The Colorado Avalanche won their sixth straight game, 5-2, on Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks. Although the game started slowly, and netminder Darcy Kuemper was removed because of equipment issues, the Avalanche were too strong for their opponent. Colorado found scoring easy and have now scored 36 goals in their last six games, to tie the franchise record. Head coach Jared Bednar also became the winningest coach in franchise history last night.
Here are the takeaways from the game.
Makar Provides Timely Spark
The Avalanche came out a little flat, and they needed a spark. Usually, a quick move or burst of speed from Nathan MacKinnon and a strong shift for the top line is enough to get the crowd onside the players moving.
However, with MacKinnon out of the lineup, Cale Makar stepped up in his place and delivered with less than a minute left of the first period. At this point, it looked as though the Avalanche would go into the first intermission 1-0 down, but thanks to Makar, they tied the game up 1-1 just before the end of the period. Though Makar is not known for scoring goals, he’s found his touch recently and continues to get pucks on net from the blue line.
After a slow start, we are seeing the best of Makar right now. The 23-year-old scored eight goals in 44 games last season and has already matched that total through the first 14 games of 2021-22.
Kuemper Equipment Issues
Kuemper’s equipment issues may seem bizarre and unusual, but it’s a problem that needs to be fixed. He’s been removed from the last two games, first for losing a skate blade after his skates got lodged into the goal post, and last night, he also lost a blade while stepping onto the ice.
Jonas Johansson came in to defend the net and was left in for the final two periods after Kuemper lost his blade for the third time. Had the game been against a better-quality opponent, things may have ended differently. He needs a new pair of skates and a lot of work in practice to ensure this doesn’t happen again. It may have been unfortunate the first time, but after losing three blades in less than two games, the issue has to be addressed immediately.
Managing Alex Newhook
The Colorado Avalanche deserve a lot of credit for the way they have managed Alex Newhook, giving him time away from the NHL to get his game in a better place. Right now, we are seeing them get rewarded for this with some great play from Newhook. The rookie was expected to play a big role this season, but after a poor showing in camp and a bad first game, he was sent to the American Hockey League (AHL) to gain some confidence.
Many questioned the decision, but it’s paying huge dividends. Since his return to the NHL, Newhook has a point in five of six games for some much-needed depth scoring. Of his three goals, two were game-winners, and the third put the Avs up 2-1 against the Ducks in a key moment of the game. It’s unlikely he will continue at this scoring pace, but he’s proved his worth to the Avs and is probably next in line for increased ice time when it becomes available.
What’s Next for the Avalanche?
Next up for the Avalanche is a back-to-back weekend, with a trip to Dallas to face the Stars on Friday night followed by a home game against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Confidence is high, and with a six game win streak going into those games, the expectation is for more of the same and two more victories.
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.