For the most part, I've really liked almost everything I've seen from the Avs this season. I think Roy has done a great job getting the players to commit to a full team defensive system, and the offense has been clicking along at a pretty good paces. However, after tonight's 7-3 blowout, it was pretty clear that there is still much work to be done. Some things that have been bouncing around in my head since the final buzzer blew:
1. I've been pretty happy with the way Maxime Talbot has played since coming over from Philly. He's not a goal scorer, and I was hoping he'd at least have a point by now, but he plays a very complete defensive game and thinks the game well. He also would slot in well as a 3rd or 4th line center when MacKinnon inevitably get's moved to the top-6, and one of the other centers gets shipped out of Denver in exchange for some draft picks, or hopefully a good blueliner. That said, it is truly counter productive to have such a good penalty killer on your team when he spends so much of the PK time in the penalty box. He needs to be one of those veteran guys who never takes a stupid penalty (like he did tonight, leading to the Blue's first goal). Quite frankly the same goes for John Mitchell and Erik Johnson too. Those guys are too good at killing penalties to be spending as much time in the sin bin as they do. The discipline needs to come.
2. Speaking of discipline, what was going on with the fighting tonight...? Sarich and McCleod had no reason to drop the gloves and get pummeled the way they did, and Sarich to my knowledge never returned to the game after that. McCloed should know better or he shouldn't be wearing an "A". Surprisingly, Matt Duchene was the player who faired the best in his fight, but again, why the hell was he fighting? I'm sure he spent a long time in the box thinking about how he was going to score that pretty goal, but really...? Why...? Also I'm not sure what his deal is with Sabotka, that is who he fought in his only other NHL fight.
3. Since he's been brought up, Sabotka is an absolute monster in the face-off circle. And the Avs as a whole sucked there tonight, with the exception of Paul Stastny who was 10-13 (77%).
4. St. Louis's top line is AWESOME. Steen is a virtual lock to make the Swedish Olympic Team, and was barely in the conversation at the start of the year. I thought Backes played the best out of all of them though. He's big, physical, and very skilled. They outgunned and outmuscled Colorado all night and won all the tough battles they needed to in order to score. Take note Landeskog, you played a very slow and unenthusiastic game tonight. O'Reilly was better, but I could still stand to see him be a little more physical. I do like him more at wing than at center though. I hope he's enjoying it too because I don't want to see him go sign somewhere else to play center.
5. The ROR, Dutchy, PAP line played like crap for the first 40 minutes and very well in the third period after Duchene came back from his timeout. They need to bring that more often than they have in the last few games.
6. MacKinnon is looking more and more like a true top-6 guy at this point. I think the 3rd line role was really good for him at the beginning of the season, But he is quickly (if he hasn't already) outgrowing that role, and looked pretty good centering ROR and PA when Duchene was in the box for fighting. He only took 3 faceoffs, but he won 2 of them, and skated 19:51. He is taking full advantage of the opportunity to play with Landeskog and Stastny, even though he is a better center than wing. I'd say he should stay there to build some chemistry with Landy until Tanguay comes back, because I still expect Stastny to be gone in the next 2 years, despite how well he's currently playing.
7. I thought the officiating was mediocre at times and bad at others. But if you need good calls to win a game you didn't deserve to win anyways. Definitely wasn't a fan of how Bordeleau was given a second misconduct for taking his position on the ice when his line was on, not fighting when the referee told him not to, and playing hard and going after the puck during that shift until the whistle blew. I mean really what was he supposed to do? Go back and tell Roy that he didn't want to play that shift? He deserved the first one, and McCleod definitely deserved his, but Bordy didn't even get into a fight during the game. At least also give a misconduct to the guy who had actually gotten into a fight during the game (Reaves). Plus it was pretty unlikely that he was going to play again during the game anyways. Just unnecessary if you ask me.
8. What happened to our wonderful PK...?
9. And finally, I'm pretty unimpressed with the disparity between the play in the 1st and 3rd periods and the 2nd period. This has really been a trend all year long. It needs to change, you can't win a lot hockey games playing with low effort and slack discipline in the middle period.
Duchene's goal was pretty. He was also a +1 on the night. Johnson, and McGinn were also +1
Erik Johnson continues to play well. As of tonight he has more points this year than Chris Stewart. (HA HA)
Chris Stewart is also a -3 this year (EJ is a +11), only plays 13 minutes a game, and spends almost as much time in the penalty box as he does on the ice. And St. Louis is paying him $4,150,000 a year to do that. Also seeing him tonight made me glad he's not on our team.
Stastny won 10 of 13 faceoffs
MacKinnon scored again. You could just feel it coming, and it's exciting.
O'Reilly had a goal and an assist. He continue's to play well defensively and offensively, and is a boss at LW.
Nick Holden had an assist. He's playing well offensively, which sort of makes up for his not so great defense.
I know we got handed our butts on a platter tonight, but it's still exciting to be an Avs fan again. WHY NOT US?