Archive for the ‘Avs vs. Nashville Predators’ Category

Finally, I have a reason to post a Peter Budaj picture. What reason? Semyon Varlamov has tied Budaj’s franchise record for consecutive starts without a regulation loss.
After a couple of days off, Colorado capped off the quick two game road trip with an OT win over the defending cup champion Blackhawks. The Avs jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals from Tyson Barrie, and Ryan $’Reilly. The goals came within 62 seconds of each other, and really stunned the Blackhawks and the United Center crowd. From there, Chicago slowly took over the game. Johnny Oduya scored in the second and Andrew Shaw in the third to knot things up and send the game to overtime. Andre Benoit drew a penalty from Jonathan Toews at the 3:34 mark of OT, giving Colorado 1 minute and 26 seconds of 4 on 3 powerplay time. They needed only 35. Barrie slapped home his second of the game to give Colorado the win.

Next, Patrick Roy and co. were set to dual with their counterpart in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals- the New Jersey Devils. Martin Brodeur got the night off, with Cory Schneider getting the start for the Devils. $’Reilly continued show his skill, netting the only Avalanche goal, on a very solid play from Patrick Bordeleau behind the net. A lot of fourth liners don’t have the presence of mind, or skill to get that puck to O’Reilly, oops sorry I mean, $’Reilly in front. Reid Boucher added the lone Devils goal in the third. Ultimately it was the birthday boy Matt Duchene who scored the shootout winner, giving Colorado another 2 points.
A square dance in Nashville produced highs and lows for fans of both teams. At one point in the third, Matt Duchene scored a goal, ending his 13 game goalless drought, making the score 5-1 Avs. Peter McNab declared the game over, and is 100% to blame for the 3 Nashville goals in the last 12 minutes of the game, almost costing Colorado the victory. Bottom line, 2 more points.
Cliche Crop
The more I watch the Avs play, the more I start to think that this team can contend, and contend this year. With uncertainly surrounding Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly’s future with the team, this may be the year to go for it.
I know it sounds crazy with like likes of Chicago, and St. Louis standing in our way within the division, but I believe it can be done. Yes, right now the team is leaning heavily on goaltender and Vezina trophy candidate Semyon Varlamov, but is that any different than what the LA Kings did a couple of years ago with Jonathan Quick?
Right now, against the 7 other teams in the playoffs, the Avs combined record is 8-4-3. They are 0-2 against St. Louis this year, and 0-1 against Vancouver. They have a winning record against the other five teams. In a season where the western conference is clearly the bestern conference, that’s a solid record. Even if you throw out getting points for OT losses, they’re still 8-7 on the season.

St. Louis scares me. The Avs have looked terrible against the Blues in both matchups this year, and therefore Avs fans should be the biggest Blues fans around, hoping St. Louis can overtake Chicago for the 1 seed in the Central division. I’d rather see the defending champion Blackhawks in the first round than a hungry Blues team. Who would that leave St. Louis against right now? Vancouver. A team, that despite their well-documented playoff struggles, matches up well against the Blues, and is 2-0 against St. Louis this year.

Of course, the biggest knock on the Avs right now is defense, and rightfully so. Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda are a clear cut top line pairing in the NHL, and both are having great seasons. Assuming all are healthy, which is a big assumption for some, that leaves Ryan Wilson, Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden, Andre Benoit, Cory Sarich, and Nate Guenin to fill the bottom 4 spots. Of those, I’ll take Wilson, Barrie, Holden, and Sarich right now. That leaves Nate Guenin and Andre Benoit as the odd men out, and potential trade bait.

#2 Nick Holden

#2 Nick Holden

All year long, Avs fans have been clamoring for another top 4 defenseman, while one may be developing right under their noses. Nick Holden, while having played in less than half of Avalanche games this season, has taken advantage of his opportunity to get more consistent ice time. Holden leads the defense in points per game, and while he is playing more of a sheltered role than Johnson or Hejda, he has shown to be effective killing penalties, and has been one of Colorado’s best defensemen in 2014.

Understandingly, fans might not want to rely on the 26 year old rookie to play a pivotal role come playoff time. That’s where a trade could come into play. If Colorado is comfortably in a playoff spot come early March, they may look to make a deal to bolster the blue line. Taking a look at some teams who might be willing to deal a top 4 guy come March; I’ve identified the Islanders, Panthers, Sabres, and Jets as the ideal teams for Colorado to deal with.
Starting with the Islanders, they’re not scared to make bold moves (see: Vanek, Tomas) and no longer have a first round pick because of it. They’re also in desperate need of goaltending. They have a couple of guys who could interest Colorado: Travis Hamonic, and Andrew MacDonald. In this hypothetical the Avs are in win now mode, and the guy who helps the Avs more, in my opinion, is MacDonald. The 27 year old is having a fine season on the island, accounting for 22 points in 50 games, averaging almost 26 minutes in ice time and is leading the league in blocked shots, but is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.

