Game 37. Avs-Wild. Game 37 Belongs to Number 37.

Posted: December 26, 2011 in Avs vs. Minnesota Wild, Game Thoughts

Tonight the Avs showed great resiliency. Twice they were down in the game, and twice I was sitting on the couch thinking there is no way they score, but they proved me wrong, and scored 3 unanswered goals to win in St. Paul.

I’ll start with the first major event: Cody McLeod’s hit. First thing out of my mouth was “5 games”. It looked like Spurgeon was really hurt on the play, and it was very scary, so hopefully he’s not hurt too bad, and we can see him out on the ice again soon. It might be a bad thing to think, but at least it was McLeod, and not someone who is really important to the team.

I thought the Avs did a great job killing the major, and I thought they were going to escape without giving up a goal, but with less than a minute left, Bouchard found a way to get the puck past Varlamov. I’m still not really sure how it went in, but when you have to kill a 5 minute major, you almost expect at least one goal, and that’s exactly what happened.

But, don’t forget that Kevin Porter made a great play and Backstrom had to make a nice save on a breakaway during that major penalty.

Doubts were starting to creep into my mind about if the Avs were going to score at all, when Duchene made a great slap pass to O’Reilly to tie things up. I think he was the only person on the ice, and maybe in the building, who had the vision to see that pass. Great play by Duchene.

On a bit of a side note, I was a little worried with Duchene today. It didn’t look like he had his A game. Specifically his stick handling was a little off, and I’m hoping it was him losing a little after a couple days off, rather than the other teams starting to figure out he only has 2 or 3 moves he uses.

But the tie didn’t last for long, because as much as I hate to say it, Erik Johnson made a terrible play. I mean, it was just awful. I don’t know how the puck jumped on him a little, but once it did, Johnson was in full panic mode, and that cost the Avs a goal, and I thought the game too.

That was a huge momentum swing for the Wild, because it was so quickly after the Avs scored. But late in the second, on a very similar play, Landeskog squeaked one in, and gave the Avs a huge boost going into the third. TJ Galiardi deserves the credit though, because he made a great play to make sure the puck stayed in the zone. Shane O’Brien also made a nice play at the blue line to get the puck in deep.

And half way through the third, Ryan O’Reilly made a nice pass to Hejda who scored and gave the Avs the lead. Huge goal, and O’Reilly deserves as much credit as Hejda does.

Then with just over 7 minutes left in the game, the Wild had the puck in the Avs zone, and I was thinking to myself, “The Avs can’t clamp up on this one goal lead, they are just playing defense and are not going to get many scoring chances playing like this.” Well Galiardi got the puck a few seconds later and made a nice move just inside the blue line, got the shot on net, and beat Backstrom. Not the best goal, but it was a gigantic insurance goal.

Varlamov was solid in goal, and really made some big saves early in the third to keep the game tied. He stopped 20-22 and showed all the people jumping on the Giguere bandwagon, that he too, can get the job done.

The game was not without flaws though. 6 penalties is terrible, that has to improve, although I think the refs called a very tight game after the McLeod hit early in the first. A smart move by them.


The Avs powerplay was 1 for 7. That is also terrible. The reason I get excited when the other team takes a penalty right now, is for the next 2 minutes, they won’t score. That’s it. It seems like the Avs can never get the job done when they really need a powerplay goal.

The Avs are currently only 1 point out of a playoff spot. And with both Dallas and Nashville losing right now, the Avs are looking even better. Phoenix plays LA later tonight, and either team getting two points would be bad for the Avs, but right now, it’s looking like after today, at the most, the Avs will be 2 points out of a playoff spot.

The Avs next game is tomorrow, against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center. The game starts at 7 p.m. Mountain Time.

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