who plays with the speed and skill of MacKinnon. So what is the issue? How can we get MacK to launch this season?
I think the answer is already in town and I think that just having Rantanen in the line-up will help MacK out. If they end up on the same line, which is totally possible, I think it will be a great combo of speed, skill and with a little help from Rantanen… poise.
But if you put Rantanen with MacKinnon? Who’s the other forward? We’ve got a Center and a RW. Who’s that LW?
It looks as if the Avs are going to pair MacK and Ranty with Grigo. This is a line full of guys looking to prove something and I think that might just work. I think that MacK wants to prove that he is, in fact, that good. Rantanen want’s to prove he belongs and Grigo has a year to prove that we should sign him to a long-term contract.
That’s a lot of skill, desire and 3 big chips on the shoulders of what might just become the most exciting line in the early going this season for the Avs.
To get back to MacK, I think this could really work for him. I think that these 3 young players might be able to channel some of the magic and spark that we saw from some of the guys on the North America Team. Maybe not quite as potent, but more so that we’ve seen from any of them so far.
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