4 Avalanche Thrive at World Championship

The Colorado Avalanche’s season may have been finished with the 4-2 series defeat against the Nashville Predators in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that did not mean it was the end of the hockey season for four of their players. For Tyson Jost, Mikko Rantanen, Sven Andrighetto, and newly-acquired goaltender Pavel Francouz, it was one final stop to the IIHF World Hockey Championship before enjoying the offseason.

Tyson Jost Shines for Team Canada

Rookie centerman Tyson Jost proved in front of a worldwide audience that he could hang around with the likes of star Canadians like Connor McDavid and former Avalanche star Ryan O’Reilly.

Jost finished the tournament tied for second in team goal scoring with 4 goals, and tied second in team total plus/minus with a plus-6 rating on Team Canada’s way to a fourth-place finish.

Jost came out red-hot in his first appearance of the tournament, a 10-0 rout of South Korea in Group B, scoring two goals and picking up an assist for a dominant three-point performance in his debut.

In the 65 games Jost played for the Avalanche, he netted 12 goals and managed to cash in 10 assists.

Rantanen Dominates Team Canada and Team USA

Avalanche first-liner and Nathan MacKinnon’s right-hand-man, Mikko Rantanen proved he could handle the pressures of facing major world juggernauts early on in the tournament.

The 21-year-old superstar in the making from Nousiainen helped lead the Finnish team to two dominant victories against Canada and the USA.

Mikko Rantanen
Mikko Rantanen (Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)

In Finland’s 5-1 domination of Team Canada, Rantanen snagged two goals, just 8:25 apart from each other in the first period, including a spinning shot from the far-side boards that deflected off of Canadian center Brayden Schenn’s stick into the back of the net to give the Finns a 1-0 lead.

Just three days later, Rantanen would help guide the Finns to an overpowering 6-2 victory over Team USA, scoring via the backhand off a rebound save by USA netminder Keith Kinkaid.

Finland fell to the silver medal-winning Team Switzerland in the in the quarterfinals, yet Rantanen finished the tournament tied seventh in overall goal scoring with five goals and eighth overall in scoring with 11 points.

Sven’s Rocky Start, Smooth Finish

Sven Andrighetto’s IIHF campaign did not start the way he would have wanted it tothat is for sure. In Team Switzerland’s first game on its silver-medal run, Andrighetto didn’t score a single point, but he did find himself sitting out much of the second and all of the third period for a bone-crushing hit on Team Austria’s Steven Strong, which resulted in a game misconduct and an automatic one-game suspension. Strong would miss the rest of the tournament with a leg injury.

Andrighetto’s return to the Swiss team after the single-game suspension was much welcomed. Throughout the remainder of the tournament, Andrighetto managed to score at least one assist in six of the eight remaining games, tallying seven assists with a minus-1 plus/minus rating.

Francouz’s Solid Showings Between the Pipes

Pavel Francouz Czech Republic
(By Oleg Bkhambri (Voltmetro) (Own work) (CC0), via Wikimedia Commons)

Pavel Francouz, a 27-year-old goaltender and newest addition to the Avalanche, maintained a fairly strong track record in his games in net for the Czech Republic.

Francouz was in the net for the first game of the tournament, saving 15 of 17 shots for Team Czech Republic, and helped deliver the team to a 3-2 overtime win against Team Slovakia.

Francouz would also get the credit for one of the two shutouts for the Czechs, recording 21 saves in a 3-0 win against Team Belarus.

In the quarterfinals, Francouz was in net against a potent and hungry Team USA, who came off of a 4-1 victory against rival Team Canada. Francouz would keep the Czechs in the game until the final whistle, saving 28 of the 31 shots he faced. The dagger to the Czechs was a goal 6:58 into the third period by Patrick Kane, who led the entire tournament in points with 20 (8 goals and 12 assists).

Francouz finished the tournament with a .904 save percentage and a 2.38 goals-against average, putting him 14th overall on goalies in the tournament.

According to Elite Prospects, Francouz also lead the KHL in goaltending this season with a .946 save percentage, only allowing 1.80 goals a game while playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk.

Rest and Relaxation

With the IIHF World Championship behind the team, Avalanche players can now look for a few months off to recover from injuries and fatigue before preparing for the 2018-19 NHL season. This also gives Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar time to figure out where exactly Francouz fits into the young Avalanche team.