Well, guys, we lost. With a roster sporting a rookie goaltender, a forward set that's missing a couple-three top liners, and an injured minute-crunching third line center. True, the Jets were missing Big Byf, but we definitely didn't have our best game.
Well guys, I got home just in time to catch the pregame show, and I see that Johnny Mitch is day to day, and isn't seriously injured. I sigh a great sigh of relief, and choke on it as I hear that Pauly Walnuts is out. Well, isn't that special. I guess that if he needed rest, this was the time to get it. The Jets are no joke, but compared to the rest of the upcoming schedule, there aren't any easier opponents. On the second half of a back-to-back back, I expect our guys will be tired.
More important than that, we get to see our
new second round pick goal tender, Reto Berra. I are excite. I want to see what he looks like on the ice. Since Winnipeg is our "easiest" remaining opponent, this makes the most sense to see what the guy has. Of note, the Altidudes have said that Varly has not even dressed tonight, and Jiggy is going to be the doorman (assuming our new guy doesn't prove to be a sieve and needs to be replaced, knock wood really hard). I really am excited; this recap might be later than I usually put them out if I nerd out watching the goaltending replays.
With Stats out, I think it's safe to assume that Dutchie and MacKinnon are going to be our two leading centers, with Cliche anchoring the third line. But, apparently, we are going to be skating with 11 forwards and 7 D tonight (huh?), if Mike Haynes can be believed. I guess he'll be playing on MacKinnon' right wing. Maybe Paul Carey didn't impress. Or, wait, let me maths.... O'Reilly, Duchene, McGinn; Landeskog, MacKinnon, Barrie; McLeod, Cliche, Talbot; Bordy, Malone, Carey. So maybe that'll be it. I guess we will see. Game on!
I was just sitting down on the couch and had barely settled before we scored. Ryan O'Reilly scored 20 seconds into the game, with an assist to Matt Duchene. Both dudes worked really hard, winning battles and keeping the puck in the zone. I started out being very impressed, but, just like that, the Jets are back in our zone after the faceoff, putting pucks on our rookie goaltender. Two minutes into the game, the shots are already 2-3 Jets. Huh.
The Jets' hard work pays off for them, and they score just 3 minutes after the Avs do. Andrew Ladd scores on a drive and a nice wrister shot; Reto Berra probably should have had that one, his positioning was just slightly off. The game is tied up just like that.
After that, both teams begin to find their stride, and the ice begins to open up. They really begin to rush up and down the ice, trading almost-shots and pressured situations. McGinn had a great moment when he banged a shot off of the crossbar after Ryan O'Reilly stole the puck from a silly-looking Jet and dished it out to him. Great play. We stayed in their zone for like 2 minutes, it was glorious.
Not that it helped, tho. Blake Wheeler drove down the far side, outpacing Nate Guenin, and rushing around the goal as if he was trying for a wrap around. Berra was in position, tho, and instead, Wheeler passed the puck through the crease. Eric Tangradi was waiting on the other side, where he had snuck up behind Nick Holden, and was able to tap the puck in to the net. Time to play catch-up, again.
The Avs had a stroke of luck, tho, as Adam Pardy chipped the puck over the glass on an esuing play, and the Avs are able to go onto the PP. The team had good puck movement, but I don't think that they wanted to do anything but pass around the perimeter, because I'm not sure if they even got a shot on goal. Its too bad, because the Avs had enough sustained pressure earlier in the period that it certainly could have been used to our advantage. Oh well.
However, after that, the Nathan MacKinnon line led a rush into the Jets zone, and some fast work behind the net led to a delayed penalty on Winnipeg. Honestly, I didn't even see the penalty, but I think that it was a hook on Gabriel Landeskog. Berra made it to the bench for the extra skater, but it didn't matter, because Benoit's shot from the point rebounded right to Landy, and he drove it home to tie the game.
The Avs were playing really decent defense at this time; they hadn't allowed a shot on Berra since the Tangradi goal, which was about 7 minutes. The Jets got one last goal in the closing minute of the period, but good job by the Avs. Avalanche lead shots 12-8.
The game started out fast already, and Berra had to be on point early. Tyson Barrie had some good moves, stealing the puck and driving into the net with a good shot on Al Montoya. The puck was moving back and forth down the ice, without many actual shots, but with some decent chances on both sides of the ice. There were a lot of open ice hits, but Patrick Bordeleau pushed one hit a bit too far when he hit Matt Hulischuk into the boards with a clean hit, but it was ruled interference. Anthony Peluso made him answer for the hit right away, and the boys had a light fight without much of a winner, and both served their majors. Bordy's minor was served by Brad Malone.
