5 Games That Could Have Made the Difference

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 21: The Colorado Avalanche salute their fans as they celebrate their 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center on December 21, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Yesterday Sports Club Stats gave the Colorado Avalanche a 5.1% chance of making the playoffs. Slim odds to say the least. So, with the postseason slipping away, lets take a depressing look at 5 games that could have made all the difference:

1. November 4, 2011: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars 7-6 OT

Recap

What could have been a 3 game win streak instead started a 3 game losing streak as the Avs gave up three separate leads in this wide open game. The Avs were up 2-0 in the first period, 5-4 in the second and 6-5 in the third only to give up the game-tying goal with less than 5 minutes on the clock. You just can’t score 6 goals and let the game slip away from you and unfortunately our Avs did. If the Avs closed out the game in the shoot out, they would be one point up on Dallas and just one point out of the playoff picture. Maintain the 6-5 lead in regulation and the Avalanche would be tied with San Jose on points with a 1 ROW advantage.

Not so fun fact: This game accounted for 23% of Matt Duchene’s goals and 14.8% of his total points. Yikes

2. November 17, 2011 Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild 1-0

Recap

Not much to say about this one. It was a classic Wild trap game with 27 saves from Avs Kryptonite #1 Nick Backstrom. Midway through the third period Milan Hejduk had a chance to put the Avs ahead off a beautiful setup from Paul Stastny, but he rang it off the post keeping the game tied at zero. With 2:44 left in the game, Cal Clutterbuck collided with Jay McClement along the Minnesota bench. As he was falling, Clutterbuck took a two-handed baseball swing at McClement's jaw. McClement went to the bench and apparently spat up some blood. The high stick was so blatant, that even Minnesota announcers said it was a missed call. On the ensuing Wild "rush" the Avs fell victim to a very, very bad bounce, as a harmless shot redirected off of Erik Johnson’s skate to a wide-open Devin Setoguchi. Avs Kryptonite #2, Devin Setoguchi, easily buried the shot. With a high sticking penalty or almost any other bounce the Avs would have likely picked up at least 1 point.

Not so fun fact: This game marked 18 days since the Avs last ROW.

3. December 15, 2011 Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks 5-4

Recap

The boo’s were loud at the end of the second period as the San Jose Sharks skated into the locker room. Having already won the first series of the back to back, the Avs looked ready to put the Sharks away in the third, dominating the first two periods with hard fore checking and skating. Up 4-2, the Avs came out flat in the third period. After 7 minutes of San Jose pressure and Avs turnovers, they finally hit their breaking point. The Avs 2 goal lead became a 1 goal deficit in just under a 5 minute span. The Avs worked hard to tie the game in the final minutes but failed to do so, dropping 2 critical points. With a win, the

Avs would currently sit in 8th place in the west.

Not so fun fact: The Avs also gave a point to the Sharks in the first game of the back to back; surrendering the game tying goal with just 22 seconds on the clock. What should have been a 4 point swing for the Avs instead became a 1 point deficit.

4. February 4, 2012 Vancouver Canucks at Colorado Avalanche 3-2 SO

Recap

34.1 was all that stood between an Avs victory and their 5th consecutive loss in this game. After giving up an early first goal, the Avs scored 2 beauties from David Jones and Jay McClement. It was a hard-fought game but one the Avs certainly deserved to win, as they peppered Luongo with 41 shots in regulation. With 51 seconds to go, T.J. Galiardi fired a backhand on target for the empty net goal but a diving Kevin Bieksa blocked the puck and carried it into the Avs zone. Erik Johnson corralled the dump in and sent it along the boards where it took the mother of all unlucky bounces and deflected off one of the on ice officials and into the high slot. The puck bounced right to a wide open Kevin Bieksa who beat J.S. Giguere with slapper from above the circles. The Avs went on to lose the game in a shootout.

Not so Fun Fact: This was the Avs first shootout loss of the season, ending their 8-0 run.

5. March 24, 2012 Vancouver Canucks at Colorado Avalanche 3-2 OT

Recap

This again? In a game of some significance, the Avalanche took a well deserved 2-0 lead on the Vancouver Canucks. However, a lack of killer instincts and finishing touch let the Canucks back in the game. Late in the second, the Avalanche lost focus for about 3 minutes and allowed the Canucks 2 quick goals to tie the game heading into the third period. The Avs had countless opportunities to put the puck past Luongo in the first period but left their finishing sticks at home. The Avs had 7 power play opportunities in the game and converted only once (thanks for trying O’Rourke and Hebert). In overtime Tyson Barrie was outmuscled in the corner and the Canucks scored an easy game winner. Barrie had an excellent game otherwise, but his turnover deep in the Avs zone was ugly. Give the Avs another point and a ROW in this one and they sit in 9th, only 1 point back from the pack.

Not so fun fact: 0-5 against Vancouver at this point (they’d make it 0-6) later in the week. Now THAT folks, is unacceptable.

Honorable Mention:

Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames

2010-2011 2011-2012
COL 6 - CGY 5 CGY 4 -COL 2
CGY 4 - COL 2 CGY 2 - COL 1
CGY 3 - COL 2 CGY 4 - COL 3
CGY 9 - COL 1 CGY 3 - COL 2
CGY 5 - COL 2 COL 2 - CGY 1 (OT)
CGY 2 - COL 1 COL 4 - CGY 1

Calgary is a ridiculous 9-2-1 against the Avs in the last 2 seasons. The Avalanche are 3-9-0.

Not so fun fact: The Avalanche have accounted for 10.4% of Calgary’s total points this year. Despite having a season goal differential of -28, the Flames have gained 9 of 12 possible points against the Avs this year.

Its depressing to look back at where the Avs fell short, but on the bright side, a few good bounces in these games and our Avs are in the playoffs this season. Hopefully the young guys have learned from tough luck games like these and we can see a lot less of them next season.

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