Archive for the ‘Avs vs. Phoenix Coyotes’ 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.


Phoenix is such a unique team, that games at arena always wind up being quirky. Certainly that was the case in Thursday night’s game, with Colorado skating off the ice as 4-3 winners in overtime.
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The first period was awful. Not only was Colorado severely outplayed, but it was one of the most boring periods of hockey that I have watched in a long time. It was like the first quarter of an NBA game. There were no goals, no great chances, and a lot of boring neutral zone play from the Coyotes.

As awful as the first period was, the second and third were very entertaining. Right off the bat John Mitchell netted a goal 32 seconds into the period. The Avs drew a penalty just seven seconds earlier, and immediately threw out Nathan MacKinnon on the opening powerplay faceoff. I thought that was a terrible decision, and MacKinnon did lose the draw, but good forechecking and a couple bounces, and a rebound off a MacKinnon shot, brought the puck right in front of the net and Mitchell lifted it over the glove of notorious flopper Mike Smith.

The offensively challenged Coyotes found themselves in a 2-0 hole after “Mr. Clean” Andre Benoit fired a slapper from the point that rang off the post, off of Mike Smith’s back, and across the goal line.

That should have been the game. Phoenix can’t play the trap down by two, opening up the ice for Colorado, but a fluke goal from Michael Stone with about three minutes left in the period, meant that the third was going to be a tightly fought period.

The Coyotes had a goal waived off early in the third, thanks to the “intent to blow the whistle” rule. Phoenix (of course) was not pleased, but I thought the whistle was late and the puck was under Varlamov’s left pad for a looong time.

Not long after, another Phoenix goal was waived off, this time due to goalie interference. While the intent to blow call was the correct call, I definitely think this one could be argued either way. If I was a Phoenix fan, I would be furious with the call. It looked like Colorado defenseman Jan Hejda bumbed David Moss into Varlamov, but as an Avs fan, sometimes your team gets the breaks.

Phoenix, in a rage of anger, came back to take the lead on Martin Hanzal and Antoine Vermette goals, leaving the Avs down 3-2 with 5:54 left in the third. Everyone could feel it coming. When you have questionable calls against your team, it can either make of break the rest of the game. The Coyotes focused that anger on scoring, and it paid off.

Once the Coyotes took the lead, I gave Colorado a -10% chance of tying the game. Never tell Cody McLeod the odds. He found a rebound in front, and managed to tie it with 3:14 left in the game. His second goal since his baby Emma was born.

The Yotes took a horrible penalty late in the game, with Martin Hanzal going off for charging with 27 seconds left. The Avs couldn’t muster a goal in regulation, and didn’t capitalize on the 4-3 in overtime. Phoenix continued undisciplined play, and Tyson Barrie gave his best sales pitch on a Keith Yandle slash at the 3:25 mark in overtime, giving Colorado a second 4 on 3 powerplay of the extra frame.

It was a different story this time. Ryan O’Reilly got a pass from PA Parenteau in the far circle, and wristed one past Smith for the winner. An in an ironic note, called the win a “character victory” in his postgame interview.

It very well could be the luckiest victory Colorado will have all season, but a win is a win, giving Colorado the most wins in the league, and the fewest losses in the league…yet they remain fourth in the west.

Phoenix scored a couple of quick goals in the first, and Avs fans everywhere were thinking they secured a top 3 overall pick, but Colorado never said die, and came back to win 5-4 in the shootout.

Photo from

Photo from

David Schlemko got the scoring started less than three and a half minutes into the game on a wrister from the slot. Giguere was borderline in the crease, and Paul Bissonette was standing to Giguere’s right and prevented him from moving, giving Schlemko a yawning net. Avs fans were not happy, but I thought it was a legit goal. Antoine Vermette made it 2-0 for Phoenix at the 8:45 mark, but then the Avs flipped the switch and controlled the game.

Stefan Elliott netted his first of the year to make it 2-1, and PA Parenteau slapped a rocket from the point on the powerplay, over goalie Mike Smith’s glove to tie things up. Exactly a minute later, still in the first period, Patrick Bordeleau gave the Avs the lead- should I even have to explain the type of goal it was?

