Archive for the ‘Avs vs. St. Louis Blues’ Category

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 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.

St. Louis jumped out to a 3-0 lead Tuesday in St. Louis, and Colorado was unable to get back in the game, ultimately falling, 3-1.

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No one is hotter than Cody McLeod for the Avalanche, who added his fifth goal in as many games, but the Avs were unable to add to that, giving St. Louis a crucial two points, and a spot in the playoffs.

I couldn’t watch the game, but a couple deflections in front, and the defense leaving goalie Semyon Varlamov out to dry propelled St. Louis to victory.

Former Av Chris Stewart netted the first goal of the game on the powerplay with a deflection from the slot. The Blues came out in the second period and put the game out of reach with a couple of goals in the first 5+ minutes. On the powerplay it was Patrick Berglund, again deflecting the puck past Varlamov, and Andy McDonald added the final Blues goal as he easily made his way to the front of the net and slipped it under Varlamov’s right pad.

McLeod added a snipe from left side of the slot late in the second, but the Avs couldn’t carry the momentum into the third, and lost by two.

Actually, it was an important loss for Colorado, and due to how other games have played out, Colorado appears to be a near lock for having at worst the third pick in the draft.

The Avs continue the quest for the #1 pick Friday, against the Coyotes in Phoenix. The game starts at 8 p.m. Mountain time.

On Sunday for the 8th straight time, Colorado beat St. Louis on home ice, by a score of 5-3

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For a team that has been clearly better than Colorado over the past couple of seasons, the Avs almost always find a way to put a good game together against St. Louis. The Avs opened the scoring when Jamie McGinn “deflected” the Aaron Palushaj pass off his skate and into the net. The goal was reviewed, but it is a legal play to turn your skate to deflect the puck, as long as there is no kicking motion.

Here’s something I don’t understand; why is Aaron Palushaj not in the lineup every night? Good things happen when he is on the ice. I’m almost positive the Avs have a better record when he is in the lineup. 9 points in 24 games for Palushaj, which in my opinion, is decent depth scoring for the role he’s getting.

David Backes of St. Louis tied things up less than a minute later when Jay Bouwmeester found him wide open in the slot, and easily wristed a forehand over JS Giguere’s glove. What was comical about the play was Mr. Character himself decided to point to other players to hustle back and cover Backes, rather than do it himself.

But with less than a minute to play in the first Cody McLeod scored his fourth goal in as many games after a Stefan Elliott backhand glanced off him and past Brian Elliott. Jamie McGinn added a powerplay goal early in the second for Colorado after David Perron of St. Louis sent him a perfect pass in the slot. O’Reilly was hounding Perron’s back after he lost the puck to Perron, but Perron needs to be smarter than that for St. Louis.

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About three and a half minutes later, Jaden Schwartz slapped a rocket through Giguere’s legs from the top of the left circle. St. Louis third goal (later in the game) was just as weak, as Kevin Shattenkirk wristed a shot from the blue line that found its way in. There was traffic in front, but you need to stop those kinds of shots. If Varlamov would’ve let the Schwartz slapper and the Shattenkirk wrister in, everyone would be on Varlamov’s case, but for some reason, time after time people give Giguere the benefit of the doubt. But Giguere did stop 29 of 32 in the game.

The goal of the game belonged to Matt Duchene, who kept a Jordan Leopold clearing attempt in the Blues zone, then worked his way around Leopold on the goal line, and roofed the puck over Elliott’s sholder from no more than a foot in front of the goal line. Great stuff from Duchene.

In the third, Shattenkirk added his goal, but 4 minutes later Chuck Kobasew added an insurance marker for Colorado down the stretch after scoring from another impossible angle like Duchene, but this time it went through Jake Allen’s legs, who came in to replace Elliott after the fourth Avs goal.

It’s just a shame this team couldn’t get things going when they still had a shot at the playoffs.

Colorado will finish the home and home series with St. Louis on Tuesday in the show me state. The game starts at 6 p.m. Mountain time.

