Avalanche give Wild a ‘lesson in how to play hockey’ in two lopsided games

After beating the Wild 5-1 on Thursday, the Avalanche won by an even more impressive 6-0 margin on Saturday. For a pair of mid-season games, that’s about as definitive of a “statement” as you can ask for.

It also pushed the Avalanche’s winning streak to an impressive six games (19-8-2, 40 points in 29 games played). Losing two games — even by the margin the Avalanche generated — isn’t a reason for the 18-10-1 (37 points, 29 GP) Wild to panic.

But maybe it serves as a bit of a wake-up call, and perhaps a “market correction.”

Avalanche beat Wild twice by a combined score of 11-1

“These two games that we played, we got a lesson on how to play hockey,” Mats Zuccarello said, via Michael Russo of The Athletic. They played really well. We didn’t really have an answer. They were better than us in every aspect of the game … These two games are not acceptable for us.”

By most underlying stats, the Wild truly didn’t have an answer for the Avalanche during these two games. Of course, those 5-1 and 6-0 scores tell nothing different, either.

At even-strength in that 5-1 Thursday win, Colorado held high-danger and volume scoring chances advantages that ranged from almost 70-percent to around 80.

If you squint, there were marginal improvements for the Wild on Saturday, despite the even-worse score of 6-0 in favor of the Avalanche. The Avs still dominated (about two-thirds of the volume chances), yet Minnesota actually managed a slight 8-6 high-danger chance advantage at even-strength.

The big-picture clearly went Colorado’s way.

Plenty of Avalanche players acknowledged that these two Wild games were important to them. Philipp Grubauer actually used the word “statement.”

As Rick Sadowski notes, the line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog was especially dominant. Over just two games, the trio combined for six goals and 11 assists.

It would be dangerous for Bill Guerin & Co. to take too many “lessons” from these two games. There’s a lot of good still going on for the Wild. But to beat a true powerhouse in Colorado, they probably need to make some adjustments.

Maybe take some notes.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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