Welcome to the future.
The Colorado Avalanche finally were on the winning end of a 3-2 game, as they defeated the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center. If you haven't been following the Avs lately, you're going to notice some unfamiliar names on the scoresheet. Yes, Burnaby Joe had two assists (and a strong overall game). But this game was won on scoring by the youngsters Marek Svatos and Wojtek Wolski; if things go as expected, you'll be reading sentences like that for the next several years.
Other than what essentially was one long powerplay in the first period of the first game, Colorado has been kept off the scoresheet with the man advantage. They broke out of that slump in strong fashion, scoring all 3 goals on the powerplay. Wolski scored the first (Paul Stastny collected his first career point by assisting on that). Svatos scoring the next two, doing what he does best - finding an opening for his 175 lb frame in front of the net and shooting (or deflecting with his skate). Meanwhile, Colorado's penalty killers have yet to allow a goal; heck, with Brad Richardson's shortie on Thursday, they've outscored their opponents 1-0 while shorthanded.
Colorado's goaltending was, for the third straight game, extremely solid. Jose Theodore didn't have to be quite as flashy as his counterpart Roberto Luongo was, but there's really nothing about his game that I can find fault with at this point. Keep in mind, though, that the Avs goaltending looked pretty good for the first 3 games last year too.
Certainly not the greatest win of all time - the Avs are still having a hard time generating even strength pressure, and the Canucks don't exactly look like a Cup contender this year, but it's a nice win to build on.
- There's been some talk that Paul Stastny is just around until some of the injured dead weight (sorry, Pierre, I'm looking at you here) start returning. But he has played extremely well, especially in his own end of his ice. Think about this: Stastny is 20 years old. He was a 2nd round pick, and his father is one of the best players to ever dress for this franchise. So, is the rookie circling the neutral zone waiting for a breakout pass? Nope, he's behind his own net, battling along the boards for the puck, when a lot of young guys with that kind of pedigree would be thinking offense first. There's a reason he's third among forwards in PK minutes.
- It's only three games, but so far Tyler Arnason looks like a complete waste of $950,000. I'd rather have George Parros out there causing havoc than watch this guy practice his figure skating all night long.
- The Sedins are scary. Very scary. But they were much more effective for Vancouver when they were the 2nd line, and would kill you when teams focused on Markus Naslund & Todd Bertuzzi. Even with Luongo, the Canucks just look too thin. I think it's a mistake to pair Naslund with the Sedins, because there's basically no offensive pressure after that. Right now, Vancouver looks to be the weakest of the 5 NW teams.
- Meanwhile, that big Vancouver - Colorado rivalry is pretty much a fizzle. It's not just that Bertuzzi is gone. These just aren't teams built around physical intimidation, and without that nasty factor, you just won't see stuff fester like you might have with some of the players both teams had in the past.
- Note to the Altitude cameraman: I wouldn't mind watching some hockey. You think you could - oh, I don't know - zoom out a bit so that I can see both the shooter and the net? It sounds crazy, but I really do prefer that way. Did you apprentice at OLN last year, perhaps?
- And as long as I'm going to vent, can the people at the Pepsi Center please fix the penalty clock? In the Dallas game, the clock on Sydor's penalty didn't start for 30 seconds, meaning he got let out while some Avs thought he still had 30 seconds left to serve. That didn't end very well for us. Last night, there was a stoppage in play with 1 second left on Rycroft's penalty. Except, apparently, there wasn't a second left - Rycroft was let out early...or was it late?
The Avs have the week off, but will need the rest. After 5 days off, Colorado plays 5 games the following week on the way to playing a grueling 7 games in 11 days, including a three game swing in my time zone against the eastern Canadian teams.