Sometimes we oversimplify.
If a player is rotten at both ends of the ice for much of the night but manages to score a goal – even on an eminently stoppable shot or a crazy rebound – the verdict is that he had a productive game and that he could win one. the Three Stars or the post-match television interview.
This includes defenders.
So I’m aware of the danger of jumping on the fact that the Avs’ D-man tandem of Samuel Girard and Josh Manson each scored a goal Tuesday night in Colorado’s 3-2 overtime win over the Blues in the first Western Conference game. semi-finals and portraying him as extraordinarily heroic.
But it was a big deal, bordering on heroic.
On a team with the NHL’s best tandem — Cale Makar and Devon Toews — any time one of the other two duos can step into the spotlight, it’s likely to be part of a happy ending. In this case, the end was also sudden, when Manson’s shot went through a screen from Gabriel Landeskog and passed Blues goalkeeper Jordan Binnington at 8:02 of overtime.
And Manson’s reaction?
“I was just watching because there were a lot of guys coming at me with a lot of speed,” he said. “I think EJ [Erik Johnson] was three feet off the ground when he came towards me. He’s a big guy, so I was just trying to hold on. But it was great fun. It feels good to be able to do that with your team. »
That’s Manson, the 30-year-old acquired from the Wild on March 14 who, at some point as a teenager, had to be dissuaded from giving up hockey to focus on his beloved snowboarding.
He affably, and somewhat ironically, talked about the game-winning goal in the context of avoiding getting knocked down by his teammates. And then he explained how it compared to his dreams.
“The feeling or the goal itself?” He asked. “Because in my dreams it’s like a one-hander or something. It was awesome… It’s not about how I feel. It’s about how the whole team feels seeing them coming at me like that. That’s the best part.
It was his first goal in 27 NHL playoff games, and he admitted it was probably the highlight of his career so far.
“First goal in the playoffs, winner in overtime, it has to be,” he said.
I asked Manson about the significance of him and Girard scoring two of the three goals. Girard came on at 11:32 of the second period on an unfiltered shot from long range, and it was one the brilliant Binnington – who had 51 saves – wanted to recover.
“I think that’s been the case for his team all year,” Manson said. “The defense contributed all year. “It’s part of the identity of this team, I think. Obviously when you get a D score it helps you win games.
Manson also had an assist on Girard’s goal and recorded 20:42 of ice time.
Girard played 23:16, including 2:00 even on the Avalanche’s three power plays.
A major issue with the pairing, both in the regular season and especially now, is how much Manson has to compensate for the undersized Girard and jump into the game less than other D-men in the otherwise aggressive scheme.
He seems to have found a balance.
terry frei (firstname.lastname@example.org, @tfrei) is a Denver-based author and journalist. He has been named state sportswriter of the year seven times in a vote by his peers – four times in Colorado and three times in Oregon. Her seven books include the novels “Olympic Affair” and “The Witch’s Season”. Among his five non-fiction works are “Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming”, “Third Down and a War to Go”, “Mars 1939: Before the Madness”, and “’77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming de l ‘age.” He also collaborated with Adrian Dater on “Save by Roy”, long served as vice president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and covered the Rockies, Avalanche and the NHL in general. His website is www.terryfrei.com and his bio is available on www.terryfrei.com/bio.html
His Colorado Hockey Now column archive can be accessed here