Andrew MacDonald, #47

Andrew MacDonald, #47

So what would it take? If Tomas Vanek is worth a 1st and 2nd to the Islanders, I propose a sending Sami Aittokallio and a 2nd to New York for MacDonald. If Colorado is pretty securely in a playoff spot, I’d be fine with that pick becoming a 1st, but I think NYI would accept the previous deal. The deal helps NYI recoup a draft pick lost to Buffalo, and gives them a very solid goalie prospect in Aittokallio to compete for the number 1 spot when Evgeni Nabokov decides to hang them up.
That leaves Colorado with these three potential defensive pairings:
All three lines look solid defensively, while having a lot of offensive upside. I’d be comfortable rolling that come playoff time.
Offensively, Colorado is 6th in the NHL with 2.90 goals per game. If the Avs can get a little blue line help without giving up any offensive players, they could be very dangerous. Time for a little math; if you take the goals for per game, minus the goals against per game of the last 6 Stanley Cup champions, you get these numbers: 2013 CHI: 1.08, 2012 LA: .22, 2011 BOS: .68, 2010 CHI: .72, 2009 PIT: .59, 2008 DET: .89. Taking the average of those six numbers, you get .6966666 and so on. What’s is the 2013-14 Avalanche team at right now? .52. I know health is a big assumption to make, but I think adding a healthy Alex Tanguay pushes that number up .1, as does adding a top 4 defender…hypothetically bringing the Avs number to .72.

And let’s not forget who Colorado has between the pipes. Semyon Varlamov is currently sitting T-3 in the NHL in wins, 13th in goals against (for goalies that have 20+ games), and 5th in save percentage for 20+ game goalies. The Russian goaltender’s confidence may be at an all-time high, and that’s with a mediocre defensive core in front of him. And remember his 2009 playoff performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins? You know, keeping the Capitals in that series even though Pittsburgh was the better team. Remember this save?

How about the 2011 Winter Classic against those same Penguins? Yeah, he stole the show by making 32 of 33 saves and was named the game’s first star. Bottom line: Varly’s clutch. Don’t worry about him.

I’m not saying that the Avs should be cup favorites, but I am saying this team could be on the brink of something special. Colorado has consistently found ways to win games against the best competition this year. It hasn’t always been pretty, but there are a lot of pieces already in place for the Avs, enough for me to think that with a Joe Sakic brushstroke or two, this team could look like a beautiful work of art.


Colorado had their second 6 game win streak of the season snapped by Nashville, losing for only the second time this season, but Colorado rebounded nicely and picked up two more wins against Calgary and Washington.
The Nashville game was the first game where I thought Colorado wasn’t giving 100%. Coming into the game on a six game winning streak, playing Nashville’s backup goalie, it seemed like the Avs thought the game was going to be handed to them. Nashville consistantly got out to leads, and while Colorado fought back often, every time they re-tied the game, they sat back and thought Nashville was going to give up. Another game, another highlight reel goal from Matt Duchene. This time, he split the D with his speed and went backhand, forehand, over the blocker for a beautiful finish. What amazes me most about this goal is the little strides Duchene takes once he enters the Nashville zone and starts to protect the puck. You just don’t see that happen from other people. You’ll see them on the replay from roughly the 0:40 to 0:42 mark. It just gives him that extra burst up the middle.

After that disappointing loss, the Avs came out against Calgary, and got the job done. The Avs opened the scoring with a pretty passing play that eventually led to Ryan O’Reilly one-timing a shot from the slot into the back of the net. The Avs were able to take advantage of their first 5-3 powerplay of the season, giving Colorado a 2-0 lead when Paul Stastny lifted a shot over Kari Ramo’s glove. Erik Johnson took a shot from the point, missed wide, but bounced right to Stastny’s stick at the side of the net.

John Mitchell scored the eventual game winner for Colorado, but his goal was sandwiched by a couple of Mike Cammalleri goals, both coming off of pretty passing plays. Michell just set up shop in the slot, was untouched by any Flame, and let Nathan MacKinnon do all the work to get him the puck, but was able to wrist one over Ramo’s glove. Matt Duchene added an empty netter, sealing a win for the Avs.

