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Avs beat Blackhawks. 1 Point back, 1 game in hand.

Let me repeat. The Avs beat the Blackhawks tonight. They have played one less game and are only one point back from the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Blackhawks vs. Avalanche

Dear Adrian Dater,

This recap is dedicated to you. The Avalanche community is small, relatively so. There is one newspaper that covers the team where most cities have many. I don’t even live in Denver and I appreciate how little that is for a large city. The Avalanche blogging community is also small. There are few blogs. There is a larger twitter/social world according to some metrics, but we are all Avs fans. We are all in this together. We have all, mostly, been through those hallowed glory years and suffered through the pain that was Dante’s 7th level of hell manifested in a few seasons before this current one. The result was a bond of community, a connection of fandom, and a "togetherness" in support of our team. Why you found it necessary to revert to invective and insult one of a very few Avalanche blogs is beyond me. We never claim to be anything more than a social community. Well I claim to drink a lot. I also claim to dress extremely well. I also claim to know a lot about hockey systems. Other than that, we claim nothing more than being a group of fans who write in our spare time, analyzing and commenting on our team, in a small effort to bring community, openness, and fandom to supporters of the greatest team in the world. Your sensitivity over some minor critique when you are a public journalist and public figure is beyond all of my comprehension; perhaps I am just a lowly derivatives attorney for a financial institution and I am absolutely in the wrong here. I openly accept critique in my job and even in my past time, as I write here. I embrace it. I use it to get better. We at Mile High Hockey all do. I am offended by your response and I believe Cheryl, particularly, deserves an apology. She works harder than most people on SB Nation and I would argue she works harder than most journalists. You, sir, were in the wrong and there was no need for insults. Personally, I say to you, how dare you call this wonderful community "not worth reading." Who are you to pass judgment on what is worth reading or not, when you know full well that you hold media-based and Avalanche-based sway because of your position at the Denver Post. You were in the wrong, you were childish, and you were puerile. You showed insecurity and you showed a level of respect to other fans that is reminiscent of condescending red wings fans. Your actions yesterday were a disgrace to the Avalanche community. I hope you remedy this, even in some small way.

However, I am so excited to do the recap for this battle of division rival. Check out my recap here: SULIA LINK

Good. Now that I’ve made 12 cents. I want you all to know that this recap is not worth reading. Honestly. I do this in my spare time and I am not a journalist. A plethora of important people told me this is not worth reading. So stop. Stop reading now.#notworthreading

Why are you still reading? Okay then. If you really want to read this worthless, meaningless, illiterate, un-journalistic, unprofessional dribble then SULIA LINK

Oh hi fellow illiterate cellar dwellers. Let’s get this recap a-going.

Drinking Update: Tonight I am imbibing in a little, well a lot, of SULIA LINK

Period 1:

Stastny’s line got the start against Toews’. I wondered whom Coach Q would match Toews up against. It’s interesting to see how people treat the Avs in home-ice line-matching. Well about a minute in nothing happened because there were two icing and Parenteau high stick-ed the puck in the neutral zone solely, I am sure, to show off his eye hand coordination because he is being showcased. RIGHT? Has to be that.

2 minutes in the Hawks got a great chance, sort of it. Peter Regin managed to walk out front when Barrie and Guenin got mixed up. A more skilled player may have snuck that in, but alas no goal.

At the 16 minute mark, Chicago managed to get a great chance. Toews skated the puck in and Hejda put a good body on him but Toews managed to get away, gain possession behind the net, and feed the puck to Sharp who ripped a shot with little backswing but Varly was in great position.

After that, Landeskog made a great defensive poke check on Kane and fed MacKinnon, who was too tired to really do anything. Still, at the end of his shift, MacKinnon was able to outskate everyone.

At the 8 minute mark, there was the first sighting of the 4th line. Roy has definitely determined they would be a liability against the Hawks. Smart coaching. It also looks like Coach Q is only running 3 lines. Interesting.

Wow, another great shift by Kane but the Hawks just put the puck wide.

Right away the Avs 4th line created great pressure all do to a Bordy hit. He was hard charging and the defenseman saw him and passed too quickly. It was picked up by a pinch from McLeod and as the puck circled around, Barrie took possession and skated in a little to far to shoot. That is the purpose of the 4th line, exemplified there.

On the next shift, the Hawks had a semi 2 on 1 until Johnson came back. The Hawks made a nifty drop pass to Sharp who was wonderfully stripped by a backchecking O’Reilly. (WHORES NOTE: Defensive instincts of a god)

However, the Avs got called on an interference call on Hejda.

