When the Colorado Avalanche didn’t re-sign center Nazem Kadri in the offseason, it opened up a hole on the second line.
Kadri was instrumental in the run to the Stanley Cup title and coach Jared Bednar needed someone to step up and take his place. At the start of the season it was Alex Newhook, who was a bottom-six forward during the 2022 playoffs.
Newhook started well but slumped after the team returned from Finland, to the point that Bednar benched him for most of the loss to St. Louis on Monday night.
After a one-on-one meeting with Bednar, Newhook looked like a different player against Carolina on Thursday night. He scored a goal to help Colorado start its three-game road trip with a win.
The trip continues Saturday night at the Washington Capitals.
The Avalanche need Newhook to be at his best as they overcome a rash of injuries. Bednar talked to Newhook, who won’t turn 22 for two months, about fixable mistakes and “not skating,” which takes away from his effectiveness.
“You look at Alex Newhook: Great shot. Great hands,” Bednar said. “Excellent skater. … If he’s not skating, he’s not going to be effective. You’re on pucks. You have relentless pursuit. You win more battles. But you’ve got to be driving your legs. And sometimes it can be a mental block. Sometimes it can be trying to do too much. Things aren’t going well. You kind of get away from the things that make you successful.”
Colorado won in overtime on Thursday despite being outshot 48-15 thanks to a great performance from backup goaltender Pavel Francouz. He could get an encore against Washington but Alexandar Georgiev is likely to be in net.
The Capitals are playing at home after being swept on their three-game road trip that ended with a 5-4 shootout loss at St. Louis on Thursday night. They rallied to send the game past regulation and salvage a point, an effort that John Carlson said needs to stay with the team.
“We got to carry that fire that we brought into the next game and play a little bit better and get us over that hump,” said Carlson, who played his 900th career game on Thursday night. “… The way things are going, we got to play it perfect and we got to keep it mistake-free all around.”
Superstar captain Alex Ovechkin also scored in the game, his eighth of the season and 789th career. He is trying to join Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801) in becoming the third player in NHL history to reach 800 goals.
Ovechkin holds the record for most goals scored with one franchise.
It would be more meaningful for Ovechkin if he keeps chasing Gretzky with a winning team, but it will take a turnaround to get there. Washington is 2-5-3 in its last 10 games and has to clean up its mistakes to start winning again.
“Right now, the way things are going we need to play a lot tighter,” Carlson said. “Sometimes these spells happen where it doesn’t go your way at certain times.
–Field Level Media