Archive for the ‘Avs vs. Minnesota Wild’ Category

The roller coaster ride continues for the Avalanche with a couple of shootouts, but one thing remains steady, their struggles in Vancouver.
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Remember that great moment when Matt Duchene was a rookie? You know, he scored the shootout winner against Vancouver to clinch a playoff spot for the Avs. Well, that was the last time Colorado won a game in Vancouver. This time was no different. From beginning to end, the Canucks dominated the game. In fact, the only reason Colorado didn’t get shut out was because the Vancouver announcers jinxed it.

The Avs came back from the road trip and had a golden opportunity to get back on the right track against Phoenix. Phoenix started backup goalie Thomas Greiss, which should have boded well considering Mike Smith’s domination over the Avs, but Greiss picked up right where Smith left off. For the second straight game Colorado managed only a single goal, and they certainly didn’t deserve it. A clearing attempt by Phoenix deflected off Patrick Bordeleau’s leg, off of Greiss’ leg, and into the net.

The struggling Jets were the next foe Colorado was up against, and early on it didn’t look like it was going to be much of a game. Winnipeg scored less than 30 seconds into the game, and added another 5 minutes, much to the pleasure of the home crowd. The Manitoban fans saw exactly what Matt Duchene could bring to the Canadian Olympic team, starting with a goal late in the first to cut the lead in half. The Avs came out and dominated the second period, adding a pair to give them a 3-2 lead heading into the third and once again putting their undefeated record when leading after 2 periods on the line.

Blake Wheeler tied things up exactly halfway through the third on a scramble in front, but that was all the scoring fans were going to get. The game went to a shootout, and a couple of slick moves from Duchene and PA Parenteau gave Colorado the victory.

Finally, the Avs went head to head with division rival Minnesota. The Wild, thanks to a late third period goal were able to end Colorado’s streak of winning games when leading after 2 periods. Nino Niederreiter scored with under four minutes left in the game to force the game into overtime. For the second consecutive game, and for the second consecutive matchup against the Wild, the game would go to a shootout. Unfortunately for Colorado, only Matt Duchene found the back of the net, while both Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu fired shots past goaltender Semyon Varlamov for the win.


Once again Colorado couldn’t solve St. Louis, but have managed to win five of their last six, completing the “bounce back” from their three game losing streak.
It started with an amazing game in Los Angeles. Possibly the Avs best performance all season. Unfortunately for Colorado, they ran into a white hot goaltender, Ben Scrivens. Colorado was peppering Scrivens all night with shots, but time after time, he answered the call, and made the save. 200 feet away, Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov was as sharp as cheddar, matching Scrivens save for save. Varlamov only had to make 19 saves on the night, to Scrivens 33, but he withstood the pressure of knowing that one error was going to cost his team the game.

Colorado finally overthrew the Kings in overtime. It was Jamie McGinn who delivered the dagger, after his shot was stopped by Scrivens, bounced off his sliding teammate Jarett Stoll, and into the net. The Avs and Kings are seemingly always playing with playoff intensity, and this game was no different.

Unfortunately for Colorado, they couldn’t use that momentum to avenge an ugly 7-3 loss earlier in the season to St. Louis. The Blues came into the Pepsi Center, and got off to a perfect start. First, it was David Backes tipping a pass in, and a few minutes later, Backes found Alex Ovechkin Steen right in front on the powerplay to give St. Louis a quick 2-0 lead. The Avs bounced back when Patrick Bordeleau of all people scored on a rebound. The puck was bouncing around in goaltender Jaroslav Halak’s skates, and actually was lying still on the ice when Bordeleau got his stick there first, and whacked it in.

