Avs’ Jared Bednar blasts boys then they get on track, shredding Sharks
Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar didn’t hold back on Sunday night after his team’s third straight loss, but they were the words his players needed to hear.
After the dreadful stretch that bookended a hot streak, the Avalanche got back on track Tuesday, slamming the San Jose Sharks 6-0. In doing so several Avs had career nights as the team still awaits the full health that may never come.
It all comes back to Bednar and what he’s said over the last few days.
“It was tough sledding tonight,” Bednar said Saturday. “Energy-wise and mentally, it looked like we were fried. I didn’t think our top guys had a very good night at all.”
Mikko Rantanen got an unsportsmanlike penalty call for his second game in a row. Showing a heckling fan his ring finger is a funny troll but doing so from the penalty box wasn’t the best look.
“He can’t do it,” said Bednar. “He knows he can’t do it. My options are to sit him for the rest of the period or talk to him and turn him loose and hope he can bounce back. I didn’t think we got a good night prior to that, so frustration (was) probably some of it brought on by his own game.”
“I didn’t think our top guys had a good night. He takes the penalty, which hurts us again, and you can’t do it. Games are too important. This time of year, points are too important,” the coach reiterated. “I think he understands that. He knows that. As long as I have that discussion, I’d rather turn him loose and see if he can dig in and help our team win and make up for it.”
Did that message connect with the fabulous Finn who has carried the Avs much of the year?
“I actually thought I got a penalty there,” Rantanen said on the initial call that actually was going to Jack Johnson. “I was kind of whacking the ‘D’, so I thought I got the penalty. I didn’t even know Jack got (one). I found out in the room. So, then I kind of felt bad. I was yelling at the ref basically for nothing. I just got to try to focus more on my own game. Even if you disagree with the officials, try to let it go because it doesn’t really help.”
It’s not the first time the Moose has got loose on the officials. But perhaps this will be the last time he costs his team because he loses his temper.
Deep into the first period Tuesday night against the hapless, bottom-feeding Sharks, Mikko got to check how quickly he could overcome his frustrations.
The Avs were dominating the game, leading 2-0 and outshooting the Sharks 11-0 when they found themselves on the power play. Mikko was thrown against the boards. As he sat on the ice staring a hole into the refs, wondering why a penalty wasn’t called, it was clear that he had a choice to make. Sit there, legs akimbo, or get his butt up and do something about it.
Like in any good schlocky hockey movie, as the strings rise, so did Rantanen.
As he found his feet, the puck found his stick. He cruised in and like a whip snapped one passed Kaapo Kahkonen for the third goal of the night and his 42nd of the year. It was Finn on Finn crime and basically ended the game less than 20 minutes in.
Bednar sent his team to bed without dessert and hours later the best players on the Avs; Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko responded with goals and a “message received, sir.”
Makar’s score was his 62nd of his career, tying Rob Blake for the fifth most by a defenseman in franchise history as he tied a career-high nabbing four points on the night. MacKinnon kept his 13-game home point streak alive, which includes goals in each of his last six contests at Ball Arena, and making for the second-longest home point streak since the Avalanche moved to Denver. While Rantanen moved up to third place for most goals scored in the league this year and is now eight shy of becoming just the fourth 50-goal season in Avs history
“That’s an interesting question,” Makar said upon being asked if they needed to win just to shake the losing streak off. “I don’t know if it’s ever needed. I feel we should have the confidence as a group to always do this. We knew they could be vulnerable coming into tonight (The Sharks beat Winnipeg in overtime on the road the previous night) coming in on a back to back. That just shifted our mindset going into every game now.”
So the Avs did what they needed to rather than they needed this win?
“Exactly,” Makar said.
The rest of the night was gravy as Colorado cruised to a six-goal shutout victory. A tough Kings team awaits Colorado on Thursday night, but after that, the schedule takes a significant turn toward lesser opponents. Avs fans are hoping the latest three-game dip is a blip on the radar not a harbinger of future playoff disappointment.
“We presented it as a challenge to our team to get back on track,” Bednar said resplendent in his gray three piece suit. “It’s not the end of the world when you get off the rails for a couple of games and don’t play how you can. So you want to address the issues and bring them to light and have everybody understand and buy into them and fix them.”