Colorado loses again, but it's not for lack of effort. The Avs have been playing very good hockey recently, but it isn't showing up in the standings. Colorado is 4-7 in their last 11 games. Even worse, the Avalanche are 2-7 against NW teams so far in the 2nd half. It doesn't take a calculator to realize that simply wont work.
The Avs, like they've done all year, are leaving too many points on the table. Colorado has just 2 wins fewer than the 8th place Flames. But, Calgary, despite their horrible OT record (1-9) has gotten there enough times to get points. The Avs have lost more 1-goal regulation games than I care to count. Colorado has just 14 points from OT, 11th worse in the West. That's a far cry from their opponent, the Wild, who have an amazing 35 points in OT this year.
There's been talk of changing the scoring to do something about the so-called "3-point games"; 8 of 12 games in the NHL last night went to OT. Twelve teams lose, but eight of them gain a point in the standings for doing so. To remedy this, there's been talking of changing the scoring a bit by awarding 3 points for a regulation win, 2 for an OT win, and 1 for an OT loss. The idea is that each game is worth the same, which make sense. In practice, though, it doesn't change the face of the standings much. Under the 3-point proposal, all 8 playoff teams in the West would be unchanged. All that would happen would be a shuffling of the order slightly. Personally, I don't like either system. If it was up to me, teams would play a 10 minute sudden death OT. You win, you get two. Lose? ZERO. If it's still tied after 10, each team gets a point. (And, fwiw, if you drop all shootout points from the existing standings and convert them to ties, it still doesn't change the 8 playoff teams). I've gone off on a bit of a tangent here, but I guess the bottom line is that, no matter what the point system, the Avs need to convert close games into points in the standings.
Highlights from the game:
15:17 Stephane Veilleux gets called for tripping on Jeff Finger. Finger is on his way to 17 minutes of ice time and a much better game than his NHL debut on Tuesday.
12:12 My notes have Budaj making a notable save on Marian Gaborik here. Obviously, I was hopped up on too much medication, because Gaborik doesn't register an official shot until the 3rd period.
10:58 Colorado has 3 defensemen on the ice (John-Michael Liles, Ken Klee, Kurt Sauer). That's not enough. Lile's clearing attempt gets stopped by C Todd White. White passes to Mark Parrish who somehow finds a wide-open Adam Hall who backhands it into the net. On the play, the Avalanche outnumber the Wild in front of the net, but still allow a guy to get open. Painful to watch. 1-0 Minnesota.
8:13 I'm going to get this out of the way now, and never dip into this well again, so enjoy this one time opportunity: Mark Parrish gets Fingered against the boards. Glad to have that out of the way.
6:45 Penalty on Mikko Koivu for holding. It's the last Wild penalty of the game (Colorado doesn't convert on either opportunity).
5:20 Shorthanded, Pavol Demitra and Gaborik get a 2-1 breakaway with Sakic as the only man back. Sakic holds his ground well, and Demitra hesitates too long before getting a poor shot off. That very easily could have been a goal.
1:52 Brunette has a great chance coming in from behind the net, but Minnesota G Niklas Backstrom makes a sprawling save to keep out the puck.
:50 Interestingly, Karlis Skrastins is without his usual partner Brett Clark. Klee is out there instead. Here's what I don't get: It's late in the period, the draw is in the offensive zone and Colorado needs a goal. The Sakic line is winded...but Joel Quenneville leaves the Hejduk/Stastny line on the bench in favor of the Arnason line. Hejduk has been terrific lately in these situations - 2 goals in the last minute of the period in the last 4 games, and 1 other stellar chance. In addition, your best offensive defenseman (Liles) is also glued to the bench. Strange.
20:00 Jeff Finger starts the period on the ice.
13:36 Paul Stastny goes down to block a shot. Love this kid.
13:17 Klee and Skrastins are together again.
12:00 Jeff Finger records his first NHL shot. Backstrom makes a stick save on the shot from the point.
11:44 Minnesota gets called for Too Many Men. And then the refs change their minds. Altitude never showed a proper replay. Shocking, I know.
10:37 Peter Budaj makes a strong save to keep Colorado in it.
10:00 And another strong save.
5:47 Minnesota is doing a great job funneling the Avs away from the front of the net. All of Colorado's chances so far have been from the side, which Backstrom is stopping easily.
