Julian Mongillo The Hockey Writers
Avalanche of Goals in Game 4 Push Coyotes to the Brink
The Colorado Avalanche bounced back from their Game 3 loss against the Arizona Coyotes in convincing fashion with a 7-1 victory to put the ‘Yotes on the brink of elimination. The whole team was firing on all cylinders in this one right from puck drop, and Arizona failed to provide any sort of response or pushback.
After a stellar performance from Darcy Kuemper shut down the Avs in Game 3, Colorado responded by firing 4 past him on 22 shots to chase him out of the net to start the third period. Nazem Kadri led the way again for the Avalanche in this game as he did in Game 1, with an assist and two goals, including the game-winner that came late in the first period.
- Vladislav Namestnikov missed his second straight game after an injury sustained in Game 2.
- Tyson Jost remained in the lineup for his third straight game.
- Samuel Girard was paired with Ian Cole, while Nikita Zadorov moved over to the left side to play alongside Erik Johnson.
- Philipp Grubauer returned to man the crease after Pavel Francouz started Game 3.
Game 4 Takeaways
Jared Bednar went back to Grubauer in Game 4 after Francouz got the nod in the second half of the back-to-back set in Game 3, and he didn’t miss a beat. Granted, Grubauer had another relatively easy night in the net, having to turn aside only 14 shots on Arizona’s 15 attempts to get the victory.
His only blemish came on a power-play goal from Jakob Chychrun midway through the second period. Grubauer is playing confident hockey. The defense is making it easy on their goaltender who will likely be a lot busier when facing a more potent offense, should they advance to the next round. He should be well-rested after a relaxing night in goal, and will be ready to finish the job and eliminate the ‘Yotes in Game 5.
This game saw many Avs players get on the scoresheet, which bodes well as they move towards closing out the series and advancing onto Round 2. The Avalanche were able to generate offense from both their big guns and depth players. Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen, and Kadri combined for nine points, while the bottom-six players, including Matt Calvert (1 goal, 1 assist), Joonas Donskoi (1 goal), and Matt Nieto (1 goal), also chipped in on the scoreboard.
The balanced scoring throughout the Avs lineup is what makes them such a dangerous team offensively. If they can continue to get contributions from all lines moving forward they will be a tough team for opponents to shut down and keep off the scoreboard.
Underrated Defensive Play
The story in this one was the dominating offensive display by the Avs but not much is being said about the team’s strong defensive play. The team has only allowed seven goals through the four games in this series and has frustrated and stifled an already inefficient Arizona offense.
Arizona’s top line of Taylor Hall, Christian Dvorak, and Phil Kessel have a combined two points (1 goal and 1 assist for Hall) thus far in this series which is flat out not good enough.
“I can’t tell you a guy that played well tonight. We were embarrassed. It was men against boys today.”Rick Tocchet
For a team that plays a defense-first game and is opportunistic on offense, they have shown very little of either courtesy of the shutdown play of the Avs defense.
Related: Coyotes Need More Offense from Ekman-Larsson, Kessel
The Avs have limited Arizona’s offensive zone time by not allowing them to create a cycle off the forecheck or any sustained pressure, and by using their speed to make clean zone exits and breakouts. When there have been defensive breakdowns, the Avs’ goalies have been there to shut the door.
Areas to Improve
Eyes on the Prize
The Avalanche still have a job to do in Game 5 to put the Coyotes away, and it’s important that they keep their focus to get the job done. They have done a great job thus far in maintaining their composure and sticking to (and executing) their game plans, game-in and game-out.
They need to keep the same intensity moving into the next game and continue to live in the moment, and not get caught looking too far ahead into the future.
The Avs will look to finish off the ‘Yotes in Game 5, which will be on Wednesday at 5:30 P.M. ET. After what was such a lopsided victory in Game 4, Colorado will look to repeat their recipe for victory and cash their ticket to Round 2.
Related: Colorado Avalanche All-Time Starting Lineup
It will take something special from the Coyotes (especially Kuemper, who will have to be lights out) in order to stop the Avs’ potent offense and stave off elimination to fight another day.
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