Short and sweet version: the Avalanche lost to the Flames 2-1 in Denver tonight. The loss dropped the Avalanche to 4-23-2 in their last 29 games. They have a grand total of 1 regulation win in this dismal stretch and have been outscored (might want to close your eyes at the next part) 115-59.
But, that doesn't really tell the whole story, does it? The Avalanche played very well tonight. Miikka Kiprusoff and Peter Budaj - both with the most NHL wins for their respective countries - engaged in a goaltending duel. In the end, Kirpusoff was the better goalie by a hair. He had to be, because the depleted Avalanche threw everything they had at him tonight. He was, in a word, marvelous. He made numerous highlight-reel saves tonight while almost single-handedly keeping his stupid team's playoff hopes alive.
The Avs' season has been over for two months. Most of their key players are on the shelf (Paul Stastny was the lastest to earn an early reprieve with a stress fracture in his leg) and most of their games lately have been against better teams fighting for their postseason lives. No one would be surprised if the Avalanche mailed it tonight.
With nothing to play for but pride, the Avs have really impressed me lately. Peter Budaj stood on his head Friday night in Phoenix and did the same tonight (and for those 69 saves in two games, he earned a grand total of zero three-star considerations). Ryan O'Reilly has shown that he does indeed have offensive potential. I could keep going on, but I've really been impressed with the team effort as a whole. Is is coaching? Is it that this team is made up of quality individuals? Am I just a rambling idiot? Could be any - or all - of those things. No matter the reason: my hat is off to a team that hasn't quit on us.
- Jones, O'Reilly, Hejduk
- Winnik, Duchene, Olver
- Stoa, McClement, Porter
- McLeod, Dupuis, Koci
- Hunwick, Johnson
- Wilson, O'Byrne
- Liles, Holos
Milan Hejduk scored his 755th career point, tying him with Peter Forsberg for 4th on the all-time franchise scoring list (behind Peter Stastny, Joe Sakic and Michel Goulet).
- Liles scored an assist to give him 40 for the year, making him the 4th Avalanche defensemen to record 40 assists in a season (Bourque, Blake and Ozolinsh were the others). Two Nordique defensemen - Steve Duchesne and Jeff Brown - also hit the 40 mark.
- Liles is also poised to become the first Avalanche defensemen to lead his team in assists (I don't believe any Nordiques accomplished this, making it the first time in franchise history). He's currently 5 assists ahead of Matt Duchene.
The Avs are in St Louis on Tuesday.