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Game 34: Avalanche play their system, beat the Oilers.

The Avs played the Oilers tonight. It went precisely as expected. Mostly because I wrote this an hour before the game started, I have been drinking a lot (Highland Park for those keeping score at home), and I can always delete sentences to make myself look prescient. Instead of that little dance, let’s just say this went as expected.

I can haz Duchene?
I can haz Duchene?
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I sent this at the start of the game: “Dear , do you read Mile High Hockey and, logically assuming the answer is yes, how often do you find yourself quoting us during the day, specifically during your broadcasts?”

1st period:

TANGENT: I never knew Hejda was an Oiler.

The period started off normally, but Edmonton seemed to be looking for long passes to break down the Avs neutral zone. Mitchell had a good shot at 18:22 once the Oilers gave him too much space skating through the zone. The Oilers come right back and get a good shot because McGinn lost his man. It wasn’t McGinn’s fault, but Edmonton was rotating enough to mess the man-to-man system up. Taylor Hall looks like someone put peanut butter on the roof of his mouth all the time. Also, Guenin got a haircut, I wonder if he thought that would get him back in the lineup. Maybe it worked? Duchene has an absolutely brilliant move, just misses and the puck goes high, then again pulls a different spin move but the puck is deflected away. Close though, but then Landy almost stuffs one in.

Edmonton responded with a few great shifts, notably Perron’s line. Jan Hejda has a great defensive play on Shultz that basically ruined any attack Edmonton had going. The Avs seem to be running a 1-1-3 as a neutral zone defense. It makes Edmonton either skate through the defense or dump and chase. Could work, could not. It will be interesting to see if Edmonton can keep possession going through the zone for 3 period. And then what a great save by Varly. Really tough for him to see that as it came blind form behind the net. Landy pulls a great move with 5 minutes left and on the return Hall has a 2 on 1 and scores. Great shot and just a bad bounce coming back. Hejda pinched a little and probably shouldn’t have but that’s a tough call. Hall has an amazing shot. I would say top 3 shots in the NHL with Ovechkin and Stamkos, he reminds me of Brett Hull.

In sum, good period for the Avs gameplan. It worked. They had speed, they kept it going through the zone but Dubnyk had answers.

2nd period:

Starting the 2nd on a PP and a 5 on 3 at that. This is the sort of game (I know that adage is over used) where PP/PK can be the difference. The Avs need points shots on this. That’s the key for this team. Stastny rings the post. Great passing. Great faceoff win on the 5 on 3, could have lost 30 seconds there, and Barrie get with a massive snap shot. What a great goal. That’s the sort of Mike Green like shooting on the PP the Avs need from him.

Haha MacKinnon leaped over that dude. Nice athleticism you fucking jackrabbit. This PP with Johnson, Barrie, and Duchene’s line could be scary once the defense gets better acclimated. Oh well, no goal, good movement though.

TANGENT 2: The Oilers still play pond hockey even with a new coach. It’s so ugly to watch. If you watch the forwards, they skate in massive ovals the entire time. It reminds me of Bantam hockey where the entire line thinks they are more skilled than anyone else so they don’t need to work and skate it circles looking for easy shots. In my opinion, it is very juvenile hockey and the lack of a sophisticated structure and work ethic of better teams. That will plague them until they get an experienced coach, I think.

Again, Hall looks scary. Every time he has the puck. That off wing wrist shot is crazygonuts good. As I talk about him, Landy just massacres him in center ice. That Hemsky line is looking fairly good, they do some good grinding work, especially against Duchene’s line. The Avs backchecking is good this game, they are preventing the Oilers from having time when there is a transition; especially Landy, he’s been sneaky good on defense this game. Mitchell had a great chance but shot high. Then Hall made a great play on EJ. Johnson had his skates knocked out and was falling unfortunately and Hall took advantage of it with a pass to RNH. Hejda did the right thing moving to Hall, but RNH beat out the other forward to the net. Good play by the Oilers.

