Sometimes it's okay to change up an offensive line combination. When one player is clearly having a very bad game (Ryan Smyth), and another looks really good (Peter Forsberg), it's okay to switch them up. This shouldn't become habit, of course, but sometimes it's an effective way to jump start the offense.
Last night was one of those times. After struggling early on---and then pretty much throughout the rest of the game---Ryan Smyth was pulled from his usual spot on the second line with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. He was replaced by Forsberg, who, despite playing less than 15 minutes, went on to tally three assists. Hejduk had two goals and an assist, while Son of Stastny had a goal and two assists.
Those nine total points drove the Avalanche to a dominant 6-3 win over the Canucks, who pulled ace goalie Roberto Luongo in the middle of the second period.
Unfortunately, knowing Coach Q, two things will probably happen. Either Ryan Smyth will never get to play with Hejduk and Stastny again (even though, on most nights, that combination is money), or one or two bad shifts by Forsberg will see him back on the third line with Tyler Arnason. Coach Q's whip is long and painful.
Speaking of Arnason, I have to commend him. He won eight of eleven faceoffs last night. Great work, T-Dog, just try to keep it up for a while and we'll all stop ragging on you. Maybe.
Jose Theodore didn't have a great game, but when your offense scores six goals in the Western Conference, you really don't have to be all that great. Theodore made the stops he needed to make in the third period and the Avs had few scary moments. A win is a win.
In the playoff race, the Avs move into seventh place, switching spots with Vancouver who have lost their last three games. Colorado is just one point behind once-dominant Dallas and only two points behind division rival Calgary. Believe it or not, the Avs are still in the bizarre position that they could either win the division title and earn the three seed or miss the playoffs entirely. What a world.
Finally, on the injury front, Adam Foote missed another game with his geriatric hip, but is supposedly seconds away from returning to the lineup. Jordan Leopold, however, just can't get a break. Well, he's gotten lots of breaks, but you know what I mean. He left the game early with what the team initially reported as a "minor hip injury." How minor? Adam Foote's injury was supposed to be minor, too, so you be the judge. More details are supposed to come today.
Next game: those stupid Oilers on Friday, the last home game before April 6th. Again, losing is not an option at this point.
Stars of the Game:
- Milan Hejduk (2g, 1a)
- Peter Forsberg (0g, 3a)
- Paul Stastny (1g, 2a)
Kittens Killed: Just one!