The Colorado Avalanche bounced back from yesterday's 7-0 beatdown with a blowout win of their own at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. How did each of the players do?
To the grades!
Sven Andrighetto (A) – I dinged Andrighetto for not producing with the talent around him. Somehow he gets partnered up next to Duchene and Grimaldi and goes off. Go figure. The guy has real talent and his production in Colorado continues to be impressive.
Mark Barberio (C) – Barberio seems to have earned the trust of his coaching staff in the limited role he's carved out and he's fine there. He does a couple nice things every game, rarely makes the BIG mistake, but overall is just serviceable.
Tyson Barrie (B+) – After going scoreless against Vegas, Barrie got right back on the point train and his assist was the beginning of beautiful execution on a set play from a faceoff win. His advanced numbers were good as usual. He's now tied for seventh in the NHL in defensemen points.
Jonathan Bernier (B+) – Rock solid night for Bernier with 39 saves on 42 shots. None of the goals were particularly egregious and he made a number of great saves along the way. Plenty of those 42 shots were kept outside so his 39-save effort wasn't quite the heroic ask the box score might indicate. Rock solid night for Colorado's backup netminder.
Blake Comeau (C+) – His line struggled at even strength but the majority of that damage was done in the tilted third period with the Blackhawks already deep in the hole. His play on the much-improved PK has been key.
Matt Duchene (C+) – Didn't get in on the scoring his linemates did and wasn't involved in very many dangerous opportunities. Wasn't a total no-show, either, but on multiple occasions, he tried to do too much on his own. The solo act didn't pay off tonight.
A.J. Greer (B) – His fancy stats were not good but watching the game, you felt Greer making a difference in his limited opportunities on the ice. He was physically engaged, as always, and he made some good decisions with the puck that could have been dangerous had his teammates executed better. For me, this was his best performance since being called up.
Rocco Grimaldi (A+) – His extremely emotional postgame where he revealed the passing of his grandfather showed the heavy heart he played with. And while heavy, he played with all of that heart as he recorded a goal and assist on the night and staked his claim for a roster spot moving forward.
Erik Johnson (B-) – It's tough to judge a night like this for Johnson. He played a team-high 26:34, finished a +1 and registered an assist on Colorado's sixth goal. All that is good and well but he was on the ice for 26 Chicago shot attempts and while most came with the game no longer in doubt, that's still an enormous number for a team's number one defenseman.
Alexander Kerfoot (B-) – His game has quieted a bit since being put down on the fourth line and seeing his minutes drastically cut but he connected with MacKinnon to put Colorado up 2-0. He's been fine but just a touch of the shine seems to have come off him.
Gabriel Landeskog (B+) – Landeskog told me his team would bounce back. They did and he was a big part of it. He spent over nine minutes playing special teams tonight and was excellent on the PK. A solid all-around effort from the captain.
Anton Lindholm (C-) – A very up and down night for Lindholm, who is getting a crash course in playing on a team's top pairing. He continued to be disruptive and active with his stick defensively but his puck struggles continued in a glaring way as multiple turnovers turned into extended offensive possessions for Chicago. He needs to refine his puck work in a big way.
Nathan MacKinnon (A) – That's the effort we've waited all season to see. I gave him a "F+" for his no-show in Vegas. This was just the opposite as he destroyed the Blackhawks alongside Rantanen. Two goals and an assist in the game's first 23 minutes set Colorado on a path towards dominance and they followed No. 29's lead as he notched seven shots on goal.
Andrei Mironov (C) – Mironov was okay in his own zone and his fancy stats were very impressive through two periods. The third did him no favors and his low-bridge hit was called for a Clipping penalty. He needs to adjust his approach to those hits in North America. Ultimately, it was a huge leap forward from his first game.
Patrik Nemeth (D+) – This was probably Nemeth's worst game as an Av. His pinch late in the second while up 5-1 had no upside and it cleared the way for an easy two-on-one goal for the Blackhawks. He followed that up with a number of turnovers and poor decisions the rest of the night. This was the player Dallas put on waivers.
Matt Nieto (C+) – Like his two linemates in Comeau and Soderberg, he excelled on his turn on the penalty kill but his even strength play left more to be desired. Again, though, the majority of the damage against came after Colorado had built its 5-0 lead.
Mikko Rantanen (A) – Finally, Rantanen took over a game alongside running mate MacKinnon. His goal-scoring ability was on full display and his wide array of offensive tools worked to his advantage tonight. His two-goal, one assist performance helped bury the Blackhawks early.
Carl Soderberg (C+) – I could basically copy and paste what I said for Comeau and Nieto for Soderberg. Those three seem to have a weird mind meld going on right now and each has been a key player to Colorado's penalty killing prowess.
Nail Yakupov (C+) – He was demoted to the fourth line alongside Greer and Kerfoot but they still managed to create some pressure. Yakupov had three shots on goal and would've had a higher grade without his completely unnecessary high-sticking penalty in the third period when he randomly went after Tommy Wingels.