It's a cold, rainy Monday morning here in NH, but my spirits will not be dampened. The Avalanche looked terrific last night as they dumped the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Although I think many of us felt the drubbing we took in Nashville was more an aberration than anything else, it was still comforting to see the Avs get back on track so quickly and with such authority.
There were a ton of positives in last night's game. Peter Budaj was solid in net, rebounding well from a tough outing on Thursday. Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos all scored their first goal of the season. Ryan Smyth scored his first goal as an Av. The team finally converted on the powerplay. TWICE! And the team outhit the Sharks 19-12 with guys like Ian Laperriere, Ben Guite Jeff Finger, Kurt Sauer showing both a willingness to hit and a willingness to protect their teammates. Heck, even Sakic got involved in a little post-whistle scrummage - for the 2nd time this season.
Most impressive to me was the penalty killing. Colorado killed a Milan Hejduk double minor early in the first period, and looked strong all night. The potent San Jose powerplay was on the ice often (6:26 on 7 powerplays) but didn't get many opportunties. In fact, the Avs penalty killers outshot the Shark's powerplay unit 4-3. While the Sharks did score one PP goal late, long after the game was decided, that was a stellar effort overall.
Faceoffs, meanwhile, continue to be nasty. Ben Guite: 1 of 10. Tyler Arnason: 3 of 12. Hejduk: 1 of 5. Awful stuff, those faceoffs.
On to my ramblings...
19:30 The 4th line starts, and gets good pressure right off the bat. Jeff Finger is in the lineup tonight. Surprisingly (but correctly) Karlis Skrastins is the scratch instead of Kurt Sauer. I've been working on some TOI stuff lately, and had noticed Skrastins' ice time was dropping, especially in the 3rd period. I was saving that info for an article later this week, but now that becomes moot. Oh well. Maybe I'll just post pictures of hot women; that seems to work okay...
19:12 Budaj flips the puck around to Scott Hannan, who is looking in a totally different direction. There's been a few early examples of miscommunication involving Hannan. Certainly understandable.
18:48 Hejduk gets a double minor for high sticking
14:44 Guite, Smith, Hannan and Clark started off the kill. I tracked the forwards on this:
- Guite and Smith
- Lappy and Smith
- Hlinka and Sakic
- Smyth and Stastny (with 2 scoring chances)
- Guite and Smith
- Hlinka and Lappy
- Smyth and Sakic
- Smyth and Guite
Quenneville used 7 of the 11 available forwards (sorry Wolski, Svatos, Arnason and Brunette) over the 4 minutes, mostly in relatively short (15-25 second) shifts. The Avs kill it off. I believe San Jose managed just 1 shot.
14:06 Svatos makes a pretty drop pass to Wolski
12:48 There's some shoving after the whistle. Sauer and Sakic are right in the the thick of it.
12:45 Joe Pavelski gets called for a slash against Hlinka. On the powerplay, the Avs first unit is Stastny, Smyth, Hejduk, Sakic and Liles.
11:16 The 2nd unit is Svatos, Brunette, Arnason, Clark and Hannan. I'm a bit surprised that Wolski isn't being used here.
10:00 My mother is here visiting, and half-watching the game with my wife and I. Even she agrees that the new jerseys are totally ridiculous.
5:20 Kurt Sauer and Steve Bernier get involved in a shoving match in the crease after a whistle. I really like Sauer. It's true that he doesn't get the big hits along the boards people want to see, but he's a policeman in front of the net. I like the idea of having both Sauer and Finger in the lineup - they make the team tougher.
5:05 Oh, how I adore Jeremy Roenick. Marc Vlasic gets called for a hook on Hlinka. Roenick gets sent to the box for being an all-around annoying guy (officially listed as "interference"). Roenicks exaggerated machinations of mock indignation are, as always, extremely hilarious. The Avs go on a 5 on 3.
4:42 Colorado 1-0! Stastny dishes to Sakic sneaking into the slot. Sakic buries his 611th career goal, moving him ahead of Bobby Hull into 14th on the all-time goal list. Although this was clearly scored while on a 5 on 3, the official box score is, as of the following morning, listing this as an even strength goal. Nice work, NHL!
2:21 Joe Thornton gets called for a hold on Guite. Guite does a marvelous job at getting in front of Thornton and then positioning himself to draw the penalty.
2:07 Colorado 2-0! Hejduk walks in and beats Evgeni Nabokov 5-hole. Sakic sprung him with a no-look pass at the blueline. With the assist, he moves past Phil Esposito into 8th on the all-time scoring list. Not bad.