One I made a new paragraph for my notes, the Avs scored. So you can all thank me. The Oilers had begun to press the Avs with a good forecheck, but the Avs breakout system is just spot fucking on. They keep getting the puck out of the zone, through the neutral zone, and into the offensive zone within seconds of getting possession. [NOTE TO THE READER: READ MY AND MY BROTHERS FUCKING ARTICLE ABOUT THIS] Anyway, what a brilliant play by Duchene’s line. First he sped through the zone, pulled the defenseman to him, spun and passed to MacKinnon. MacKinnon does a fake slap pass PERFECTLY to O’Reilly. MacKinnon definitely slapped his stick asking for the puck. Duchene found him and that was marvelous.

Oilers with pressure, but really it was just perimeter shots again. Bordy takes a penalty, I think it was weak but again when Bordy plays he needs to remember he’s fucking enormous, a “huge freaking dude”, who draws attention. Things like that get called on him. Regardless, steal by Cliché, beautiful pass, and a great finish by Talbot. Just wow.

In sum, great period. A lot of shots and the Avs system yielded one normal goal and one great shorthanded one. Onto the third…

TANGENT 3: My Highland Park is gone.

3rd period:


Never mind, I don’t believe that shit but let’s see how Roy and company responds. Good pressure the start, which is a good sign. Mitchell rings the pipe at 18 minutes off a great McGinn cross-ice pass.

TANGENT 4: It is un-fucking-acceptable that people use umbrellas when it snows. 1) snow is pretty, 2) wear a fucking hat, 3) stop being a baby, 4) snow is pretty, 5) it's bullshit, and 6) umbrellas are for rain.

Back to it, Avs still doing well halfway through the period. It was very back and forth and the neutral zone was really just a thruway at this points for these two teams. Landy is terrifying on the rush. He will either skate by or through you or dump it and hit you. He plays like a 10 year veteran at age 19. The dude is such a good captain. You can even see the other Avs respect his voice on the ice.

TANGENT 5: HAHA the image of Bryzgalov just staring blankly at the jumbotron. I love that guy.

TANGENT 6: The Oilers have a lot of stripes on their outfits. Horizontal, vertical, all kinds. It’s weird.

Ugly 3 on 2 by the Avs with 7 minutes left. McGinn needs to stay back and open up a shooting lane. He drove the net but so did Mitchell. All Talbot could do is shoot and hope for a rebound. Varly with a great save as he got all spunned around. Then, again, the 3rd line has a great chance but an even better save by Dubnyk. He loves playing the Avs. That 3rd line is something special right now though.

Wow, so Barrie makes two great plays. One using his speed and body position, the second with great stick work but then throws it away because he and Guenin had miscommunicated a bit and Hall gets a great shot, but Varly grabs it. Thanks Varly, you rockz.

2 minutes left and the Oilers are driving hard. I think you can hear Johnson swear a lot, but good chances none the less. Now pulled goalie time!! Let’s see how it goes!!! It went like thus: Time out Oilers. [blue balled you there]. WOMAN ON THE TV DO NOT SHAKE YOUR BABY! Oilers get a few shots, the puck stays on the boards mostly, PA misses the net, the Landy misses, you guys sucks at everything, but no worries you know who doesn’t miss? Matt Duchene.

Avs win 4-2 and even with the goalie pulled, there was very little worry here. The shot total was 38 to 29 but honestly the Avs had control of the pace, the play, and the style all game. Roy’s system reigned supreme and it was a good performance by the Avs.

Three Whores:

Third Whore: Semyon Varlamov, played great and kept the Avs in against a highly skilled team.

Second Whore: Tyson Barrie, great defense, great use of his skill set and a great shot.

First Whore: Matt Duchene, he was just Duchene.

Honorable mention to Taylor Hall: the dude was a threat all night long and needs to be traded to a real team.