The Avalanche got what they deserved on Friday and coach Jared Bednar trashed his team for it.
After being outplayed for five periods spanning two games, Colorado, which had started the postseason 6-0, finally suffered a playoff defeat at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Knights got late goals from Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty 45 seconds apart to erase a one-goal deficit and defeat the Avs 3-2 in front of a raucous sold-out T-Mobile Arena crowd.
We often see a more reserved and diplomatic Bednar in postgame availabilities. But he did not hold back any punches after the Avalanche blew an opportunity to gain a stranglehold 3-0 series lead over Vegas — instead, leading 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Sunday.
For this edition of Deen’s List, we’re going to look at five of Bednar’s comments after the loss.
The Deen’s List
“I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think that’s the competitiveness we need to beat the team that tied us for first in the league.”
He’s spot on. Colorado was outshot 43-20 in Game 3 after barely scraping out a victory in overtime in Game 2. The Avs have struggled to keep pace with the Golden Knights and spent even more of Friday’s game chasing the play than they did on Wednesday at Ball Arena.
The Golden Knights are certainly doing their part to control play. But the Avalanche are not making it easy on themselves. And it starts with their willingness to compete.
“For five periods straight now they’ve been far more competitive than we have and to dissect the game any further than that is a waste of time.”
But you know what isn’t a waste of time? Showing up for a game. On-time.
And taking advantage of an opportunity to go up 3-0 against a team that can flip a series on a dime if they gain any bit of momentum. Like, say, by scoring twice in 45 seconds in front of its first soldout crowd in nearly 15 months with an opportunity to tie the series at 2-2 on Sunday.
“Go ahead and check the numbers on our top guys tonight and see what they did compared to their top guys. It’s not close.”
We know the Avalanche’s top guys. It’s superstar center Nathan MacKinnon and wingers Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen along with stud defenseman Cale Makar.
Neither of them was especially great in Friday’s loss. Sure, it’s nice to see Rantanen extend his playoff point streak to 17 games. But the Golden Knights’ top guys were feeling it. They seemingly were generating chances every time they were on the ice.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Knights coach Peter DeBoer on his top players: “I thought all our big guys were great. Your best players have to be your best players and we had everybody pulling in the right direction.”
“The adjustment for us now is to outwork our opponent.”
And it starts with that leadership group Bednar called out. Expecting to cruise into Game 4 without adjustments and come out with a victory after the way Vegas has dominated the past two games would be a colossal failure.
The Avalanche have been outshot 72-28 at 5-on-5 over these last two games. A far cry from the dominating 7-1 victory in the series opener Sunday.
“The hardest working player we have right now is Philipp Grubauer.”
Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.
Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif