Game 51. Avs-Wild. Avs Can’t Run with the Wild.

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Avs vs. Minnesota Wild, Game Thoughts

This one hurts. Everything was set up for the Avs to get a win going into the break: Nicklas Backstrom had not won since December 10, the Wild had lost 11 straight road games, and they had 3 wins in their last 18 games. How do the Avs not win this game?

Everything started great for the Avs. Early in the game Jay McClement rang a wrist shot off the crossbar from almost the blue line…clearly Backstrom did not have his “A” game tonight. That thought was strengthen when TJ Galiardi flipped a backhand from an extreme angle over Backstrom’s shoulder and into the net. Finally the Avs score the first goal! But the lead didn’t last long…

Halfway through the period Justin Falk tied the game on the powerplay with a shot from the high slot. It may have deflected off of Landeskog on the way to the goal, but you can’t really blame one person for the goal. Things were just going the Wild’s way.

Six minutes later, the Avs let up a breakaway, and while Giguere made the save and gave enough time to get back to defend the shooter, Kyle Brodziak, he made a nice pass back to Dany Heatley who fired it past Giguere’s blocker. Yep. That’s about all I want to write about it, because any more and I’m afraid I might break my keyboard.

The Avs fought back though, and Chuck Kobasew tied in the game early in the second period. The puck was just sitting on the goal line for what seemed like forever after it trickled through Backstrom, and if the Avs would not have scored I would have lost it, but fortunately it went in.

The rest of the period belonged to the Wild. The Avs started playing for a 2-2 overtime game, and they were very lucky to go into the locker room still tied.

The team looked good early in the third, and generated some nice scoring chances on their only full powerplay of the game, but nothing went in. Then 7 minutes into the period, Shane O’Brien tried to bring the puck into the Wild’s zone, where it was easily poke checked and taken in on a breakaway and scored by opening up Giguere’s 5 hole moving laterally. This has to be O’Brien’s fault. He has to know there is no one behind him and either pass the puck or dump it in. I don’t want to type too much about it though, because my keyboard deserves better.

The Avs had their chances in the last 13 minutes of the game, but of course nothing happened. One of my theories on the Avs is when they really need to score a goal, it will take at least 10 minutes, so only having 13 mintues of game left, it would be pretty tough for them to score, and they didn’t.

Now I want to get to the real story tonight, and that was who started in goal. I said before the game that it was a mistake starting Giguere, and feel the same way afterwards. Varlamov needs to be the starting goalie. The best analogy I can think of is building a bomb shelter during the Cuban missile crisis. Sure it was a safe haven, and your backup plan (like Giguere) and you might have stayed in one for a few days, and it was different, and fun, and sexy, but after a while you realized you were going to have to go back to your normal house. Same thing with the goalie. Giguere has been new and exciting, and the sleek pick for starter, but when push comes to shove, Varlamov should be this teams base.

The Avs will not make the playoffs with Giguere as the starter, but they have a chance with Varlamov. Remember, he took the Capitals to the Eastern Conference Finals a few years ago, so it’s not like he does not have experience. I just hope Sacco figures this out before it is too late. But for now, the Avs go into the all-star break on a very sour note.

The Avs next game is Tuesday, January 31 against the Edmonton Oilers in Alberta. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. Mountain time.

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