The second period was actually quite boring compared to the first, but things heated up late when Rob Klinkhammer tied the game with under 5 minutes left on the powerplay. I can’t be upset, because Klinkhammer is one of the best names I’ve ever seen. Well that, and Mr. Character earned some bucks with a goal in the last minute of play. Not a great goal for Phoenix to let up, especially considering it wasn’t a great angle, but I wasn’t complaining.

The third, much like the second, wasn’t that great. There were some quality chances, Duchene had a sweet spin-o-rama, but ultimately it was Phoenix with the only goal in the period to send the game to OT. They also ran over Giguere, literally, knocking him out of the game.

The Yotes controlled overtime, especially the last minute, but Colorado got it to the shootout, and were perfect. Duchene beat Smith on a 5-hole shot, Parenteau beat Smith over the glove, and Varlamov stoned both Coyotes shooters to give the Avs the win.

Colorado’s last game (maybe Milan Hejduk’s too) will take place on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. The game starts at 5:30 p.m. Mountain time.

On the second night of back to back games for the Avalanche, Colorado left their game in Denver and were shut out by Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes.

Photo from

Photo from

The game got off to an ominous start, when less than two minutes in, Mikkel Boedker scored on a very weak goal from a bad angle. Boedker raced into the Avs zone on the right wing, and just threw a wrist shot on net from just inside the faceoff circle and beat Semyon Varlamov far side. Varly was quickly moving to the post because Boedker was flying in, and I think the shot surprised him, and just couldn’t get his blocker there in time. Bad goal.

The second period is where the game got out of hand. Martin Hanzal made it 2-0 just 3:06 into the period on a 2-0 breakaway. That is not a typo, it was just that bad of a line change for the Avs. When people look at Varlamov’s stats, they look very pedestrian, but he has to put up with this garbage night in and night out. He also made a nice save on a breakaway later in the game too.

Boyd Gordon made a 3-0 about 4 minutes later after sloppy play from the Avs allowed Phoenix to keep the puck in the zone. Gordon was in the far corner, threw it to the front of the net, had it bounce off the inside of Varlamov’s stick, and into the back of the net. I had never seen that happen before, it was just a lucky break for the Yotes.

Shane Doan finished the scoring with a tap in right in front of the net. Matt Duchene was unable to get back in time and tie up Doan, and he was able to slide it right in. Duchene has been struggling defensively of late, the only explanation I have is the rest of the team is starting to rub off on him.

The loss brings that Avs record to 4-13-2 with Ryan O’Reilly in the lineup. Good thing they matched that overpriced offer sheet.

The Avs next will battle the Flames, Monday at the Pepsi Center, in what should be an important match up for the #1 overall pick in this June’s draft.

After four days off, the Avs were back in action and looking solid, though ultimately falling in overtime 3-2.

Photo from

Photo from

Colorado came out of the gate strong in the first period. They were controlling play, they were getting decent chances, but in typical Avalanche fashion it was Phoenix who came up with the first goal. Despite stopping 27-30, it would be one that Varlamov would want back. The goal was a Shane Doan wraparound that beat Varlamov 5-hole. While Varlamov has been solid, a theme of him allowing weak first goals is becoming all too common.

In another theme, the Avs powerplay is a joke. For what feels like the billionth straight game, the opponent scores early, then takes a quick penalty giving the Avs a chance to tie it back up. The penalty came less than 2 minutes later, and in another re-occuring theme, the Avs had an awful powerplay. Shouldn’t they have worked on this during their 4 day break?

And in yet another re-occuring theme, the Avs gave up another minute of a 5-3 powerplay for the opposition, in the second period. Once again, they did a good job killing it off, but they can’t continue to do that! The Avs actually dominated the second- they came out early, and got a goal from Mark Olver…but credit has to go to Milan Hejduk, who circled down low, took a big hit, stuck with the puck and found Olver in the high slot for a slapper that beat Mike Smith over the blocker.

Then 3 minutes later, in one final re-occuring theme, Matt Duchene had a breakaway…but this time he scored! He made a decent move, but I have no clue what Mike Smith was thinking, and just flopped around in goal, and Duchene slid it right underneath him.

