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Game 74: Wild 3, Avalanche 1

photo courtesy of Paul Battaglia/AP

The Avs had to win and they didn't.  Now they're fourth place in the Northwest and eighth in the Western Conference.  They still have four points on Nashville, but with eight games to play that's not a safe lead.

Colorado didn't get steamrolled.  They played hard for most of the game, and put 30 shots on goal, but Wild netminder Nicklas Backstrom wasn't having any of it.  He stopped at least a dozen really great Avalanche chances, and never looked like he broke a sweat.  At the other end, Jose Theodore also had a very good game, and made a couple of spectacular saves.  The only pucks that beat him were on the power play or off a screened deflection.  When all things were fair, he was better than the Wild.  Not that it mattered in the end.

The only Avalanche goal was scored on the power play by Joe Sakic.  That goal, his 204th, ties him with Wayne Gretzky, something not mentioned in the AP game recap, nor mentioned by the announcers on Versus.  Dave Andreychuk holds the career record with 270.  Andreycuck's a true hero to defenseless kittens everywhere.

I thought Peter Forsberg played a very good game considering his recent groin injury and the fact that Coach Q had him on the ice for 20 minutes, again.  He passed well, skated well, and was in the right place when he needed to be most of the time.  During the final faceoff of the game, just after an offsides call against the Avs with 15 seconds in the third period, Versus showed a closeup of Foppa's face.  I don't remember the last time I saw that much intensity and focus on the face of a player wearing an Avalanche jersey.  He was fully in the zone, though it didn't matter in the end.  Forsberg, for what it's worth, wasn't happy with himself:

"I can't say I played well," Forsberg said. "I've got to do better than that."

He did finish - 2 on the score sheet, but one of the goals was an empty-netter with just a couple seconds left.  It happens.  But it's good to see him take a huge loss like this to heart.  Hopefully his teammates do, too.

I do have to take issue, once again, with the power play.  The Avs scored on one of them, but they blew five others, including a prime five-on-three chance in the first period.  Why?  Because they spent the entire advantage passing the puck around instead of blasting from the point and shoveling the garbage.  John-Michael Liles managed to rocket a few shots on one power play, but on the rest he didn't take any chances.  A power play unit with Liles, Sakic, Forsberg, Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk has absolutely no excuse not to score goals.  None.  Why do they hate kittens so much?

And speaking of Stastny, he's now on a four-game points streak, and has scored 13 points in the 13 games he's played since coming back from injury.  He's the most consistent player on the team right now, and his fellow forwards would do well to follow his lead.

ADDENDUM: Mike was kind enough to point out that I somehow forgot to mention the ridiculous officiating of the game.  The illustrious Mick McGeough (pronounced "McGoo" for those not in the know), a maverick referee with no peers and no equal---John McCain only wishes he was as maverick as McGeough---was in charge last night.  With him was a new ref named Banfield, a rookie just "called up" from the AHL.  In the second period, Peter Forsberg was skating along the boards when Mikko Koivu tangled him up and dropped him to the ice.  Foppa didn't have the puck, and Banfield immediately whistled an interference penalty on Koivu, as he should have.  But McGeough, having not even noticed the infraction at all, apparently didn't want a rookie to show him up, so he called Forsberg for diving.  Lappy argued with him, then Sakic, and Coach Q steamed on the bench---but McGoo's word was final.  In the third period, Pierre-Marc Bouchard was chasing Forsberg and hitting him in the shin pads with his stick.  Forsberg, seizing the opportunity, took a theatrical fall to the ice, which McGoo whistled as a hooking penalty on Brouchard, I suppose just to even things up.  It was a pretty pathetic display.  

The next game is Thursday at Calgary.

Stars of the Game:

  1. The Wild

Kittens Killed: