Archive for the ‘Avs vs. Carolina Hurricanes’ Category

The Avalanche faced their first bit of adversity in the season, losing three UGLY games in a row, but minimized damage with a big 5-1 win over the defending Stanley cup champions.
The only game I watched of four, was the Carolina game, in which I caught the second half. What I noticed was an Avalanche team that was not playing with any urgency and intensity, and ultimately it cost them 2 points.

Fortunately I couldn’t watch the Blues game, because the Avs got destroyed 7-3. The game was filled with ugly fights, and questionable decisions. Chris Stewart led the way with a questionable fight against Cory Sarich. It will be interesting to see how the Pepsi Center crowd treats Stewart when the Blues come to Denver.

However, the low point of the Avalanche season was a 4-1 loss to the lowly Florida Panthers at home.

The Avs lost Matt Duchene to an oblique injury, but Patrick Roy was able to rally the troops to a dominating 5-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. That’s the difference between a Patrick Roy coached team, and a Joe Sacco coached team.

Duchene will not travel with the team on their upcoming two game road trip to Phoenix and Los Angeles.


After losing to Detroit in game 7 of the season, Colorado has bounced right back, and won 6 in a row, for the second time this season.
The Avs returned home from the east coast, and faced off against Carolina. Erik Johnson got the scoring started on a nice coast to coast goal, also getting the monkey off his back from last season, where he didn’t have a single one. Another game, another highlight reel goal from Matt Duchene. This time he worked his way from behind the net, spun around turning his back to the goal, worked his way out from behind the goal line, and roofed a wrister. Colorado led the game 4-1 early in the third after another Matt Duchene goal, but Carolina quickly answered and controlled the rest of the period, however Varlamov was solid, and the Avs got the 4-2 win.

Next up are the Jets. Unlike last year, the team showed passion and determination here, coming from behind in the third to win. Jan Hejda blasted a slapper past goalie Al Montoya to tie things up, but credit to Alex Tanguay for setting a nice screen to let Hejda to get to the puck. Later in the period, Gabe Landeskog made a beautiful cross crease pass to Paul Stastny who was able to tap it in for the winner. The Avs were outplayed by Winnipeg, but they fought hard to get 2 points; something you rarely saw out of a Joe Sacco coached team.

The Avs made their way down to Dallas, after a nice four day break, to take on the Stars. Colorado came out strong, and took a 2-0 lead into the third period, but for the first time this year, they had a sloppy period, and let Dallas force OT. Varlamov was well out of position for the first goal (although he was screened heavily), and then Tylet Seguin struck late in the third, which can’t happen in a one goal game. However, Avs fans went to bed happy, after Paul Stastny went toe drag, top shelf for the OT winner.
Twenty four hours later, the Avs were back in Denver retiring Adam Foote’s number, and taking on the Montreal Canadiens. After a scoreless first, Gabe Landeskog gave Colorado the lead on a perfect snapshot from the left circle, beating former Avs great Peter Budaj. Montreal came out in the third and quickly tied things up on the powerplay, but about 5 minutes later, Nathan MacKinnon found a rebound off a Landeskog shot and knocked it top shelf over Budaj’s glove. The Avs never looked back. Ryan O’Reilly added a goal, and PA Parenteau topped it off with an empty netter for the 4-1 win.

Despite all the Avs success, the biggest story of their season happened off the ice. Semyon Varlamov was arrested for a misdemeanor assault charge, and a class 4 felony (the least serious type of felony) for kidnapping his girlfriend. We have not heard Varlamov’s side of the story, but he maintains that he is completely innocent. I’m not really sure what to think, but I will say, right now his girlfriend’s story sounds a little fishy. Her injuries are not that consistent with what she said he did, and the charges are not as serious as what she is saying he did. It’s a bad situation regardless.

On top of that, a few hours later the Avs traded Steve Downie to Philadelphia for Max Talbot. I didn’t like the trade at first, but if having Talbot means MacKinnon doesn’t have to come off the ice for defensive zone faceoffs, I’m for it.

What. A. Finish. Here I was already complaining about the Avs going to a shootout with Giguere in net, who is as good in shootouts as Rory McIlroy is on Sundays at the Masters. And then O’Reilly pick’s a pocket, and rockets home the winner.

I did not get to watch the first period because of some poor channel changing at a restaurant. Apparently a small restaurant in square feet, with 10+ TV’s playing sports game, does not carry a channel that provides the local NBA and NHL team games. That seems like a good business plan.

