I did get to watch the game after all, and I'm glad I did. The Avs AHL team looked really good against the Rangers, and the 4-3 OT win was a heck of a lot of fun to watch. It was physical (lots of hitting by both teams) and contentious (Cody McLeod fought with Brandon Dubinsky and Ian Laperriere fought with Ryan Hollweg). There was a lot of back and forth action, and both goaltenders were sharp (that Henrik Lundqvist is a hell of a goalie).
I thought the Avalanche youngsters played well in the game. As I saw it, TJ Hensick (5 shots) was the standout among the rookies. I think that was his best game so far. McLeod had his first NHL fight, and was sticking up for teammates in his limited opportunity (he only had 12 shifts). David Jones had just 11 shifts but got some early PP time and recorded a couple of hits.
The "vets" looked terrific as well. Wojtek Wolski looked much more comfortable on the Stastny line than Andrew Brunette did the night before. Milan Hejduk was great, Jeff Finger was terrific, John-Michael Liles looked strong in both ends of the ice. And, of course, Peter Budaj was steady in the crease. I can't really think of one Colorado player who didn't have a good night. It gives me a lot of hope that this team can become really, really good when they get Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth back.
The line report is up. I basically went with how Altitude had it listed, but they were kind of a mess all night (partly due to a large number of penalties). The 1st and 3rd lines were generally consistent, but the 2nd and 4th lines were not at all. If you look at the shift chart, you'll see that Q generally was doing that thing where he pairs up 2 players and rotates in a 3rd. Hlinka and Svatos were often together, as were Hensick and Jones, with Brunette and McLeod shuffling around.
- The Avalanche improved to 3-0 against the Atlantic Division. All 3 wins were by 1 goal.
- Jeff Finger led both teams with 6 hits.
The Avalanche host the Canucks on Sunday. The teams are currently tied with Minnesota for 1st place in the NW.
A few years ago, my wife gave me an awesome Christmas present - a trip to the All-Star game in Tampa. I flew down a couple of nights before the game. My flight had a stop in Pittsburgh, where, to my surprise, Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka got on the plane. Jagr ended up sitting down right behind me. I'm not the kind of guy to bug anyone for an autograph, so I left both of them alone (Straka gave me a funny look anyway, perhaps because I was wearing a Senators jersey). I did, however, maneuver slightly so that I walked off the plane with Jagr. Two friends of mine who were also going to the game were picking me up, and I thought it would be cool for them to see me walk off the plane next to (at that time) the greatest player in the world.
Unfortunately, no one was waiting for me. Both friends were delayed by bad weather (the same weather that no doubt had bumped Jagr and Straka to my flight). When they finally arrived, the players were long gone. To this day, neither of them believe my story.