What the hell? It is was going to take an epic collapse by the Avs for them to fall out of the playoffs and they seem to be doing their best to make it happen. And even better, the Flames won tonight. I don't even know what to say.
The Avs did come out with a jump in their step with Matt Duchene's line being especially impressive. Ruslan Salei and John-Michael Liles were pressing from the back end. Brett Clark and Kyle Quincey were scratched this game. I don't think anybody minds Clark being scratched but Quincey is frustrating. Not that he didn't earn his scratching but it doesn't seem to motivate him like it does Liles. Joe Sacco has been magic with the young guys so far, hopefully he will find someway to jump start Quincey again. Anyway, the Avs had a lot of offensive pressure in the first ten and Cody McLeod thought he scored his first goal is a looong time. However, his stick was ruled to be over the crossbar and the goal was waved off. The break while they determined if the goal was legit seemed to let the Ducks get their feet back under them because they started playing very well. Jason Blake, in particular, had three excellent chances. Craig Anderson was good early on but then he made a bad decision with the puck behind the net, leaving the Avs skaters out of position. Steve Eminger got the puck in the high slot and Duchene tried to catch his shot, but it bounced off his hand and behind Craig Anderson. The Avs started to press back and Duchene got a great chance but missed the net. Shortly there after, Adam Foote made a very poor pass that was intercepted by Blake. Blake and Saku Koivu came in on a two on one with Foote trying to shut down Blake and Duchene doing his best to catch up to Koivu. They both failed and Blake made a pretty sweet pass that was tipped in by Koivu. Not much Anderson could do. And this period started so well...
Early in the second, McLeod had a pretty awesome fight with Mike Brown. Then he skated by the Avs bench and tried to rev them up. Duchene drew a penalty and both power play units looked pretty good but couldn't put the puck in the back of the net. A little later Ryan Wilson flipped the puck out of play. The Avs managed to kill it off, a rare phenomenon of late, and Chris Stewart drew a penalty the other way. The first power play unit is f'ing good and a sweet passing play from Duchene to Paul Stastny to Milan Hejduk ended with a goal for the Avs. The next shift Ryan O'Reilly hit the post and his line drew another penalty. The Ducks were a lot better on the pk this time and got a breakaway that was negated by Duchene. The good pk seemed to shift the momentum the other way and, yup, the Ducks scored another late goal. I do not understand what Anderson was doing here. A Duck shot missed the net and he seemed to think that he was safe or something? Because he sort of leisurely got back into position while Scott Neidermayer picked up the puck and threw it in. The puck was already out of the net by the time he was set. I have no idea what was going on. Anyway, for the second time, a late goal sends the Avs into the locker room down two goals.
Peter Budaj should have started the next period quite honestly, but if there is any area where Sacco has made missteps this season, it has been in goaltender management. Anyway, the Avs came out flying in the third but Kyle Cumiskey missed the net, then Hejduk missed the net, Duchene tried a wrap around almost scored a couple times...but didn't. T.J. Galiardi rushed the zone and...almost scored. Then the Ducks got their first chance because Scott Hannan is a slow, useless waste of 4 million dollars and Teemu Selanne scored on a breakaway. Awesome. The Avs need a youth movement on defense badly. The two goals that were not Anderson's fault, were Foote and Hannan's. I missed the next goal by Blake but got back in time to see Darcy Tucker score. Neither goal mattered. Some stuff happened during the rest of the game but it was over when Selanne scored.
This game was game of mistakes by the Avs. All the goals by the Ducks were due to bad mistakes by the Avs. The Avs missed the net more times than I think I've ever seen. And Anderson...as these games get bigger and bigger, he is not playing bigger. He has been incredible for the Avalanche this season but...that is worrisome. He needs a big game and soon to restore a little confidence to this team.
I'm too pissed to do a three stars. Jason Blake and Scott Neidermayer were outstanding this game. Matt Duchene and Cody McLeod tried their best for the Avs. I already mentioned a few Avs who had bad games but also Chris Stewart was absolutely invisible beyond drawing the one penalty.
The Avs next game is against the Flames. This may be the first, legitimate must win game, as the Flames can tie the Avs pointswise with a win.