18:04 Vlasic gets his 2nd penalty of the night with a cross-check on Ryan Smyth. Really, it was more like a punch to the back of the head, but that's hard to fit on the score sheet.
17:31 Liles gets called for interference for accidentally running a pick on Kyle McLaren
15:39 The Sharks get called for too many men when Vlasic comes out of the box and skates to the bench (both Vlasic and his replacement make a play for the puck). Roenick serves, but doesn't do any of his "what, me?" schtick?
13:04 Brett Clark gets a big hit on some one.
12:13 2-1 Colorado. San Jose scores when Tyler Arnason and Marek Svatos team up for some ugly own-zone hockey. Finger outlets to Arnason from behind the net. Arnason's weak clearing stab is deflected. Both Arnason and Svatos have a chance to get to the bouncing puck, but both are too tentative. Instead, Joe Pavelski gets it first and takes a shot. Budaj stops it, but Ryane Clowe puts the rebound home to cut the lead to one.
11:25 Joe Thornton walks in with 3 other Sharks. His shot is stopped by Budaj, and Jordan Leopold calmly gathers the meaty rebound and clears the puck.
9:22 Lappy and Clowe get together and gab about the weather and the latest fall fashions.
8:46 Leopold gets called for slashing
7:40 After a Thornton shot, Altidude Mike Haynes points out that "Thornton usually thinks pass first". Obviously, Haynes doesn't read this crappy blog, because I pointed out yesterday that Thornton is shooting more this year. Oh by the way, Thornton had 6 shots in the game, tops for both teams.
1:47 Finger gets a big hit on Craig Rivet.
19:08 Colorado 3-1! Stastny gets the goal, but Hejduk makes it happen. Hedjuk breaks in with 3 Sharks surrounding him. He gets a shot of, but it gets blocked by a defenseman. Undaunted, he gets the puck back, skates around the net, and finds Stastny breaking to the net. Let's keep these guys together, coach.
17:18 Colorado 4-1! The rout is on. Stastny dishes to Smyth. Smyth's shot is stopped, but Hejduk slams the rebound home.
15:52 Lappy fights Doug Murray. Not the most spectacular of fights.
14:44 Ben Guite goes off after taking a skate to the chest.
12:12 Colorado 5-1! This one's probably firmly in hand now. Wolski starts the play on the sideboards, passes to Arnason. Arnason passes back to Finger at the point. Finger fires a hard shot, that is deflected in front by a circling Marek Svatos.
11:54 Colorado 6-1! And Ryan Smyth makes it a 5-goal lead, pushing home a loose puck from in front of the net. It's Smyth's first goal as an Avalanche. Stastny gets an assist on the play, for his first career 5-point night (2 games after his first career hat trick). Man, the kid just can't catch a break, can he? That ends the night for Nabokov. Dmitri Patzold relieves him.
10:50 Wyatt Smith is penalized for high sticking
8:56 Ryan Smyth celebrates an end to the PP by getting a hooking penalty.
6:12 Milan Michalek hits Finger in the crease after the whistle. Finger responds by hitting Michalek. Both get roughing penalties, and Craig Rivet gets called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
4:18 Wyatt Smith almost joins the ranks of goal scorers, poking in a rebound past Patzold. Unfortunately, the whistle blew as this was happening and the goal was waved off.
3:55 Svatos gets the 4th Avalanche minor penalty of the period. It didn't affect the outcome of the game, but the team can't afford to take penalties like they did tonight.
2:07 Colorado 6-2. Ryane Clowe scores on the PP to close out the scoring.
As I mentioned above, Skrastins was scratched tonight for Jeff Finger, and played in Skrastins slot with Liles. All 4 forward lines were changed.
- Hlinka - Sakic - Brunette
- Smyth - Stastny - Hejduk
- Wolski - Arnason - Svatos
- Smith - Guite - Laperriere
- Clark - Hannan
- Leopold - Sauer
- Liles - Finger
- Kurt Sauer had an odd statistical night. He had one shot, one attempt blocked, one missed shot, one hit, one takeaway, one giveaway and one blocked shot.
- 7 of the 9 Avs on the score sheet notched their first points of the season.
- During the first intermission, Kyle Keefe interviewed Joe Sakic and asked him about his two milestone achievements tonight. Predictably, brushed that question aside to focus on the team's improved performance. After the game, Keefe interviewed Paul Stastny, and asked him about his 5-point night. Stastny brushed the question aside to focus on the team's improved performance. He'll be a great captain someday.
Other Great Recaps
The Avs are off all week before taking on the Blues in St Louis on Friday. They host the Blue Jackets on Saturday.