The way I see it, the Colorado Avalanche owes me $150.
$150 is how much I wasted on tickets, gasoline and food to see them play the Predators at the Sommet Center in Nashville. Well, they didn't actually play the Predators. That would involve having some kind of impact against them at all, which the Avalanche didn't.
On the back of a relatively impressive win against the Dallas Stars the night before, the Avalanche flew into Nashville apparently just to get beaten and beaten up. It was a sad spectacle that I got to watch while sandwiched between some hefty Nashville hockey fans in the crowded upper level of the Predators' home arena. I got to endure the dozens of variations of "you suck" that the Nashville crowd chants at every game after every goal, big hit, and penalty. I got to endure all of this wearing an Avalanche jersey and hat---which, as you can imagine, kind of stood out.
The Predators scored early on a power play, when Jason Arnott put a big, booming shot past Budaj from the point. Then he scored again at even strength by stuffing the puck through Budaj's legs during a scrum in front of the net. Both of these goals were in the first period.
In the meantime, the Avalanche players looked strong early but then seemed to completely lose their way, skating around without direction or purpose. The defense started getting weak in the slot. The offense couldn't string together any decent scoring chances. Everybody took too many hits and got roughed up along the boards. In the second period Brett Clark took a huge hit that knocked the wind out of him---just a standard occurrence on this night.
Peter Budaj allowed four goals on 22 shots, something that must never happen again. Coach Q replaced him in the third period with Tyler Weiman, who finished with ten saves on as many shots for his own virtual shutout.
Speaking of shutouts, Chris Mason is for real. I've never seen (in real life) a goalie look so perfectly positioned during an entire game. There were questions about his ability to fill-in permanently for the departed Thomas Vokoun, but I don't think the Predators will have anything to worry about. He made every save look easy.
That said, the Predators really won't have to worry if every team they play takes pitiful shots on goal like the Avalanche did last night. Nearly every Colorado shot was a weak blooper, easy to see and stop. The Predators, on the other hand, put huge, difficult shots on goal the entire game. Said Coach Q:
Nashville scored the type of goals that they generally do. They get it back to the point and blast away into traffic.
Clearly, that works pretty well. Why don't the Avalanche do that more? Nothing else seemed to work against the Predators' crushing defense, so why didn't Liles and Leopold take over and start peppering the net from the point?
Changing topics, Joe Sakic looked to be off of his game against the Dallas Stars in the opening matchup of the season for the Avs. Last night against the Predators, he really looked off of his game. He looked outmatched everywhere on the ice. I would not be surprised to learn that he is fighting the flu or some other kind of illness, because he just didn't seem like the same player to me.
And when is Ryan Smyth going to earn his fat paycheck?
Finally, on a statistical note, the Avalanche did much better in the faceoff circle, winning 47% of the drops. That's better. The penalty kill was also a bit better, going 3-4 against a very strong Nashville power play unit. Scott Hannan, who also still needs to justify his fat contract, finished the night at - 2. And the Avalanche were out-hit 22 to 5.
The next game for the Avalanche is Sunday, October 7th against the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Let's hope Colorado decides to show up to this game.
And they still owe me $150.
Stars Of The Game
- Jason Arnott
- Chris Mason
- JP Dumont