On Friday the New York Rangers came to Denver to play our Colorado Avalanche. The Rangers arrived without a fully staffed defensive core, (missing Shattenkirk and Staal). The Avalanche have their share of injuries but surprisingly we have more depth on defense, apparently. The Avs have been missing Tyson Barrie for some time but you would not be able to tell by the way the Av’s blueliners have been playing. Erik Johnson has been playing like a man possessed. Johnson, since Barrie’s 10 game absence, has put up 3 goals and 4 assists +9 over that time period. All the while Johnson has been supporting young defenseman Samuel Girard, and no one is talking about him. On Saturday Johnson got involved with the two goals scored on Lundqvist. Johnson (7) buried the first on a backdoor feed from Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon, and was the primary assist on Mackinnon’s 23rd goal of the season in the second.
Pavel Buchnevich scored the lone goal for the Rangers on the day. It was a PPG off a shot-pass from Mats Zuccarello that got redirected passed Bernier.
Bernier was not really tested in the game, he fought off 27 of the 28 shots as the Avs locked up a 3-1 victory off the empty net goal by Mikko Rantanen for his 17th of the season with one second left in regulation.
If you watch the highlights the team that had all of the chances is very obvious. The Avalanche really took the game to the Rangers and this game could have easily been 6-1 based on the scoring chances. I would say that this run with the Avalanche should not be ending soon regardless of who the opponent is but I don’t think that would be an accurate assessment of the situation. A very large majority of the team’s recent games have been in Denver. Playing in Denver gives the Avalanche the obvious advantage of playing at altitude. After this homestand, the Avalanche have a 16 game span where they only have 3 games at home. This will be a true test of the fortitude of the Avalanche leadership and their mental strength.
Tomorrow the Avalanche take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto. I will preview that game tomorrow.