Finally, the Washington game. From start to finish, the Avs were the better team. They killed off all penalties against the best powerplay in the league, including a 5-3, and there was never a doubt they were the better team. Here are the goal calls:

But the absolute goal of the night goes to Gabe Landeskog

Colorado continues to turn heads in the young NHL season, by beating Nashville 3-1 on Friday, and then handing Toronto their first loss of the season with a 2-1 win at the Air Canada Centre. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon is leading the way on the Avs third line, and is tied for the team lead in points (4) with his linemates Jamie McGinn, and PA Parenteau.
Avs-Sharks 051
The Avs defense has holes, but just call goaltender Semyon Varlamov the repair man because he is mending them quite nicely. During the Toronto game, the Avs took the lead early in the third period, and while they looked solid for the first half of the period, it was Varlamov who came up with big saves at clutch times to keep the Avs ahead.

Colorado is a different team. They’re showing life, something that zombie coach Joe Sacco rarely did. They’re playing with fire, and passion that they seemed to lack during Sacco’s tenure. The Avs landed 44 hits against the Maple Leafs, and every single skater managed at least 1 hit. They’re finishing checks, fore-checking aggressively, and it is leading to opportunities in the offensive zone.

It’s the first time in Avalanche history that the team has started 3-0. They beat a defensive minded team in Nashville, scoring 2 goals, and adding a third with an empty net, but their biggest challenge of this young season will take place tomorrow when they go head to head against the Eastern Conference champs last year, the Boston Bruins. While it is an exciting time to be an Avs fan, keep in mind that Colorado has played about 3.5% of its season. Look at it this way, if a quarterback in a football game throws the ball 30 times in a game, each throw is about 3.33% of his game. You’re not going to judge a quarterback’s game based on one throw…unless you’re Tony Romo throwing an interception at the end of a 48-48 game.

In what continues to be a trend this season, the Avs couldn’t get the job done down the stretch, and Nashville took advantage with 3 goals in the third, to win 3-1.

Photo from

Photo from

The first couple periods were exactly what you would expect a Nashville-Colorado game to be like. Both teams were playing quality defense, killing penalties, and making sure they didn’t make a mistake. It was not exciting hockey to watch.

But the third period rolled around and everything changed. The explosive Matt Duchene scored the first goal of the game 1:01 into the third, which makes perfect sense, because he schooled Nashville. Duchene busted out of his own zone, past all the Predators and found himself on a breakaway, where he fired a laser past Pekka Rinne. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that Duchene is the fastest guy in the league.

But the Preds fought back when Lake Erie call-up Brad Malone took a high sticking penalty, and Patric Hornqvist found the back of the net just 22 seconds into the powerplay. The goal was reviewed, looking for a possible kicking motion, but eventually the goal stood.

The game seemed destined for OT, but with just over a minute left, David Legwand pounded one through JS Giguere’s legs, and into the net. The defense did little to stop Legwand from getting to the front of the net and scoring, but Giguere needs to stop that. It was a weak goal all around.

Paul Gaustad added an empty netter, and Colorado is now solely in last place in the NHL. I don’t really have an explanation for it. There defense is bad, but not THIS bad. Games are tough to watch.

The Avs will try and get back on track, Friday against Detroit. The game starts at 7 p.m. Mountain time.

In a completely different game than the 6-5 thriller earlier in the year, it was Tyson Barrie scoring the first goal of the game, in overtime, to give Colorado the victory.

Photo from

Photo from

Didn’t get a chance to watch the game, but it’s tough to be upset about that. Yes the Avs picked up 2 points, but 0-0 games are never THAT fun to watch. The hero of the game has to be Semyon Varlamov, who stopped all 34 shots and picked up his third shutout of the season.

Both Varlamov and Pekka Rinne were fantastic. Rinne may have had the play of the game, when late in the first period PA Parenteau and Matt Duchene had a 2 on 1. Parenteau threw a great saucer pass (yawn) to Duchene who wristed a shot destined for the back of the net, but Rinne sprawled across and got his blocker on it to keep the game scoreless.

The goal was an innocent looking play. Parenteau brought the puck into the Preds zone, eventually dropped it back to Zanon who put a one timer on net, which is rare enough alone, but Rinne couldn’t hold the rebound and Barrie had a near empty net for the game winner. Why they ever sent him back in the minors in the first place is unreal. He’s here to stay now.

Just over 2 days until the trade deadline, and no moves for the Avs yet. I’ll be disappointed if that doesn’t change between now and Wednesday. Colorado needs to make some moves, so when healthy players return, they don’t have to resort to sending Barrie, or someone else down to Lake Erie again.

Colorado’s next game is Monday against the Red Wings. The game starts at 5:30 p.m. Mountain time.

I thought it was going to be tough for the Avs to come out and have play strong after fighting hard down the stretch only to come up short. That combined with this being the last game of the season had all the makings of a blowout, and that is exactly what happened.