The turning point of the game was late in the first period. Colorado was on a powerplay with a chance to tie things up, but a questionable defensive play from Andre Benoit led to a Jaden Schwartz shorthanded goal. Benoit had a chance to get to a 50/50 puck to keep it in at the blue line, but decided to retreat, allowing Schwartz to easily pick up the puck and skate ahead. Schwartz then wristed a bullet over Varlamov’s glove, into the top corner.
From there Colorado could never get anything going, and Chris Stewart added an empty netter to give St. Louis a 4-1 victory. You can’t sit back and win a defensive game against St. Louis. The Avs need to use their speed if they’re going to overcome the Blues. Think back to the movie “Miracle”. How does Kurt Russell tell the team how to beat the Soviets? “You don’t defend them, you attack them.” That’s what teams need to do, to beat the Blues.

Next, the Avs partook in a home and home series with the dangerous Minnesota Wild. Colorado used these games to show off their goaltending. On Friday, it was JS Giguere, who absolutely stole the show, stopping 27 of 28 en route to a 3-1 victory. Giguere was at his best when the team needed him the most, stopping all 16 shots in the third period. He was without a doubt the Avs best player on Friday, with the second best Gabe Landeskog, who had a hand in all three Avs goals.

Saturday, the teams flew to Denver, and it was Semyon Varlamov’s turn to play brick wall. Varlamov was perfect for the first 56 minutes and 27 seconds. It was the last 3:33 that killed Colorado. The Wild were able to erase a two goal deficit, including a Mikko Koivu goal with just 6 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. The four on four opened the ice for a number of nice chances, but the game would be decided in a shootout. In a tiebreaker, Varlamov once again came up huge, stopping notorious shootout kings Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, along with the ever dangerous Jason Pominville. For the Avs, $Ryan O’Reilly, their third shooter, broke the tie by somehow finding room to slip the puck five hole. With luck like that, he should go spend his overpriced contract on lottery tickets.

The Avs came out and played like a team that was going to the playoffs, not going to play the slots in Vegas, but it was Minnesota who fought for their playoff lives, and beat Colorado 3-1

Milan Hejduk may have played his final NHL game on Saturday, but I'm hoping he comes back for one more year

Milan Hejduk may have played his final NHL game on Saturday, but I’m hoping he comes back for one more year

Before I get to any game notes, it’s worth mentioning that it seems like Milan Hejduk has played his last game in the NHL. Hejduk picked up the puck after the final buzzer sounded, and the team may be ready to move on, but Hejduk has always been a class act and I’m hoping he comes back for one more year, because he can still help the team.

On to the game; if I didn’t know any better, I would have said it was a playoff game. Minnesota came out and fought for their lives (because they had to). Zach Parise netted the first of the game on a backhand in front, but Colorado wouldn’t go away. Late in the first, $Mr. Character himself tied things up on a beautiful shot over goalie Niklas Backstrom’s glove. Of course it wasn’t O’Reilly who did any of the dirty work, it was Gabe Landeskog who worked hard down low and made a nice pass in front to O’Reilly, but of course in the box score you can’t tell.

After that the game really tightened up. Both teams didn’t want to allow the next goal. The refs didn’t want to allow Colorado to win, and called off a Chuck Kobasew goal due to a “kicking motion”. Kobasew didn’t know where the puck even was, and the ref called goal on the ice, yet somehow when they reviewed the goal, the call on the ice was no goal.

That swing of momentum took a lot out of the Avs, and Devin Setoguchi was able to rip a slapper from the top of the far circle on the powerplay, right between Jan Hejda’s legs, and past Varlamov into the net. From then on (roughly half the game) it was all defensive, playoff hockey. Minnesota added an empty netter with just a few seconds left, and picked up the win, getting them into the playoffs.

Despite the terrible season, it’s going to be rough not having the Avs around for the next 5 months or so. Yes, it will be interesting to see what they do in free agency, and they DID WIN THE DRAFT LOTTERY TONIGHT!, but it’s just not the same. I know I can’t wait for October to come around.

That’s going to do it for the 2013 season blog. Time was valuable this semester and the blog had to be put on the back burner, so hopefully next season will be better, but thanks for reading and keeping checking over the summer for updates on the Avs roster moves.