The Avs went on the PK, and it was a very good one. I don't think that they allowed a shot on goal the whole time. This charged them up, and they were able to drive to the Jets end after the kill had wrapped up, and put sustained pressure on the Jets for a while. Jan Hejda played some good defense, stopping a great opportunity by Blake Wheeler. Both teams were matched on SOGs, and a lot of the play had shifted back to a defensive mindset after the run-and-gun 1st.
MacKinnon and Landeskog are developing excellent chemistry, and almost connected several times throughout the game. The pace was fast, back and forth, speeding up as the period went on.
And then, Evander Kane scores. Berra sent the puck around the boards, and altho it looked like it was going out, the Jets managed to keep it in. In the momentary panic that ensues, the Avs try to find their respective covers, but it didn't matter, because David Setoguchi tapped a fast pass right to Kane, who buried it. Booooo! That goal felt like it was coming... at least, it felt like someone was going to score soon; the defensive clinic from earlier had dissolved into another fast-paced run, and it was only a matter of time. It just turned out to be the wrong flavor of goal.
The game kept speeding up, with takeaways, giveaways, and drives. The funny thing is that few shots were actually put on net. It was fast without the shots. The Jets were outshooting us that period, but it still felt evenly paced in terms of chances.
That fast pace benefits us right in the last minute of the period. Maxime Talbot worked hard to pick up a great outlet pass and skate it around the net in the Jets zone, and chipped the puck to Tyson Barrie, who had just arrived. Barrie's perfect pass found Nick Holden low in the near side circle, and he juked ever so slightly, and then shot the puck past Montoya. Nice play, and tied as they go into the second intermission.
Good start to the third, with both teams trying hard for the lead out of the gate. Ryan O'Reilly makes another great steal, and makes a play that doesn't end up going anywhere, but was pretty none the less. Can we sign him now, please? More back-and-forth action, but Benoit gets caught interfering with Setoguchi, so we had to face another PK. We started off with a strong kill, keeping them out of the zone, but then Andrew Ladd scored his second of the night. When the Jets finally got the puck into our zone, they didn't take long to score, putting a shot between Berra's right arm and the post. Down by one goal again.
Just as I was getting a sinking feeling in my stomach about our chances in this game as we couldn't seem to get anything going against them, McLeod scores his third goal of the season. He drove down the near side, with Matt Duchene closing down the left. He faked the pass across, and instead shot low, and the puck went right past Montoya into the net. Good on you, Cody Mac!
With the tie, Winnipeg went back onto the offensive, camping out in our zone and peppering Berra with shots. Some of the shots were blocked, and some just wide, but we definitely didn't look good for a whole stretch of time there. We finally got our legs back under us, and spent some time down in their end, trying to get something, anything, to go into the net. Back and forth. The final two minutes of the period was harrowing, with much too much time spent in our own zone, defending with everything that we had. The man-assignments seemed to have gotten lost along the way, and we looked lost. But we somehow made it to OT, and gained a point! Huzzah!
We came out flying in the OT. I thought we had the game tied up like three times in the first couple minutes. Chance after chance, even tho we only got two official, SOGs, but it felt good. Up until the time that Wheeler came down into our zone (the only time I think they had done so), and just held his shot until our defense exploded under the pressure, fell to the ice, and imploded. Then he sent a nice shot over a sprawling Berra and the game was over.
Well, shit. This was something I felt like we should have won. But just because I always feel like we needed to win. With a rookie tender, a bunch of guys out of the lineup, and a tired club, I guess we did all right.
Reto Berra didn't look that good. I think that he had flashes, but he's definitely a project. Two of those goals he just seemed a little out of position, or a little slow, and a save on either one would have been a difference maker in the game. Of course, he was also hung out to dry on a couple of them. He looked way shaky to start the game, but by the end, he made some nice little saves to keep us in the running.
Cody McLeod had a hell of a game, with both the tying goal that got us into overtime, 7 hits, and 2 shots.
I thought that the defensive combo of Hejda and Johnson was really good tonight, too. Their defense, as well as their decisions on when to pinch and jump into the play, were really good.
Nick Holden had a nice game, too. I'm not as high on him as some people around here are, but he really played well tonight. I saw several times when I thought he made the exact right defensive play, and was impressed with his level-headedness on the ice.
Honestly, we did just fine offensively. But the couple of defensive breakdowns, and with Berra being less than stellar, that cost us the game.
Marc-Andre Cliche won two important faceoffs right at the end of the game. I guess I might have to stop making fun of his FO ability quite as much.
Next up: Bahston. The Bruins have won 10 in a row (I think the Altidudes told us that 7 times throughout the game), and I guess we need to play them for some reason. Everyone gird your loins for battle and pack your bear spray.