Avalanche on the Brink; Makar Returns for Game 6
The Avalanche find themselves with their backs against the wall following a heartbreaking 3-2 loss at home on Wednesday.
The Makar-less Avs showed a bit of a lackluster start, and were outshot again, while giving up the first goal once again. Geekie scored first, followed by a Nathan MacKinnon goal to tie it up. Unfortunately, the Avalanche would give up the next two goals to go down 3-1.
One double deflection later from Evan Rodrigues, the goal would pull the Avs to within one goal in the last few minutes of the game. The Avalanche would pull the goalie, and even with a great Evan Rodrigues save on the empty net, the Avalanche could not push enough to tie the game. That leaves the team down 3 games to 2, and with a loss on Friday night, could eliminate last years Cup champions with naught but a whisper.
Cale Makar was suspended for a late hit on Jared McCann in game 4. It must have pained him to watch on as his team struggled to find a foothold in game 5. Hopefully we see a motivated and hungry Cale back in game 6, eager to show his teammates how sorry he was for missing last nights contest.
On my side, as much of an Avalanche fan as I am, the hit was unnecessary. Yes we've seen worse, but the facts of the matter: McCann was hurt. The puck was nowhere near. There can be arguments made on each side... Play to the whistle, and you should be ready for contact since there was no whistle. On the other hand, no player should expect to get finished that hard with no puck in sight.
I love the physical side of Makar's game. He reverse hits well, and lays the body great when he's feeling it, but he went over the line on this one, and some pundits were surprised to see him only get 1 game. It was mentioned as well that Makar got a "superstar discount".
Valeri Nichushkin is also missing from the locker room. I won't speculate, as its a personal matter, but Jared Bednar confirmed that it was not disciplinary or legal in nature, but he would be shocked to see Val come back in the series, as he's not even in Seattle with the team.
This leaves the Avalanche shorthanded, as they've been most of the year. Missing Gabe Landeskog, Valeri Nichushkin, and having others playing injured (I can almost guarantee Makar, Manson, Lehkonen, Cogliano, Helm and others are not playing at 100%) has taken its toll. The team looked tired last night, physically and mentally. The speed isn't there. The mental game is missing in many plays, as can be witnessed every time the Av's players make a soft backhand pass off the boards in the offensive zone, which seems to end up on a Seattle stick 9/10 times.
Aside from missing the obvious, such as Landy and Nichushkin, Colorado has a gaping hole in their depth, and on their second line. Missing Nazem Kadri and Andrei Burakovsky has shown all year, and with the current injuries, they are being replaced by the likes of JT Compher, Matt Nieto, and Dennis Malgin. These are fine players in their own right, but they are not consistent enough to be top 6 players full time as they are being used right now.
The Avalanche hope to have a more desperate, aggressive, and hungry effort in game 6. We hope to see a dedicated Cale Makar who shows he is the former Conn Smythe and Norris winner, and additionally, game breaking talent we know he can be.
Tune in tomorrow night at 10 PM EST, for what this writer hopes is not the last Avalanche game of this season.
Thanks for reading;