My 2nd favorite sports team (hint: 18-0) is going to the Super Bowl, so I'd love to cap off today with another win. The Avalanche host the Blue Jackets in the final meeting of the season for these teams. Columbus holds a 2-1 edge. I've got the Columbus feed – Mr Whipple and Alton Brown. Oh, sorry, it's Jeff Rimer and Danny Gare. Good guys, but they are definitely homers.
Pascal Leclaire vs Jose Theodore tonight.
20:00 Here's a change – Brunette is out for the opening faceoff with Hlinka and Hejduk. Lately, Cody McLeod goes out for the first shift.
19:17 The usual 2nd line is together again tonight – Arnason, Wolski and Svatos.
18:33 Hannan and Clark are together, which is not the norm. I'll have to keep an eye on the pairings too see what's up.
17:49 The Hensick, McLeod and McCormick line are together again. So far, the first 3 lines are unchanged from the last game.
17:32 There is a change on the 4th line, though. David Jones is back with the team and is in the lineup tonight. He's on the 4th line with Guite and, I'm assuming, Ian Laperriere.
15:50 I've only seen 5 defensemen to this point. That leads me to guess that Leopold is out again (flu) and Boychuck is dressed but will be used sparingly.
13:48 And there is Mr Boychuck, getting hit by Boll in the corner.
12:44 Rick Nash is probably at the top of my shortlist of guys I'd love to see play for the Avs.
12:02 The Blue Jackets are swarming all over us in our zone. Our defensemen are getting pressured off the puck left and right.
10:58 Sigh. Even though I was yelling at the TV, the FSN peeps cut away from a developing fight to go to a commercial. Thanks guys. From the half-assed replay, it looks like McCormick and Chimera were jostling after a whistle, then Russell came in and hit McCormick. McCormick took a swing at Russell, and then Chimera came right in to engage McCormick. Somehow that led to McLeod and Tollefson fighting. Offsetting penalties to the four players involved (not Russell). Looks like majors for McLeod and Tollefson and minors for McCormick and Chimera.
10:33 Guite turns it over to Zherdev. The Avs have been really solid in their own end lately, but they've been sloppy to start this game.
8:08 Either Boychuck or Finger (couldn't tell for sure) gets taken hard into the Columbus bench by two Blue Jackets.
7:24 Good hit by Boychuk along the side boards on Ritchie to help the Avs clear it out. Just a few seconds earlier he had lost his footing leading to the umpteenth Colorado turnover of the night.
6:23 Frederick Modin trips Skrastins and gets sent to the box. Then he gets taken out of the box. And then he gets sent to the box. Hejduk is also in the box for some reason, so we'll be at 4 on 4. Hooking is the call on Hejduk.
5:56 Wolski walks in on LeClaire and draws a hooking penalty. The Avs are going on a 4 on 3 PP.
5:46 Arnason, Svatos, Brunette and Liles get the call.
5:17 Liles gets a chance when Brunette finds him breaking for the net, but LeClaire turns it away.
3:57 Hejda from the Blue Jackets is hurt. All you really need to know about our season this year is this: my wife heard them mention that someone is hurt, and she looked up from what she was doing to see which Avalanche player was injured now.
2:04 Finger scores. Hlinka does a lot of the work to start this off, keeping possession of the puck along the sideboards to buy time for the rest of the team to catch up to the play. Once he gets help, he dishes back to Finger at the point. Finger fires a blast. Laperriere was heading to the front of the net and bumped LeClaire after the puck went into the net, prompting Rimer to say that it could have been goaltender interference. These are the same guys who went nuts about Ryan Smyth bumping LeClaire earlier in the season. Guys, perhaps you should blame Michael Peca, who put up a GREAT screen on the play. Colorado leads 1-0. Finger's got a hot hand of late.
:55 With the Arnason line stuck in their zone (and Arnason himself looking comical attempting to help out defensively) the Jackets get two great scoring chances, but don't convert.
The Avalanche lead 1-0 after 1. They started out terribly in the first half of the period. They improved a bit in the 2nd, but still need to tighten up their defensive play or they are going to get burned. That was one of their weakest defensive 1st periods in recent memory.
During the intermission, Gare breaks down the Finger goal, and affirms that the Avalanche "got away with one", as Laperriere's stick was touching LeClaire's stick. Not only is that ridiculous, but they've replayed the goal at least 4 times and have yet to notice that Peca is completely screening his goalie.
Well, they've showed it two more times, and now think the puck was deflected by Peca.
19:48 Modin starts the period by hooking Brett Clark. "That's not a penalty" says Gare, as the replay shows Modin's stick on Clark's hands for the 3rd time on the play. I did mention these guys were homers, didn't I?
18:50 Dario will be pleased to know that Finger was out there on the 1st unit PP (with Liles).
18:46 Boychuck is on the 2nd unit. He takes a good shot from the point that gets deflected over the net.
18:37 And then he turns the puck over at the point.
18:11 He carries in deep behind the goal line and Foote drives him hard into the boards. An eventful shift for the rookie.
