No California dreamin' here. Colorado dropped two painful games to the SoCal teams this weekend. The Avs should have gotten at least 3 points out of the deal...but took home just 1. The playoffs are no longer even on the table. What remains now is the NHL trading deadline tomorrow at 3PM Eastern (if Craig Rivet can net a 1st round pick, what could a guy like Arnason or Vaananen reel in?), and then just play out the season to build for next year.
Here are some of the highlights from the game, as I saw them:
19:30 Wojtek Wolski returns, but Brad Richardson keeps his spot on the Sakic line. Richardson is welcomed to Anaheim on the first shift; he gets flattened by D Francois Beauchemin.
16:30 Anaheim scores, but it's waved off. Kurt Sauer and Jose Theodore were both scrambling to cover the puck in the front of the net, and the ref blew the whistle when he lost sight of it. Lucky break for the Avs.
11:53 D John-Michael Liles loses control of the puck behind the Colorado net. Liles has looked awful in his own end since returning from his broken foot.
10:50 The game is all Anaheim at this point. Altitude can turn off the camera in the Ducks zone - nothing is happening there.
10:30 1-0 Anaheim. It wasn't a matter of "if", it was a matter of "when". Andy McDonald takes a shot from the front of the net, gets the rebound (despite there being 3 Avs right there) and puts it past Theodore.
10:03 Chris Pronger "accidentally" shifts his body to force his shoulder into Paul Stastny while Stastny was skating by. Kind of a slick little cheap shot - since his back is to Stastny, it looks like an accident (instead of a clear interference call). Cowardly, but slick.
5:50 Jose Theodore makes a great point blank save. Then there is a mad scramble in front, that ends up with Ken Klee on the ice. Klee blocks a shot with his head, and then covers up the puck for a delay of game penalty. Klee is hurt on the play, and the penalty is served by Andrew Brunette.
5:39 Brunette doesn't stay there for long. Teemu Selanne rips a blast that hits the post and goes right out to Andy McDonald's stick. It's an easy goal, made easier by the fact that Theodore doesn't move a muscle on either shot.
3:39 Klee has returned to the ice.
1:45 Mark Rycroft makes it 2-1, deflecting Ian Laperriere's shot through the legs of J.S. Giguere.
20:00 Kurt Sauer is interviewed during the break on the Altitude broadcast. That Minnesota accent just sounds so...odd. I can't get used to it at all. Hockey players should not sound like extras from Fargo.
19:05 Colorado starts the 2nd period with much more effort than the first (not that that is saying much). Milan Hejduk makes a nice cross-ice pass to Liles sneaking in on the back side, but Gigure reads it perfectly and blocks the pass.
15:28 Sammy Pahlsson gets called for interfering with Paul Stastny along the side boards.
15:00 Colorado ties it up. It's a strange play. From the point, Liles fires a pass that doesn't come close to the net or any teammate. In fact, it lands right on the stick of Sean O'Donnell and ricochets' to a pinching Joe Sakic. Sakic gets control of the puck and immediately sends it past the stick of Gigure. I'm still not sure what Liles was trying to do on the play...but it worked. Sakic ties Jari Kurri for 16th on the all-time goal list (601).
14:57 On the following faceoff, Shawn Thornton tries to goad Brad May into a fight, but May passes.
14:21 Tim Brent gets a shot off. Theodore blocks it, and Liles grabs the rebound. With plenty of time to carry the puck out, Liles instead attempts a quick backhanded clear that, of course, gets easily picked up by a Duck for another shot. Liles looked better on offense tonight, but it's like he had some sort of memory wipe on defense. He had made a ton of progress in his own zone this year, and that seems to have gone away completely.
13:17 Marek Svatos gets dumped hard by Dustin Penner...
13:07 but gets up, shakes it off, and returns the favor with a smoking hit on Ryan Getzlaf.
12:32 Ossi Vannanen gets called for holding behind is net. My verbatim notes on the play: "Vaananen. Holding. Dumb."
3:37 Paul Stastny gets called for interference, and then tangles a bit with Chris Kunitz after the play. Stastny's physical play has been noticeably improved in the last two months.
