Colorado Avalanche Coach Benches Best Players

Two of the best skaters from the Colorado Avalanche vs. Boston Bruins game are out vs the LA Kings. That’s poor asset management by the coach.

The Colorado Avalanche lost embarrassingly to the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon. The score was only 2-0, but it would have been so much worse of not for Semyon Varlamov. He faced 45 shots and stopped all but one. (The other goal came on an empty-netter.)

During the second period, Colorado was outshot 24-2. Yeah, that was fun.

Besides Varlamov, two players showed up very well. AJ Greer was a force to be reckoned with. And Eric Gelinas made a very respectable showing.

Neither is playing tonight against the Los Angeles Kings.

Eric Gelinas

Defenseman Eric Gelinas came over at the trade deadline last season. He’s a big body — 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. He’s unafraid to drive the net, as he showed time and again against the Bruins. He’s unafraid of much of anything. His shot from the point is a veritable cannon.

Jared Bednar announced that defenseman Patrick Wiercioch would replace Eric Gelinas against the Kings. Wiercioch spent the last two games as a healthy scratch.

Now, Wiercioch is also a good player. He’s a similar story to Gelinas in that he wasn’t being used much by his former team, the Ottawa Senators. He signed as a free agent over the summer.

Wiercioch is known for being an analytics darling. As of right now, his Corsi For% is a decent 51.5%, meaning the team was controlling the puck more often than not when he was on the ice.

Gelinas’ is a little better at 52.1% On the face of it, that makes the two players mostly a wash.

You know who isn’t better? Fedor Tyutin, the Columbus Blue Jackets buy-out. After a strong start to the season, he’s been quietly declining since a groin injury forced him to miss four games. His Corsi-For is 47.7%, and he’s a -3.

All three are left-hand shots.

AJ Greer

AJ Greer is not only not playing against the LA Kings, he got sent back to San Antonio.

In a way, this move makes sense. The game against the Bruins was Greer’s first-ever in the NHL. He’s meant to spend some time seasoning in the AHL.

However, AJ Greer was the best skater on the ice for the Colorado Avalanche. He played a very respectable 16:34 — twice as much as Cody McLeod and more even than Mikhail Grigorenko. He even saw some time on the power play.

Even Bednar said of him:

“He played well for us last night, and it’s a good sign of some things to come.”

Greer was the Colorado Avalanche’s second-round pick in 2015.

In place of Greer, Blake Comeau will be playing. He’s been out — interestingly, also four games with a groin injury.

Comeau, who was a bright spot last year, has been just terrible this season. He can’t stay out of the penalty box to save his life. And some of those penalties have cost the Avalanche.

Analysis

I wrote in a previous post that all the players need to be held accountable. If players do poorly, they should see reduced ice time or even get scratched. It’s a common coaching practice.

This appears to be an exact opposite effect. The two players who really shined against the Bruins are the odd men out, while players who have hindered the team get slotted in.

To my mind, that’s poor asset management on Jared Bednar’s part. I opined in the previous post that he might not have the confidence to be stringent with a band of NHLers since he, himself, was never one. Being an NHL player is far from a prerequisite for great NHL coaching. However, Bednar couldn’t make the bigs as a player, and maybe that’s affecting his confidence as a coach.

So what if Comeau and Tyutin are (relatively) bigger names with bigger contracts? If they’re not performing up to snuff, they shouldn’t be skating at game-time.

Because if Bednar can’t make even that call, how’s he going to tell Nathan MacKinnon or Gabriel Landeskog that they’re off the power play until they start driving the net and finishing their battles?

Spoiler alert: He’s not. So we can expect to see more of the status quo from the Colorado Avalanche.

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