Am I being set up for disappointment? After last night's come-from-behind victory over the Calgary Flames in overtime, I worry that the Colorado Avalanche are just building me up to be let down in the end. But one thing is for sure, if the Avs play with as much heart and fire in every remaining game of this season that they did last night, things are going to be okay.
Colorado got off to a great start, totally dominating the ice for the first five minutes of the game, during which Ryan Smyth scored his first goal since returning from injury to give his team a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, the momentum shifted around the ten minute mark and the Flame-Outs started to take over. The Avs had trouble clearing it out of their zone, despite the arrival of newly-acquired but not new-to-the-team Adam Foote. The Flames tied it up around the 15 minute mark and the period ended 1-1.
The second period was more of the same, with Calgary periodically taking over and making it look like they were on a non-stop power play. Even worse, once the Avalanche actually got a power play of their own, Robyn Regehr (yes, a former Av) made a great steal and scored shorthanded on Jose Theodore---who had another very strong game overall.
Luckily, the Avs didn't let the 2-1 deficit get them down. They came out flying in the third period and started to shift the momentum. Adam Foote's impact really started to show, as he and Kurt Sauer tagged up on Jerome Iginla's line and completely shut them down. Foote could be seen directing Sauer on the ice---with great effect. Sauer, following orders, put some great hits on Langkow and Phadouche, forcing Calgary turnovers. And Foote was deep in it too:
That's a real man. Take notes, Dion.
You have to assume that Foote was so effective because Coach Q didn't have time to influence his play. Footer walked onto the bench nearly ten minutes into the game and shortly after hit the ice for his first shift. He had no time to be told all the wrong things to do.
Scott Hannan also had a great game, as did all the Colorado defensemen except for Kyle Cumiskey who had a flub that led to a Calgary goal and sat almost the entire third period on the bench. He had just over seven minutes of ice time. Hannan had over 28. John-Michael Liles finally started doing what he's supposed to be doing, contributing on offense with two assists and some superb power play work.
Speaking of power plays, the Avalanche PP unit won the game, which is almost too unbelievable to type. Milan Hejduk scored with the man advantage in the third period to tie the game at 2 all, and Paul Stastny scored in overtime (off an amazing no-look, backhand pass from Ryan Smyth) after Jerome Iginla tripped the shit out of Liles. The Flames' announcers seemed to think that Liles' full-speed, flying fall was somehow embellished, because they are shameless homers. It wasn't. It was a trip. Shut up.
There was only one fight, a dull stalemate between Scott Parker and Eric Godard (both had less than two minutes of ice time), but there could have been more, except that Dion Phaneuf is a coward. Cody McLeod, to his credit, yapped at Phadouche all game long, and even dropped the gloves and lunged at him, but Dion backed off and tried to get the ref's attention. Are you serious? He put cheap hits on the Avs all night and ran his mouth, and then when called on it he backed down? Against a guy like McLeod who can't even fight well? Pathetic.
The Avs can't rest on their laurels, though, because they play Vancouver tonight. Ruslan Salei is expected to join the team after being traded for Karlis Skrastins on Tuesday just before the trade deadline. I have a feeling Kyle Cumiskey will not be playing.
Stars of the Game:
- Robyn Regehr (1g, 0a) WTF?!
- John-Michael Liles (0g, 2a)
- Paul Stastny (1g, 1a)
A CALL FOR HELP: If anyone still has the Altitude broadcast of the game saved on their DVR or TiVo at home, and can transcribe the post-game show with Sandy Clough, that would be really, really helpful. You can either comment here or drop me a note at milehighhockey [at] yahoo dot com. Thanks!