The Avalanche won for the 2nd time in two games, beating the Panthers 4-3 in a shootout. Following a comeback win on Saturday against the Hurricanes, the Avs seem to have salvaged their sinking season for the time being.
The Avs were coming off a brutal three game stretch where, for once, they got brilliant goaltending from Jose Theodore. The offense, though, was anything but brilliant and the team managed just one win (and 3 goals) in those 3 games. This weekend, we did not get brilliant goaltending from Jose Theodore (unless watching 50' slapshots zip into the net is your idea of brilliant). Thankfully, we found our offense under a cushion in the couch...and not a moment too soon. The Avs put up 8 goals over the weekend (9 with the shootout goal). That's our 3rd highest 2-game output of the season (10 is the top, which we've managed twice).
Marek Svatos scored again - his 10th goal in 11 games. To say that he's been carrying our team offensively is an understatement. He has 10 of the 26 goals we've scored in those 11 games, or 38% of our offensive output. His 2nd period goal (a PP goal at that) was his 20th on the season, tying him for 18th in the NHL along with guys like Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Not bad for a guy Altitude identified as "Erik" Svatos in a promo last year.
Svatos' goal was the first time the team managed to convert on the powerplay in 9 games. Joel Quenneville seems to be sticking with two defensemen on the point. While 1 PP goal in 9 games is nothing to write home about, the team does seem better on the PP of late. With two guys back there who know when to activate, when to switch sides, who can keep the puck in to continue the play and can get the puck on the net, we seem to be on the verge of getting back to respectability. On Sunday, John-Michael Liles was not used with the first unit - that honor went to Jordan Leopold and Brett Clark. Liles played on the second unit with Jeff Finger. I'm a big fan of the improvements Liles has made to his defensive game (I don't think he gets anywhere near enough mention in that area), but his offensive dropoff this year is extremely vexing.
Last year, almost all the fighting fell on to the shoulders of Ian Laperriere. He had 17 fighting majors, while Mark Rycroft had 3 and Jeff Finger had 1. This year, six different players have been involved in fights, and all six have been involved in fights in the last 3 games (Jeff Finger, Cody McLeod, Cody McCormick, Laperriere, Scott Parker and, of course, Brett Clark who tussled with Ollie Jokinen in the first period). I've become so accustomed to other guys fighting that I was surprised for a second to see Lappy involved in his first period fight with Steve Montador.
Notes are here
Memo to Joel Quenneville: Would it kill you to stick with the lines you start the game with? For the 2nd game in a row, Cody McLeod started out with the Stastny line and, for the 2nd game in a row, he was moved off by the start of the 2nd period for Andrew Brunette. He finished on the same line he finished Saturday on - a line with Jaroslav Hlinka and Cody McCormick, a line I have dubbed the McLinka Line. I absolutely love having the Codys on a line together - seeing them causing trouble is a little bit reminiscent of the Hanson Brothers.
- Stastny, Brunette, Hejduk
- Arnason, Wolski, Svatos
- Hlinka, McLeod, McCormick
- Guite, Laperriere, Parker
- Jeff Finger assisted on Svatos' PP goal. It's the first PP assist by a defenseman other than Liles or Clark since Patrice Brisebois' assist in game 30 last year against the Hurricanes - a 97 game stretch.
- Tyler Arnason continues to be abysmal in the faceoff circle. He was 5 of 17 (29%) in the game.
- Officially, there were just 17 hits in the game. Are the scorekeepers even watching these things?
- The Avs improved to 6-1 against the Eastern Conference.
The Avalanche finish up their southern tour on Tuesday against the Lightning. After that, their next road game is February 1st.