2:57 Kunitz kills the powerplay with a holding the stick penalty
1:55 Sakic and Selanne have a huge, accidental, knee on knee collision in front of the Colorado bench. For a few moments, there's $9 million rolling around on the ice. Both guys seem ok after, though.
43.7 3-2 Anaheim. The Ducks break out. Fast. Niedermayer, up to McDonald, across to Selanne, with Sauer desperately trying to keep up. Sauer has no chance, and neither does Theodore.
17:06 Vaananen starts things with another holding penalty. Vaananen has 5 multi-PiM games in the last 6 weeks, showing all other team scouts that he can still take stupid penalties like the Vaananen of old.
11:00 Getzlaf gets called for high sticking (Arnason)
9:47 Liles takes a shot from the point. It's notable because it's just the 2nd Colorado shot of the period. Anaheim is on the way to a 41-26 shot advantage in the game.
8:45 Rob Niedermayer gets called for tripping (Clark)
7:59 Liles and then Clark & Stastny have 2 big scoring chances in rapid succession.
6:25 The Ducks kill their 2nd penalty of the period, and then get stupid. Taking a page from Pronger's playbook, Scott Niedermayer gets a great, clean hit on Brett McLean and then foolishly tries to build on that with a Prongeresque "move into position to force the other player into you" play. Marek Svatos gets dumped, and Niedermayer gets sent to the box for interference.
5:12 3-3. Colorado ties it up. Brunette attempts to cross the pass to Liles, but Pahlsson intercepts it. Unfortunately, Pahlsson deflects it right in front of the net, giving Hejduk an easy chance.
3:23 4-3 Anaheim. Niedermayer goes from goat to hero. The Ducks didn't want to let this go to OT - they get some great pressure on the Avs, and ultimately the captain gets the puck at the blueline, waits until Theo is screened, and wrists it in. Game over, for the most part.
3:01 But just in case, Ossi Vaananen throws some insurance out there. Anaheim's Kunitz and McDonald get a nice 2 on 1 break, with Klee the back D. Kunitz is in first, and drops the puck back beautifully before getting flattened even more beautifully by Klee. McDonald gets the puck and gets molested by Hejduk coming back on the play. Vaananen also comes back on the play...and, just as McDonald's attempt is going wide, whacks McDonald across the chin with his stick. Four minutes for high sticking. Hejduk is the one who got called, but this was all Ossi. Just a dumb, dumb play.
2:35 5-3. The Ducks convert on one of the 2 PPs, with Pronger easily beating Jose Theodore (too easily, in my opinion - Theo looked great in many places tonight, but also took several plays off resulting in goals that could have been saves). Pronger looked so happy after the goal, you'd swear he had a hot TV interview or something after the game.
After 495 consecutive games, Karlis Skrastins finally had to sit due to a knee injury. Thanks Karlis - that's a great achievement! With Skratch on the shelf, Kurt Sauer returned to the lineup, and played with Skrastin's normal partner, Brett Clark. Wolski also returned, playing on the 2nd line, with Brad May finally moving down to the checking line. Ben Guite was a scratch
C Sakic, LW Richardson, RW Brunette: 13:06 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 3 shots, -6
C Stastny, LW Wolski, RW Hejduk: 12:34 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 6 shots, -1
C Arnason, LW McLean, RW Svatos: 8:55 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 5 shots, -1
C Laperriere, LW May, RW Rycroft: 9:16 ATOI (EV), 3 pts (EV), 4 shots, +2
D Clark & D Sauer: 16:00 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 1 shot, -1
D Klee & D Vaananen: 14:57 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 0 shots, -3
D Liles & D Finger: 13:47 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 7 shots, E
- Liles troubles in his own end might be related to frequent changes in his partner. Clark and Skrastins have spent all season together, and Klee has generally matched up with Vaananen for the bulk of the year. Liles has played with Brisebois (16 games), Klee (15), Sauer (10), Vaananen (3), Leopold (3), Finger (2) and a couple of games just as a PP specialist. November 30th is the last time Liles spent more than 5 games in a row with the same partner.
- Theodore's GAA month by month: 3.29, 2.89, 3.15, 3.33, 4.92