Photo: Sarah Connors/Flickr.
The Colorado Avalanche are currently at the top of the Northwest Division, and third in the Western Conference, thanks to their performance tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Of course, we’re only three games into the season, but it’s exciting to see for Avs fans nonetheless. Tonight, P.A. Parenteau got the party started just 51 seconds into the first period, with a nice wrist shot that slid past CBJ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. A minute later, Patrick Bordeleau brought the crowd to their feet again as he dominated Jared Boll in a fight. Unfortunately, the next major event was a puck that went straight to the forehead of forward John Mitchell. He skated off, leaving a very noticeable trail of blood for the ice crew to take care of. With the Avs down a man, the lines were a bit more mixed together, but the team continued to play strongly. Matt Duchene scored his first goal of the season in the thirteenth minute of the period, giving the boys in burgundy a 2-0 lead. Ryan Wilson took a penalty 20 seconds later, but Brandon Dubinsky ruined his team’s chance at a power play with an ugly crosscheck to Captain Landeskog, (he also received an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct). Of course, just 15 seconds later, Jan Hejda was penalized for goaltender interference, and what had looked to be a solid 4 on 4 followed by a power play now became a penalty kill. The Avs though, were lucky (Semyon Varlamov killed it in net), and came out of the rather confusing penalty box parade with the same score they started at. To finish the period, Jamie McGinn threw a hard check on Columbus’ Artem Anisimov. Brandon Dubinsky tracked him down and instigated a fight (something for which he was not penalized, strangely). About 50 seconds later, the period ended with some raucous cheering from the crowd.
During the second period, the penalties continued to be called, as play became increasingly scrappy. 10 different penalties were called, but no one was able to capitalize on the power play. (Landeskog found himself in the box twice, as did Cody McLeod. McGinn, who started the period in the box to finish serving his fighting major, was also in the box for the final minute and a half of the second.) The Avs had some poor stretches of play during this second period, but Varlamov was there to save them. Really, the highlight of this period for me was the return of John Mitchell, with a huge bandage on his face, but healthy enough to keep playing.
By the time the third started, the penalties slowed down. (There were only two this during this frame.) Columbus dominated for about four minutes to start, but then John Mitchell raced in to score his second goal of the season. From there on out, the Avs were clearly the better team. Matt Duchene would add another goal to his name (one that was really highlight material). For the second game in three nights, the Avs were treated to a standing ovation from the crowd in the final twenty seconds. Semyon Varlamov earned his shutout, and the Avs earned another valuable two points.
-Erik Johnson had a stellar game. He didn’t show up on the scoresheet, but all of the little things he did tonight…just wow. He was continually using his stick to deflect shots up and out of the way. He also had a really nice read on a 2 on 1 situation where he just completely shut down the shot option and then he blocked the pass.
-Jamie McGinn was this close to scoring a goal about 50 million times tonight. Maybe fate will reward him, and he’ll score a couple against his old team, the Sharks, Saturday? McGinn also had a solid physical game, with a number of hits.
-I really liked Patrick Bordeleau’s game tonight (even though he didn’t seem to get any icetime during the third). He even attempted a toe drag (not bad for a fourth line winger in his third NHL game ever, eh?)
-Stastny had a really strong game too, even though he didn’t earn any points. He’ll break through soon if he maintains the level of play he’s shown the past couple games.
-John Mitchell…man I am just happier and happier that the Avs signed this guy. He was a total beast, again, tonight, even though his face looked like this:
Mike Chambers continues to take the ugly photos of the Avs wounds and post them on via.me. I feel absurdly proud right now.
Ryan O’Reilly Update
The center and the KHL team Metallurg have mutually ended his contract. O’Reilly is heading back to North America in order to receive medical treatment for a “minor” foot injury. This doesn’t appear to have any impact on his negotiations. I suppose, if a deal is ever completed, he’ll be able to get to Colorado more quickly though.