Palushaj! Photo from

Palushaj! Photo from

The Avs were holding their own in the third, when Varlamov let in another soft goal for Phoenix to tie it up. This time it was Oliver Ekman-Larsson (What did I say about him?) who took a shot from a bad angle, that was not even going on net, but deflected off Varlamov’s arm, and into the net.

Colorado still had their chances to win, as Phoenix took a penalty with 2:26 left in the third, and then another one with just 19 seconds left in the third, the Avs scored on neither. Seriously, I should throw some skates and pads on, because I could be just as effective as those professionals right now on the powerplay.

And because when it rains it pours, the overtime goal for the Coyotes had the puck (which was being cleared) bounce off the ref, right to Kyle Chipchura, who quickly found a wide open Shane Doan in the slot who then beat Varlamov high glove. That one was not Varalmov’s fault.

Despite the loss, I saw a lot of things I liked:

Tyson Barrie had a very good game. He was aggressive with the puck, and took some quality shots from the point on the powerplay.

Aaron Palushaj was solid. Made some nice passes out there, looked like he had a decent shot. But maybe I just like players who have a last name that ends in “j” (See Budaj, Peter).

Duchene continues to be rock solid. Nice to see him finally score on one of those breakaways!

I didn’t see the injury, so I don’t know how bad it looked, or what it was on, but apparently Erik Johnson got hurt. That would be a devastating blow, and possibly the knockout punch for the Avs, so fingers crossed that it’s not too serious.

The Avs next game is Thursday against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The game starts at 6 p.m. Mountain time.

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 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.

What an awful game for the Avs. I was really looking forward to watching some good hockey on a day off from school, especially with the Avs playing, but it was so bad, I didn’t even watch the third period. It was an awful game.
I thought Erik Johnson was one of the few bright spots for the Avs today. He has really played well the last few games, and today was no different. Anytime you don’t have a negative +/- when your team loses 6-1, only giving up 1 powerplay goal, you had a pretty good game, and that’s what EJ did.

Oddly enough, the game got off to a pretty good start for the Avs. They had some good chances early and were playing with a lot of energy and tempo. But Paul Stastny took a penalty 5 minutes into the game and Phoenix capitalized with a nice powerplay goal by Gilbert Brule. Nothing Varlamov could have done to stop it.

I thought it was a good sign that the Avs were feeling it today when they came back and scored two minutes later. It was a great play by Jay McClement along the boards, getting the puck to Johnson, and a great tip by Kobasew for the goal. They were controlling the pace and were getting a lot of quality chances, but Mike Smith seems to have the Avs number so far this year.

The Avs had some chances to get a lead in the first, but Smith was solid in net, and the momentum changed to the Coyotes when Shane Doan scored on a breakaway late in the period. That goal was an eye opener for me, because I had been getting used to Varlamov stopping every break away that I no longer was worried when he faced one. That seems like the first one he has let in, during a game, this season.

That goal must have really demoralized the Avs, because they came out pretty flat in the second. Peter Mueller had some nice chances, but I think he still needs to shake off the cobwebs before he starts capitalizing on all of his good chances.

Doan scored again on a deflection, halfway through the period, and the game was over. The Avs seemed to concede that they were not going to win. Phoenix added another goal late in the second to remove any doubt that they were going to lose. Terrible defense by the Avs, as Boyd Gordon was able to get the puck in the high slot and carry it in all the way to the goal.

I will admit that Varlamov should have stopped the 5th goal. It was a weak wrap around, and it’s really not sure how it went in. At that point though, it didn’t really matter. The Coyotes added another goal in the last five minutes of the game, and finally the game ended.

People are going to look at the 6 goals and say that Varlamov had a bad game, and Giguere should be the starter, but aside from the 5th goal, no goalie would stop the other five. The Avs defense was awful today. They are to blame for the loss, and I think that Varlamov should start on Wednesday. I don’t know what it is, but the Avs keep to play better defense with Giguere in net. Maybe it is because they know his is not as athletic and only makes the saves that he should, but the defense seems to let Varlamov down a lot more often.

The Avs missed out on 2 big points today. Most teams in the conference will have a shot at 2 points of their own before the Avs play again, which makes the game on Wednesday very important.

The Avs next game is Wednesday against the Florida Panthers at Pepsi Center. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Mountain time.