Welcome back to earth, fellow Avalanche fans. After a strong home opener on Wednesday, the Avalanche had to travel to Nashville overnight, arriving around 3 AM on the morning of the game. It showed. The team had a few flashes early, but looked flatter and flatter as the night wore on. Nashville won 4-0, with Chris Mason gathering his 9th career shutout (2nd vs the Avs).
While Mason was tested early, he was able to coast through most of the 2nd half of the game. Colorado did put up 35 shots (with 5 each from Marek Svatos and Andrew Brunette), but many were relatively harmless. For most of the game, the team lacked jump and seemed to be just going through the motions. Svatos and Wojtek Wolski were probably the two best Avs on the ice for most of the night, although neither was good enough to carry the rest of the team.
At the other end of the rink, Peter Budaj was pulled after the 4th goal, allowing Tyler Weiman to make his NHL debut. Weiman stopped all 10 shots that he faced - one of the few positives the team can take home from the game. Budaj certainly can't shoulder the blame for the loss (he really had no chance on two of the goals). Then again, there are goalies in the NHL who can carry their teams through games like this.
No, I'm not making a case to abandon Budaj. He'll be fine. As will the team. I'm chalking this up more to the early season travel than anything else (and the Preds are a much better team than people think). A few more games like this, though...
My astute observations from the game...
20:00 It's the Nashville broadcast tonight, which means Terry Crisp. I don't like Terry Crisp, and I'm not ashamed to admit that it's largely because of his annoying voice. Yes, I'm shallow. Sue me. (Please don't).
19:42 You knew this would be coming: the white jerseys are just slightly less ugly than the dark jerseys. Still ugly, though.
19:26 Sakic gets his pocket picked by Arnott. Budaj has to make a tough save.
19:00 According to Crisp, "Josie Tea-A-Door" is injured for the Avs. Too bad we didn't still have that "Wah" guy to fill in.
18:02 Radulov and Bonk are playing together. For some reason, those two names sound GREAT together. They should open a law firm some day. Radulov & Bonk, Attorneys at Law!
17:16 Guite feeds Hlinka for a good scoring chance.
16:44 Penalty. Liles for interference.
16:39 1st PK looks like the same squad as last night – Guite, Smith, Clark, Hannan
15:31 1-0 Nashville. Arnott one-times a rocket past Budaj. Why didn't we spend money on penalty killers this summer?
13:54 Arnason is hit by Tootoo, driving the Nahsville fans into a apoplectic frenzy.
13:36 And Leopold gets hit by Nichol.
13:07 Other than the Hlinka chance, I'm not sure we've had a shot. The team looks tired.
11:51 Stastny finds Brunette in front. Great save by Chris Mason. Stastny gets a wraparound rebound, also stopped by Mason.
11:33 Mason stones Hejduk from point blank. The Avs offense is heating up a bit.
11:08 Ortmeyer called for interference.
9:07 PP is killed off, no shots.
8:42 Budaj stacks the pads to stop Legwand!
5:34 Nasvhille 2-0. Dumont feeds it through Hannan's legs in front of the net, right to the stick of a wide open Jason Arnott. Hannan looked awful on the play, but you also have to look at Brunette there. He saw Arnott breaking in and was very slow to react. This happened often last year – a forward failed to come back to help out, making the defense look bad.
3:00 Slashing on the Predators (Nichol).
1:02 A rather anemic powerplay chance ends.
:04 Wolski and Svatos have a great shift together. Wolski again is working harder than he often did last year.
18:15 3-0 Nashville. Dan Hamuis scores the 3rd backdoor goal of the night for the Predators. Hey Avalanche – might want to cover that guy…
16:19 Sauer with a good point shot. He seems like he's a bit more active offensively so far this year.
16:01 It's not just Crisp's voice. What he's saying is just as annoying as hearing him saying it.
14:10 Guite feeds Smith in front. Great scoring chance.
14:05 But the turnaround play results in a breakaway for former Manchester Monarch Jared Smithson. Smithson is stopped by a brilliant diving play from Karlis Skrastins. Dangerous play from Skrastins, but it worked perfectly.