17:41 Nash races with Finger for the puck. He wins, but falls awkwardly to the ice. Peter McNab's heart stops for a moment, but Nash seems to be okay.
16:40 Skrastins skates to the corner to take on a puck carrier at a speed that makes me think he's skating through molasses.
15:51 Boychuck and Hannan both found themselves on their keister after hard hits on this shift.
15:03 The Arnason line is pinned in again. Could this be the worst defensive line we've had…oh, ever?
13:17 Clark goes end to end, but doesn't get much of a shot off on LeClaire.
12:20 The 4th line scores! Ben Guite. Skrastins passes it to center ice and Lappy taps it into the zone. Guite and Jones are there for the Avs with Hejda and Boll. Jones gets the puck, splits the two Columbus players and gets the puck on the net. LeClaire makes the save, but can't control the rebound. Guite, who's gone straight to the net, keeps poking at the puck and ultimately is able to find it and tap it home. Jones' assist is his first NHL point. LeClaire thinks he's got control of the puck, and complains after the goal – something we've seen a LOT of this season. 2-0 Colorado.
11:23 After Arnason loses a draw, the Jackets get a scoring chance but Theodore freezes the puck. For the own-zone draw to follow, we send out…Arnason again. Our worst defensive line and our worst faceoff guy. I don't get it.
9:44 Boychuck has been playing much more in the 2nd period. I think that's good for Boychuck, and also good for the other densemen, who seemed a bit confused in the first period, perhaps due to all the changing of partners.
8:47 I didn't see who it was, but someone on the Avs conked a Columbus player in the head with his stick. Columbus goes on the PP.
8:31 Klesla is hurt. Lappy clears it and it the puck hit's Klesla's stick and deflects right up into his face. Klesla leaves a good bit of his blood on the ice and is helped off to the dressing room.
8:12 Maybe Theo's best save of the night. Zherdev stick handles around Lappy and then Clark before getting a good shot on net.
6:59 Forget that save. Theodore just topped it and then some. Nash had a wide open net and Theo slid across to get his glove on it. Beautiful save, certainly among his best of the season.
6:04 Interference on Finger. Finger and Boll are going to the puck, and Finger takes out Boll instead of just touching the puck (it was going to be icing). Not a great penalty to take there.
4:57 Wolski's out on the PK (with McCormick). He's really done a good job in this new role.
4:29 Hejduk races along the LW boards shorthanded. Zherdev muscles him off the puck and Hejduk goes hard to the ice. The fans want a call, but it doesn't seem like there was any penalty.
3:06 Arnason finally does something positive in the game – he draws a hooking penalty in front of the Columbus net. Glencross hauls him down.
2:06 The Avs have a bunch of trouble getting into the zone. They can't get anything going on this PP.
2-0 Colorado after two. A much better period for the Avs.
19:51 Klesla is back on the ice. That's good to see.
19:13 I just noticed my Tivo didn't record the normal extra time for the game. I may miss the end of this one, especially if it goes beyond regulation.
16:28 Arnason does his 2nd positive thing in the game. He scores. Liles starts a breakout. He heads it up to Svatos on the wing, he crosses to Wolski in the middle, who dishes to Arnason on the left wing. LeClaire gives Arnason a wide open net to fire at, and Arnason doesn't waste the opportunity. LeClaire has no one to blame that one on. 3-0.
15:44 Nash, from behind the net, finds Modin sneaking into the slot. Modin one-times it past Theodore for the goal. Lots of Avalanche players in front of the net on that play, but no one was able to pick up Modin.
14:04 Just to show he's still got issues, Arnason makes a lazy play to try to keep the puck in the Columbus zone and, shockingly, the puck gets out.
13:01 Finger clips Zherdev in the face with the stick, but the refs don't see it. Lucky break.
10:32 I love this Tollefson clown. After a whistle he goes towards the smallest guy on the ice (Svatos) and starts pushing him. Fucking coward. This is the same loser who waited until Parker was off the ice in the Westcott game before acting all tough against guys like Hlinka.
9:04 Modin's goal was his first of the year. Arnason's was his 4th. Guite, I believe, has 5 (maybe less) and Finger has 3 or 4, right? So the 4 goal-scorers tonight have a combined, what, 14 goals this season?
8:59 Nash punches Hlinka in a play along the boards. Nothing called.
8:41 The Arnason line has gotten a lot of ice in the 3rd and Wolski, in particular, has looked strong.
6:44 The Avs barely avoid a too many men call. Finger jumps onto the ice, but the guy he's going to replace (Clark, I think) has the puck go to him as he's heading off. Finger quickly gets back off the ice, and we dodge what would have been a key powerplay opportunity.
5:05 Wolski dodges a hit from Tollefson and Tollefson crashes stupidly into the boards. Karma's a bitch.
1:48 Stick save by Theo on Nash as the Avs got caught in a slow line change.
1:10 The Arnason line keep the puck in deep behind LeClaire. This line was the subject of my ire for two periods tonight, but have really been strong in the 3rd period.
:36 LeClaire is out of the net.
That does it. The Avalanche start out slowly, but get gain momentum through the game. They beat the Jackets 3-1 and even the season series at 2-2.