It was one of those classic match-ups, one involving two struggling teams. The Detroit Red Wings limped into the Pepsi Center riding a 7-game losing streak, while the Avalanche had dropped 3 in a row. Both teams had been having a great bit of difficulty scoring, and their starting goalies - Jose Theodore and Chris Osgood - have both been pulled in recent games. With each side desperate for a win, who would be the club to step up to the plate?
Detroit. The Red Wings spanked the Avalanche 4-0 and, really, this one wasn't as close as the score indicated. Detroit dominated the Avs in every facet of the game, from the scoreboard to the faceoff circle. The Wings outshot the Avs 40-18, with the Avalanche mustering a dismal 7 shots in the last two periods. Colorado was outhustled and outworked from the opening whistle to the closing bell and not one player from the Avalanche stood out for me as having brought even their C- game.
That list includes Jose Theodore. I don't in any way think that the loss was on Theodore's shoulders; that was a team "effort" through and through. But in recent games there's been sentiment from the community (and from Joel Quenneville) that Theodore has been the only good Avalanche player on the ice (Marc Moser named him 3rd star in the game last night). While my Budaj bias should be clear to anyone with even a passing familiarity with this site, it doesn't mean I can't compliment Theodore when he plays well. I just don't feel that he's at the top of his game right now. Now, I don't think it mattered one bit who was our goalie last night, but I also scoff at any talk that he's been playing above the rest of the team. He put in the same half-hearted performance that the rest of the team did.
Beyond the fact that the Avalanche stunk up the joint, the game was also notable for a few physical incidents. Early in the game, Ian Laperriere checked Nick Lidstrom hard into the side boards. Lidstrom - caught awkwardly between playing the puck and taking the hit - went into the boards at an odd angle and crumpled immediately to the ice afterward. He was helped off the ice and did not return. While it was a clean hit, the Wings took exception to it (after the game, both Aaron Downey and Mike Babcock made the ridiculous argument Lidstrom needed special protection because he was a Norris trophy winner - it was the Canucks and Naslund all over again). To Lappy's credit, he knew the Wings would be after him, and answered the bell late in the 1st period. He took his lumps from Downey and that was it.
Or not. Early in the 3rd period, with the game already out of reach, the two found themselves on the ice again. Lappy took a long run at Downey, skating in with his gloves up high. Downey did the same as he readied himself for the hit, and Lappy ended up dropping to the ice after the big collision. Downey, ignoring all semblances of the fighter's "code", immediately tossed his gloves aside and moved in for the kill on the defenseless Lappy. Thankfully, Cody McLeod was on the ice, and was able to wrap up Downey and prevent any serious damage from being done. Unfortunately, McLeod then proceeded to erase all the praise he had just earned by taking swings at guys on the Detroit bench (the cameras didn't catch this, so have to rely on Eddie Olczyk for this info) and then jawing at the refs and the bench on the way to the dressing room (he received two 10 minute misconducts on the play, ending his night). While that was all going on, Tony Granato and Mike Babcock did their best Crawford and Bowman impressions, engaging in an excited shouting match from their respective benches. That was essentially the end of the hostilities; Downey didn't see the ice again after the penalty, and Lappy had only two quick shifts. Kris Draper and Marek Svatos each earned a roughing penalty as time was winding down, but both teams seemed ready to be done with the game by then, and nothing escalated from that.
Unless we limp into the playoffs, we won't see Detroit again this year giving this incident plenty of time to diffuse. I don't think we're heading back into Blood Feud territory.
Notes are here
- Hensick, Smyth, Jones
- Arnason, Wolski, Svatos
- Hlinka, Brunette, Hejduk
- Guite, McLeod, Laperriere
- Final season series tallies: Detroit wins the series 4-0, outscoring the Avs 11-2, shutting them out three times and outshooting them 129-76.
- No Colorado player had more than 2 shots in the game.
- The Avalanche won just 42% of the faceoffs. Sadly, that's an improvement over their previous two games (38% and 41%)
- Only 6 of the remaining 22 games are against a team currently lower than us in the standings (4 against Edmonton, 1 against Atlanta and 1 against LA).
Things don't get any easier. The Avalanche tomorrow start a 5-game, 7-day road trip with games against the Ducks, Coyotes, Oilers, Flames and Canucks. Four of those five teams are ahead of us in the standings.