After a thrilling OT victory, I was hoping to see a rejuvinated Avalanche team come out flying against the red-hot Nashville Predators. Instead I was treated to a game that was the definition of lackluster. The only thing red-hot in this game was some of the tempers on the Avalanche team after certain Nashville players lingered in the crease and of course, Predators' goaltender Pekka Rinne (my stud fantasy goaltender).
The first period was highlighted by two Nashville goals on almost identical shots that beat Colorado goaltender Craig Anderson glove side as he slid from his right to his left. The first goal came as a result of another failed attempt to carry the puck into the offensive zone when a dump-in was likely the better play. The turnover at the offensive blueline resulted in a 2-on-1 that caught the Avalanche halfway between a defensive line change and newly returned Kyle Cumiskey and his ad-hoc partner Kevin Shattenkirk took a passive stance on a 3-on-2 (I say passive because they didn't slow down, force a pass, or stop one) and Sergei Kostitsyn got the goal. Later in the period the offensive pressure generated by Nashville sees an uncovered (I think he was recent call-up Ryan Stoa's man) Cody Fransen walk from the point and bury the pass. The Avs flirted with actual offensive pressure a few times in the first, but didn't sustain any pressure as most of the play was in the neutral zone and on the perimeter. Shattenkirk was robbed by Rinne on a great pinching play after a dazzling offensive possession by the Duchene line. Ohh, and they did manage to kill a penalty!
The second period was a 20-minute, snore-inducing, non-thrill ride. The play continued to be a showcase for stick-checks, aggressive backchecks, good defensive positioning, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..... Ohh wait, Ryan Stoa had a goal waived off that looked good to the Altiboobs, but didn't appear conclusive even after a LENGTHY video review. How would they respond? Take it up a notch or file it away in the excuse file? You guessed it, excuse file. To be honest, they did have some buzz in the last minute of the period as Paul Stastny's line generated some good pressure and some chances, but Rinne and Co. were up to the task.
Avalanche Head Coach Joe Sacco decided to start the third by complaining to the refs about the non-goal. Set a tone for the period there. Predator Matt Halischuk lost an edge along the boards, lost the puck, fell down, got up, took the puck from statuesque Ryan Wilson, turned, skated behind the net, and wrapped the puck into the net on the backhand in one of, if not THE, laziest goaltending "save" attempts I've seen out of Anderson. It was Halischuk's first NHL goal (of course it was!). More fun was had as uber-Pred David Legwand skated into the zone on a pseudo odd-man rush and sniped farside, top corner as Kyle Cumiskey back-pedaled to make it 4-0 about two minutes later (this was actually the next shot on goal). A little over five minutes later, Colin Wilson made it 5-nil as he undressed Kyle Cumiskey and roofed a backhander on a down-a-tad-early Anderson. The only thing missing from the night was a garbage Avalanche goal to spoil the shutout for Rinne and my fantasy team. And on cue Matt Duchene bangs home a rebound with just under 4 minutes left in the game. I doubt anybody saw it as most of the sub 13,000 fans in attendence were trying to beat traffic.
- Jones, Stastny, Hejduk
- Stoa, Duchene, Stewart
- McLeod, Porter, Winnik
- Yip, Dupuis, Koci
- Liles, O'Byrne
- Cumiskey, Foote
- Wilson, Shattenkirk
- The only silver lining of the game was the 4-for-4 penalty kill. Then again, Nashville's PP isn't stellar.
- They announced just before the game that Tomas Fleischmann is done for the season due to multiple pulmonary embolisms. Before you Google that, it's blood clots on each lung.
- The Avs outshot Nashville 33 to 28, for what that's worth.
- I thought the 4th line came out hitting well in the first, but it tapered off as the game went on.
- Philippe Dupuis was likely the best Colorado player. That seems to happen a lot in these wretched losses.
- Everyone clamoring for a Matt Hunwick healthy scratch got their wish. The result? The hot mess that was Cumiskey.
- This was another potential Brothers' Showdown that was postponed as both O'Reilly boys are currently injured (Cal = broken leg, Ryan = shoulder/neck).
There were none.
The Avs face Boston in their only meeting of the season on Saturday. Looking forward to seeing the NHL's #1 goalie in Tim Thomas especially after watching Rinne's clinic tonight.