When I got home and saw the 2-1 score after the first period, I did not feel too bad about it, because I knew they were down 1-0 at one point, but when I looked at the box score and saw the late period goal, only 30 seconds after the Avs tied things up, my confidence level went down. Just a typical Avalanche play to do that. I heard that both of Carolina’s goals were soft, but I cannot confirm that.

But the Avs came out early in the second and stole away the momentum from Carolina. It was a great play of tic-tac-toe passing from Jones to Stastny to Hejduk for the goal. Yes, since I suggested Jones and Stastny should be traded, they have a combined 9 points in 6 period’s played. Hmmm, for now I still say they need to go, for my suggested trades.

The Avs caught a bit of a bad break with 5 minutes left in the second period, when Eric Staal’s crossing pass bounced off of Hejda’s skate and right back to him for a yawning net. One of the easier goals I’ve seen scored all year. I thought that might be the end for the Avs, but they came back strong.

On a completely unrelated note, I have misspelled “Hurricanes” about 50 times tonight. I’ve typed Currihanes, Hucciranes, Cuhhiranes, Hurricants (Which ironically is an awesome pun for tonight) pretty much any combination of those 10 letters that is possible. It’s been a long week.

It was Paul Stastny who scored with only a minute left in the period. And it was David Jones who set him up after a nice back check behind the Hurricanes net. They really seem to be clicking lately, and they have lead the Avs to victories the last couple of days. Stastny showed some quick hands to get the puck to his backhand for the open goal.

The third period provided the Avs with some golden opportunities, but no goals. Ryan O’Reilly missed an empty net with a backhand, practically from the crease, but he had more, maybe even better chances! His best chance came on the powerplay, a Hurricanes powerplay. He had a breakaway, which was saved by Ward, got the rebound, passed to McClement who fired in on net, Ward made another save but left a juicy rebound in front which O’Reilly got to but could not beat Ward high glove. The Avs had 4 shots on the Carolina powerplay.

The overtime was very tense for me because I knew if the Avs didn’t score, they were not going to win the game in the shootout. Giguere is awful in shootout. He has the same number of shootout saves this year (1) as Cam Ward, the Hurricanes goalie, has goals in regulation this year (1). Ouch.

The payoff for O’Reilly was a sweet one. With about 5 seconds left he stole the puck from a Hurricane at center ice, skated in on Ward’s stick side, and let off a slapper from just outside the faceoff circle that beat Ward low blocker for the win. Huge reward for O’Reilly after all those close calls. And a big win for the Avs.

There are a lot of thoughts I have for the game tonight, so here they are:

-I don’t know how this year is going to end up for the Avs, but wow, they have a bright future. If Duchene and O’Reilly learn to finish a little better, they could contend for the cup in the next 2-4 years. Duchene, O’Reilly, Mueller, Landeskog, Johnson, Stastny?, and Varlamov are going to be something special. That core of players could rival the Blackhawks/Penguins core in a few years.

-Landeskog is going to be a star. My goodness, the last couple of weeks he has really picked his game up. At 19 he has a ton of developing still to do, but he can do it all: shoot, pass, score, hit, play defense, kill penalties, make smart plays. I can’t wait to watch him develop.

-Not knowing how those first 2 Carolina goals happened, I thought Giguere played solid. 39-42 saves is great, and he continues to be the best offseason signing maybe in the entire NHL, which leads me to….

-Semyon Varlamov continues to get the short end of the stick. He should be playing more often. Joe Sacco has set him up for failure this weekend so he can continue to not play him. If Giguere is your #1 goalie, and you have back to back games against the worst team in the eastern conference at home, and one of the best teams in the NHL on the road, which game do you play your #1? The harder of the two…but not Sacco. Now Varlamov has to play against the Blues in St. Louis (Where the Blues are 22-3-4) on the second night of back to back games, having played OT the night before and a long plane trip that night in front of what will probably be a tired team. That makes NO sense, and the only reason I can think of, as to why he would do that is to see him fail, so he can play Giguere more often. Either that or he is a complete idiot.

-Erik Johnson has made a complete 180 since the start of the season. He is clearly the Avs best defenseman.

-The Avs have a very tough game tomorrow, and the last time they played the Blues on the second night of a back to back, they had one of their worst games of the year and were demolished 4-0. Do not expect a victory tomorrow.

The Avs next game is Saturday against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottstrade Center, the game starts at 6 p.m. Mountain time.