5:38 The inevitable "Wild record with and without Gaborik" is shown.
2:39 Some guy I've never heard of - Wyatt Smith - makes it 2-0 for the Wild. Again, the Avs find themselves unable to cover everyone. Stephane Veilleux is wide open next to the net while Smith skates with the puck past the faceoff circle. Budaj has to be ready for the pass, and gets beaten by Smith's shot.
2:11 The killer. Fresh off of the Smith goal, Ian Laperriere gets called for charging. You cannot do this and win. Not against Wild, not against anyone.
1:20 Minnesota converts. If you saw Kristen Huselius sneak in on the backdoor for an easy PP chance in the games against the Flames, you've seen this play. It's exactly the same, but with different players. This time it's Todd White moving down on the backside without a forward picking him up, and Marion Gaborik finding him with a cross ice pass. It's frustrating to see this play happen again and again. Other teams obviously have it figured out...why can't Colorado? 3-0 Wild, and Minnesota is smothering the Avs offense.
(The NHL commercial with the "Swedish Twins" - aka Daniel and Henrik - is terrific).
17:04 Marek Svatos is out there for a shift with Sakic and Brunette.
12:16 Clark is paired up with Liles.
9:03 Colorado finally scores. It's a fun play to watch. Andrew Brunette takes Kurtis Foster hard into the boards. It wouldn't have shocked me to see a boarding call on it, but there wasn't a penalty. Meanwhile, that Wyatt Smith guy comes over to stand up for Foster. With two Wild players tangled up with Brunette, it leaves the rest of the Avs a man up. Stastny gets the puck behind the net. His shot is blocked by Martin Skoula, but the rebound goes right to the stick of Ken Klee who deposits it in the back of the net. Interestingly, Klee has more EV points (14) than Liles (12). Also, Klee was again paired with Skrastins on this shift.
7:05 The phrase "blocked by Martin Skoula" is used for the 3rd time in the period. That's incredible.
7:00 Colorado gets another great scoring chance, but the shot hits the crossbar. Avs are really pressuring now.
6:35 Brad Richardson cuts the lead to 3-2. Ken Klee started the play off by carrying the puck in himself deep behind the net. Then the forwards took over with their standard cycling play before Brunette passed to a wide open Richardson in front. Colorado has gone from out of it to very much in it within a span of just a few minutes. I can't help thinking, though, that they will ultimately come up a goal short.
6:14 Ben Guite and Svatos have an excellent chance to tie, but Backstrom saves it.
4:34 Liles is tripped. No call.
2:21 The play of the game. Unfortunately, it's not a happy one for Colorado fans. With the Avs pressuring to tie, the puck gets dropped back to Finger at the point. Finger tees up a mighty slapshot...but his stick shatters. Parrish and Koivu get a breakout, and Finger - without a stick - can do little to stop it. Budaj has almost no chance on the play, and Koivu's shot is picture perfect. Minnesota goes up 4-2, an insurmountable lead.
1:48 Svatos makes it interesting when he takes the puck from the draw and fires it past Backstrom. It was exciting to watch, but it proved to be too little too late. Colorado loses a heartbreaker 4-3.
Same as Tuesday's Calgary game. Richardson is looking great on a scoring line. I'm hoping that when Wolski comes back, Richardson will bump Brad May off the 2nd line.
C Sakic, LW Richardson, RW Brunette: 18:42 ATOI (EV), 4 pts (EV), 14 shots, +1
C Stastny, LW May, RW Hejduk: 15:44 ATOI (EV), 2 pts (EV), 1 shot, +4
C Arnason, LW McLean, RW Laperriere: 11:31 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 3 shots, -1
C Guite, LW Svatos, RW Klee: 11:52 ATOI (EV), 2 pts (EV), 7 shots, -3
D Clark & D Skrastins: 17:46 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 3 shots, +1
D Finger & D Vaananen: 15:47 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 2 shots, E
D Liles & D Sauer: 10:21 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 1 shot, -1
- Avs are now 8-3 when dressing 7 D
- After giving up 5 PP in an 11 game stretch, the Avs have allowed 6 PP goals in the last 4 games.
- Colorado has had 12 PP chances in the last 4 games, while giving up 18 chances to their opponents.