The Avalanche host the Minnesota Wild tonight. The Avalanche are 15-4-2 all-time against the Wild at home (not including the playoffs, unfortunately). I've got the Minnesota feed, Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay, two of my favorite broadcasters. I love the Minnesota broadcasts overall – intro, graphics, music, entertaining intermissions and, again, the broadcasters. I wish more hockey telecasts were this enjoyable.
Niklas Backstrom against Jose Theodore. I've documented that I was hoping Theodore would get the start, even though I have a feeling this game is going to end poorly. Sometimes, I don't make much sense.
20:00 The 4th Line – Guite, Lappy and Parker start the game. That's the first time the 1st line hasn't started in some time.
19:08 The 1st line comes out next. No changes here – Hlinka, Brunette and Hejduk.
18:30 We're stuck in our zone right now, which can only mean one thing: the Arnason line is out. We have to ice the puck to clear it.
17:10 The Avs ice the puck for the 3rd time. Arnason has been out there for at least two of them. Granao says something to Arnie as he finally gets off the ice. It may have been "you know, you can touch the puck when it’s in our zone, right?"
16:00 Hensick and Leopold join in on the "stuck in the zone" action.
15:42 Voros with a wraparound chance. Theo makes the save.
14:35 Literally, at the same moment that I was defending the Theo start with my wife, Fedoruk beats Liles to the net (how?) and deflects a Demitra pass through Theo's legs. Todd Fedoruk, folks. 1-0 Minnesota.
12:40 Terrific glove save by Backstrom on McCormick.
11:52 Wolski's been, in my opinion, the best Avalanche player on the ice in the last two games. He's looking sharp again tonight.
11:37 Geez. Hejduk's shot rebounds to the waiting stick of Brunette. Bruno was lined up perfectly for a shot on an open net, and misses. That may be huge.
10:25 Finger dumps Sheppard behind the net. Someone on the HF boards reported that they ran into Finger this week at a store buying beer. Well, not beer might be a strong word – it was Natty Ice. Why, Jeff, why?
8:45 Veilleux walks out to the front of the net, but Theodore is there. The Minnesota games are the rare occasion where I miss Ossi Vaanannen – his ongoing battles with Veilleux were fun to watch.
7:25 Hooking called against the Avs. Hejduk with a slacker move there, just throwing his stick at the puck carrier instead of, you know, skating with him.
6:33 Rolston scores on a slapshot. Theodore's got a pretty good bead on the shot, but Finger and McCormick both screen him. That’s 2-0. The last 7 goals scored in Avalanche games have been scored by teams not wearing tacky burgundy jerseys.
5:07 Gaborik nearly scores. Theodore makes a save, but the puck starts to trickle out and towards the net. Thankfully, he and Finger are able to clear out the puck.
2:04 Most of you probably read that Terry Frei article today about how the Avalanche are no longer a skilled team, but a team of grinders. As if to drive that point home even more, Greenlay has mentioned several times that the Wild are the team with all the skill tonight, and they need to try to avoid getting caught up in the physical stuff that the Avalanche are trying to ignite. Indeed, Lappy, Parker and the Codys seem intent on trying to stir things up, but haven't found a willing dance partner (no Boogaard tonight). Strange days.
:27 Fluky goal. Brunette (I think) fires it on net, but it's heading wide. Backstrom tries to deflect the puck into the corner, but ends up banging it into the post and into the crease, then pushes it into the net while trying to clear. We'll take it, I guess.
:03 Svatos with a trip to put the Wild on the PP in the second. Nice work.
2-1 Minnesota after 1. The Avs have been outscored 7-2 in the last 6 periods.
Great segment on Willie O'Ree during the intermission. I have to admit, until the other day, I had never heard of O'Ree. I'm glad to get introduced to another great part of hockey history.
17:53 Twice tonight Wolski has made a pass to himself off the back boards.
17:36 Wolski! Arnason wins a draw(!), gets it down low to Svatos, who makes a pass(!) in front to Wolski. Wolski roofs it. Svatos gets his 4th assist of the year. Obviously, when I mentioned in the comments of the open thread at MHH that the 2nd line needed to score tonight, I knew what I was talking about. Or something. 2-2. Maybe this will spark the Avs.
