Well, it’s been a while since I have attended an Avalanche game in person, and obviously with the way the season has been going, its clear I haven’t missed much other than them ending their terrible Pepsi Center drought last Friday night.
On Tuesday night at Pepsi Center the Avalanche returned from their CBA mandated “bye week” and once again struggled on home ice in a 3-1 loss to the now Pacific Division leading Anaheim Ducks. Here are my five takeaways from the game.
1. Semyon Varlamov made his first start in goal since giving up five goals at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 22nd. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, he picked up right where he left off, allowing three goals on 31 shots. As said quite often, it’s not all his fault and it’s hard to blame a guy who has missed a significant amount of time of late, but this team needs their goaltending to bail them out virtually every night, not guys that are floating around a .900 save percentage.
2. Nathan MacKinnon was one of the few bright spots for the second game in a row. After his two point night last friday against the Islanders, he delivered a beautiful backhand goal on a breakaway after knocking the puck away from three Ducks at center ice. His talent is obvious to anyone that watches him play on a nightly basis, but if he can ever find the consistency every night he has the chance to be special.
3. Francois Beauchemin made his return to the lineup after being a scratch last game with an illness and has been the case most nights this year he was able to make an impression, but it wasn’t a good one. Early in the first period he pinched in on a loose puck along the boards and proceeded to take a shot that was blocked and brought back the other way for an easy goal from Jakob Silferberg. I get that this guy is considered a leader in the locker room and probably on the ice, but his play this year has been a disaster, and obviously the Avalanche would be better suited giving some of their kids a chance since it’s a lost season anyway. We’l see if that actually happens.
4. Speaking of scratches, Joe Colborne and John Mitchell took their turn out of the lineup due to their lack of production on the season. For Colborne, it was his third scratch in six games while Mitchell sat out as a healthy scratch for the first time all season, although he missed the first five games this year with an injury. Eric Gelinas was the healthy scratch defensively, for the 16th time this season.
5. With the way this season has gone, it has really become an interesting thing to see which scouts are attending Avalanche games, and tonight certainly had some interesting ones given the rumors circulating about potential trades. Vancouver, Philadelphia, Montreal and Carolina had pro scouts here. Pittsburgh sent their Director of Pro Scouting. I have maintained that Carolina and Philadelphia seem like obvious trade partners with the amount of depth both teams have on their blue line, so we will see what happens with the scouting list on Saturday afternoon.
That’s a wrap for tonight. I’ll be back at the game Saturday afternoon against Nashville and for those wondering about the Avalanche Unfiltered podcast, we will be bringing it back next week as a weekly show but we will no longer be doing them postgame.