With a dominant top line that includes Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, the Colorado Avalanche can’t be happier as they have combined for 75 points so far this season. However, the biggest concern for the team has been their secondary scoring, which most recently seems to have improved when the team re-inserted center Tyson Jost together with wingers Alex Kerfoot and Colin Wilson, according to Kyle Newman of the Denver Post.
Jost had spent some time with that line earlier this year, but between a demotion to the team’s fourth line and an injury that kept him out for four games, Jost finally got a chance to center the two wingers and has made the most of his opportunity with a pair of goals in the past week as well as improved play from both Wilson and Kerfoot.
“It’s tough to score every night, but I want to see them generate chances every night and I want to see them doing the right things defensively,” Colorado head coach Jared Bednar said. “They’re starting to earn more trust on the defensive side of the puck as a young line, and they’re finding ways to chip in, and the last (few games) are a prime example.”
- Sticking with the Avalanche, Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that Bednar has lost faith for the time being in defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who led the league in hits with 278 last year and averaged 19:28 of ice time last season. However, his role has changed as he is averaging just 15:12, was benched in the third period Wednesday against Boston and then finally was a healthy scratch for the team’s game against Washington on Friday. “We’ve got some D that are playing well,” Bednar said. “Like I said, we’ve got the depth at D now, seven (defensemen) and sometimes you gotta make tough decisions. … Sometimes that means moving around the lineup, elevating guys, lowering guys in the lineup with their minutes. Other times it means you have to make tough decisions and scratch some guys. That’s what we did with Nikita. He’s going to get an opportunity to go back in and continue to play. We’ll see how the game goes.”
- Dallas Stars winger Valeri Nichushkin hasn’t scored an NHL goal in 989 days. Granted, he just spent the last two season in the KHL, which has something to do with that statistic. However, Nichushkin went 26 combined regular season and playoff games without scoring back in 2016 and now has gone 14 straight goalless games this season, according to SportsDay’s Matthew DeFranks. His struggles are not stopping him, however. “Tough start, but I feel better every game, especially the last three games, I had a lot of moments,” Nichushkin said. “I need to score and I think everything will be good. Team’s winning so I don’t care. I know I will be better.”
- Chicago Blackhawks new head coach Jeremy Colliton has utilized the strategy of playing Patrick Kane as much as possible since he’s taken over, but another interesting stat is that Colliton has used Kane almost entirely on the power play, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Jimmy Greenfield. In fact, Kane has been used for 16:50 of power play time under Colliton in a total of 17:52, an unbelievable usage rate for a 30-year-old player. “I don’t think it’s been a problem so far, and I think the power play’s moving in the right direction,” Colliton said. “I thought the power play was better tonight than it was against St. Louis, but we scored against St. Louis so it (wasn’t) a talking point. We’ve just got to work on it.”