Game 62. Avs-Blue Jackets. Avs Shutout Jackets in 5-0 Blowout

Posted: February 24, 2012 in Avs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Game Thoughts

Where to begin for the Avs? A great all around game tonight. Normally picking the first picture for the post is between one or two players, but tonight it’s wide open. David Jones had 3 points, Landeskog had a goal and assist, so did Steve Downie (his first points with the Avs), Semyon Varlamov had a shutout, but tonight’s picture goes to….

Matt Hunwick! It’s gotta feel good for him to find the back of the net, because he has only played in 13 of the Avs 62 games this year.

I was worried about this game before the start, because it was a classic example of a trap game. They just had a big win against the Kings, and have to play the Red Wings tomorrow, it would have been very easy to overlook the worst team in the league tonight. And for a while it looked like they may have. The Blue Jackets came out strong, and kept the puck in the Avs zone for the first 10 minutes or so. So the average start for the Avs.

But once again, the Avs scored a late period goal to take the lead. This one came from David Jones on a 2-1. Shane O’Brien was the other Av down the ice and Jones looked towards a pass for a while, but turned and fired it past Steve Mason’s blocker with 34 seconds left in the period. You could just feel the punch to the stomach the Jackets took after that one went in. A bad team with little to play for, dominates most of the first period, but give up the first goal of the game with less than a minute left. I thought it was going to be tough for them to get back in the game, and it was.

To the Blue Jackets credit, they did keep the Avs off the scoreboard for the first half of the second period, but on a 3-2 rush, Steve Downie made a cross ice pass to Landeskog, who corralled it and while fading away from the puck, slapped it far side, top shelf, right in the corner for the goal. It was a nice pass by Downie, but wow, it was a great shot.

That goal really probably helped with Downie’s confidence too. Getting that first point after a trade can be difficult, but after Landeskog’s goal he won’t have to worry about that anymore.

That seemed to be the goal that opened the floodgates. It didn’t lead to immediate benefits, but it did deflate any hopes the jackets had. But once again it was Varlamov who won the game at this point. He made 2 HUGE saves on Rick Nash tonight. One was on a breakaway- and it is amazing how I don’t even get anxious when the other team has a breakaway agasinst Varly. I’m pretty sure that including the shootouts he has allowed 2 breakaway goals all year.

The other save was even better. A beautiful one-handed crossing pass to Nash who shot it on net, but Varly sprawled across and just got enough of the puck with the blocker to send it wide. Very similar to the great save he made against Milan Lucic earlier in the year, that you can watch here.

The Avs came out in the third, and nailed the coffin shut. Less than two minutes in, Mark Olver got the puck behind the send, circled, and sent the puck to Jones, who originally whiffed on the shot but quickly recovered and beat Mason over the glove.

Mark Olver has really impressed me since he has been called up. I can’t really explain his success right now, but he seems to work hard and be in the right places at the right times. I think he deserves a permanent spot in the lineup, but when Mueller and Galiardi come back, I’m afraid he may be one of the guys left out. I would rather see McLeod and Kobasew be scratched before Olver.

Next, Steve Downie got his first goal as an Av. Downie found the puck on his stick on a rebound from an Erik Johnson shot, and he wasted no time putting the puck in the back of the net, once again beating Mason’s glove. I know it is the Blue Jackets, but if Downie could somehow to continue to contribute offensively, that would really help the Avs postseason chances. On a completely unrelated note, thanks to Latin class I now know in that last sentence I used the figure of speech known as alliteration. The repetition of consonant sounds; could, continue, contribute. That’s right folks, hockey and english. Where else are you going to get that wide of a spectrum.

The last goal goes to Matt Hunwick, who scored on a breakaway. He made a nice move and the puck just trickled past Mason to make it 5-0. I feel bad for Hunwick because he is better than fans and the organization think, but the Avs defensive depth has meant his is the odd man out. It’s great for him to get on the score sheet.

The Avs get a big 2 points tonight, because tomorrow’s test is going to be nearly impossible. The Avs play the Red Wings in Detroit. If you didn’t know, the Wings had won 23 in a row at home before the Canucks beat them on Thursday. What are the chances that the Wings win 23 in a row, and then lose 2 in a row at home? Not high. The Wings are going to be angry and the Avs are going to be tired, having played the day before. I do not expect any points tomorrow.

The Avs next game is Saturday against the Red Wings in Detroit. The game starts at 5 p.m. Mountain time.

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