It’s the same story almost every night for the Avalanche at Pepsi Center with the team failing to do much at home, and it continued on Wednesday with a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
The loss dropped them to 5-18-1 on home ice this season and continued a stretch where they have one win over their last 15 home games. Fortunately, they now will have several days off with the All-Star break coming this weekend.
Here are my five takeaways from tonight’s loss.
– Is it too late to make Matt Nieto the team representative for the All-Star game? I know the answer to that, but the newcomer was far and away the best player on the ice for the Avalanche. He tied the game with his second goal of the season with a nice wrist shot midway through the third period, and led the team with seven shots on goal. He has been given an opportunity to play in the top-six and has thrived in it during his six games with the club. He will be a restricted free agent next season, and could be a nice part of the future for the team.
– Calvin Pickard followed up a solid performance in Anaheim last week with another one tonight, despite giving up three goals and taking the loss. To say he had no help in front of him would be an understatement, but he managed to stop 38 shots with 19 saves coming in the first period. I still need to see more from him and Spencer Martin before i’m convinced they should be the goaltending dual next season, and hopefully these two will play a lot the rest of the way.
– Nikita Zadorov continues to be a mixed bag of mostly good hockey, with a brutal mistake or two that hurts the team. Tonight he played really well until a brutal turnover behind his own net led to a wraparound goal from Markus Granlund. Fortunately he bounced back nicely with some solid play in his own end and even a little help offensively with a primary assist on Mikko Rantanen’s second period goal. If he can just cut down on the costly mistakes, the kid has a chance to be a very good d-man in this league.
– Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rest of the Avalanche defensive core as it was a struggle for 32, 18, 44 and 51. I’ve said it a lot this season, but Francois Beauchemin continues to actively hurt this team with his poor decision making and slow play. It’s gotten to the point where you feel bad for him on a nightly basis. Cody Golebuf is absolutely not an NHL caliber player and will likely find his way to the AHL one Erik Johnson is healthy. Really, it’s the same story different night for most of the guys on the back end.
– Scout watch continued tonight with representatives from Minnesota, Dallas, Los Angeles, NY Rangers, New Jersey, Anaheim and two from Arizona.