This was a nice game to watch. The Avs can score goals, friends. As long as they remain somewhat competent in their own zone, they'll be in most every game. Hopefully they'll keep up the effort in this crazy stretch of 6 games in 9 nights and put together some wins.
The first period was mostly carrried by the Avalanche. They had a lot of good forechecking work though the Blue Jackets are still a good team in the neutral zone sans Hitchcock. The Jackets got that board first with a pretty good looking goal. R.J. Umberger came down the slot but was run off by Ryan O'Byrne. He kept control of it going around the net and passed it to a wide open Nikita Filatov who centered it. John-Michael Liles couldn't stop Antoine Vermette from tipping it bast Peter Budaj. The Avalanche came right back though. Matt Duchene did what he does so well and created some havoc by stepping out quickly in front of the net and putting a hard backhand on net. Steve Mason made the save but couldn't control the rebound. Milan Hejduk corralled it near the circle and put it back towards the net. David Jones slammed it home for his fifth goal of the year. Duchene is so very good at pulling people out of position and Hejduk is an excellent match for him because of his positioning and smarts. I really enjoy watching those two playing together. Jones and Yip are very decent with them because of their goal scoring knack but they aren't playing on quite the same level as those two. Hopefully, we'll see Mueller by the New Year. I'll stop gushing now. Anyway, the end of the period saw the Avs get a four minute power play that they didn't do much with, partially because Duchene took a tripping penalty in the middle of it. Shots at the end of the first, 10 - 9 in favor of the Avs.
I dub this period the 'curse of the ex-Blue Jackets.' And also Paul Stastny. The Blue Jackets came out desperately looking for the lead. They dominated the Avs most of the period with several extended shifts with puck control in the Avs zone. But they scored three goals and the Blue Jackets had none. The first goal was by Blue Jackets draftee Greg Mauldin, a shorthanded goal and his first NHL goal. He and Jones came in on a two on one, Jones made a perfect pass to Mauldin who roofed it over Mason. The next goal, Liles carried the puck in and made a good pass to Philippe Dupuis, also a Blue Jacket's draft pick, who tipped it on net, then was run into Mason by two Jackets defensemen. Mason completely crossed the goal line and the puck went with him. Vermette had a chance to tie it up when the puck took a funny bounce off the end boards and popped out in front the Avs net. Budaj got confused and fell down leaving the net wide open for Vermette but he slapped it just wide. With only a few seconds left to go, Kevin Porter stole the puck at the blue line and passed it down to Chris Stewart who passed it to a wide open Stastny for the easy goal. Shots at the end of two, 20 to 21 in favor of the Blue Jackets.
The third period was not as interesting as the first two. The Blue Jackets were clearly felt that they couldn't win. Maybe because they've only scored more than thee goals once this season, I don't know. They were unhappy and got a little rough with the Avs but it didn't get too bad, thankfully. Steve Mason ironically had his best period, making a few great saves including ones on Ryan O'Reilly and Stewart. Jones sneaked a goal past him with a few minutes left on a quick shot from the circle. Hell of a comeback game for him with two goals and an assist. Kevin Shattenkirk had a good game and got his first NHL point on the goal. Budaj keeps on winning and had another very good, if lucky, game. He should start tomorrow. Shots at the end of three, 29-29.
Daniel Winnik has a shot in every game this season, the only Av other than Stewie to do such. Why did Phoenix let this guy go again?
- Mauldin was great in this game. He is very scrappy and laid down a couple good hits. I love that Sacco throws players out on the pk their first game.
- O'Byrne was not bad. He is a decent hitter but ran out of position to make one or two. I like him, though. The Avs need some grit and size back there.
- Colby Cohen is the other player adding size and grit. He doesn't seem to be afraid of anyone, which is awesome for a rookie. I haven't seen much offensive acumen from him yet but the Avs aren't as desperate for that.
- Porter is an interesting one. He is a great player but doesn't seem to fit anywhere. I'd rather have a Mauldin type on the energy line and while Porter handed himself well on the first line he will not be a top six or even a top nine forward when the Avs are healthy.
- I've noticed Duchene setting good picks in the defensive zone. Maybe his is learning something from his buddy Carmelo Anthony? If he can get good with those, we might see him bring that to his offensive repertoire. It's dangerous penalty-wise but effective. Just watch the Sharks play sometime.
These weren't the announced lines but they did seem to be the lines and pairing that Sacco rolled the most.
- Porter, Stastny, Stewart
- Jones, Duchene, Hejduk
- Yip, O'Reilly, Winnik
- McLeod, Dupuis, Mauldin
- Hannan, Cohen
- Liles, O'Byrne
- Holos, Shattenkirk
Tomorrow the Avs take on the Evil Empire in Detroit. Red Wing Dave has the recap.