I unfortunately was not able to watch the game tonight, and after looking at the box score, it looks like I missed a great game. Semyon Varlamov looks to have carried the Avs tonight, stopped 41-44 in over 60 minutes of play. But tonight’s Avs star has to be Erik Johnson. Scoring a goal against your former team, especially after having only 1 goal this year, has to be sweet.

I really wish I could have watched this game, if for no other reason than two see Varlamov and Johnson shine. I certainly was not expecting any points tonight, so I will gladly take 1 and run out of St. Louis.

I don’t think having defenseman scoring all of the team’s goals on slapshots from the point happens very often, but it did tonight. Exactly half way through the first period, David Van Der Gulik won a offensive zone faceoff back to Shane O’Brien, who slapped one past former Av Brian Elliott, on the glove side. To get the first goal after playing the night before is huge. That alone probably saved the Avs from losing in regulation.

Of course, in typical Avs fashion, Jay McClement took a penalty less than two minutes later. It is bad enough to take a penalty, but when your best penalty killer takes the penalty, it really puts the rest of the team in a tough spot. The Blues took advantage when David Perron banged the puck in, through Varlamov’s 5 hole. I just realized that without knowing hockey at all, that last sentence probably sounds incredibly dirty.

St. Louis added another powerplay goal four minutes later on a 5-3. Certainly Varlamov cannot be blamed for this one. It’s really tough to put the blame on anyone, except Kobasew and O’Byrne, who were in the penalty box. At least the Avs killed off the rest of O’Byrne’s penalty to minimize the damage.

But for the third time in four periods, the Avs scored a late goal and on the powerplay! I don’t know what is harder to believe, the Avs scoring on a powerplay, or the fact that they actually drew a penalty.

But this bomb was from Erik Johnson. Gotta love it. Earlier in the day, I suddenly got the feeling the Johnson was going to find the back of the net tonight, and what do you know–he did!

I can’t say yet, because I have not seen the highlights, but I would imagine that Varlamov carried the Avs over the next two periods. Anytime one team more than doubles the other teams shots on goal, and the teams are still tied after 3 periods, it is probably safe to say that Varlamov did a bit of standing on his head.

I have stuck with my opinion that Varlamov should be this team’s starter, and nights like tonight give me hope that it can still happen.

The OT goal just looked like a good tip. Most of those are nearly impossible to stop if they do not just hit the goalie’s equipment, and it appeared to be a nice tip, over the glove. From Varlamov’s reaction, it looked like he didn’t know what even happened. Sometimes the other team just makes a nice play and you have to give them credit.

There is good news and bad news around the NHL for the Avs. The Kings only got 1 point, and the Wild lost to the lowly Blue Jackets, but The Coyotes shut out the Blackhawks (who have lost 8 in a row now) and the Flames are currently beating the Canucks. It looks like the Avs will end the night 10th in the conference.

There is worse news, and that is the Avs have played more games than anyone in the western conference. The Avs next game is Wednesday, which gives Dallas the potential for 4 points before the Avs play again, and Calgary, Minnesota, Phoenix, and Los Angeles 2 potential points all before the Avs play again on Wednesday. So it will be very interesting to see where exactly the Avs are in the standings come Wednesday night.

The Avs next game is Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks in British Columbia. The game starts at 8 p.m. Mountain time.

What a horrible game tonight. The Avs made the Blues look like an All-Star team. I think the team’s conditioning might be a factor. The game against the Jets was the second half of a back to back and they looked slow and tired, and now tonight they looked slow and tired. It’s tough to win all 4 games on a road trip when you are facing such good teams, but I would have liked to see a better effort.

About the only good thing for the Avs tonight was that Ryan Wilson is a little closer to returning back to the ice.

The game started off bad quickly, when less than 4 minutes in, Kyle Quincy made a terrible turnover right in front of his own net that led to an easy goal for the Blues. It was right then I thought the Avs were going to lose. When you’re playing a team with the best home record in the NHL, coming off of playing the day before, you just have to get that first goal. Even if you don’t, at least make St. Louis work for it, instead of gift wrapping it for them.

