Son of Stastny is less than a god, more than a man. Like Hercules was to the Greeks, Paul Stastny is to the hockey world. His power cannot be controlled by mere mortals, nor can his talents be fully comprehended.
In a 6-3 crushing of the Los Angeles Kings last night at the Pepsi Center, Stastny scored two goals and two assists, bringing his total to six points in just two pre-season games. To say he's taken charge of the Avalanche offense would be somewhat of an understatement.
The game itself seemed to follow the pattern of most Avalanche games in recent history---score early then squander the lead in the third period. Stastny scored the only goal of the first period, but the Avs lost the lead early in the second when the Kings tied it on a power play. Then TJ Hensick and Ryan Smyth both scored in the latter half of the same period, growing the Colorado lead to 3-1.
Things looked good early in the third, with a quick goal from Andrew Brunette on the power play to move the Avs up three goals, but within a five minute span Los Angeles had scored two more and the lead was cut to just one goal. This is typical Avalanche territory, unfortunately.
But, just three minutes after the last Los Angeles goal, Son of Stastny and Hensiiick scored a goal a piece---just 17 seconds apart and both on the power play! The Avalanche went on to win 6-3.
Aside from Stastny's amazing dominance at even strength AND with the man advantage, others stood out with great performances. Hensiiick had two goals and an assist. Bruno netted one and had three assists. Super Joe had two helpers and Ryan Smyth scored one of his trademark "ugly goals."
The lines of Smyth-Sakic-Brunette and Hensick-Stastny-Hlinka both seemed superb together, and the various power play combinations were crushing. Four of the six Avalanche goals were scored on the PP.
Peter Budaj had a decent if somewhat disappointing night, stopping 17 of 20 shots, but he was solid in the last twelve minutes of the third period, which sealed the deal and ensured a win for the Avalanche.
Defensively, Scott Hannan had a rough night, ending up at -2 and his pairing with Jeff Finger wasn't as solid as it seemed during training camp. Youngster Kyle Cumiskey and Brett Clark both had good performances, though.
On a uniform note, has anyone else noticed that the Avs wore burgundy on the road against Phoenix and wore white at home against the Kings? I assume this is just a pre-season deal, but I wish it wasn't. The NHL needs to bring back the "home whites" rule, and now.
UPDATE: The Avalanche need to watch their crotches. Milan Hejduk, Marek Svatos and David Jones all sat out of the game due to groin strains. Not a big deal, I imagine, but it doesn't help anything, either.
Tonight the Avs play at Dallas in a preview of the regular season opener.