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Recap: Avalanche 4, Oilers 2

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In many ways, this game was just what the Colorado Avalanche needed. After a 5-game string of mostly lousy play, the Avs bounced back last night in a big way, stomping the hapless Edmonton Oilers 4-2.The Avalanche dominated from the start. The Oilers didn't manage their first shot on net until midway through the first period. By then, the Avalanche had a 2-0 lead...and all the momentum. Milan Hejduk started the scoring at 4:14, when he slammed home a rebound from Jaroslav Hlinka's wraparound attempt. 25 seconds later, Hejduk dropped the puck back to a wide-open Brett Clark who buried a one-timer past Dwayne Roloson. The Oilers had no jump to start with, and seemed to lose steam after the goals. Kyle Brodziak did have a chance to cut into the lead when a failed Scott Hannan clearing attempt led to Brodziak shooting at a wide open net. He ripped it off the crossbar, and the Oilers missed a golden opportunity to cut the lead to 2-1.

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In the 2nd, the Oilers game eroded even further. Edmonton put Colorado on the powerplay five times in the period. Even an anemic PP is bound to get lucky with that many chances, and last night was no exception. At the 8:45 mark, Paul Stastny somehow found Joe Sakic all alone in the slot in front of Roloson. Sakic waited for about an hour before firing a wicked wrister past Roloson. Wojtek Wolski made it 4-0 late in the period, converting on an odd-man rush started by a steal by Kyle Cumiskey back at the Avs' blueline.

By the start of the 3rd period, the Avs had a 4-0 advantage on the scoreboard, and a 36-9 shot advantage. Dwayne Roloson was lifted at the 2nd intermission for Mathieu Garon - more a of a mercy move than anything else, as Roloson was the only Edmonton player worth a crap in the first 40 minutes. Somewhat predictably, the Avalanche took the foot off the accelerator in the final frame, and the Oilers crawled back to respectability with a couple of goals. It made it slightly more interesting, but the outcome really was never in doubt.

On the whole, the Avalanche played a terrific game. After being on the receiving end of being outworked for two weeks, it was nice to see the Avs as the team getting to the loose pucks. Other than the Hannan boot, the Avs were generally solid at clearing pucks from their zone - and that's certainly something to celebrate. The Avalanche clearly were making an effort to either have a defenseman join the rush, or, at the very least, to make a good head man pass out of the zone instead of the blind dumps they've been doing for two months. It worked. Hlinka played very well on the 2nd line (a line that shut down Edmonton's top line all night long). Hannan showed some nice toughness - a welcome change, even if one of his checks led to an Edmonton goal by Raffi Torres. Hannan's partner Cumiskey also looked good all night, again with the exception of the Torres goal.

So, overall, a good game to build on. If the Avs continue to free up their defensemen, the scoring should go up. I still think the PP needs help (nothing against Wolski, but why is he on the point on the 2nd unit instead of Cumiskey?), but the game was a step in the right direction. My excitement is tempered a bit by the fact that the Oilers seem to, essentially, stink. They're the only team Colorado has beaten in the last two weeks, and in the last two meetings the Avs have outshot the Oilers by a whopping 74-29 margin. 29 shots in two games is flat out awful. It was a good win, but I'm not ready to get carried away. Yet.

{{notes}}My notes on the game can be found here.

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As usual, I wont be able to run the line/shift report until I get home from work. The lines were:


  1. Sakic, Wolski, Brunette

  2. Stastny, Hlinka, Hejduk

  3. Arnason, Smyth, Svatos

  4. Guite, Richardson, McCormick


I'm not thrilled about having Richardson on the 4th line, but, overall I like these lines. I'm a little curious as to why, in a game where the Avs had a lead for all but 4:14 of the game, the 4th line was used for just under 9 minutes at even strength.

Speaking of lines, I'm going to be taking a look at the Avs lines over at MHH later today.

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  • Hopefully, this was just a rest issue and not an injury issue: Joe Sakic had a season-low 14:24 of ice time, and did not appear on the ice during the final 5 minutes of the game.

  • Peter Budaj didn't have much work, but improved to a 4-2 record in November with a 2.75 GAA. As a point of reference, Jose Theodore is 2-3-1 with a 3.27 GAA.

  • For all his flash, Kyle Cumiskey has just 6 shots on net in 13 games. His per game shot average is lower than any other defenseman on the team. Actually, it's lower than everyone on the team other than Scott Parker.


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The Avs travel to San Jose to take on the Sharks on Friday. I'm rather excited, because our pom-pom waving idiot fanboy friend will be in attendance, hopefully wearing this t-shirt. They play again on Saturday against the Kings.

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Mile High Hockey

Colorado Avalanche Talk (once again, MHH and Avs Talk are using the same photo. Way to share a brain, guys!)