Archive for the ‘Avs vs. Pittsburgh Penguins’ Category


Patrick Roy fell one game short of setting the NHL record for most wins to start a season, but Colorado bounced back and continued to win behind great goaltending.
051
Colorado had their 6 game win streak broken by the Detroit Red Wings last Thursday, by a score of 4-2. Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson absolutely stole the show, stopping 38-40 shots en route to the win. I don’t want to take anything away from Gustavsson, but Colorado missed a number of point blank chances. Posts were hit, nets were missed, shots were fanned, and it cost Colorado the victory. I have not seen so many missed shots, since watching LeBron in any clutch situation. Colorado outplayed Detroit, but couldn’t finish. Let’s move on.

And the Avs were able to move on, quickly forgetting the loss, but it helped that they played a Buffalo team that looks to contend for the first overall pick in next year’s draft. The Avs clearly won the first two periods of that game, but Buffalo fought back in the third, adding a tally just over a minute into the final period. From there, Buffalo controlled the play offensively. Obviously part of that is Colorado not wanting to take any chances and make a silly mistake up by two, but the third period of the game looked like a Joe Sacco coached team. They were playing not to lose in the third, rather than to win. Fortunately for the Avs, JS Giguere was sharp, and secured the two points.

Finally, the come to the performance of the Avs season so far, as Colorado took on offensive juggernaut Pittsburgh. Coach Roy made an interesting move, and started Giguere for the second straight game, but it paid off. I questioned the move, as Pittsburgh is all about puck movement, and striking quickly, while Giguere struggles laterally, and more plays the angles, but Patrick Roy sure knows his goalies.

Colorado gave Pittsburgh SEVEN, yes seven powerplays. They could not solve Giguere. All that Giguere needed was a second period goal from Gabe Landeskog, who scored just seven seconds after stepping out of the penalty box for a hooking penalty.

The Avs spent the third period, much like the Buffalo game, trying to protect the lead, rather than add to it. Once again, that strategy paid off, as once again, JS Giguere stood on his head.

Colorado moves to 8-1 on the season, and will head back to Colorado to take on the Hurricanes on Friday.


As soon as I heard Giguere was starting tonight, I knew the Avs had no chance. Against one of the most talented teams in the NHL, it makes no sense to start a goalie that almost never makes a save that when the puck would not hit him anyway. AWFUL decision by Sacco.

The Avs had a decent start to the game tonight, but didn’t generate many chances. They were holding their own with the Pens for about eight mintues until Aaron Asham blasted a slapper past Giguere’s glove. It was pretty weak defense for the Avs who let Asham skate right to the faceoff circle despite having even numbers in their zone. It was a weak goal all around, and it certainly opened the floodgates.

Less than a minute and a half later the Penguins added another one for good measure. This time it was Deryk Engelland who tipped a puck perfectly into the top left corner. No goalie can make that stop, and it was a good example of how deeply skilled this Penguins team is.

At this point in time, I don’t think there was an Avs fan out there who thought they had a chance in the game tonight. Pittsburgh is too good defensively and had too much momentum for the Avs to come back. But the Avs did manage to end the period only down by two, which led me to believe they would put up a fight tonight.

Nope.

The Penguins came out in the second and continued the onslaught. Five minutes into the period, Evgeni Malkin found a rebound and was easily able to put the puck into the net. Giguere once again gave up on a play when he saw Malkin get the puck. No dive back, not even a stick reach back, he simply gave Malkin an open net to shoot at. It happened so quickly, and the angle left such an open net that it would have been a nearly impossible save, but I would like to see some effort from Giguere.

It is unbelievable how the fans continue to give Giguere a pass for every bad game he has, and won’t get off of Varlamov’s back for letting in a goal. The one thing I like about Varlamov is I know he would have at least challenged Malkin to make a save.

The Pens were not finished. Right as a powerplay expired for the Avs, Zbynek Michalek slipped the puck past an outreaching Erik Johnson to Richard Park who came out of the penalty box for a breakaway goal. Once again, Giguere has no chance at ever stopping a breakaway because he just stands in the crease. Including the shootouts he has been in and all the breakaways in games (probably around 5 or 6) I think he has actually stopped 1. So roughly 1 for 12. No exaggeration here when I say I could do that.

The third period was rather forgettable for the Avs. For the most part they just went through the motions and tried not to get blown out. The Avs did get on the board, when Matt Hunwick found the puck on a bit of a scramble and backhanded it into the goal. It was nice to see the Avs finally get the puck into the net after 5+ periods of scoreless hockey. It was a bit like watching the lottery drawing where you get the first 5 numbers wrong, but nail that sixth one- it’s nice I guess, but it does not really mean anything.