Where to start? Minus all previous injuries, and throwing Erik Johnson into that mix, the Avs still managed to pick up 2 points in Minnesota, winning 4-3 in a shootout.

Photo from

Photo from

I’ll give the nod to the veteran as the first one to be talked about, as Milan Hejduk scored his second goal of the season, giving him 800 points in the NHL. Hejduk must have a flair for the dramatic, scoring his two goals on big nights, at big times.

Now, how about Tyson Barrie? He picked up his first NHL point tonight, assisting on the Hejduk goal. But he was great tonight, great defensively, aggressive offensively, dare I say…Kevin Shattenkirk-ish? I thought he was the Avs best defensemen. It brings up the question though, who gets the puck: Hejduk for his 800th point, or Barrie for his first?

I feel like I’m in the twilight zone, as the Avs seemed to accomplish things they NEVER do tonight. For only the third time this year (and the second time against Minnesota) the Avs scored the first goal of the game! It didn’t come until the second period, but it was Aaron Pulashaj who beat Niklas Backstrom for the first of the game. Pulashaj has to be the front runner for the Hart now, right? The play was a beauty; Stastny made a nice pass off the boards to David Jones, who made an equally nice pass to Pulashaj, who proceeded to one time the puck into the top right corner. Finally!

But leave it to Jean-Sebastian “I’ll get over to that other post eventually” Giguere to let the Wild tie it up on a Zach Parise wraparound. I’ll say Giguere played solid…not great…but solid, but seriously, he continues to amaze me with his slow lateral movements.

The second reason I’m in the twilight zone is because the Avs scored a powerplay goal! I forgot that could actually happen. Leave it to Hejduk, who found a Jamie McGinn rebound and those silky smooth hands did the rest, one timing a shot over Backstrom’s shoulder, and under the bar for a goal. Not only a powerplay goal, but a huge goal, putting the Avs up 2-1.
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Minnesota scored twice in the third to take a 3-2 lead. First was Mike Rupp, who banged one home from the side of the net. It was a weak goal, and Avs fans are probably going to complain that Giguere was pushed into the net, but I don’t think so. If the Avs scored a goal like that, fans would be praising Rupp for his hard work, so I really have to fault Giguere there. The third Wild goal was a Mikko Koivu backhand off a rebound. Koivu pulled the puck from his forehand to his backhand and beat Giguere over the glove. I can’t tell if I’m overreacting because I’m not a huge Giguere fan, but once again, I thought he played the angle terribly here.

But what do you know, just 46 seconds later, Matt Duchene banked one in off of a diving Jarad Spurgeon’s skate. No doubt it was a lucky goal, but the Avs are due for some good karma, at least from all their injuries. And credit should also go to Shane O’Brien, who made some slick moves at the blue line to eventually get the puck down low.

And the last reason I feel like I’m in the twilight zone, JS Giguere made not one, but TWO shootout saves. That never happens! It’s about time the Avs start having some 3 point games, I mean, everyone else in the West is. Hejduk and Duchene both scored, Parise and Koivu were both denied, and that’s all she wrote. I honestly think the Avs kept their season alive tonight by picking up the 2 points.

Other notes:

Greg Zanon is terrible. I feel like I’ve not mentioned his bad-ness enough.

Chuck Kobasew has actually been decent for the Avs recently. He’s not showing up in the box score a lot, but he’s effective on the ice.

Duchene is EARNING a huge contract *Clears throat*

Hejduk can still play, I see no reason he should retire after the year.

Stastny and Jones were solid tonight too. I’m not saying that as often as I should be though.

The Avs next game is Saturday against the Oilers in Edmonton. The game starts at 8 p.m. Mountain time.

Hard to believe this was the Avs first game tonight, because they were in mid-season form for turning 2 points into zero.

