Colorado Avalanche have burst onto the media’s radar in the past couple of weeks, more specifically in 2018. For the first half of the season they flirted with a .500 record, Merely a blip on the radar for analysts. After what seemed like forever the Avalanche have been viewed in a positive light. Things seem to be falling in to place for them. Bounces are going their way and pucks are finding the back of the net, for once.
In the Avs last game versus The Anaheim Ducks (1/15/18) this sort of narrative found itself true. A Monday matinee where pucks were finding the back of the net for the Avs. Literally, pucks happened to be going in. Matt Nieto’s (8) of the season came on the back of some serious perseverance while he literally had Hampus Lindholm draped over his back.
The goals have not been over the top flashy this year but the Avs have been finding a way to get them.
But if we are talking flashy, we can talk about Jonathan Bernier. Most goalies like to show the glove to assert their dominance, not Bernie.
There have been two specific times this year that I can think about that have been worth signing him alone. This save against Ryan Kessler is for sure one of them. The other highlight would have to be this highlight during the second game of the season versus the New Jersey Devils. Bernie just up and steals Damon Severson’s Lunch.
You bundle these highlights with the fact that he is absolutely crushing it between the pipes for the Avalanche recently and you have one hell-of-a backup goaltender. In his last six games he is (6-0) and in each of these games he has only let up as much as two goals in each contest.
It truly is odd how some things pan out in sports though. I don’t know how it happens but the momentum from positive happenings can carry a team like a wave and propel them forward. In this case, what I’m referring to is how at one end of the ice you have Jonathan Bernier planting his flag firmly inside the skull of Ryan Kessler and the rest of the Ducks, with a reciprocal action carried out by Nathan Mackinnon and Gabe Landeskog on the other end of the ice.
This line of Mackinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog has been a thing of beauty for the Colorado Avalanche. They finally have an established first line that is producing the bulk of their points competitively in comparison to other teams across the league.
What Nathan Mackinnon has been doing has been remarkable. He is currently tied for second in the league for points (54). He is joined by other phenoms like Johnny T., Johnny Hockey, and Claude Giroux. This is excellent company and something I think we all expect from our 1st overall draft pick. It may have taken some time but we are finally here.
There are some things to notice about how Nathan Mackinnon scored this goal, his 20th this season. James Neal in his Players’ Tribune article said: “The real secret to scoring goals is all about the release.” From the range that Mackinnon was at, it’s relatively easy to stop a wrist shot for a goaltender. There are some contributing factors that made the degree of difficulty for this shot, higher. Cam Fowler squared up and in between him and the net. As Cam Fowler swipes at the puck Nate has to adjust the area where the puck is located in order to maintain possession. Upon adjustment, he fired the puck through Cam Fowler and passed the goaltender Ryan Miller.
These are two factors that make the shot more difficult to stop. Cam Fowler acted as a screen and masked the exact location of the puck. The quick adjustment to the puck puts the goalie in the position where he may no longer be perfectly square to the puck thus making the save harder. Young shooters should be taking notes.
With 7:04 left in the second period the Ducks ended up potting their first and last goal of the game. The puck rolled down off the back of Jonathan Bernier. Not a huge defensive break down or anything of the sort. This would be something last year that might cause the team to panic. This year has been a different story the team has been able to hold it together instead of breaking down and giving up late leads. This goal was credited to Chris Wagner for his fifth of the year.
Now I’m a big Colin Wilson guy. I don’t know why. The fact that he is finding life on the second power-play unit is making me happy. Colin is a former 20 goal scorer for the Nashville Predators but in recent years he hasn’t been as productive. He is a big guy weighing in at around 220 lbs, and he is from Connecticut. That’s probably what does it for me, in a league dominated by Canadiens a little dash of American here and there is pretty nice. Colin ended up netting the third goal for the Avalanche on the power play from Alexander Kerfoot with 20 seconds left in the second period. That would be the last goal in the game and the Avalanche would go on to win their 7th game in a row, 3-1.
Next game is Thursday night. The Avs will be hosting Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks.