Avalanche vs. Devils. Part Deux.
Dear intrepid hockey fans and, more specifically, those revered Avalanche and some Devils fans, I implore you to indulge in my writing this evening as I attempt, humbly, to recap, nay capture, the essence of the ice hockey game that was played between the Colorado Avalanche and the New Jersey Devils.
As many writers, and more accurately aspiring writers or even wide-eyed children, learn, there is an endless battle between one person’s writing and the audience. How to capture the image? How to capture the idea? How to get the reader to feel a part of the story? These are the questions I face tonight.
As William Faulkner said, "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good."
I attempt to do that and since, I fear, the audiences for each team may be slightly different, I offer you two recaps; one for each fan’s taste perhaps. One will be analyze systems from someone who has played dozens of different hockey systems over 28 years of hockey and the other will do the same, just told from the mouth of an illiterate, foul-mouthed 16 year-old who had been overdosing on Mountain Dew. This is my literary and blogging, shall we call it "blitterary"? Yes, yes we shall. This is my "blitterary" attempt at a "choose your own recap adventure." Come with me…
If you are a Devils and Avalanche fans, please, scroll down and find the picture that you find most fitting to the style of your team and the atmosphere of your blog. Once you find the the most conformable story style, please read you're recap.
Recaps for Avalanche fans:
DRINKING UPDATE MOTHER FUCKERS: I came back from a pond hockey tournament this weekend and stopped at a New Hampshire liquor store. Bought 4 bottles of scotch. I’ll open the AnCnoc 12. That’s pronounce "Ah-knock" and I swear to god they will skin you like reavers if you say anything differently.
TANGENT 1: This game is on NBCSN. Guess what? No Chico. YES!!!! Also, we need to ban whoever said they like Chico today on the preview thread. I don’t give a shit if that was my Grandma, that person gets banned. Whatevs, sorry Grandma.
TANGENT 2: Mike Millbury does not like the Avs. The disdain is palpable. Oh well.
Period Number 1 (named after former Avs goalie and current Head Coach, Patrick Roy):
Ugh, good start for the Avs but the Devils were playing a gross dump and chase game. Landy had a turnover and took a slashing penalty for breaking all the sticks. The Devils got a good chance right away because the Avs’ boxed collapse for no reason at all. I think it was a "miscom." Interestingly the Avs have adjusted their PK to a triangle plus one or a string box (hint, brother, get drunk and draw on napkins, okayz?) Penalty killed.
Off a great shift by Duchene, MacKinnon made an incredibly deft steal and somehow kept the puck. He and Parenteau almost scored on a 2 on 1. The kid doesn’t get that he’s a kid and a rookie and not old.
Off a broken turnover the Devils got a GREAT chance. Holden played a 2 on 1 okay, but Ryder got a chance that rung off the post. No goal though.
TANGENT 3: How do you not hear "Travis Zajac" and immediately follow that up with "and Vanna White"???
Ugh, another penalty on the Avs. Talbot broke another dude’s stick (ZOMG ARE THEY MADE OF GLASS???????) Let’s see how this PK does. The Devils got a few kinda good chances, but not really if you saw the shots. Johnson made a great fucking play to make sure no cross ice pass got through.
It looked like the Avs were finally getting their speed ramped up when MacKinnon got taken down on a pretty weak play. Definitely a penalty, but why the Devils goes after the blades, I dunnos. That’s stupid bro. (DISCLAMER FOR THE OPPOSING READER: I MEANT TO TYPE THOSE WORDS, even if misspelled.)
Let’s go POWER PLAY!!!! The Avs first group did okay, Duchene tried to get too fancy and no real shots came of it. These announcers have honestly never seen an Avs game. Ever. Barrie came out of nowhere? Okay um no, he was a highly regarded draft pick who had been groomed for his role. Moron. In the final seconds, MacKinnon had a great chances but Schneider somehow got over, impressive.
TANGENT 4: YOU KNOW WHAT? I don’t give a shit if I’d probably hit on the Wendy’s girl at a bar; some of those ads make me want to throw very sharp objects an things that will smash.
Ugh, somehow the Avs took another penalty. I didn’t see it, but it was for too much man. Killed just like that. No chances at all. However, right after that the Devils score and this one is on Duchene. Sorry. It was his man and he didn’t get his stick in the way. It was in transition and his initial mistake was fixable, but he lost focus. Avs should have gotten angry with that. 1-0 Devils.
With 4 seconds left the Devils almost score again. The Avs defense is doing fine, but the forwards seem to be asleep. The Avs got lucky on this one. Being down by 1 with all those stupid penalties and a bit of hectic play is a good outcome.
Period Number 2 (probably named after Nick Holden or Martin Brodeur):
Thanks MSG announcer for telling me that it has been a "masterful defensive game" by the Devils after 20 fucking minutes.
The start of the period was odd. New Jersey got some "good" pressure after the Avs lost a stick, but the puck basically hung out behind the net. You could already see the Devils trying to shut this down. Man, it was trappier than the Wild. Oh well.
The Avs had some great pressure, first by Duchene, then especially by the MacKinnon line. The result is an UGLY tripping call on Bernier that was borderline kneeing on Landeskog. Power Play for the Avs. Time to score boys.
HOLD THE PHONE. Aside form the pressure, the stupid fucking announcer were just literally insulting the Avs. Go fuck yourselves. Lateral passes can work when, you know, your team has 75 points and the Devils have um, less. A lot less.
Regardless, the Avs had good pressure, but did not score. They had some chances; probably too fancy but there was good movement. If they get another one, I expect a goal (EDITORS COMMENT: They did not score on the next one. Oops. SPOILERS?????)
TANGENT 5: Did they just call Johnson a solid top 4 defenseman? Okay dudes, you really have never seen an Avs game before.
Landeskog then came through the neutral zone with about 6 minutes left and finally found some speed in transition. The result? Guess!!! No really!! GUESS!! Power Play for the Avs.
TANGENT 6: Nastia Liukin, you’re hot.
Okay, PP time. Well it started off with a boarding call that didn’t get called. But it did not go well. At all. The first unit did nothing and the second unit only had about 45 second. Not good by the Avs. Not good at all. That did not stop the announcer from ripping into the Avs. No worries though, the Devils clearly have a better record in an harder conference. Thanks guys. I’m glad you’re employed. This game is obviously a Stanley Cup runner up vs. a team that would never beat them.
Period over. A better one for the Avs but they have to break down the Devils really gross trap. Sorry did I say trap? I meant the best defensive team of all time. My bad.
Period Number 3 (Maybe named after Brodeur as well. Nope probably Hasek or Sawchuck or Plante):
5 minutes in and the Avs were getting a little more speed but still being kept to the outside. They seem to be waiting for a Duchene/MacKinnon play or a weird bounce.
The Avs should have been down by 2. Jagr had a great shot but the puck just sat on the goal line for a few seconds. Another lucky break for the Avs. Not how you want to rely on a game, but we’ll take it!! Only if they winz though, otherwise, I don’t give a shit.
After another good shift by the Devils, Benoit got taken down by Jagr and they called it. Here is a game changing Power Play.
The Power Play got some shots and one chance that was close, but Mitchell took a holding penalty to make it 4 on 4. Nothing happened on the 4 on 4 and the Devils went on the Power Play. Penalty killed and very little happened.
With under 7 minutes left, Roy changed things up by adding MacKinnon up with Duchene. It resulted in a great chance. No goal though.
FUCK YOU DEVILS. JUST. FUCK. THESE. ANNOUNCERS.
I had to take a breath, sorry. With about 4 minutes left, the Avs went into crazygonuts mode. They pinched everything. Just everything. All defensemen, all the time. Roy pulled Giguere with over 2 minutes left. Roy felt something. We all did. Duchene had a great shift, got high-stick-ed (no call), then he had to go off. The Landeskog/MacKinnon pairing came out and holy hell were they flying. All pressure, all the time and Landeskog gave Barrie a GREAT pass and he hammers a shot that Parenteau could tip in. Just like that, after a frustrating game, a hard game, a tough defensive game, it’s a 1-1 tie.
And holy hell, Duchene got a breakaway with 41 seconds left and a penalty was called. Power Play for the Avs to basically win it in regulation. The Devils called a time out. The Avs got a good chance and then Barrie went into crazy skating mode with 10 seconds left. I mean, I have not seen someone skate that fast since Cumiskey (ha!). No goal though.
Time for overtime!!!! Yay!!! Free points!!! (FYI not named for anything, except losses by Devils and their homer announcers)
Power Play to start and just like that, the Avs win in overtime. HOWS THAT FOR FUCKING LATERAL PASSES YOU FUCKING PIECES OF SHIT ANNOUNCERS. Sorry, I got upset there for a minute.
Anyway, 4 on 3 to start the period: Duchene, MacKinnon, O’Reilly, Barrie. After some easy movement on the outside, a pass form MacKinnon went down to Duchene and he gavea nice hard tap-in designed pass to O’Reilly and it’s over. Avs win 2-1.
Summary: Not a good game honestly. The Avs did not play badly but they did not play well. It’s hard to judge a game like this. The Avs got smothered. Simply put, just fucking smothered. However, the difference was very simply. Patrick Roy (surprise, surprise right Devils? Right Brodeur? Right New Jersey? Losers). He changed up the lines to get MacKinnon out with Duchene. The speed of that line absolutely changed the game and the last 6 minutes. I credit Roy for not doing that earlier. Honestly, without Stastny and Tanguay, it’s hard to risk it earlier than that. He waited until he had to. He knows how to coach. The Avs showed one thing: they can win in all scenarios. Literally, all scenarios. Everything. They just beat a very very very very very good trap. But, that’s two fucking points and…wait…what’s that? Hi Chicago!!! You’re ass looks nice from this close up.
3rd Whore: Giguere. He wasn’t lights out but he kept the peace so to speak. He never had to make jaw-dropping saves, but he did what he had to.
2nd Whore: MacKinnon. The dude was all over the ice. No, honestly, I think he actually skated over every centimeter of ice. He was just great. Just fucking great. He’s starting to get that eye of confidence that is terrifying.
1st Whore: Patrick Roy. Sorry, ‘tis not a player, but he made some coaching decisions that directly resulted in 2 points. He made adjustments at the right time and in the right way to use HIS players to win this game. He didn’t do stupid shit like quadruple shift MacKinnon, but he simply outcoached DeBoer.
Honorary Star: Posts. The Avs got a little lucky tonight which evens out with the unlucky games they’ve had. The Devils hit a bunch of posts and could have led 3-0. But, such is hockey. Avs got 2 points and now have 77 fucking points. Let that sink in.
Matt Duchene Ping Counter: 0. :(
Fuck yes motherfuckers, guess what yes. The Avs win again. All the fucks. All the points. All the wins. All the Eastern Conference teams suck.
Avalanche fans, your recap is over. Your princess is in another castle. Please go to page 1 and start again.
Recap for Devils fans:
WARNING: The In Lou We Trust Clause is active and binding after this point.
Hell hath no fury like a sister blog scorned.
1st Period (I would aver this is named after the number one because it is sequentially first in number above zero, but I am no expert):
The game began with a standard faceoff, as expected. Most hockey fans would expect that the Devils would play a slower, defensive minded game with a very passive forecheck and a systematic, methodical break out. Whereas their opponent plays a faster game with an aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck, a transition game based on turnovers, and a man-to-man defensive system that is relatively under-utilized in the NHL today. This is what happened.
The Devils started with a dump and chase forecheck, but it didn’t have much effect at first because the Avs have been adept at getting the puck up to the forwards with speed. The Devils started to get repelled by the Avs at first and though the Avalanche had pressure, the Devils got three Power Play chances. These
The first Power play saw some good movement by the Devils and they focused their attention on perimeter shots that might yield some successful rebounds. The Avs used a "triangle plus one" PK, which saw the puck holder for the Devils be pressured by one Av as the other three stayed in position. This is something I have, personally, in my minute and insufficient experience, have rarely seen employed in the NHL effectively.
The second Power Play was atrocious as well as hideous for the Devils. They stayed so far on the outside that nothing really arose from it. They had some shots, but if you watch, the attempts were never really threatening. However, a shot, I suppose is a shot and though little penetration occurred, the pattern may result in success in the future.
The third Power Play was better and saw more movement but still no goals were scored. However, immediately after that Power Play Duchene tried to get a little too fancy, lost the puck, did not pick up his man on transition, and Ryan Carter scored a goal on a very well placed shot from the top of the upper right circle. 1 -0 Devils.
The Avalanche had trouble getting their system in place with any permanence, especially the forecheck. The three penalties, seemingly equally placed throughout the period, disrupted all rhythm. The Avs did get a Power Play after MacKinnon drew a call, but to no avail. The Devil’s PK, while highly regarded, seemed way too passive in this writer’s humble, yet unsophisticated opinion. There was only one PK so it’s hard to judge, but it looked like a more rapidly moving power play could do some damage.
The Devils almost scored at the end of the period as the Avs started to run around like the proverbial fowl with its cranium severed, but the iron post that lines the edge of the goal stopped any hope of a two goal lead at that point.
2nd Period (Probably named after the number following the number one):
In sum, but for the final 2 minutes, the Devils really did not have a great offensive period; however their defense went into complete "shut down" mode and it worked incredibly well. They took two penalties but the Avs could not generate much on either; in fact, the Avs had good movement, good possession, but no chances.
There was very little to talk about this period for systems. Shots were low, play was sluggish, and little excitement ensued.
For systems though, this was very good for the Devils defense. As I type this, Millbury is talking about stuff; I hate to degrade another commenter on our glorious sport but I shutter to listen and appreciate his commentary at this point so please forgive me for typing my own, weak and wanting commentary, instead of mimicking his. Regardless of what he’s saying, the Devils collapse in their own zone. Simply put, they use a collapsing system with the lead. It worked all period and the Avs could not score on Cory Schneider
In the neutral zone during the period, the clog/trap worked well for the Devils. The Avs succeed on speed in the neutral zone and the clog worked great; I have little doubt, if you trust any thing such an inexperienced writer might think, that the Devils’ coach planned this as well as he could. You’ll notice that whenever the Avs broke out of their zone, the Devils player would not pressure until about a foot below the blue line and the second forward would prevent any passing lane. This is unusual for most team, most traps, and even the Devils usually. Very few teams can utilize this system well or even successfully; it takes a methodical and tactical adjustment to know when to pressure and what pressure with clog properly. Most teams will either over attack or will be too passive. For the Devils, it worked in this period for sure.
Offensively, neither team had much for us to discuss this evening. The Avs had two instances where they managed to get speed through the neutral zone. One of which had MacKinnon with a good shot and the other resulted in Landeskog drawing a penalty.
On the Devils’ side, there was very little to analyze until the last two minutes where a good forecheck led to two shifts of pressure and about five shots. Nothing two scary for the Coloradan perspective but the shot totals were 20-15 for the Devils. The Avs can’t really expect to get more than 25 shots against this system but you can see what the system, when working, can do.
Uniquely, the Devils’ system is different than the Lemaire trap. It’s still a trap, regardless of what people say, but the defense is a bit more smothering. Most traps just keep things on the outside and clog every lane in the neural zone. This Devils team however is a tiny bit more aggressive in their own zone. They have good defenseman and they pressure in a way that almost forces the Avs to skate into the trap’s pitfalls.
3rd Period (named after the period where the Devils have a tendency to lose games):
The period began as the 2nd ended – slowly. The Devils began their full shutdown system and it worked. The Avs had a ton of trouble getting into the zone and moreover when the Avs did get possession, the Devils smothered the Avs. The Devils are coached extremely well and know how to attack fast team. I would gamble that they do well against the Montreal’s and Philly’s in the East; but of course such a writer as me does not know enough to make a definitive statement.
Regardless, the Devil’s system even generated offense and that led to a few unlucky breaks when another post was hit. The Devils found ways of having the trap create turnovers. That is something most traps cannot do, like Minnesota or Nashville. The Devils did a good job getting those turnovers and Jagr, specifically, had a great period. He created an immense amount of pressure in all areas. However, his shots were not the most threatening and the Devils were forced to deal with a final six minutes of the speed of the Avalanche’s usual game.
Head Coach Patrick Roy adjusted his lines and put MacKinnon with Duchene. This was a very fast line and it was faster than the Devils had dealt with previously. Fayne, specifically, had trouble judging where to position himself. He was in great position most of the time when the Avs entered the zone, but once the Avs broke more deeply into the zone, the Devil’s system broke apart.
With more than two minutes left, Roy pulled his goalie. As the Avs changed their forwards and put six players on the ice, Gabriel Landeskog found the puck behind the net, passed the Barrie who fired a well placed, low shot, on the net and Parenteau was able to tip it in to tie the game.
The Avs began to find more speed after the goal and the Devils accidently let Duchene in on a half breakaway. He was unable to score but drew a penalty. The period ended and overtime would start with a Power Play.
Overtime (named for the fact that regulation time ran over):
The Avs had a Power Play to start and they put out Duchene, MacKinnon, O’Reilly, and Barrie. After a lot of passing around the Devils’ triangle, Duchene found space to pass to O’Reilly when Fayne lost his positioning and the Avs scored. Game over and the Avs win in overtime two to one. I was having trouble recalling the Avalanche’s record when they play in New Jersey and speficially whether any important games have been played in the State. But, as expected, my memory is lacking and flawed, so perhaps someone can help me recall whether this is the first time the Devils and their fans have ever been sad, heartbroken, and/or upset leaving their arena after playing the Avalanche.
Mile High Hockey Three Stars:
3rd Star: Giguere. He played solidly and stopped the shots when needed after the Devils took the lead.
2nd Star: Landeskog: The Avalanche Captain played very well and his physical play led to the game tying goal.
1st Star: MacKinnon: The First Overall pick showed his speed and skill and threatened the Devils. In the first and second, he was very apparently the only Av who was able to create space in the Devil’s system.
Devils fans, your recap is over. Your princess is in another castle. Your playoffs hopes are in another Division. Please go to page 1 and start again and I suggest you begin cheering for a successful team.
The Avalanche are back on the ice tomorrow against the Rangers. The Brothers Parkin will be there in the flesh.
C6hor8’s Preview/Recap Record: 5-0-0. Boom. Drunk. Boom. Fuck.