Only having 2 shots in the whole first period is just unacceptable. The Avs needed to come out hungry for a win, hungry to sweep the road trip, but they came out slow, tired, and had little interest in the game. The Blues took advantage later in the period and Kevin Shattenkirk scored one low glove at the end of a powerplay.

Speaking of powerplays, it’s awful hard to win when you take 8 penalties. That is a direct relationship to not being in good enough shape. Instead of using their bodies and moving their feet, the Avs were using their sticks and taking terrible penalties.

Another terrible decision was starting Giguere. I know he didn’t play that bad, but when you have a hot goalie like Varlamov who had 3 days of rest before playing yesterday, then shut out the Chicago Blackhawks, he deserves to start the game. Terrible decision by Sacco.

It was not just the goaltending though. Having only 15 shots in 60 minutes of play is unacceptable. 1 shot every 4 minutes, that’s a joke!

The Blues added 2 powerplay goals early in the 2nd, and the game was quickly out of reach. It was really an ugly, ugly game for the Avs. There are some other points I want to bring up.

The Avs did not score on the powerplay, going 0-4, which was a big reason why they lost tonight. They had a chance in the first period get score a powerplay goal and get back into the game, but they didn’t even generate a decent chance. Their powerplay has looked awful.

I really missed Kevin Shattenkirk tonight. It was the first time since the trade where doubts started to creep into my mind. Maybe Duncan Siemens will be great down the line, but it was just hard to watch the game that Shattenkirk had. Maybe Stefan Elliott or Tyson Barrie will turn out to be the next Shattenkirk, or Liles, but tonight it was a little disheartening.

It was a terrible night for the Avs in St. Louis, but also around the rest of the NHL. Almost every team that the Avs would want to lose, won today, so the Avs will finish the night in 10th.

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

Well, the Avs now have a bit of a goalie controversy, at least in my mind. JS Giguere is getting the job done right now, but I think with the price we paid for Varlamov, it is a little silly to have him be the backup.

Seven in a row at home, tying a franchise record, is very impressive, but this game was not without faults. But to start with the positives, Paul Stastny seems to be heating up. I honestly don’t think it is any coincidence that as his game has improved, so has the Avs game. Also, I have to give credit to Matt Hunwick on the Stastny goal, because he made a very nice pass to Stastny’s stick.

Here is a sentence I thought I would never type: In the last 3 games, the Avs leading goal scorer is Cody McLeod. I honestly thought I had a better chance of scoring two goals for the Avs this year. I don’t know if you could ask for two easier goals, one where to goalie makes zero attempt to stop the puck, and the other where he passes it right to you in front of the net, but I’ll take them any way I can get them.

And of course, always nice to score a game winner against your former team, which is exactly what Jay McClement did. Sure it barely crossed the line, but I like to think that McClement simply didn’t want to waste any energy. The further and further away we get from that trade, the more you have to like it.

There were some major problems I noticed in the game, and the Avs probably didn’t deserve to win this one. To start, the Avs simply were outplayed. They scored 2 early goals, and other than that, they had very little offense. The Blues dominated the game, and most of the time was spent in the Avs zone.

They had 1 shot in the third period. I believe after the last game, I said the Avs need to learn how to close out games, and the game against the Blues only confirmed my belief. 1 shot! Really? That simply cannot continue to happen, because eventually the goalies will not be able to bail the team out.

And, the Avs scored 2 fluke goals, especially with the McLeod goal, and possibly the McClement goal. While the offense has improved during the month of December, the reason why they are winning games right now is because in the month of December, they opposing team has only scored more than 2 goals, once, at Pepsi Center. So while I will take any win, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

The Avs next game is Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (My favorite Eastern Conference team!) at Pepsi Center. The game starts at 7 p.m. Come out and watch the Avs go for the franchise record for consecutive home wins.