Game 76. Avs-Coyotes. Avs Can’t Solve Mike Smith and Lose Ground in Conference

Posted: March 23, 2012 in Avs vs. Phoenix Coyotes, Game Thoughts

Terrible night for the Avs. On and off the ice it could not have gotten much worse for Colorado, but we’ll start with what happened at Jobing.com Arena.

For the second straight game, the Avs struggled out of the gate. Three and a half minutes in, Daymond Langkow poked a puck on the goal into into the net. After seeing the replay I am surprised it went in because it looked like Ryan Wilson had his stick behind the puck, but it ending up going in.

The key to beating Phoenix is scoring the first goal. The Coyotes are too good defensively and collapsing on their goal when they have the lead for the Avs to let up the first goal. That just can’t happen.

But the game was won when the Coyotes scored with 5 minutes left in the first. The goal was on a partial breakaway with a loose puck, and I think if Varlamov comes out of the net and goes after the puck they don’t score. Instead Kyle Chipchura caught the pass just outside of the crease and pulled it to his forehand, and beat Varlamov over the pad, under the blocker.

The Coyotes added another goal late in the second to essentially ice the game. The Avs did make it interesting in the third when Ryan O’Reilly scored from a very sharp angle to the far post, and Paul Stastny tipped in a shot with more than 5 minutes left, but the Avs couldn’t capitalize on any of their chances down the stretch.

And with the final buzzer sounding, the Avs playoff hopes vanished. The Avs fell into ninth tonight, because the Coyotes, Kings, and Sharks all won. Being one point out of the playoffs does not sound back, but it is. The Stars in 8th have the same number of points as Colorado, but have played 2 less games. The Coyotes in 7th have one more point, and one less game played. The Kings in 3rd also have one more point, but two less games played. And finally there is the Sharks, who have one less point than the Avs, but have played 2 less games.

I would say the Avs still have a chance, but all of those teams are in the Pacific division and will play each other quite a bit over the last 2 weeks of the season. There are 6 games left between those teams, San Jose plays Phoenix, LA, and Dallas 2 times each before the season ends. That is at least 12 points that are guaranteed to go to those teams. A best case scenario would be for San Jose to win all 6, but I can’t see that happening. The bottom line is there are too many guaranteed points to those teams, who all have games in hand to the Avs for the Avs to make the playoffs.

Other quick notes:

-If the Avs had to win one game to save my life, I honestly would rather see Tim Thomas, Henrik Lundqvist, Jimmy Howard, or Mark-Andre Fleury in net for the other team before Mike Smith. For some reason the Avs can not score on Mike Smith.

-If Matt Duchene was not Matt Duchene, he would be a healthy scratch.

-At least my fantasy hockey teams made the playoffs.

The Avs next game is Saturday against the Canucks at Pepsi Center. The game starts at 8 p.m. Mountain time.

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