Semyon Varlamov stops Pierre-Marc Bouchard on a breakaway in the second period at the Xcel Energy Center. Photo from

Semyon Varlamov stops Pierre-Marc Bouchard on a breakaway in the second period at the Xcel Energy Center. Photo from

Ultimately it was undisciplined, sloppy play that led to the Avs demise Saturday night, as the Wild cruised to a 4-2 victory. It was a 53 second stretch early in the second period when the Wild scored 2 goals that changed the momentum for Minnesota and they never looked back. Dany Heatley scored on the powerplay, followed up by Mikael Granlund who tipped one past Semyon Varlamov less than a minute later.

The game started out perfectly for the Avs when John Mitchell put them on the board first only 2 minutes and 7 seconds into the game. Certainly it was not a pretty goal, but Mitchell found a way to get his stick on the puck and slipped it through Niklas Backstrom’s legs. In fact the whole first period belonged to the Avs, but much like the team last year, they couldn’t take advantage of their chances early in the game, and it cost them. Mainly it was Jamie McGinn, who missed an empty netter from the middle of the slot that would have put the Avs up 2-0 early in the first. He had an opportunity to completely take the crowd out of the game, and he blew it. Colorado let Minnesota hang around in a game they had no reason being in, and the Wild took advantage.

The second period was all Minnesota. The Wild were led by Avalanche winger Steve Downie in the second period, who gave the Wild a two minute powerplay, and a four minute powerplay (two, 2 minute minor penalties) in the first 7 minutes of the period. Downie was out of control, and cost the Avs the game with his penalties. Heatley capitalized on the first Downie penalty, and then he capitalized again on the 3rd powerplay Downie gave them, but it was a 5-3 powerplay as Ryan O’Byrne was also called for a penalty (holding the stick). Heatley’s second goal of the game gave the Wild a 3-1 lead, and killed a lot of momentum for the Avs.

Photo from

Photo from

Another shocking development in the game happened in the third period, when Cody McLeod slid one past Backstrom early in the third, making it 3-2. This never seemed to happen last year, the Avs never got that early 3rd period goal, but McLeod got the job done, and made the rest of the period interesting. But once again it was Steve Downie who won the game for the Wild, when the Avs were down 3-2 with less than 4 minutes remaining, the puck ended up on Downie’s stick, practically in the crease, with a wide open net to tie the game, and he rang it off the crossbar. Downie did just as much for the Wild to win the game, as Heatley’s two goals did.

Other notes

Parenteau-Duchene-Landeskog line was very forgettable. I thought Duchene had a good game, PA had a below average game, but Landeskog was no where to be seen tonight.

Tyson Barrie had a good game. I’m a much bigger fan of Barrie than Elliott. He didn’t show up on the score sheet, but was a +1, and was aggressive.

Hejduk and McLeod also had good games. Nice to see #23 start the season strong after a disappointing campaign last year.

Despite allowing 4 goals, Varlamov was stellar. He kept the Avs in the game, despite the rest of the team taking SEVEN penalties in front of him.

Who had bad games? Downie, McGinn, Landeskog…and to some extent Stastny, who had an excellent look on a 2-1 but decided to try and force a pass across to Jones (in the 2nd period?). I think he needs to be more aggressive.

The Avs next game in on Tuesday against the LA Kings at Pepsi Center. The game begins at 7 p.m. Mountain time.

What a perfect game for the Avs. They came out, were passionate, and thrashed the Wild, very similarly to how Tiger is going to thrash the field in Doral this week.

Semyon Varlamov continues to be white hot, but the story of the night was the Avs offense. The first period started out well for the Avs. They were controlling play, and were getting the majority of the chances. They quickly capitalized on a chance just over 3 minutes into the game when Jay McClement found a rebound and scores before Matt Hackett could get across the crease.

The Avs continued to apply the pressure for the rest of the period, and outplayed the Wild, however the score remained at the same. The Wild fought back, literally, after the goal. The first period included 2 fights, and a total of 10 penalties. It was clear for the Wild that after their recent 6-0 loss at Detroit, and 2-0 loss on Sunday to the Avs, that they were not satisfied with their play.