13:58 Suddenly, the intensity is ramped up. Lapperiere and Tootoo tangle, but the fight ends quickly. Crisp calls the box the "bad-boy box". Guh.
13:25 Erat takes Clark hard into the board. Clark goes down and stays on the ice for a few seconds before slowly getting to his feet.
11:27 Wolski intercepts a clearing attempt from Radulov
11:14 and draws a penalty on the following play. Hooking on old friend Greg de Vries. Crisp tells us that de Vries was "doing nothing" while showing us the replay of his stick wrapped around Wolski.
11:02 I swear, if they mention that Andrew Brunette used to play for the Predators one more time, I will scream.
10:11 Ryan Smyth gets called for holding, wiping out the PP
7:33 Crisp compares Hamuis to Bobby Orr, suggesting they start calling him Bobby Hamuis.
5:39 Penalty on Leopold. The Predators go on a Tennessee Lottery Power Play.
0:00 The players from both teams get together as time expires, but nothing develops.
19:16 Nice save by Budaj on a shot from Legwand.
18:59 And a picture perfect glove save from Budaj on a point shot from Zidlicky
17:48 The Avs passes are missing by a country mile. Most are not even coming close to the sticks. I think part of that may be due to the fact that they are skating like they are playing their 2nd game in 24 hours, and can't catch up to the passes.
15:47 4-0. A point shot from de Vries blows past Budaj. There was traffic, but that one really needed to be stopped.
14:33 Smyth fires Liles' perfect centering pass over a wide open net.
10:19 Holding penalty on Skrastins. Not that it matters. The announcers are talking about Budaj's save…while the replay is showing us that it's Tyler Weiman in net. I have no idea when the change was made, but I assume it was after the 4th goal. I backed up the Tivo, and there seems to be no mention of it (not surprising, as the announcers still think it's Budaj).
9:51 "Budaj" makes another save. From the bench. He's THAT good, people.
8:22 And someone figured it out, as they call Weiman's name, and add that he's in net now. Um, thanks. Crisp mentions Quenneville has decided to "give Budaj a rest". Awful, awful commentary. I mean Nashville's, not mine.
6:42 Svatos gets a nice backhander off on Mason.
1:41 I just remembered that Joe from MHH is in the stands tonight. Somehow, I'm blaming tonight's game on him.
1:33 Zanon hits Sakic, and Smyth immediately comes to his defense, leveling Zanon from behind. There's a tangle of players on the ice, and Smyth gets a roughing penalty. I like the message Smyth is sending there. If there's anything positive to come out of this game, besides perhaps the play of Wolski or Svatos, it's the show of heart from Smyth there as he came to the defense of his captain.
Same combos as on Wednesday, although Svatos saw a bit of time on the 3rd line, and looked good. It wouldn't shock me to see him flip-flopped with Lapperiere at some point.
- Smyth, Sakic, Hejduk
- Hlinka, Stastny, Brunette
- Wolski, Arnason, Laperriere
- Smith, Guite, Svatos
- Hannan, Clark
- Liles, Skrastins
- Sauer, Leopold
- The Avs managed just 1 shot on the powerplay (4:45 with the man advantage)
- Besides the hit on Sakic, Greg Zanon had 6 blocked shots for the Predators.
- Remember the rumors that the Avs would pursue Sheldon Souray? I caught the end of the Sharks - Oilers last night. Late in the game, Edmonton had the lead, but the Sharks were pressing. Souray's weak clearing attempt was kept in, and then he got nailed for a blatant hold while trying to defend against Joe Thornton. The Sharks scored on the resulting PP, sending the game to OT. The Oilers pulled it out in the shootout, but that sequence serves as a great reminder to be thankful that Souray is not wearing an ugly Avalanche uniform right now.
Mile High Hockey (Joe, unfortunately, was at the game)
The Avs host Thornton and the Sharks on Sunday, then have 4 games off before visiting the Blues on Friday.