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.


Phoenix is such a unique team, that games at Jobing.com 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.
Avs Goal
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.

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.

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

After losing to Detroit in game 7 of the season, Colorado has bounced right back, and won 6 in a row, for the second time this season.
The Avs returned home from the east coast, and faced off against Carolina. Erik Johnson got the scoring started on a nice coast to coast goal, also getting the monkey off his back from last season, where he didn’t have a single one. Another game, another highlight reel goal from Matt Duchene. This time he worked his way from behind the net, spun around turning his back to the goal, worked his way out from behind the goal line, and roofed a wrister. Colorado led the game 4-1 early in the third after another Matt Duchene goal, but Carolina quickly answered and controlled the rest of the period, however Varlamov was solid, and the Avs got the 4-2 win.

Next up are the Jets. Unlike last year, the team showed passion and determination here, coming from behind in the third to win. Jan Hejda blasted a slapper past goalie Al Montoya to tie things up, but credit to Alex Tanguay for setting a nice screen to let Hejda to get to the puck. Later in the period, Gabe Landeskog made a beautiful cross crease pass to Paul Stastny who was able to tap it in for the winner. The Avs were outplayed by Winnipeg, but they fought hard to get 2 points; something you rarely saw out of a Joe Sacco coached team.

The Avs made their way down to Dallas, after a nice four day break, to take on the Stars. Colorado came out strong, and took a 2-0 lead into the third period, but for the first time this year, they had a sloppy period, and let Dallas force OT. Varlamov was well out of position for the first goal (although he was screened heavily), and then Tylet Seguin struck late in the third, which can’t happen in a one goal game. However, Avs fans went to bed happy, after Paul Stastny went toe drag, top shelf for the OT winner.
Twenty four hours later, the Avs were back in Denver retiring Adam Foote’s number, and taking on the Montreal Canadiens. After a scoreless first, Gabe Landeskog gave Colorado the lead on a perfect snapshot from the left circle, beating former Avs great Peter Budaj. Montreal came out in the third and quickly tied things up on the powerplay, but about 5 minutes later, Nathan MacKinnon found a rebound off a Landeskog shot and knocked it top shelf over Budaj’s glove. The Avs never looked back. Ryan O’Reilly added a goal, and PA Parenteau topped it off with an empty netter for the 4-1 win.

Despite all the Avs success, the biggest story of their season happened off the ice. Semyon Varlamov was arrested for a misdemeanor assault charge, and a class 4 felony (the least serious type of felony) for kidnapping his girlfriend. We have not heard Varlamov’s side of the story, but he maintains that he is completely innocent. I’m not really sure what to think, but I will say, right now his girlfriend’s story sounds a little fishy. Her injuries are not that consistent with what she said he did, and the charges are not as serious as what she is saying he did. It’s a bad situation regardless.

On top of that, a few hours later the Avs traded Steve Downie to Philadelphia for Max Talbot. I didn’t like the trade at first, but if having Talbot means MacKinnon doesn’t have to come off the ice for defensive zone faceoffs, I’m for it.

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.
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.

Colorado continued to rip through their early NHL schedule, with a convincing 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals, and avoiding a classic trap game at home, edging out the Dallas Stars on Tuesday 3-2.
Semyon Varlamov returned to Washington for the first time since he was traded to Colorado in the summer of 2011, and backed up a solid 5-1 victory. I feel given that Colorado was playing in Washington, during the government shutdown, that I need to work as many puns into the recap as I can. The Avs just Cruz’d (1) to a 5-1 victory, from beginning to end, controlling the game. Alex Tanguay caught a break in the first, when his pass? deflected off a Washington stick, and between goalie Michal Neuvirth legs. Without a doubt the highlight of the game was Matt Duchene blowing past Karl Alzner for a beautiful goal. Duchene is making these types of goals look commonplace at Avs games, but it really is something special.

From there, Washington just couldn’t make up the deficit (2) as the Avs were able to shut down Washington (3). In the second period, it was Nathan MacKinnon notching his first NHL goal, beating Neuvirth on the powerplay on a feed from Paul Stastny. If MacKinnon keeps his play up, he’s going to challenge incumbent Paul Stastny for the second line center spot (4-ish).

Surprisingly, it was Colorado and not Washington who found one of their players on doing their job in the third period (5), when Erik Johnson was in the penalty box for holding, but Alex Tanguay overcame adversity, and buried a shorthanded (I know there is a joke in there somewhere) goal to give Colorado a 4-0 lead.

Somehow, Washington found a goal in the budget (6) and Eric Fehr was able to yank a shutout away from Varlamov, but Washington couldn’t add to it. At the time, it looked like Washington was proposing a comeback, only to have Jamie McGinn race in and immediately shoot it down, or up…into the left hand corner of the goal, scoring the last of the game to make it a 5-1 final. After a performance like that, they should be calling for new management in Washington (7).

Varlamov for President (8).

Onto the Dallas game, where the Stars were shooting early on, specifically on the breakaway. Ok, ok, that was a stretch, but Rich Peverley did give Dallas an early lead with a breakaway goal, with assists going to the stars of the Dallas team, Tyler Seguin, and Jamie Benn. Two of Dallas’ first five shots were breakaways, but Varlamov was able to stick out his right pad, to deny the other.

Matt Duchene continued his scoring ways, when Sergei Gonchar whiffed on a pass in his own zone, which Duchene grabbed, and quickly launched past Dan Ellis for the goal. And with just 7 seconds left in the first, Jan Hejda was able to pin ball a slap shot off of a couple of Stars, and into the net.

Dallas tied it up in the second on the powerplay, their first powerplay goal in Denver since 2009, but again, it was Matt Duchene who came flying (almost literally) into the Stars zone 3 and a half minutes later, and fired a laser past Ellis’ glove for the 3-2 lead.

The Stars ultimately went out with a bang, or should I say supernova? They came up short, but fought til the very end, winning a faceoff with 1.8 seconds left in the third, and somehow got the puck to Alex Chaisson right in front of the net, for an uncontested point black chance, but Varlamov was a black hole, sucking up the puck, and securing the victory.