Well ladies and gentlemen, it is good to be back watching Avalanche hockey. After that emotionally draining gold medal game yesterday, I wasn't sure that I was going to be up for this, but how can you not get up for the Avs and Wings?
Just ask the Avalanche. They came out of the locker room with absolutely no fire, no desire and man did it show.
The Wings were winning all the battles along the boards, the races to the puck, and just about every other way a team can be outplayed in a period. Adam Foote was the only person that came out with any kind of jump to his game. During an interview in between commercial breaks, it was said that Footer came to the bench following a shift, screaming at his to team to "turn up the intensity".
Versus commentator and former Avalanche 3rd liner Keith Jones pointed out that the defense was backing off too much and giving the Wings too much room to pick up speed heading into the offensive zone. This directly lead to the Wings first goal as Pavel Datsyuk made a tremendous pass for Tomas Holmstrom to slam home. 1-0 Detroit.
With the Avs being pinned in their offensive zone, like most of the period, Holmstrom skated around and was "tripped" by Craig Anderson sending Detroit onto the powerplay. With Marek Svatos serving the minor penalty, Johan Franzen made a nifty move to roof the puck on the short side as Craig Anderson was down and out going for the poke check. It was only Franzen's 4th goal of the season as he has missed 55 games this season due to injury. 2-0 Wings.
With the 1st period in the books, I couldn't believe what I was watching. I knew that it was going to take a little time to get back into the swing of things, but wow. That was a page right out of last year's playbook and it was flat out ugly.
I can only assume what was said in the locker room during the intermission, but I will guess that most of it can not be repeated here. I will assume though, that the paint on the locker room walls have to be getting a little thin.
The Avs came out with a little more jump as the second period got underway. They really started playing the game that we have grown accustomed to seeing this year; fast, in your face hockey. Forechecking hard with two forwards in on the puck carrier and a third in and around the hash marks not giving the easy outlet pass. They really made Detroit work for every inch of ice out there.
Detroit looked like they had made it 3-0 and really sucked all of the momentum that Colorado had been building, but Kerry Fraser deemed that Tomas Holmstrom did not allow Anderson to get into position to make the save and waved it off. This visibly deflated the Wings as Holmstrom was pleading his case to referee Kerry Fraser, but he was having none of it.
The Avs definitely used this to their advantage because shortly after this and less than eight and a half minutes played in the second, Colorado cut the lead in half. Following a save on a screened shot, T.J. Galiardi was right there to bang a loose puck past Jimmy Howard. 2-1 Wings. This seemed to wake up the team.
Less than three minutes later, the Avs were working the cycle in the offensive zone, Chris Stewart let a half-hearted slap shot go that burrowed a hole between the legs of Jimmy Howard. With that goal, Stewie joined Matt Duchene on the 20 goal platform. I mentioned it during the game day thread, but has there ever been two rookies on the same team to score 20 goals in the same season? Tie game 2-2.
Andy did what he could to keep the momentum in favor of the Avs by making several highlight reel saves, most notable the one Johan Franzen as Franzen was allowed to walk across the top of the crease. He even managed to draw a penalty on Tomas Holmstrom for goalie interference. Unfortunately the team in front of him was unable to cash in on the ensuing power play. The Avs finshed the game 0 for 2 on the two minute passing drill.
As the third period came to a close, I was hoping that the Avs were going to be able to maintain the momentum heading into the third and pull out the win. The third was quite the seesaw battle. Craig Anderson needed to be big. For most of the third he was. The one time that he managed to let himself get out of position though, the Wings cashed in.
With Kyle Quincey off for tripping, Pavel Datsyuk had the puck on a string as he skated across the slot, everyone including myself, was waiting for him to let the shot go. Instead he dropped it to a waiting Nicklas Lidstrom who fired a weak wrister into a wide open net as Andy was still sliding to his right. It was Lidstrom's 7th goal of the season. 3-2 Red Wings.
After Wings got the lead, it turned into quite the boring game. Let's just say that I've been more entertained watching paint dry. Just ask Sandie's kitten, it was asleep the whole game.
Overall the Avs didn't play a bad game, but they played as far from a good game as you can get. There were a few bright spots including most of the second period. They have to be better if they wanna make a serious run into the playoffs. Hell, they have to play better if they want to even make the playoffs.
Derek's Three Stars of the Game:
3rd Star: Chris Stewart (1G, 1A)
2nd Star: Nicklas Lidstrom (1G, 1A)
1st Star: Tomas Holmstrom (1G, 2A)
This game may have also been even more painful as Brandon Yip went to the locker room following a collision and did not return. I expect full updates from the team in the morning.
Next up, the Avalanche travel to Anaheim to take on the Ducks on Wednesday. Was tonight the last time we saw some players play a game in a Unipron? Time will tell.