Welcome back to earth, Colorado Avalanche. I hope you enjoyed your short stay among the playoff-tier teams. On paper, the Avs were supposed to be the fresher team, with an extra day of rest on the Blackhawks. On the ice, the Avs looked like they had made the 1,000 mile trek to Chicago on foot. Heck, I love to watch Martin Havlat work his magic too...but I'm not sure that the best time to stop and admire his work is while you're on the ice. Colorado's overall lack of effort was distressing, especially considering they were outworked by a team that had played the day before.
Yes, Nikolai Khabibulin was excellent, as he always seems to be against Colorado (why does every goalie not named "Dwayne Roloson" seem to have the Avs number?). But 12 shots in the first two periods probably wouldn't get it done with Bea Arthur in net.
Chicago's winning goal was scored on a bullet of a shot by Adrian Aucoin on the powerplay in the 2nd. Patrice Brisebois started the ball rolling on this with a play that can only be described as "monumentally stupid": with no Blackhawk within 30 feet of him, Brisebois inexplicably fired a pass right into a crowd of Avalanche players in the middle of a line change, causing a delay of game penalty. Just in case that wasn't enough of a boost to the opposition, Brisebois took another penalty on the ensuing PP. As a result, even when the Avs killed of the first penalty off, they were stuck with Andrew Brunette having stay on to kill the 2nd penalty after coming out of the box. And that's how the Avs gave up the eventual game winner.
With Brad Richardson out due to an elbow injury (day to day), coach Quenneville decided to make Antti Laaksonen a healthy scratch and play defensemen Ken Klee as a forward for the 2nd time this season. I don't mind Klee as a forward (the line of Klee, Laperriere and Rycroft was pretty good) and I know that Laaksonen hasn't brought a ton to the table lately. But the move just seems too "cute" to me, especially with Q essentially abandoning it in the 3rd - Klee moved back to defense, Kurt Sauer remained glued to the bench, and the Avs were left playing with 10 forwards.
Forward Even Strength Lines
- Sakic, Wolski, Brunette: 8 shots, 16:46 ATOI, +1
- Arnason, McLean, Hejduk: 11 shots, 14:09 ATOI, Even
- Stastny, Turgeon, Svatos: 4 shots, 9:43 ATOI, Even
- Laperriere, Rycroft, Klee: 1 shot, 12:35 ATOI, Even
Defensive Pairings (Even Strength)
- Clark & Skrastins, 17:56 ATOI, 0 shots, +1
- Liles & Sauer, 13:39 ATOI, 3 shots, -1
- Brisebois & Vaananen, 15:38, 2 shots, Even
- Havlat is 2nd on the Blackhawks in scoring, despite having played in just 13 of their 32 games.
- Former Blackhawk Tyler Arnason leads the Avs in even strength scoring. 20 of his 25 points have come at even strength.
- Pierre Turgeon has been solid since joining the lineup, but his return has negatively impacted Marek Svatos. Svatos was moved from the Sakic line to join Turgeon and Stastny. In the 4 games before the shift, Svatos had 3 points and 16 shots. In the 4 games he's played since the shift, he has 1 assist and just 6 shots. His ice time has also shrunk dramatically - he appeared for just 3 shifts in the 3rd period last night, less than any Av not named Kurt Sauer (0 shifts). Room for one more in the Q dog house, Kurt?
- The Denver Post is reporting that Jordan Leopold is out for at least a month with a groin pull.
- Later today, to celebrate the highest number of monthly hits since starting this thing (with 2 weeks to go still) I'll be doing a major update to the AvStats section. This will probably be the biggest update of the year, with the addition of PP and Even Strength scoring. I'll probably have additional tweaks as the season goes on, but this one's the big one. As always, thanks for reading!