Okay, award for worst Avalanche blogger this week goes to me. I’m terribly sorry if you’ve checked in during the past five days, only to find things static. I’m back, and ready to blog (at least every other day) for the foreseeable future during this long offseason.
Alright, time for World Championships updates, Avalanche style.
-Team Canada has played two games. Matt Duchene scored two goals in the first game, (and was named Best Player for Canada), a 3-1 win over Denmark. In the second game, Canada lost to Switzerland in the shootout. Duchene was used three times, and he scored once and was denied twice by Martin Gerber, Switzerland’s goalie. Duchene has gone 16-8 on faceoffs thus far. Ryan O’Reilly has yet to earn any points, but he has gone 9-2 in the faceoff circle.
-Team USA has also played two games since I last posted, and won both of them. Erik Johnson scored two goals in his first game, and had one assist in the second. Matt Hunwick scored in today’s contest. Aaron Palushaj scored in the first game. Paul Stastny has three assists so far, was named Best Player in game one, and has gone 32-13 at the dot. Also, goaltender Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning), is a native of Denver Colorado.
-Semyon Varlamov was not in the lineup for Team Russia’s first game, but he was in the net for their second, a 4-1 win over Germany. Varlamov made 26 saves on 27 shots to earn the victory.
-Jan Hejda and Gabriel Landeskog’s teams faced off yesterday. Neither had any points, but Landeskog added to his penalty total, while Hejda’s team added to their win total.
Well that was an upsetting end to the season. Obviously I wanted an Avs win (and, like a lot of other hockey fans, I was rooting for #Lumbus).
Minnesota’s Zach Parise scored the first goal of the game. Ryan O’Reilly would answer with his sixth of the season with less than two minutes remaining in the first. During the second, the Avs appeared to score a second goal to take the lead, but after review, it was taken away. I disagreed with the call-but it turns out that while one referee called it a good goal, another made the official call of no goal on the ice. That meant that Toronto had to find “conclusive evidence that it was not kicked in intentionally.” I don’t think it was intentional, but I can see where, in the situation room, things would have been split, and therefore why they would have decided that the call on the ice should stand. I don’t like it, and I don’t understand why it was called a no goal on the ice (where it looked to me as though it went off his foot but was not kicked,) but there you have it. The game was still tied at one. After that, the Avs seemed to really deflate, and they eventually allowed a powerplay goal (not a good goal by Varls, but he did make some spectacular saves throughout the game). In the final, dying seconds, Minnesota scored in the empty net to cement their victory. With two seconds and change remaining, they decided to do a sort of ceremonial faceoff with Milan Hejduk, and allowed the Avs to run off the clock.
I was not impressed with the officiating in this game. I was sitting in the third row, which meant I had a damn good view of some mighty fine “that should have been a penalty” action. (I’m not saying it was all from Minnesota. I saw the Avs get away with a couple of things too. However, Minnesota became more and more reckless when they realized they weren’t getting called, and they got away with some ridiculous things.) To make things even more infuriating, the officials started sneering and belligerently shaking their heads when the crowd would boo perceived missed calls. (I’ve been to a couple hundred hockey games in my short life, and I’ve never seen that reaction.) There weren’t a lot of penalties called, but it still was frustrating to see some of the things players were getting away with.
After the game, players gave away their gameworn jerseys to lucky selected fans. It’s always a nice touch to end a season, and I like the chance to get to cheer for individual players one last time. Now, it’s the dreaded offseason, coming much too soon again. Remember, I’ll still be posting (player reviews, draft predictions, free agency predictions, etc), so keep checking back here every couple days to argue, agree, or just plain sob about the lack of Avs hockey. Stay classy, Avs fans.
The Avs earned a nice win tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes, in their final road game of the season. Considering how poorly they’ve done on the road this year, it was nice to end that part of the season on a high note.
After the first period, it looked like the Avs were headed for the same fate they’ve earned the last four games. Down by two goals, after a pretty lifeless first period, things looked bleak. Luckily, the team was able to push through any panic or frustration they might have been experiencing.
Mark Olver ended Lehtonen’s shutout bid a few minutes into the second. Olver scored from midair, as he was falling towards the ice. Later in the second, Ryan O’Reilly and John Mitchell started a nice rush during the pk, which eventually led to Gabriel Landeskog’s shorthanded goal (his second shorty in two games). The team then had a major lapse in concentration, a few moments of wild confusion, and the Stars were leading again. The third period started out very tight. Both teams were fighting for ice. Things started to loosen up around the ten minute mark, and Ryan O’Reilly soon capitalized, scoring on a sweet shortsided shot as he was being pushed off balance. With three minutes left, Chuck Kobasew took advantage of a strange bounce (the puck hit Dallas defensemen Robidas’ ear, and then bounced behind him right in front of the net), and scored his fourth goal of the year. The Avs were able to hold on for the final three minutes, and earn the win in regulation.
