Game one of Bowen Byram’s NHL career didn’t go to plan for the 19-year-old, he showed some nerves and his team gave away a lead to lose. Game two showed us why so many people around the league are excited about this special talent.
Hot on the back of a loss in LA, where Byram struggled to find his feet, he was on the ice again with his team just 24 hours later, this time in Anaheim.
Bowen Byram shows poise for Avalanche
Those nerves from Thursday night were nowhere to be seen, as Byram put up a string of impressive plays at both ends of the ice. One of his best was a great drive with the puck and pass across the front of goal, right onto the tape of Mikko Rantanen, who finished with ease.
That was Bowen Byram’s first point, and he could have had more, dancing in from the blue line around Ryan Getzlaf and nearly scoring his first goal. Prior to his debut, Byram’s dad hoped that his son would play more NHL games than he did – father Shawn played five – he doesn’t need to worry about that for a second longer.
“They spent almost the whole entire time with their shifts in the offensive zone and creating scoring chances, and then they finally get rewarded on an unbelievable pass from Byram to Mikko,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “They played a huge factor and really elevated their game in the third period.”NHL.com
Byram stand out at both ends of the ice
It wasn’t only offensively where Byram stood out, he was very impressive in his own zone. On numerous occasions he looked calm and composed on the puck, making simple passes to exit the zone like only a veteran knows how.
The best defensive moment of the night came in the first period when the Avs had taken a one goal lead. Anaheim forced a couple of good saves from netminder Philipp Grubauer and after the second of those, the puck began to slowly move behind him and towards goal.
At this point, Byram was on hand to calmly stop the goal and then stickhandle the puck behind the net and away from danger. The play itself was a great play, but his exit and clearance to take away the danger was on another level for a rookie playing just his second NHL game.
How Will the Avs Use Bowen Byram Moving Forward?
The situation that Colorado finds itself in with their defensive core is the envy of every club in the National Hockey League. They look stacked, and then Byram comes and plays his way into contention for regular minutes, just days after they traded away Ian Cole to Minnesota.
As far as the depth chart goes, it is likely that Byram will officially remain a third pairing defenseman for now, unless there are injuries or his play jumps up another level.
However, we have seen time and time again in Colorado that coach Jared Bednar likes to mix things up with his pairings, and puts specific players together on the ice in certain situations.
This happened a lot last year with Cale Makar and Sam Girard, who are not a pair, but were often deployed when the Avs had an offensive zone face off. It would be no surprise to see Byram used in a similar way to this at some point this season.
If he continues to shine like he did in Anaheim, he will force Bednar to give him more minutes. With Makar, Girard, Devon Toews and Erik Johnson also on the roster, finding minutes won’t be easy.
Colorado built up an enviable position with their defensive unit, and the emergence of Bowen Byram only improves that position further.