You're going to get what you deserve
-Nine Inch Nails, Head Like a Hole
Sometimes, you get the NHL's stupid loser point and you consider yourself lucky. Other times, you have to be kicking yourself. Tonight, it's the latter. The Avalanche got a point for losing the the Wild in a shootout tonight and have a point in 8 of the team's 9 games this year. But they should have won the game and they should have done it in regulation. And they should have done it by a wide margin.
For the 3rd straight game, the Avalanche came out of the gates extremely flat. The Wild dominated the play in the first period, thanks in part to the FOUR powerplays the Avalanche gave them (uh, more on that in a second). It wasn't just the penalties, though. The Avalanche looked terrible. The scoresheet says they had 6 shots in the first period. Honestly, I don't know how they managed even that. But, thanks more to luck than timely penalty killing (I thought our PK looked off all night), the Wild only converted one PP opportunity in the 1st and the Avalanche were extremely fortunate to escape being just down 1-0.
All year long, though, the 2nd period has been the Avs' moneymaker - half their goals have come in the 2nd - and tonight was no exception. The Avalanche absolutely killed it in the middle frame, outshooting the Wild by an 18-4 margin. After a flaccid first period, the Avalanche had hustle and flow. They won races to loose pucks. They intercepted passes. They took pucks away from the Wild. Repeatedly. And, most importantly, they took the lead on goals by Darcy Tucker (HUGE ups to Ryan O'Reilly of the 1 career goal selflessly pointing out Tucker to the refs as the goal scorer) and Kyle Quincey (started by a steal at the blueline by Matt Duchene). It was a dominating period and even though the Avs only had a 2-1 lead, it seemed hard to envision the Wild evening the score.
But you already know how this song ends. The Avs had some issues tonight. Special teams play was one. Of bigger concern was the calvacade of stupid, stupid penalties. Boneheaded penalties. Two delay of game penalties. IN THE SAME PERIOD (Duchene, you looked like a Doogie there hitting Havlat coming off the bench like that). Closing the hand on the puck. A needless crosscheck in front of the ref. And, finally and fatally, a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass. That last one was a tough break for Wojtek Wolski as it looked like the puck went off the heel of his stick. But, when you've already taken 6 mostly needless minor penalties, you can't do that. Certainly not with 6 minutes left in the 3rd period of a 2-1 hockey game. Ugh. Of course, Minnesota converted to tie it. The Wild had nine shots at even strength all game. 9 shots in 65 minutes. Nine! Had the Avalanche managed to stay out of the box, this game isn't close.
Instead, we have to settle for the loser point. After a scoreless OT, the Avalanche couldn't get anything past Niklas Backstrom in the shootout. Craig Anderson only allowed one, but that was too much. The Wild got the win. We got what we deserved.
As Mike Chambers had reported, Wojtek Wolski indeed was dropped to the 3rd line, where he played right wing. David Jones moved to his old spot on the left side of the top line. I thought Jones played very well. Wolski played okay - not great, but not terrible. That penalty was a killer, though.
Sadly, although the Royalty Line and the MoJo lines were broken up, the Turducken Line remains. I just don't see this. Matt Duchene is having to do far too much on this line. Darcy Tucker isn't playing terrible (yes, he did score tonight), but he's not a great fit for Duchene. And I thought Marek Svatos was dreadful in this game. His awful failed clearing attempt in the 3rd and stupid crosscheck penalty could have lost the game as easily as Wolski's bad-break penalty did. At least Wolski is playing well in one zone. Svatos looked terrible everywhere on the ice.
- Jones - Stastny - Hejduk
- Tucker - Duchene - Svatos
- McLeod - O'Reilly - Wolski
- Koci - Galiardi - Hendricks
- Quincey - Hannan
- Wilson - Clark
- Cumiskey - Foote
(Speaking of Cumiskey, if he continues to hold onto the puck in front of a clear shooting lane to the net, as he did in OT tonight, I am going to have more white hair than that guy on Mad Men)
- The Avalanche are 0-11 on the powerplay without John-Michael Liles
- Ryan Wilson had two big hits on Chuck Kobasew along the boards.
- Tonight's game was the first time the Avs have outshot an opponent all year (35-26)
- David Jones shattered the glass in front of the scorer's table with Nick Shultz's body with just 4.9 seconds left in the game. Seeing the official calmly stop time on his stopwatch amid the shower of broken glass was an impressive sight. Even hockey officials are tough as nails, it seems.