Avalanche’s Newhook Steps Up Scoring

Alex Newhook needed a boost. Two weeks ago, he got it in the form of some time on the bench to contemplate his play. The message went through loud and clear, and the Colorado Avalanche forward has been on a bit of a scoring surge – notching two goals and two assists in his last five games.

The boost has helped the Avs kick a shaky start, as they’ve won eight of their last 10 games and have moved within three points of the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars. The scoring push from him has been welcome, as Colorado’s roster has been ransacked by injuries as of late.

Newhook Hears Bednar’s Message

After lackluster first and second periods in Colorado’s 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 14, Colorado coach Jared Bednar drastically reduced Newhook’s minutes for the rest of the game. The coach was asked about it following the contest and said Newhook wasn’t playing up to the coach’s standard. After just three points in his first 14 games this season, the 21-year-old forward seems to have got the message.

Alex Newhook Colorado Avalanche
Alex Newhook, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Newhook scored a goal in his next game – a crucial go-ahead tally late in the second period of Colorado’s 3-2 overtime road victory at the Carolina Hurricanes. He added another goal two games later, netting another go-ahead score early in the third period against the Stars. The Avalanche went on to win that game in a shootout. He also has a pair of assists in the last five games – and the only loss during that stretch was when he was held off the scoresheet.

Injuries Still Plague Avs

Newhook’s bump in production came at a critical time. The Avalanche are decimated by injuries, leaving a lot of heavy lifting for their superstars. They have been without captain Gabriel Landeskog for much of the season as he recovers from surgery. Valeri Nichushkin was off to a rocking start, but has played in only seven games this season – and hasn’t played since Oct. 25.

Nichushkin had seven goals and five assists through those seven games, and Evan Rodrigues was tied for third on the team with six goals. Of the remaining 53 goals the Avalanche have scored this season, almost half of them have been scored by Mikko Rantanen (13), Nathan MacKinnon (6), and Cale Makar (6).

Related: The 3-Man Avalanche – MacKinnon, Makar & Rantanen

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The depth has taken a beating, too. Rodrigues will miss 2-4 weeks, and Martin Kaut won’t make the upcoming road trip. Darren Helm has been on injured reserve since early October, and Shane Bowers is also sidelined with an upper-body injury. Those names might not strike fear in the hearts of opposing goaltenders, but Colorado’s depth is something they hung their hat on during its run to the Stanley Cup last season. That’s why it’s crucial for guys like Newhook to not only step up, but sustain a scoring threat until some of the other players can get healthy enough to play.

Avalanche Still Need More From Newhook

When Nazem Kadri left for the Calgary Flames in free agency before the season, there was some question as to who would step up to be the second-line center for the Avalanche going forward. Newhook’s name was bandied about as a potential replacement, but fizzled at the start of the season. With the injury bug ripping through the locker room as of late, this scoring surge has come at a perfect time. However, for both the Avalanche and Newhook, this can’t be just a blip on the radar.

Alex Newhook Colorado Avalanche
Alex Newhook, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Newhook’s first season as a regular player in the NHL was last season when he scored 13 goals and totaled 33 points in 71 games. He was apprehensive to start this season, but the injuries and recent success could be a springboard for him to launch into the production many expected from him when he was taken by the Avs in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

Related: Avalanche Have 3 Second Line Center Options to Consider

The Avalanche now head out on a four-game road trip, starting with a game against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. That’s followed by three more games over five days to start December. The injuries will give a number of their prospects a chance, and it’s a big opportunity for Newhook to show he belongs. If he can keep up his recent form, he might earn himself the right to be slotted in that second-line center spot for good.

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