So, Ryan O'Reilly and T.J. Galiardi: best rookie penalty killing duo of all time? The rookies went crazy tonight as Colorado curb-stomped the struggling Blue Jackets 5 to 1.
The first period started out badly for the Avs. The Blue Jackets were all over them early and they gave up a short-handed goal off a nice feed from Rick Nash to Antoine Vermette. After that, the Avs started to play back on their heels and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought that the Avs were going to lay another egg. However, four players stepped up and showed some great leadership to pull the Avs out of their funk and energize the team. These four were Paul Stastny, Kyle Quincey, Brandon Yip and O'Reilly. Quincey had 3 of the first 5 or 6 shots for the Avs and ended up with 6 on the night. Stastny was all over the ice trying to make something happen, Yip had a great individual rush and hit the post and O'Reilly generated some tremendous offensive pressure. The momentum swung the other way and Quincey scored off a fantastic feed from Stastny to tie it up. I'd just like to praise these four again. On a young team, I'm always looking for leadership. Not to slight any of the other Avs, I just thought these four were the real standouts of the turnaround.
The second period, and the rest of the game, was all Avs. Kyle Cumiskey showed off that speed of his again and rushed the zone so fast that the Jacket's defenders were left out of position. He made a great pass to Yip and the rookie scored his first of the night. Yip scored another shortly into the third period by banking it off of Mathieu Garon. After that it was the Galiardi and O'Reilly show. Stastny took a double minor for highsticking that gave the Jacket's a little bit of hope for a comeback. Then O'Reilly nailed the coffin shut by scoring two shorthanded goals during the four minute powerplay with Galiardi assisting on both. Seriously, has there ever been a team with a rookie penalty killing duo this good? The rookies on this squad are unbelivable. I was watching the Jacket's feed and they put up the numbers on how many points the Avs rookies have scored this season: 104 which, if my math is correct, is now 113. That is double the points of the Islanders, their nearest rivals. Amazing. Craig Anderson played very well and stopped 20 shots tonight but this game is all about the rookies.
Dustin's Three Stars
3rd Star - T.J. Galiardi - four assists. Hard to give him the third star during a four point night but...
2nd Star - Ryan O'Reilly - two short-handed goals and was great all night, instrumental in turnaround
1st Star - Brandon Yip - two goals. He went out and made it happen when the Avs desperatly needed a win
Minus of the night - Why is Ken Hitchcock never in danger of losing his job? He made the playoffs once behind a Calder-winning performance by Steve Mason. Barry Trotz has done much better in a very similar situation.