Well, that was a quick trip back to earth. The Avs' 5-game winning streak ended last night with Calgary shutting out the good guys 3-0.
This was similar to the Buffalo game in that the score was tight through the first two periods - as in 0-0 after two. That's where the similarities end, though. While that was a back and forth nail-biter between two teams playing good, hard, smart hockey, this one seemed to be two teams just going through the motions. Both teams looked extremely tentative, like they would have been perfectly happy to skate to a 0-0 tie. After two periods, shots were equal (20-20). There wasn't a ton of hitting, scoring chances or penalties. It was almost scrimmage-like.
In the 3rd, one of the teams woke up...and it wasn't the 18 guys wearing the uniprons. The Flames started working for it, and it paid off. At the 8:24 mark, David Moss outworked the Avs down low and Curtis Glencross used his powers of invisibility to get between Marek Svatos and a wide open net. That would be all the Flames would need (the Avs mustered just 2 shots in the final frame), but they'd add a couple of insurance tallies just for kicks. At 12:58 Rene Bourque also outworked the Avs below the goal line and beat Budaj with a shot from behind the net. That play started when Darcy Tucker lazily turned the puck over at center ice, and it was the proverbial backbreaker. Just a couple of minutes later, Bourque outraced Ruslan Salei to beat an icing call before dishing back to a wide open Michael Cammalleri. Now, I used the word "outraced" in the previous sentence, and that's a bit of a stretch as Salei probably would have beaten to the puck by a glacier. If there's anyone who know how dangerous those kinds of races, it's Salei and I think the touch-up icing rule is a dangerous dinosaur the NHL should make extinct...but damn, Ruslan, you can do more than just watch the play, can't you?
I don't think there's a ton that you can do with this game. The Avs didn't play great...but didn't play badly enough to start making some wholesale Quenneville-esque changes. I am losing patience with the 3rd line, though. David Jones is bringing his lunch pail each night, but Tyler Arnason and Marek Svatos have both been woefully inconsistent. I personally think it's time to swap Jones and Darcy Tucker. Jones goes back to the 2nd line where he started the season, and Tucker, Arnason and Svatos can find a comfy seat on the bench between their occasional (and carefully-chosen) shifts.
The only change was a swap of Ben Guite and Cody McCormick. Guite was a scratch and McCormick took his spot as 4th line center (I've seen some people say that Laperriere is centering that line when it's him and the Codys, but it's actually McCormick in the middle).
I'm on vacation this week, so I've tweaked the ITCS reports quite a bit. I've added the 3 stars, referees and linesmen, links to the NHL.com reports and, perhaps most importantly, I've made the shift charts a lot easier to read.
- Brett Clark went to the dressing room after taking a puck off the leg or foot in the 3rd period, but did not miss his next shift (and led the team in TOI)
- Clark had more blocked shots (5) than the entire Flames team (4). Clark is currently 3rd in the league with 28.
- The Avs have won just 41.3% of their faceoffs against Calgary (vs 52.4% against the rest of the league). A lot of that is thanks to Craig Conroy, who is 19 for 29 against the Avs (65.5%)
The Avs host the Columbus Blue Jackets. At 3-6-0, the BJs have the worst record in the Western Conference.