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WCS Game 3: Red Wings 4, Avalanche 3

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Going into the all-important Game 3 last night, the Avs needed to get the offense going and take the play to Detroit.  At least, that's what Avs fans thought.  The coaching staff didn't figure that out 'till the second intermission.  By then, Paul Stastny was out after an awkward leg-on-leg collision with Henrik Zetterberg, Peter Forsberg had already left once for some kind of ankle problem and then returned, and the refs had decided that they'd rather just get the series over with ASAP.

The game got started off on a fairly even pace and then Cody McLeod of all people scored with a tip-in of a T.J. Hensiiick shot after a nice feed from Tyler "Whipping Boy" Arnason.  The jubilation in Le Can lasted for a couple of minutes until the Detroit puck-possession game got into full swing.  Then the shelling of Jose Theodore commenced with full fury.  He-who-wasn't-previously-named saw 19 shots in the 1st period.  Two got past him: a PP goal from Pavel Datsyuk while Lappy was serving 2 minutes for roughing Lebda and 58 seconds later, Johan Franzen continued his Avalanche-killing by scoring on a nice back-door slam dunk after the Avs failed to cause Detroit to even contemplate not breaking into the offensive zone at full speed.

The second period saw more of the same lackluster defensive zone awareness, whether it was on the penalty kill or full strength. Lots of running around, lots of errant passes.  The Colorado defensive scheme in the first two periods seemed to boil down to stick checks.  If the Avs got the puck, great, they slowed down Detroit's entry into the zone and disrupted the passing lanes.  If they didn't, it usually resulted in Theo sliding around like John Candy in the mud-wrestling scene from Stripes as the puck was cycled around the perimeter and the shooting angles changed by the millisecond.  It also usually resulted in a goal.  Datsyuk got one a little over 6 minutes in, and then after a 4-minute penalty to Forsberg for high-sticking Samuelsson, Zetterberg potted the eventual game-winner.  In between those two Detroit goals, Andrew Brunette scored on the power play for the Avs after Darren McCarty got whistled for holding.

A quick note about the Forsberg penalty [clip now up on YouTube - Joe].  He got the stick up and he drew blood.  Therefore, he gets four minutes.  However, Samuelsson dropped to his knees, snapped his head back like Lee Harvey had just hit paydirt, and reached for his face immediately.  It was a routine worthy of Forsberg's 'Floppa' nickname. Linkage to recap that includes discussion of the lost tooth.  I recind the diving comment.  It likely hurt like hell, and Samuelsson didn't embellish. It would have taken the Oscar for the night if Osgood didn't feel the need to Louganis after he got tapped in the pads.  I could go on about the officiating, but just see the game thread for the horrendous trips and picks that weren't called.

Anyway, two Too Many Men penalties in the 3rd (both served by Darren Helm...WhoTF is Darren Helm?  He sounds like a C-list pornstar with that name) by Detroit let the Avs play the tease with the hometown fans.  Bruno scored his second PP goal of the night with a rebound after Joe "Horrible Leader" Sakic faked a Detroit defender to the ice at the point, walked around him (I think it was Draper), and put a shot/pass into Osgood's feet.  Bruno banged home the rebound while Os-God was looking for the puck in his feet.

Alas, it was all for naught as the Avs failed to generate any sustained pressure, and while they kept Detroit off of the board in the 3rd, they couldn't completely shut down the puck-possession and consequently burned a ton of clock.  Theo made a nice save on a breakaway in the waning moments as he was headed for the bench for the extra attacker, but other than that, he was average at best for the night.  He made the routine saves, and didn't have any terrible goals (though I still think he was a little sloppy on the second one).  

Scott Hannan seemed off of his game all night (or on it, if you consider horrible giveaways in his own end part of his "game"), he was tentative (at best) with his breakout passes, and then to top it all off, went awkwardly into the boards late in the 3rd.  Afterward, he was laboring and didn't put any weight on one of his legs.  So we may have a Cumiskey or Finger sighting for Game 4. Salei had a few mis-timed hits, Foote was out of position on the first goal, and while he didn't suck, Leopold didn't bring anything to the table either.  Male-model Liles had a strong night, with effective breakouts, and he seemed to be the only blueliner for the Avs that didn't panic with Detroit's 2+ player forecheck.

Overall, the Avs failed to take the body on Detroit's forwards as they entered the zone until the 3rd period, which resulted in plenty of opportunities for a healthy Detroit team to take advantage of a depleted Avalanche squad.  When they did try to get the physical play up, it usually resulted in borderline hits that weren't called (luckily) or power play opportunities for the Red Wings.  Quenneville also seemed to have the caution flag out for long stretches of the 1st and 2nd periods as the Avs looked content not to lose badly at times rather than putting the Red Wings on their collective heals.  Osgood had a pretty easy night, with the only real pressure coming in the 3rd, and even then he wasn't seeing sequences of shots, but one-offs, dump-ins, or bad angle shots.

The only bright spots to come out of this game were the aforementioned T.J. Hensiiick and Davey "No Locker Jokes Please" Jones.  They were flying all over the ice, and were the only combo that was dangerous EVERY shift.  Hensick proved his loyalty with the assist on the first goal.  Jones had a golden opportunity in the 3rd, but was taken down by an uncalled trip, only to generate the same chance with his next possession, but this time Osgood was there, so still no dice.  Another plus was Son of Stastny going 7-for-7 in the dot before his injury.  Of course, that's offset by the soon-to-be-misdiagnosed injury, so I'll go kick a puppy cat now.

Stars of the Game:

  1. Pavel Datsyuk (2g, 1a)
  1. Andrew Brunette (2g, 0a)
  1. Henrik Zetterberg (1g, 1a)

Kittens Killed: