Game 41. Avs-Kings. Varlamov Kills Kings, Takes Throne.

Posted: January 3, 2012 in Avs vs. Los Angeles Kings, Game Thoughts

What a game by Semyon Varlamov. The crazy thing is he was even better than his .969 save percentage suggests. The Kings had at least 6 or 7 great chances that were somehow kept out of the net by Varlamov. If Giguere was playing tonight, it would have been a blowout.

The first period was one of the worst periods I’ve watched them play all year. The Kings dominated, which included the Kings keeping it in the Avs zone for what felt like between 2 and 3 minutes. Varlamov was at his best, and kept the Avs in the game during the period. Somehow the Avs escaped the first period tied at zero, even though they were out shot 12-5.

Justin Williams may have scored a goal early in the game, but his high tip-in was waved off and there really was no good angle on the replay, so the call stood.

Another problem in the first was penalties. The Avs took 2 pretty bad penalties, but the double minor by O’Reilly 20 seconds in just cannot happen. The Avs were bailed out because Mike Richards took a penalty 7 seconds later, but there could not have been a worse start for the Avs than tonight.

The Kings came out early in the second and scored a goal 1:34 into the period. Right then I thought the game was over. The Avs seemed to have absolutely no decent chances at all in the first, and I didn’t think things were going to get any better, and for the most part I was right.

It is that kind of offensive performance that I was expecting with Duchene out of the lineup, and if the next couple games are similar, and not due to LA having solid D, then the Avs are in serious trouble.

The Avs had some decent looks in the second. Milan Hejduk had an empty net, but the puck bounced on him and he couldn’t get a shot off.

Right at the end of the period, Paul Stastny got at pass right in front of the goal, and literally all he had to was elevate the puck at all, but he fanned on the shot and it slid and hit Quick as time expired. If you’re getting paid $6.6 Million a year, you need to score those.

The third period was not looking too promising for the Avs, and after the 10 minute mark of the period, I thought there was no way the Avs would get one. But on a nice play from Kyle Quincy to keep the puck in the offensive zone, O’Reilly picked up the puck, faked a shot, and rang one in off of the far post on a great shot.

The Avs somehow got the game to overtime, and even after taking a penalty and giving the Kings a 4-3 powerplay to end the overtime, they killed it off and got to the shootout, which they love.

The shootout has saved the Avs season this year. They are 7-0, which is remarkable. That’s 7 extra points from the shootout. Without those points the Avs would be sitting in 12th instead of 8th. They would be 6 points back of the 8th seed, having played at least 4 more games than the 8th and 9th place teams. That would be very difficult to overcome and make the playoffs.

A ton of credit goes to Varlamov tonight, but the penalty kill was great for the Avs as well. They killed off all 5 penalties against a dangerous Kings powerplay that includes Kopitar, Richards, Brown, Johnson, and Doughty. That is 5 all-star caliber players on the ice.

It was a huge win for the Avs tonight, considering for most of the game it looked like they were not going to get any points at all, none the less 2. But the road does not get any easier for the Avs: There next 8 games are against teams currently in the playoffs, or within 3 points of the Avs having played at least 2 fewer games. But at least the Avs have 3 days to begin preparing.

The Avs next game is Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time.

  1. Jeff says:

    And here is a little Don Cherry talking some hockey and playing the piano desk all at the same time.

  2. Advenstor says:

    These last two games and the next several games are huge for the Avs in giving them confidence that they can win w/o duchene; you do not want them thinking otherwise because it can become a built-in excuse for poor results if they happen to lose; and that could lead to a January/Feb swoon similar to last year

  3. ppajak says:

    I saw the Cherry Video the other day, it’s hilarious because he keeps his fingers in perfect piano position the whole time. Very creative too.

    As for the Avs, I truly believe these next 8 games are huge, and will probably decide it they make the playoffs. They are facing 3 very good teams in the Blackhawks, Blues and Panthers, and the other 5 games are against Western Conference opponents who they are really battling with for the 7 and 8 seeds in the playoffs. I think to have any chance they have to finish no worse than 4-4, but at least 5-3.

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