This game will be easy to forget. The Colorado Avalanche lost 3-1 to the Vancouver Canucks in Denver on Wednesday night, in a game that saw no goals in the opening two periods. It was one of those nights; the Avalanche had their chances, as did the Canucks, but both teams failed to fire for 40 minutes. For stretches, it seemed like the game was being played by two teams that had already qualified for the playoffs, though that is not the case, especially for the Canucks.
It was a disappointing game for the Avs, but no big worries. It’s simply a matter of moving on to the next one.
Here are our three takeaways from the contest.
Avalanche’s Top Line Needs Help
Be frustrated with the play of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, if you like; they didn’t play their best in this one. However, they need help. They are being played a lot and asked to lead the team, despite losing Gabriel Landeskog to injury.
With the playoffs on the horizon, the top line should be protected, if anything, rather than overplayed, and that will only happen if the other three lines geet on the scoreboard. The Avalanche have not scored a 5-on-5 goal in their last two games, despite beating the Edmonton Oilers in one of those, and while MacKinnon and Rantanen have to shoulder some of that blame, those around them need to be a lot better. It may take a lucky bounce, a greasy rebound, or a wild deflection, but sometime soon, the team needs to find a way to kickstart their scoring.
Lehkonen Needs to Bring Middle-Six Scoring
Three of the four Avalanche trade deadline acquisitions have now made their debut; Artturi Lehkonen will hopefully make his debut on Friday, assuming his paperwork is cleared in time.
Usually, newcomers would be given the luxury of settling into the team, but that isn’t going to be the case with Lehkonen. The Avalanche need him to produce right away. The club brought him in to play on the wing with Alex Newhook to create a third line that could score.
If things go as planned, Lehkonen will arrive for the perfect debut on Friday night. The Avs will face the Philadelphia Flyers, who are struggling and gave away some of their key players at the deadline. The crowd will be behind Lehkonen, and it would be great to see him hit the ground running.
Solid Debut from Cogliano
Avalanche fans should be pleased with what we saw from Andrew Cogliano, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks and had a solid debut. Cogliano got himself into an early tussle after a hit, was dumped over netminder Jaroslav Halak for causing trouble in front, and almost scored his first Avalanche goal with a tip in front.
Andrew Cogliano through two periods has been everything we’ve waited all year to see Darren Helm consistently be. Good start for him.— AJ Haefele (@returnofaj) March 24, 2022
He wasn’t brought in to score goals or make fancy plays; his role is to be tough to play against and cause havoc for the opposition. It’s a bonus if he hits the scoreboard. One game is not enough to judge, but judging by his game on Thursday night, if Cogliano plays with the same bite, he will be a welcome addition to the roster.
The Avalanche remain at home to face the struggling Flyers on Friday night at Ball Arena. Hopefully, Lehkonen has the paperwork needed to make his debut, and he can push the Avalanche’s middle-six forward.
Craig Jones is a freelance NHL writer from the UK, covering the Colorado Avalanche. Watching the NHL from afar, Craig has followed the Avs for more than two decades, and wrote about them for almost one. To get the UK perspective of the NHL and everything Colorado, follow Craig on Twitter @craigjones29.