This was by no means the Avs best game, but it wasn’t their worst either. I think after the first period, they played really well, despite the fact the Stars had a LOT of time with the man advantage. It’s still going to be a long shot for the team to make the playoffs, but it’d be nice if this win could help them start a nice little winning streak.
-Jan Hejda had a fight, only the second of his career.
-The Avs killed off six penalties.
-Jamie McGinn, David Jones, and Shane O’Brien were the scratches tonight.
-The lines were super bizarre, but they didn’t stay the way they started. By the third period, Sacco just seemed to be throwing out whoever was rolling.
-The Avs actually outshot the Stars (34-32). It’s nice to see the SA stay under 35.
-Chuck Kobasew was right by the net for all four goals.
-Stefan Elliott played his first game since being recalled, with Ryan Wilson being placed on IR.
The Avs will remain in 15th place in the Western Conference, for another couple days at least. The Minnesota Wild continue to have the Avs number, as they earned their second win over the vs this season, and fifth point.
Minnesota scored first. Matt Hunwick lost the puck to his mark, Paul Stastny failed to pick up his man, and Varlamov let in the shot. I would have liked to see Varls have that one, but if the players in front of him had been better, he wouldn’t have even faced a shot. Late in the first, on a power play, P.A. Parenteau scored with a kind of bizarre shot. In the second, Minnesota scored three quick goals, in the middle of the period, with an Avs goal in the mix from Gabriel Landeskog. More defensive errors led to Minnesota’s goals, and Varlamov just wasn’t able to make that one key save. Parenteau picked up his second goal of the game halfway through the third, but the final goal was an empty netter for the Wild.
The Avs have 22 games left this season. They need 32 more points by my estimation in order to get into the playoffs. 14-4-4 is the worst record they can have to earn that number of points in that number of games. It’s a tall order, and it’s not going to happen if the team keeps winning two and then losing three. The Colorado Avalanche need to put their big boy pants on, suck it up, and get wins. Varlamov hasn’t been his best self the past couple of games, and he needs to pick it up and play to his capabilities. The team needs more dirty goals, more players going to the net, and they need to backcheck as if there’s no tomorrow. If the team didn’t play so poorly in their own zone, they wouldn’t find themselves chasing so much.
-Greg Zanon may have had an assist, but he played poorly. Why did we switch him out with O’Byrne? Oh, because O’Byrne’s been taking bad penalties. What did Zanon do tonight? Take two bad penalties, and fall on his butt because he’s a poor skater.
-Erik Johnson had a really good game.
-Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog found themselves back together late in the game, and I imagine that we’ll see them together again next game.
-Chuck Kobasew and Cody McLeod each got into a fight.
The Avs won an exciting game against San Jose tonight in the Pepsi Center. Jamie McGinn finally got his win over his former team (fourth time’s the charm!), and the Avs earned another important two points. Matt Duchene was once again the most exciting player on the ice.
It was Duchene who scored the first goal of the game. His first powerplay goal of the season got the team off on the right foot. I’m not wild about a five forward powerplay, but if it keeps scoring like this, it’ll do pig. The team worked hard and continued to create chances in the first. (Ryan Wilson returned with a bang, with three hits on a single shift early in the period.) In the second, Ryan O’Reilly scored his second goal in as many games. He tipped a nice Palushaj pass (take that, people who said Palush wouldn’t help ROR produce) and helped the team get a two goal lead over the Sharks.
It looked as though the Avs would head into the lockerroom at the end of the second with a two goal lead, and Varls nursing a shutout, but Patrick Marleau scored in the final minute. It seemed like a kind of odd goal for Varlamov to let in, but at the same time, it did seem to hit a couple things and change trajectory. Still, the team had a lead. In the third, the Avs took another couple of penalties, and things were swaying the Sharks direction. I was hoping the Avs could hold on, with three minutes left in the third, but some slow play in their own zone, and then a quick takeaway and pass led to Logan Couture’s goal that tied things up.
Overtime was crazy, with the teams exchanging a lot of quality chances. With 0.2 seconds left, Matt Duchene scored the gamewinner, roofing a juicy Parenteau rebound. The Avs played another solid game, and while it’s a shame they had to take extra time, they got the win, the most important thing.
-P.A. Parenteau extended his point streak to 6 games, which is a new career high.
-Matt Duchene had his eighth multi-point game this season, most on the team.
-Ryan Wilson and Erik Johnson, in their first and second games back, looked really good. I’m glad they were partnered together again, and that they were successful with the large amount of icetime is really important. They make the Avs that much more dangerous.