Matt Duchene is starting to worry me with his recent play and disappointing 3rd season


Most of the period was filled with the Avs missed chances and not capitalizing on powerplay opportunities. The Avs made a desperate move when they pulled Giguere with 3:49 seconds left in the game, and was in and out of the net until there was 2:40 left when he finally was kept off the ice because there were no stops in play. The Penguins quickly capitalized when Steve Sullivan found the empty net.

The Avs have now lost 2 in a row and have to travel to go play the 2nd half of a back to back in Minnesota. Given the Avs season long performance within the division and in back to back games, it easily could be 3 losses in a row, which would really hamper their playoff chances. Safe to say the Avs need another 4 or 5 game win streak to get back into the thick of the race.

Other thoughts:

-Since coming back from injury, Matt Duchene has been non existent in most of the games. He is starting to make me think he will not be the player everyone thought he would be. Just look at what Tavares and Evander Kane are doing compared to Duchene. It has me a bit worried.

-Jamie McGinn was another non factor tonight. Still give him the benefit of the doubt, but not for too much longer.

-The home and home series with the Wild could determine if the Avs make the playoffs. They need 4 points in the next 2 games.

The Avs next game is Sunday against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The game starts at 5 p.m. Mountain time.


I can honestly say I have not been this upset with the Avs in a long time, and maybe even ever. The game had all the makings of a great game. Highlight reel goals, big saves, glass breaking, and the Avs had a 3-1 lead, and were looking great. I wish I could have been in the locker room after the game to see how Hejduk is responding to tonight’s game and his captaincy.

Before I get to the game, I will say that I am happy for Hejduk. I think he can be a very good captain, but I do wonder if he is vocal enough in the locker room to be effective.

Boy, did the Avs look good in the first period. Jay McClement had a goal, which was not pretty, but a very good start against a good Pittsburgh team. Then Matt Duchene has an unreal goal. Maybe better than his one in Dallas. Watch it below. It really is unreal how smooth it is. Pittsburgh scored a good goal later in the first, and how do the Avs respond? David Jones makes a great play and scores just over a minute later, and with only 15 seconds left in the period. I was thinking that this Hejduk captain move was the best move the team could have made. Well, sure was wrong…..for now.

There is no reason for the Avs to give up 5 unanswered goals. None. I don’t care if Pittsburgh is a great team, decent teams just don’t let that happen. Let me throw some truth at you: Semyon Varlamov has been awful this year. I know he had a good road trip to start the year, but his stats are Brian Elliott/Peter Budaj worthy. 3.08 GAA and .897 save percentage. And I’m pretty sure that is not including tonight’s game. I honestly feel bad for him. Watching him, you can just tell that he has no confidence out there. This is another reason why the Avs should have a full time goalie coach.

Honestly, I think a bigger factor in his poor play than people think, is the KHL plane crash. Varlamov grew up in the Lokomotiv organization, and he lost many, many friends and teammates that day. It has only been just over 2 months. Imagine if you went off to college after high school, and you had many friends and classmates than went to a different college. Imagine a lot of them dying in some unexpected way. Would you get over it in 3 months? No, is the quick answer.

But here is something you may not know about the situation. Varlamov was almost on that plane. If the Avs had not traded for him, he was going back to the KHL to play on that team. Put all those factors together, along with the high stress job he has, and I can’t help but think he is going through a very rough time in his life, and that it has to be affecting him. I don’t really know the situation, but I think the best thing for him, and the team is to give Giguere 4 or 5 starts in a row.

Back to the game though. First off, could the VS. team have been more in favor for the Pens? They did say nice things about some Avs players, but my goodness for a while there I thought I was in Pittsburgh. It was one of the more unprofessional broadcasting games I have ever seen.

That, along with the fact that the powerplays were essentially 7-1 in favor of the Pens put it over top. Technically, it was 7-2, but the second Pens penalty was called with 10 seconds left in the game. I’m not saying that the Avs were not deserving of the penalties, because for the most part they were, and that the Pens were doing a good job drawing penalties, but when the number is 7-1 it definitely makes me question the refs, and not just with the Avs, but any game.


Talk about disappointing. The Avs are now officially under .500 and throwing out the outlier that was the 5 game road trip, that Avs are 3-9-1. That is awful. If the Avs don’t win Thursday against Minnesota, or Friday against Dallas, I think Sacco will be fired. The Avs can’t wait much longer with so much riding on this season, by not having a first round pick. Certainly if the don’t win those two games, and then lose Monday to San Jose, Sacco will be gone. That move must be made.

The Avs next game is Thursday against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul. It starts at 6 p.m. Mountain time.