This is probably not the game anyone expected. It was a game that showcased two of the higher scoring teams in the NHL, and two of the less-than-airtight defenses. In one net, you had a backup that Nashville acquired on waivers. In the other...well, you know how I feel about Jose Theodore. But instead of the normal Colorado-Nashville shootout, we came up on the losing end of a 1-0 game.
Chris Mason was outstanding, turning away all 42 Colorado shots. Mason is 3-0 against the Avalanche, and his two best games in terms of saves have come against Colorado. Think we might see him again this year? Yeah, me too. Mason - a backup to Tomas Vokoun - has 3 shutouts since the lockout, which is, let me think...hey, just 3 more than Jose Theodore!
In fairness, Theo looked pretty good all night, except for getting beat on a shot from Scott Upshall from the blueline. Theodore took a lazy stab at the shot and got beat. It's not the first time this year he's given up a soft goal by giving a half-assed effort, and I doubt it's going to be the last. Maybe I'm being unfair for taking one play off...but that one play means one point and at least one position in the standings.
Colorado's defense played much tighter in front of Theodore. The Avs switched around the defensive pairing a bit, putting Patrice Brisebois with John-Michael Liles and moving Ken Klee to Brisebois' old spot with a much improved Ossi Vaananen. While it worked out well in this game, I'm not sure I like those pairings on a regular basis. Both pairs seem to have pretty similar deficiencies - Brisebois and Liles tend to get caught up ice and Klee and Vaananen are not very good puckhandlers; I'd much rather see a partnering (Liles/Vaananen Klee/Brisebois) where one player has some skills that the other lacks. I also think the Avs should not be afraid to break up the top pairing of Karlis Skrastins and Brett Clark. Clark has been steady all year, building on his breakout season last year, but Skrastins has had some inconsistent moments. Maybe a new partner would help him break out of his mini-funk. I wonder what the Latvian word for "funk" is...
- Quenneville also juggled the forward lines, changing the right wingers around on the first three lines. Hejduk left the kid line to rejoin Brunette and Sakic. Laperriere moved up from the Arnason line to replace him, and Marek Svatos dropped from Sakic's line down to the third line in an effort to keep him away from opponents top defenders. Hejduk seemed to respond well to the move, putting 5 shots on net plus 3 more that went wide.
- Speaking of Svatos, Altitude used him in one of those "You're watching Altitude" promos, with a graphic identifying him as "Eric" Svatos. 92 NHL games and a run at the Calder Trophy, and the network that covers your team can't be bothered to get your name right.
- Ken Klee has been on the ice for the last 5 power play goals scored against Colorado. Meanwhile, Brett Clark - Colorado's leader in PK minutes - has not been on the ice for a powerplay goal scored over the last 6 games, an impressive stretch of 21:10 of ice time.