Well, that was interesting. First things first: after so many games they should have gotten a point and didn't, the Avs (well, Peter Budaj) finally stole a point they didn't deserve. This isn't even on the table for discussion; if not for Budaj, the Avs would have gotten smoked. The real question getting disputed right now on hockey message boards around the world: Did the Avs play like ass, or are the Wings that good.
I would submit that it is far more the latter than the former. Yes, the Avs played stupidly. For some reason, they got fancy, with tricky passes going all over the ice (but rarely to the intended target). I swear, I had to check to make sure that Alex Tanguay hadn't suddenly rejoined the team. I don't know who told the Avs that they had the talent to out-skill the Red Wings, but I hope they don't make that mistake again. EVER. Still, even not playing like a team full of Sandis Ozolinshes, the Avs would have struggled against Detroit. The Red Wings are really, really good. Scary good. They have skill (Pavel Datsyuk as some insane moves), they have experience (I believe Chris Chelios invented hockey), they have cohesion (many key players have been on the team for years), and they play within their system. Tack on Dominik Hasek, and this, in my opinion, is the team to beat in the NHL. Luckily, Hasek is just one misunderstood drunken joke from Chelios away from throwing his annual hissy fit and quitting on the team er, suffering a groin injury. But until that happens, this team is frighteningly good. I love my Avs, and I think they can compete with almost every team in the NHL, but Detroit is just a bit over their heads. So, I will happily take that point, thank you, and hope that in the next game (January 20th), the Avalanche will not be fooled into thinking they can play a skilled game against the Wings.
Oh, and while we're at it, can we just put the kibosh on using Pierre Turgeon in OT? Seeing him get stuck out there for 2 full minutes was scary to watch. When Skrastins had control of the puck, and his outlet was an exhausted Turgeon doing his best to become invisible against the boards...well, you know where that pass is going to go, right? And you know that it's not going to end well (Datsyuk ran over Turgeon to set up the zillionth Detroit scoring chance of the night). We can argue all day about what Turgeon brings or doesn't bring to the team, but 4 on 4 hockey should not be an option again. Please.
With Liles out (and Brisebois still out), Ken Klee switched back to defense as expcted, taking Liles' old spot with Ossi Vaananen. Antti Laaksonen was a scratch, with Turgeon and Brett McLean returning to the lineup.
- Sakic, Wolski, Svatos: 13:14, 0 pts, 6 shots, E
- Arnason, McLean, Laperriere: 8:38, 0 pts, 2 shots, +1
- Stastny, Brunette, Hejduk: 13:45, 1 pt, 8 shots, +1
- Guite, Turgeon, Rycroft: 8:16, 1 pt, 3 shots, E
- Clark & Skrastins: 15:41, 0 pts, 3 shots, E
- Klee & Vaananen: 17:33, 0 pts, 1 shot, +2
- Cumiskey & Sauer: 13:21, 0 pts, 2 shots, E
- I didn't watch Versus' postgame, but I'm pretty sure the answer to the trivia question (which 2 teams have 2 rookies with 10+ goals) is Colorado (Stastny, Wolski) and Pittsburgh (Malkin, Staal).
- I don't want to single Cumiskey out, because every Avalanche not wearing Ned Flanders on their helmet looked bad last night. But have you noticed he's looking worse and worse defensively in each game he's played? Maybe those fancy moves he got away with in his debut have given him too much confidence to try some things he shouldn't be trying in his zone.
- Brett Clark had his first PP point in 13 games and Arnason had his first PP point in 12.
- Ben Guite's first career NHL goal was a thing of beauty. With the Wings on a powerplay, Guite got to the puck, tapped it in the air past Brett Lebda, and was off to the races, choosing to take the shot himself instead of passing to a trailing Brett McLean. Scoring your first on Hasek has to be a big thrill.