Avs-Stars Ugly Game 4 Studs & Duds

Avs-Stars Ugly Game 4 Studs & Duds
Avs-Stars Ugly Game 4 Studs & Duds

The Colorado Avalanche got smoked 5-1 by the Dallas Stars in Game 4. These are the Avs Studs and Duds from the game.

Studs

The camera person

Look, the Avs were actively terrible in this game. Who was I supposed to put here? Because they were so awful, I am grateful that the camera person struggled as much as they did because it meant we couldn’t see long stretches of this fiasco of a game and that felt like mercy more than frustration. Had it been a better game, I probably would have been a lot more upset by it but I’ll take a positive where I can get it.

Jonathan Drouin

Okay but for real, there was one Avalanche player who I thought played well for most of the night. Drouin made his return to the lineup and dropped right into the spot vacated by Val Nichushkin’s departure and looked engaged immediately.

He played well with a dash of physicality and his skating was a positive on an Avalanche team that looked like they were skating in mud all night. He nabbed a hard-working assist and moved up lines when Jared Bednar was trying to find a spark somewhere in the lineup.

I’m happy Drouin is back and healthy. He’s fun.

Duds

Colorado’s stars

The three best players on the Avalanche (Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar) are the key to winning a lot of hockey games. The three combined for the defining moment of this game in the first period when the Avalanche got their first power play and these three played roles in abandoning all effort and hanging Alexandar Georgiev out to dry.

Wyatt Johnston pressured Makar into a turnover and Johnston proceeded to outwork all of Makar, MacKinnon, and Rantanen to score a shorthanded goal and put Dallas up 1-0. It honestly felt like the game was over in that moment. It would have been less embarrassing had it ended right there.

These guys were so bad that Colorado’s power play got two opportunities and was outshot 4-1 and outscored 1-0 by the Stars penalty kill. They were brutal all night. They oscillated between frustrated and disinterested and once the game was decided they had brief, meaningless bursts of life.

They were far from the only poor players tonight so don’t take this as me saying these guys are the sole reason for Colorado’s embarrassing showing, but they are the core of the leadership group and set the tone for this hockey club. The tone they set tonight seemed to be, “Well, we’ll be on vacation in Cancun soon enough.”

Where was the heart? Where was the pushback? Where was the fire that made this team such a tough out a few years ago? People want to come down on the Avs for “only” making the second round over the years, but they have multiple Game 7 losses in that time. We haven’t seen them this uncompetitive in a series before, not even the 2020 Dallas series where they were ravaged by injuries and came back from a 3-1 series deficit to push it to a Game 7 overtime before finally succumbing…to Joel Kiviranta’s hat trick.

This is a club that has shown that it may not win the Stanley Cup, but it’s going to fight. Even last year’s extremely undermanned team that was cursed by everything under the sun still pushed and pushed to the final buzzer of a nail-biting Game 7 loss to Seattle.

That we saw none of that tonight was the shocking element of the evening. How can they just give it up?

The news of the day

There are no excuses here. Everyone has curveballs thrown at us in life and we all have to find ways to carry on. Sports present unique challenges because things like playoffs are definable days on the calendar where players have to be their best selves.

To have the news of Nichushkin’s six-month suspension dropping an hour before puck drop and then follow it immediately with Devon Toews being unavailable for the game due to illness? That’s a one-two that even Mike Tyson would be proud of.

Again, I’m not excusing Colorado’s awful performance in the game but that is an emotional boulder thrown at them immediately before they had to take the ice for warm-ups. It’s hard to draw apt parallels to everyday life situations but I see where that would be a ton to take in.

The third postgame comments from Jack Johnson and Andrew Cogliano regarding Nichushkin, in particular, strongly suggest to me that the locker room was very unhappy with how the day unfolded. That’s merely me speculating, but that’s my read on the situation.

I’m not here to pass judgment on Nichushkin or his decisions but to comment on how it all played out so close to puck drop. That’s a tough spot to be in for those guys and now their season is on the precipice.

Avs Unsung Hero

Alexander Georgiev

The third goal is unacceptable. Look, if a goalie gives those up occasionally, that happens! Georgiev gives up goals from distance regularly, however, and you can’t wave them all away and say, “But the screen in front of him!” He has to stop those and tonight he moved into a tie for the league lead in the postseason for low-danger goals given up with nine. Nine!

That said, the rest of his game was damn good. He was the only reason the game wasn’t 4-0 after the first period. He fought hard and kept the Avalanche in it. I have him in this area because I just feel bad for him at this point. Even when he plays well, he gets lit up statistically. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are unforgiving like that.

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