I did not get a chance to watch the game, but after seeing the score it is tough to say I wish I would have watched. Nashville got the scoring started three minutes into the game when David Legwand beat Giguere, glove side. Not much of a surprise, because Giguere is 100% positioning, and as long as the shot is not at a spot he already occupies and it on net, it’s going in.

I give the Avs some credit for bouncing back though. Matt Duchene scooped up a juicy rebound and knocked it in. Duchene had a very rough season, but at least he can go out on a high note. It was an easy goal because Nashville goalie Anders Lindback didn’t know where the puck was, but it was a solid play from the whole team to get the puck into the net. Unfortunately for the Avs, it was all downhill from there.

The Preds scored five unanswered goals. From what I’ve seen, most of them were soft. After Nashville scored with a second left in the first period to make it 3-1, I would imagine the Avs called it a night. It was a meaningless game, their hopes had just been deflated, and the motion of a slapshot could affect their golf swings tomorrow. If the Avs wouldn’t have gave away their jerseys at the end of the game, I’m pretty sure the final horn would have sounded into an empty Pepsi Center.

The offseason will be filled with a lot of questions and excitement for Avs fans. What kind of contracts will Duchene and O’Reilly get? How much will Erik Johnson get? How much cap room will Colorado have after resigning most of their free agents? Will players like Jay McClement and Cody McLeod be wearing an Avs sweater next fall? Will the Avs make a run at a big free agent this summer, someone like Zach Parise, Alex Semin, or Ryan Suter? And lastly, has Milan Hejduk played his final game in the NHL? All of these questions, and many more will be answered in the coming months. It will be very interesting to see what direction the Avs go this summer.

I will hopefully keep the blog updated over the summer about all of the Avs signing, trades, draft picks etc. It will be an exciting time for Avs fans. Now begins the stretch of 6 months without Avs hockey, but the 2012 playoffs will be fun for hockey fans everywhere.

Thanks for reading this year, and I hope you continue to check in for Avs info over the summer, but definitely with the start of what should be a thrilling Avalanche season starting in October.

This is a tough loss to take tonight, because the Avs really could have made up some ground in the Western Conference with a win tonight, and given all of their opportunities in the third period, it is a tough loss.

Much like Steve Downie, Jamie McGinn had a slow start with the Avs but has recently caught fire. He opened the scoring tonight only 1:14 into the game. The credit goes to David Jones however who made a nice move at the blue line, and then got the pass to McGinn right in front of the net, and he was able to pound it home.

But talk about not responding well…the Avs let in two goals in the next 6 minutes to give up their early lead. I missed the first period, but since the box score says Mike Fisher scores, and his shot was a wrist shot practically from the blue line, I think it is safe to say it was a pretty weak goal. Without being able to see more than 1 angle, I have no clue why Varlamov didn’t stop it.

The other Nashville goal went to Brandon Yip. But I don’t want to hear that the Avs should not have put him on waivers, he has been a healthy scratch lately for Nashville too. He tipped a slapshot right in front of the net for the goal. Nothing Varlamov could have done about it, and after this goal, Varly settled in quite nicely.

Honestly, even though the Avs were out shot 14-22 over the last 2 periods, I thought they held their own as far as getting chances. Both teams really had their opportunities to get on the board, but both goalies were solid.

The Preds went up 3-1 will less than a minute remaining in the second period, and it was one of the few times all year where Landeskog has made a bad decision. He circled around the Avs net, and tried to make a cross ice pass in front of the net and Matt Halischuk deflected the pass right to Sergei Kostitsyn in the slot with all day, and fired one past Varlamov. I thought that was the game right there, but I didn’t realize how costly that goal turned out to be.

I expected the Avs to get a goal in the last 10 minutes of the 3rd, but not really challenge for a win, but they came out strong early, and Paul Stastny found the back of the net 5 minutes into the period. The early goal actually game me hope that they could get another goal, and at least send the game to OT, but they just could not capitalize.

Cody McLeod rocketed a wrist shot off the crossbar, which then bounced off of Pekka Rinne’s back and towards the goal, but he was able to stop the puck before it crossed the line. Later in the period, Ryan O’Reilly’s shot was tipped and rang off the crossbar again. The Avs kept consistent pressure on the Preds over the last 10 minutes, but couldn’t beat Rinne. It was so frustrating because for once they scored early in the third to get back in a game, and had so many chances, but Rinne was solid.

The Preds added an empty netter from Martin Erat with less than a minute left to ice the game. Two points down the drain for the Avs. But at least Los Angeles and Anaheim lost as well, not to mention both Phoenix and Dallas are currently losing in the third period. But with all these teams not picking up any points tonight, I would have loved to see the Avs at least get 1.

The Avs are back to division games when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at Pepsi Center. The game starts at 1 p.m. Mountain time.