The second period was very similar to the first period, for the first ten minutes, but it was the second half of the period where the Avs exploded. They scored 4 goals in a 6 minute stretch that included a Jan Hejda slapshot, a Jamie McGinn tip-in, and wrist shots from Mark Olver and Ryan O’Reilly.

The Hejda goal was awful. Matt Hackett let an un-screened slapshot from the point beat him 5 hole. He was pulled after allowing the fourth goal to Olver.

Devin Setoguchi ruined Varlamov’s shutout on a penalty shot early in the third period. It was one of the few times that he has let in any sort of breakaway goal this year (he stopped one earlier in the game) and I was surprised to see him let it in. But it was a nice shot from Setoguchi, and you have to give the guy credit.

The Avs didn’t take the goal laying down. It would have been easy to sit back with a 5-1 lead, and certainly there was some of that, but they responded with two goals before the final buzzer sounded. A buzzer that I would imagine was greeted with a few cheers, but what probably relatively silent as most of the crowd (myself included) was out of there with at least 5 minutes left in the game.

Just about the only bad news for the Avs last night, was about every other team the Avs are fighting with for a playoff spot won. About every possible game went the opposite of what the Avs were hoping. The other downside of last night’s game was Duchene hurt his ankle. He laid on the ice for a while, and needed a lot of help getting off the ice. Certainly the Avs need him if they are going to make a playoff push, hopefully it is not too serious.

The Avs next game is Thursday against the Nashville Predators in Tennessee. The game starts at 6 p.m. Mountain time.

Well, after not having much of an impact in his first two games with the Avs, Jamie McGinn showed what he is capable of tonight.

The Avs got off to a perfect start tonight. They needed to start strong to get the momentum early and they did. Only 1:42 into the game, Jamie McGinn found a rebound after it hit his skate, and chopped it into the net for the early lead.

After getting blown out the night before, that was exactly the start they needed. The Avs got a little lucky on the bounce off of McGinn, but all of those tend to even out over the season.

Before the period was half over, McGinn added another one. This time it was on the powerplay when he found his own rebound in traffic and beat Matt Hackett high, stick side. Huge goal for the Avs. A two goal cushion after playing the night before sounds a whole lot better than a one goal lead. The Avs continued to apply the pressure in the first, and finished the period up by two.

In the second period the Avs started to show signs of fatigue. Minnesota controlled the play, but the Avs did hold their own and had some decent chances to go up by three.

The story of the period was Semyon Varlamov. He faced 11 shots and stopped all of them. He killed off two penalties the Avs took. You could tell the Wild players were getting frustrating with Varlamov and he continued to keep the puck out of the net.

By the third period the Avs were in full defense mode. The period was filled with a lot of dump ins for the Avs and sustained pressure for the Wild. To be fair the Avs did have a couple chances in the period, but for the most part they were hoping that two goals would be enough.

The game had a chance to change halfway through the period when Matt Hunwick took a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass, but Varlamov was able to keep Minnesota off of the score sheet. After the penalty expired, the Wild seemed to lose some momemtum and confidence that they were going to get back into the game.

The Avs did a very good job from between 5 minutes left to a minute left of not letting the Wild get into the zone, and mostly kept the puck on the Wild’s half of the ice. They won the game here, by shutting down any of Minnesota’s chances.

Big win for the Avs considering everything else that happened around the NHL. The Flames and Stars had a 3 point game with the Stars winning, which was the worst case scenario for the Avs, but they managed to keep pace with the Stars to remain three points back. The San Jose Sharks are actually the team in the 8th spot, but they have played 2 less games than the Stars, and 3 less than the Avs, so I think think the Avs are chasing Dallas.

The first half of the home and home series went to the Avs. Now getting two more points on Tuesday will be huge for their playoff race, and would pretty much eliminate Minnesota.

The Avs next game is Tuesday against the Wild at Pepsi Center. The game starts at 7 p.m. Mountain time.

*The blog post will be very late on that game, because I am going to the game, have to drive back to town that night and have a full day of school the next day.