15:57 Hensick and McCormick go 2 on 1. McCormick fans on the shot. However, the line keeps the puck in deep for a long stretch of time. Good shift.
14:21 Oh crap. Wolski is hurt. Schultz hits him hard along the board, and Wolski's left arm - er, upper body – gets caught awkwardly.
13:44 Wolski's still on the bench, which is a good sign. Of course, Arnason played 2 games before realizing his wrist was broken. Just sayin…
12:20 Skoula gets leveled by Lappy in the neutral zone. Crushed, really. Skoula took maybe 3 steps after getting rid of the puck, but there was no penalty. So, in light of that…GREAT HIT!
11:42 The Avalanche are playing decidedly better than they did at the start of this game. I'll admit, I thought this was over when it was 2-0.
10:11 McCormick gets upended at center ice by a hip check from Burns. Big hit.
9:42 Gaborik hits Lappy after an offsides whistle.
7:00 Decidedly better? Never mind. We're back to only needing the camera aimed at our zone.
6:19 And Demitra scores. This had been building for some bit, and it was only going to be a matter of time. Foster bangs one from the blueline. Theodore knocks it down, but right to the stick of Demitra. Demitra essentially has an empty net to shoot at. 3-2 Minnesota.
Koivu fires it over the glass. Delay of game.
Leopold and Clark are out with the 1st unit.
5:16 Liles and Finger are on the point with the 2nd unit.
4:00 Clark does the same thing that Wolski's been trying (banking it off the end boards and then grabbing the rebound). He almost scores.
3:15 Johnsson with a hook, which happened before the last penalty had ended, but the Avalanche kept possession for some time after that.
2:40 Liles slaloms around a bunch of Wild players on the way to the net. It looks great, but we don't even get a shot out of it.
:40 Oh wow. Too many men against the Avalanche. Guite is livid. Quenneville is livider. "4 guys" he screams, as in there were just 4 guys on the ice (plus Guite). And he's right. When Guite, who has just come on, touches the puck, there are just 4 other players on the ice. Bad call…and, literally, it's by the linesman who is RIGHT THERE at the Avalanche bench.
3-2 Minnesota after two. 27-19 in the shot column as well.
17:19 Hey Pepsi Center dudes, do we really need to play two Ozzy Osbourne songs in one night? Bark at the Moon AND Crazy Train seems like overkill to me.
16:33 Man, that Koivu makes me nervous every time he has the puck.
15:55 Crap. Arnason feeds Wolski, but he can't get his stick on it. Beautiful chance.
15:55 (still) the clock appears to be stuck.
14:19 Oh my. Clark blocks a Foster slapshot with the inside of his right foot. He drops like a shot to the ice before limping off. Foster can bring the heat, and that thing had to sting like a mothefucker. I hope Clark is okay.
12:11 Skrastins shot is deflected towards the goal, but it goes wilde. The Avs are coming hard right now.
11:33 Liles is out there with Skrastins instead of Clark. Oh bother.
11:02 Okay, who replaced the Avalanche players? These guys are suddenly putting all kinds of pressure on Backstrom.
10:15 There's Clark on the ice. Good to see.
8:01 The puck goes in behind Backstrom, but it gets waved off as being hit with a high stick. They need to review this, because I don't think Guite ever made contact. Hmmm, now that I've seen it again, it looks like it hit Hlinka's stick, and it was high. Oh well.
6:43 Hejduk is just not skating at all. He looks like the Hejduk from the beginning of last season. You know, the one that sucked.
5:15 Finger loses it at the blueline and Foy and Voros get a two on one, with the one being a very casually skating Hlinka. Liles, however, skates back hard, and gets there just in time to make Voro's shot a tough one. Good play by Liles. Not really sure what was up with Hlinka there – he didn't really seem to know what to do, which I can understand, but I wouldn’t have minded a little better skating.
2:24 McLeod, Hlinka, Guite? Huh?
1:35 Liles dumps it in on net…and then skates into Backstrom. Kind of a weird play. Backstrom looked like a punter on that fall.
1:31 Theo is off.
That's it. 3-2 Minnesota. The Wild move into first place in the NW. Some bozo must have thrown some liquid at one of the Wild assistants. He touches his hair and then, inexplicably, smells his hand to see what liquid was on it. What the fuck?