3 Takeaways from Avalanche’s 3-2 Loss to Golden Knights – 1/2/23

The Colorado Avalanche suffered their fourth defeat in a row when they were beaten 3-2 by the Vegas Golden Knights at Ball Arena. A good showing in the first and third periods was not enough, with a costly middle frame being the difference, a period where the Golden Knights scored two unanswered goals.

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It is important to note that the Avalanche still have a long list of players who are injured, but we did see the return of Darren Helm in this one, playing his first game of the season. Here are my three takeaways from the loss to the Golden Knights.

Avalanche Netminder Georgiev Not to Blame

The Avalanche have lost their last four games, and netminder Alexandar Georgiev has played them all. The team has conceded 19 goals in those games, but he is not the man to blame right now. When he was traded to the Avalanche during the offseason, it was his first shot at a number-one job, and so far, he’s had plenty of adversity to deal with.

In front of him, he’s had a team full of injuries, almost resembling a minor league roster at some points, and those injuries are still not going away. Only yesterday, prior to this game, the Avalanche lost forward Evan Rodrigues, who is currently day-to-day and had been developing into a key piece of the forward group.

Alexandar Georgiev Colorado Avalanche
Alexandar Georgiev, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While dealing with this, the Avs are also asking Georgiev to do far more than he’s ever done before as a backup. This game was his ninth straight start, and those have come in a period of 19 days. As a backup, he would have been expected to play two, maybe three, of those games. There is no doubt the move to Colorado and the starter role is a big step up for him. We are at a crucial point of the season for the Avs, they need points on the board, but given the injuries to the lineup, it’s a big ask to want perfection from Georgiev considering the circumstances.

This run may go on for a little longer too, with Avalanche backup netminder Pavel Francouz out with a lower body injury right now. Jonas Johansson is currently serving as the backup, but so far, the team has decided that Georgiev is their best option.

Avalanche Depth Gets Crushed by Vegas

One area of the game where the Golden Knights really dominated was the battle between the depth players. The Avalanche were crushed on the numbers here throughout the game. J.T. Compher has been a standout recently, performing a number of roles on the team, but even he struggled against Vegas. At 5-on-5 he was on the ice for three Avalanche chances, while Vegas had 11 of their own while he was out there.

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It wasn’t just Compher that struggled. Aside from the top line, who will get a mention shortly, and Alex Newhook, who ended with an even seven chances for and seven chances against while on the ice at 5-on-5, every other forward ended the game with a negative number in terms of chances. The fourth line in particular saw big struggles. The Avs failed to create a chance at all with Kurtis MacDermid on the ice, and he faced six against, while fellow fourth-liner Martin Kaut was on the ice for two scoring chances but gave up seven.

It’s only fair to add here that we saw glimpses and small moments from a few depth players in this game, particularly in the opening period. But overall, the team is giving up way too many chances right now. They have to be much smarter in their own zone, work on the basics and get up the ice, away from danger.

Top Line Combines for Both Goals

While the depth players on this team struggled, the Avalanche top line certainly didn’t and looked as good as ever. If the Avalanche are to get out of their slump this week, it won’t be depth or netminding that does the job, it will be their star players, so what we saw from the top line was promising.

Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Artturi Lehkonen combined for both goals in the game, each picking up two points. They had a combined 12 shots on target, with MacKinnon leading the way, taking eight of those. Until bodies are back, in particular Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin, the top line will have to combine for most of the scoring, as it may take a multi-goal night for MacKinnon or Rantanen to drag this team back to its winning ways.

What’s Next for the Colorado Avalanche?

Following a run of four defeats in a row, the Avalanche are on the road for the rest of this week, with two games in Canada. First up, on Thursday night they play the Vancouver Canucks and this is followed by a visit to Edmonton where they take on the Oilers on Saturday night.

Data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick

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