(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
It was a sloppy game with a ton of whistles, and despite the Avalanche getting out to a 2-0 lead, they somehow found another way to blow it and fell 3-2 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon.
Here are my five takeaways from the game.
1. Jared Bednar did a little line juggling after Thursday’s loss to Anaheim. Today he paired Gabriel Landeskog with Matt Duchene and Matt Nieto as the second line, and the Avalanche captain had a terrific game. Landeskog led the team with seven shots on goal on nine attempts and also scored the first goal of the day with a shot that went in off of goaltender Pekka Rinne. Nieto kept the play alive deep in the Predators zone with some nice work in the corner. He really stood out as one of the best players in this game.
2. It was awkward seeing Cody McLeod in another uniform following Friday’s trade to Nashville, and even weirder seeing him play his first game against the Avalanche. The veteran received a nice video tribute, accompanied by a large amount of applause from fans during the first media timeout, and even chipped in a goal for his new club midway through the second period. But it wouldn’t be a game with 55 in it if there wasn’t a fight, and Jarome Iginla obliged early in the second period. A lot of fans probably enjoyed it, but as usual i perceived it as a pointless staged fight that brings nothing to the game. Hopefully with him now gone, the pointless fights for the Avalanche will dissapear.
3. As good as Landeskog and even Nieto were today, I thought Duchene was pretty invisible outside of the shift his line scored on. Duchene has just one goal in his last 13 games, and when given sufficient linemates today he only managed one blocked shot attempt in sixty minutes of hockey. Yes, there are times when Duchene is paired with guys that are not up to his level, however when given good linemates today he was invisible like he is far too often. Maybe, the trade rumors are getting to him, but if he wants to be considered one of the top players in the league, he has to step up and contribute way more than he has.
4. Nathan MacKinnon missed the first half of the second period after his final shift of the third that lasted all of five seconds. He returned to the ice around the ten minute mark when the team started a power play, but his absence did not appear to be injury related. Following the game, Bednar did not elaborate on why MacKinnon didnt play in the second, but he did confirm it was not due to injury leading to speculation that it was a discipline related benching.
5. The scout list in for the game today was a small one with just three teams listed on it. Montreal, Vancouver and Minnesota were the only teams listed to have a scout in attendance, however the only scout I actually saw was the one from Minnesota.