-This is the second overtime win for the Avs, and the second with a late goal (David Jones scored with 16 seconds left against St. Louis.)
END THE STREAK! END THE STREAK! END THE STREAK!
That was the cheer roaring throughout the Pepsi Center during the 18th and 19th minute of the third period in tonight’s game. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Blackhawks have been on a tear. They earned points in 24 games, were on a franchise record 11 game win streak…pretty much, the Hawks were on top of the world.
Oh god. The Avs were 49 seconds away from a point at least. Suddenly, the Hawks were swarming the net, and Daniel Carcillo put the puck between Shane O’Brien and Semyon Varlamov’s legs. That’s right, Carcillo prevented the Avs from getting a point. The Avs remain stuck at 20 points. They have another crack at THE STREAK on Friday. As disappointing as this loss was, it’s hard to be mad at the Avs. They played an awesome game. There were a few mistakes, but there are always going to be mistakes. I think everyone worked really hard, and that makes it even harder to criticize the team.
In the first period, the Avs had a ton of opportunities. Unfortunately, the Hawks struck first on a powerplay. Cody McLeod took an ill-advised penalty (albeit, one that you expect him to take). The killers failed to get the puck out of the zone three different times, and eventually Andrew Shaw tipped the puck past Varlamov. Late in the period, John Mitchell got a little bit of redemption when he scored with a couple of nifty moves close to the net. In the second period, the Avs took the lead on a nice Matt Duchene shot that banked in off of Emery. Early in the third period, the Avs powerplay allowed a shorthanded Jonathan Toews goal. (I didn’t like how O’Reilly played it, and the referees missed a blatant slash from Bolland that left Jamie McGinn stickless and helpless when Toews was at the net.) The Avs continued to have some good chances, but it was Carcillo who scored the next, final goal.
I was really pleased with the Avs tonight, and I’m hoping that they bring a similar effort at home. If they do so, I think they have to get a break, and finally earn a win with their third stellar game of the season.
-Ryan O’Reilly got too much icetime for my liking. He’s adjusting, and playing better, but he’s still making more mistakes then we’re used to seeing from Factor.
-Jamie McGinn was really close to getting a goal several times in this game, if he had been able to break through, the Avs would have won.
-Greg Zanon played well in his return to the lineup…until the final minute.
-David Jones needs to be moved to the third line. He’s playing like he’s asleep out there, and I would rather have Palushaj or Mitchell on Stastny’s line. Jones is a good player, and he’ll work his way back up to the top two lines. For now though, his excessive icetime is hurting the team.
-Matt Hunwick had a pretty poor game. I’m guessing that he sits whenever EJ or Wilson is back, especially if EJ can return Friday.
The Colorado Avalanche lost in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a ridiculous game. The Avs put forth their worst effort of the year. The Jackets may be last in the conference, but guess what Avs? You’re 13th. And you’re going to be 15th soon enough if you bring that sort of effort against Detroit and Chicago in the next three games.
During the first period and a half, it seemed as though both teams were pretty much asleep. Varlamov had to make one spectacular save, but otherwise, most of the play was tight. Two fights in the second (McLeod v Prout, Bordeleau v Stoll) led to the Avs waking up a little, and a high shot by Parenteau was shrugged into the net behind Bobrovsky. It seemed as though the Avs were coming on, and that they were going to come out flying in the third. Unfortunately, the Jackets were the only ones flying in the third. Two questionable penalties were called on Avalanche players, which led to the second lengthy five on three for the Blue Jackets in the game. Ryan O’Reilly attempted to deflect a pass from Vinny Prospal behind the net, but instead managed to shoot the puck past his own goaltender in Varlamov. In overtime, Artem Anisimov became the first Jacket to score against Varlamov in over 120 minutes. Parenteau was called for a penalty, and during the ensuing 4 on 3, Hunwick lost his stick. O’Byrne didn’t read the Columbus player or Varlamov’s position at all, and Anisimov sniped a shot over Varl’s shoulder.
At least the team got a point. 18-10 needs to be the record from here on out if the Avs are going to be in the playoffs.
-Ryan O’Reilly didn’t really stick out much (aside from his goal against Varls). I think his best play came in the first period, probably when his adrenaline was the highest.
-Poor Varlamov. Another solid game, yet another loss on his record.
-Coach Sacco pointed it out, and I agree: even though the officiating had a negative impact on the Avs, the team wouldn’t have been in that position if they had simply played better.
-Shane O’Brien was the best defenseman for the Avs tonight.
-Calvin Pickard backed up Varls tonight.
-Evidently Erik Johnson will practice tomorrow with contact, so that’s a good sign.