Nathan McKinnon saw a team that couldn’t lift the ice at their normal speed. Could not generate quality scoring chances. Couldn’t get into the flow.
He was not them.
“We were bad,” admitted the Colorado forward 4-1 loss to St. Louis Which leveled the second round series in one game each. “really bad.”
the blues made all the right moves – From shuffling their lines to creating more offense, to finding a way to intercept and frustrate avalanche fliers.
It’s now Colorado’s move in this high-stakes game of chess on ice, the series has moved to St. Louis for Game 3 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, TNT).
Everything is on the table even for the top seed in the West. This includes line changes and possibly player swaps.
“If you don’t play your best, you’re not going to win in the playoffs.” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said: Friday after practice. “We weren’t even close last night and that’s on us. …. Our best game is to determine. We’re always looking for the right game.”
First order of business: Finding a way to make more room for McKinnon and rescuer Black Capricorn to maneuver. The Blues made it very difficult for him through the neutral zone in Game 2. Capricorn has yet to register a point in a first-round sweep of Nashville after a three-goal, seven-assist series.
There is also the curious case of Miko Rantenen, who led the team during the regular season but has yet to score in these playoffs (he has seven assists).
“Do you think Mikko is playing his best hockey you’ve seen him play?” Bednar inquired. “We need him to be an influential player.”
The Avalanche could potentially shake things up, possibly adding players like Alex Newhook and Logan O’Connor to the lineup.
Or they can shuffle their lines the same way the Blues did before Game 2. St Louis achieved immediate results by adding David Perron (two goals) along with Pavel Buchnevich (two assists) and Ryan O’Reilly (one assist).
Colorado could rejoin the top line of MacKinnon, Rantanen and Captain Gabriel Landeskog. But Bednar said he was pleased with the one-line performances of Landeskog, Nazem Qadri and Arturi Lehkonen. As far as the mood of the squad is concerned, Bednar said, “The people are in good spirits.”
“They understand it’s mostly about us – mostly about us,” he said.
Nevertheless, it always seems to be hovering over the AVS: they have lost in the second round in each of the last three seasons. Last season, they were up 2-0 on Vegas before losing four straight.
“There’s no reason to panic,” said defenseman Bowen Byram. “You’re not going to win every game in the playoffs. They’re a good team. They know how to win. They’ve won before. … It’s just adjusting.”
Blues goalkeeper Jordan Binnington has overtaken Colorado. After intercepting 51 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1, Binnington went past 30 on Thursday. Since 2019, when he led the Blues to the Stanley Cup title as a rookie, he has averaged 2.74 goals.
Blues coach Craig Berub said, “He saved when he needed to.
Colorado’s mission is to make sure it doesn’t track the puck as well as it does through the first two games.
“The pills are so good now that if they’re going to see everything, they’re going to stop it,” Bednar said. “Breaking the goalkeeper’s vision, even if it’s a moving screen, is very important. … We have to get into his eyes.”
Really, though, it had a lot to do with St. Louis not allowing Colorado to zip around the snow. The blues did what most couldn’t – slow them down.
They certainly wouldn’t mind a repeat performance at home.
“It’s playoff hockey. It’s going to come down to competing at a high level, winning the fight, making sure you’re playing with good structure and getting dressed everyone needs to be at their best.” Berub said. “That’s what we got (in Game 2). In my opinion, every man was at his best. ,
For Colorado, a road victory begins with quick pacification of the crowd. He won both games in Nashville by scoring first.
“We have to go down the street and hopefully there’s one burglary, hopefully two,” McKinnon said. “We have to forget about (Game 2) and move on and go back to the way we can play.”
More Associated Press NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports