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Game 71: Avs Waddle into Anaheim; Ducks, Selanne Dominate

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The

Anaheim Ducks' power play and their long-time offensive stalwart, Teemu Selanne dominate the Avalanche all night as Colorado misses another opportunity to dictate playoff positioning.  Bad defense, bad goaltending, bad effort and horrendous penalty-killing play start the West Coast road-trip off on the wrong webbed foot.

The fun started with an

early PK from a Peter Mueller hold and Corey Perry gets a great opportunity from nice play right in the slot off of the initial faceoff. That was a sign of things to come as the next shift down Selanne and Perry get multiple opportunities on Andy.  Nobody wanted to see Craig Anderson having to  "keep them in it" this often and this early and Surprise!, he can't.  About 5 minutes in (still on the PP), Jason Blake walks around Scott Hannan for the easy wrap around goal.  Kyle Quincey participates by not getting the farside post in time and effectively takes space away from Andy. At least OKC Tumbleweed blueliner Lubomir Visnovsky continues to rack up points (with the assist) since his trade from Edmonton.

Matt Duchene tries to get the goal back for the good guys, but Jonas Hiller makes a good glove save.  Adam Foote decides to get in on the horrible defensive play with a brutal turnover at the Ducks blueline but it's broken up by Kyle Cumiskey covering for the old man.  Wheels breaks it out pretty quick as he and Chris Stewart head down the ice and Stewie gets a good shot with a huge rebound, but after Paul Stastny puts the rebound toward the net, Stewie puts it through the crease where T.J. Galiardi couldn't get a stick on it for the easy tap in.  This leads to some back-and-forth action until a weird bounce surprises everyone including Marek Svatos coming off the bench.  Stewie touches it to get a Too Many Men penalty.

McLeod does good work on the PK, generating a shot on goal. The Avs manage to kill this one off.  The first period looks like the Avalanche only practiced offense in the last four days off. Mueller especially appears to be running around a little in the neutral zone, chasing the puck.

The Avs have yet to realize that they REALLY need to put a body on Selanne. He's going anywhere he wants on the ice.  About a minute later, Milan Hejduk fans on a bouncing puck to the right of Andy, Ryan Getzlaf makes a quick pass to Matt Beleskey (WhoTF is Matt Beleskey?) and it ends up in the back of the net at about the 12 minute mark of the period.  Hannan had another great seat for that one. And then my DVR tells me that I won't be able to record "The Pacific" if I want to watch this game so my review may get a little disjointed.

We get a Kevin Porter sighting! Haven't seen much of him since his centerman (Ryan O'Reilly) has been out on the two early PK's. Viewers of the Ducks' feed are treated to a nice flashback of Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco's time with the Ducks as he beats Montreal's Thibault with the first Penalty Shot in Ducks History (if you don't count Charlie's GW in the championship game against the Hawks).  I will say that those were some atrocious Disney-era jerseys. 

The theme of the last few games continues as viewers are witness to more trouble clearing the Colorado zone. Hendricks starting to amp up the physical aspects of the game. A strange bounce in front of Hiller almost goes the Avs' way, but it gets put behind the net and out of harm's way at the last second.  Trying to get his team into the game, Stewie destroys Troy Bodie in a fight.  I'm sure the Ducks will take that matching major all day. Speaking of Stewart, the Ducks color guy figures that the Wolski trade was a result of the organ-i-zation looking ahead and wanting to pay Stewie rather than The Baron. 

The theme of tonight's game continues as Salei loses containment on Selanne again. Ducks get a couple of shots on Andy on subsequent shifts.  All is not lost however, as

John-Michael Liles pinches at an opportune time and misses wide off of some good work between O'Reilly and Porter.

As the period winds down Blake, Getzlaf and Perry are too much for Liles and the Hobbit. Avs just holding on for the last two minutes of the period and take a penalty as Andy comes up with a huge save through traffic on the Duck version of the manbearpig, Perry.  In the waning seconds of the first, Colorado is on the penalty kill for the third time in the first period, but this one will carry over. Yay!

Second period opens with the Avs having to kill the remainder of the Liles hooking penalty from the 1st period.  According to the Anaheim feed, the Avs down in SOG's 10-5, scoring chances 8-5 after one. Selanne has 8+ minutes of ice time, 4 shots and 3 scoring opportunities.  Probably wanna watch him in the second.  Also, Ducks have a 19-5-2 record when leading after 1st.  Good times

And now I'll just copy my notes directly from the start of the 2nd:

It's like I'm psychic or something.  Less than 40 seconds into the 2nd period, Andy is snow-angeling 8 feet outside of the crease after a weird redirect/block and Selanne, who must have paid Foote to let him stand by the net uncovered, banks his 600th goal into an empty net.  I believe he got one of those 600 in his one-year stint with the Avs (16? Really? I wonder why I remember that differently...). Anyway, the Ducks storm the ice, because at this point, why not.  I'm seriously consider turning the game off, but because I love you guys and gals so much, I'll slog through this absolute turd of a game.  Anyway, that's 2 PP goals SO FAR tonight.

Shortly after reaching his milestone, Selanne almost gets 601 as Hannan forgets he's on the ice!! This game is sooooo much fun to watch!! This "defensive" display is followed by even more and varied demonstrations of how not to get the puck out of their own end. Andy almost gets caught in no-mans land between playing/not playing a puck as the proverbial cherry on our own Avalanche version of a shit sundae.

We're then treated to a nice move by SoS in tight, and a better save by Hiller. Lots of good work by the top line, but not dice. Gali gets a great chance, but they can't bang it home.  Seconds later, Selanne gets ANOTHER good shot as he streaks down the slot. Seriously guys, he's been wearing the same number ALL FUCKING SEASON.  Somebody should be picking him up.

One note on the game: the puck is bouncing A LOT tonight.  It looks like the ice I play on in the summer here in OKC.  Terrible, in other words...

Sheldon Brookbank and Highlander decide to go. Cody McLeod lands a couple of body shots, but Brookbank just hugs it out and waits for Mcleod to tire of trying to rip his helmet/head off.  Koivu gets a good shot after a Liles turnover at the blue line leads to a quick strike shot.  Andy makes the save and a harmless rebound in his feet is gently lofted back into the slot by Beachie's boyfriend for a hammer of a shot by Koivu.  That is the best example of teamwork I've seen so far in this game.  Way to set the table there Liles.  Next trip down the ice, Steve Eminger interferes with Gali and gets 2 minutes of rest. We finally get to see the Avs red-hot power play.  Hopefully something good would come of this right?

Wrong. Weird PP unit of SoS, Dutchy, Hejduk with Rusty and Mueller at the point.  Some good work in the corners, but nothing of it early in the man advantage, but a Kyle Chipchura forecheck + Andy wandering almost results in another empty net goal as Mueller and Andy appear confused on what to do with the vulcanized rubber object in their own end.  Good work by Wheels with the second unit as Liles is down low with a double-shifted Duchene (dare I say, a "Double Dutch"?), Tucker and Stewart.  He's basically the last line of defense and managed to keep in a hard Duck clear and generate a good shot on goal that is easily dealt with as NONE OF THE OTHER AVALANCHE PLAYERS ARE ANYWHERE NEAR THE NET.  What a waste. PP killed.

Later Radar gets a great opportunity, but Hiller squeezes it JUST long enough to get the whistle with about 9 minutes left in the second.  After the TV timeout, SoS gets a chance, but the bouncing puck does him in and he needs two wacks to get a backhander on Hiller. He connects on neither.  Next trip down the other way and Quincey smokes Dan Sexton into the boards (with a clean shoulder hit on the puckcarrier, I might add) and Saku Koivu has an irritable vagina which earns him 2 minutes in the box.

No worries for the Ducks though as about 45 seconds into another WHALE of a PP for the Avs, Stewart misplays a puck as he retreats and he and Mueller fall all over trying to stop Bodie from streaking down the ice for the shorty.  Andy decides to get in on the action and goes down about the same time Bode crosses the blue line.  Easy shot over his shoulder, 4-0 Ducks.  For those keeping score, that's an even-strength goal, 2 PP goals, a shorty, with Teemu Selanne's 600th career goal thrown in for the proverbial "Eff UUUU!" to the Avs.

That's it for Andy as Peter Budaj gets to see some game action and it's only been a couple of games between!?!?!? What is wrong with the world...By the way, I am throwing in the towel on this one too.  I hate watching games like this.  It's last year all over again and frankly I can't handle the mental scars getting reopened.

I fast-forward through the rest of the game and see Darcy Tucker get a PP goal early in the 3rd period to break up the shutout.  Then about five minutes into the 3rd, Boots makes an awesome series of saves and Colorado respond by going down the ice with Rusty sneaking a shot through Hiller for the Avs second goal of the game and period.  Now, I'm caught up on the game in real-time on my DVR with just over 13 minutes left and I'm forced to watch it without the benefit of the fast-forward button.  I get to see Koivu take a puck to the grill and Rusty Salei take down Selanne on the same play to prevent the scoring chance off of the weird bounce off of Koivu's face. That's the kind of night the Ducks are having; even when one of your Top 6 forwards takes a puck IN THE FACE, it still generates a good scoring opportunity for Teemu.

 

The Ducks PP starts with the puck moving around the zone with ease before Selanne finds an unmanned Getzlaf sitting in front of Budaj for the easy backhand PP goal, the Ducks' third of the night.  5-2 for the Quack Attack.  It appears that Wheels drifted too far toward the corner and just left Getzlaf alone in front . Brian Burke's love child got enough of the pass to just poke it between Budaj's pads.  Every defenseman has had a chance to fuck something up and almost all of them have embraced those opportunities whole-heartedly and with vigor.  Good news though, all the fans in attendance will get the chance to get 5 free wings (and 6 free ogles, because it has to be an even number, right?) at a local Hooters as a result of the Ducks scoring five goals.  I'm sure their lower GI's and divorce lawyers are psyched!

Ducks play-by-play and color guys talk about the 'Yotes and their Major League-esque season as the Coyotes are red hot and the Sharks are choking BEFORE the playoffs...

Some low percentage chances before Duchene takes a hooking penalty in the offensive zone and we get another look at the Ducks' PP with just over 7 minutes left.  Brutal PK.  Ducks do what ever they want, nobody is challenged, only a missed point shot allows the Avalanche to clear.  Colorado manages to kill it off, but should have had another one just after the successful PK as Bodie walks through 4 Colorado players before getting taken down to the boos of the Honda Center crowd.  No call though as even the refs have started to pity the Avalanche on this night.

Now Budaj gets to witness more of the lack-of-clearing that was so familiar last season. Even the Ducks broadcasters are calling out the Avalanche for being "passive", "slow", and "shitty".  Or at least two of those.  My DVR decides it has had enough and vomits up the rest of the recording, so I don't see the last couple of minutes.  Oh well, how will I live with myself... 

Blake, Neidermayer, and Selanne are the three stars.  No shockers there. The Avalanche wouldn't have had any stars in this game unless they were suddenly traded to Dallas.  And when it comes down to the whole package for this game, that was the big problem: the Ducks' stars drastically outplayed the Avalanche stars.  In every facet. At every opportunity. When the only cleanly executed offensive-zone play for the Avalanche was generated by the Clown Shoes Formally Known as Darcy Tucker, then you have an issue with 'talent' on that occasion.  Our defense looked slow and out-of-position all night and the only offensive zone opportunities were usually the result of one-out-of-five players as there was zero team effort or play tonight.  And lo be it for me to not call Anderson out after a bad game.  Andy, you had a bad game.  That last goal was especially atrocious.

Everybody in the room better take a long hard look at themselves and decide if this is how a REAL playoff team approaches the last 10 games of the season.  Because delaying the start of the golf season a week or so seems like a missed opportunity at this point.  This team can be better than we've seen in the last few games. Pull it together and put a whoppin' on the Kings tomorrow night.  Establish control over your own playoff destiny. Sack up for cryin' out loud.

This game was not easy to watch and even less fun to recap.  I hope nobody (especially Mrs.) has a problem with the 'tone' of the recap.  Don't get me wrong, I love this team, even when it is difficult to love.  But I get no joy from watching this crap and I will call it like I see it. Writing this review was like jerking off a castrated dog: he won't thank you for it and all you get is wrist exercise.