And here a big moment came, a huge PK. The Avs were being very aggressive and got a clear 30 seconds in. The Avs PK was flying and got another clear a minute in. With 30 second left, the Hawks finally got penetration into the zone, but could not score. The Hawks are absolutely deadly on the PP but the Avs did a great job keeping them to the outside. They seemed to scout the Hawks because they pressured the hell out of the Hawks defense; the Blackhawks couldn’t move the puck from the blue line the way they usually do.

Following the PK, Duchene’s line had another great shift up against Seabrook and Keith and Toews. Their speed and passing ability is absolutely difficult even for that grouping.

Stastny line was up against Chicago’s 3rd next and Chicago had a great shift. The puck came out front and Varly robbed Bollig at least once, maybe twice. Hell. Maybe a third and fourth time. I am not sure, I am illiterate, not a real writer, and this is not worth reading. #NotWorthReading.

Kane’s line had the next shift and Holden and Mitchell’s line did a FANTASTIC job against them.

SULIA DRINKING UPDATE: This period was such pure hockey I barely drank. Well, I mean I did, of course, I am not suicidal, but not as much. SEE!! SEE LIVER! I like hockey more than I hate you!

With less than two minutes left of fuck that that shit call on EJ. Bollig was evidently pulled down. They don’t call a hold on Cliché, but they call that. Oh well. It was absolutely a penalty on Johnson. The Avs had another huge obstacle to face. However, the Avs were able to end the period without Chicago scoring.

Overview, the shots at the end of the first were 11-3 but I am not sure that was reflective of the period. The Hawks were absolutely better, no question, but a lot of their shots were from wide range and from a long distance. The Avs did a great job of keeping them on the outside. Also, this was the Hawks first home game in something like 3 weeks. That’s a good "away game first period" as the phrase often goes. Sometimes that phrase is dumb, here it applies I think.

SULIA SYSTEMS UPDATE: The Avs offensively did not deviate from their system. Duchene’s line was able to get a few good chances and look dangerous. Stastny’s line had some movement but Chicago shut them down, for now. Defensively, everyone came back and it had the feel of a playoff game. The Avs were more aggressive at their blue line than usual. I think this was an attempt to slow down the Hawks’ transition and zone entry game. It worked pretty well. Good on Roy. I expect Q to respond with more dump and chasing in the 2nd. Let’s see how it goes.

2nd Period:

Remainder of the penalty was killed off nicely and the period started off well for the Avs. The Avs were getting the puck deeper and getting some motion. Mitchell’s line came out and gained possession. Off a nice dump in and recovery and WOW!!! GOALS!!!!!!! TALBOT!!!!!!!

Sorry, that was not very recappy. I am not worth reading. #NotWorthReading. Talbot had a great tip off a point shot (wrist shot) from Johnson. 1-0 Avs.

Duchene followed up with another great shift but Chicago came right back and ripped a cross-ice pass off the side of the net.

The Avs began to fly after this. MacKinnon outskated the Hawks defender, stole the puck, Landy picked up the rebound and the shot went wide. Mitchell came out and he and McGinn had a great chance. The puck went wide though. ☹

Kane’s line followed that up with another strong shift. It looked like they were getting that ole’ Chicago movement but the Avs iced it away. Mitchell’s line could not get a change yet and Toews took the puck on the near side board, cut in on Guenin and Varly had to make a great kick save.

Duchene was able to replace Mitchell and chase the puck down on Hjarldmassosnasoansdson. Duchene was able to draw a holding penalty.

As the PP began, I was excited to see how it does against a very good, very sophisticated Chicago PK. O’Reilly won the draw and the puck moved around very well but the Avs couldn’t maintain pressure. Stastny’s unit did some great passing as well and the puck came out to Johnson in the high slot, but Crawford made a great five-hole/right leg save. Great movement…no goals.

I agreed with Haynes and McNabb when they said the Avs were getting their game. Varly then had to stone a Chicago player as he walked out in front.

It was about 12 minutes in and the Hawks noticeably changed their forecheck. They started running a 1-2-2 and became very aggressive. It resulted in an immediate turnover by Barrie. Not some much Barrie’s fault, more a result of a good forecheck. Duchene followed that Hawk chance by beating the Hawk defender to the puck in their zone, used his new-found, super impressive skating strength to gain possession. He fed Parenteau who had his shot blocked. The Avs speed had begun to wear on the Hawks defenders; read. Keith and Seabrook can’t play every shift.

Um, somehow the Avs gained a Power Play. I have no idea how. Oh well. Stastny’s unit starts. The Hawks got a clear and started to clog the neutral zone. It was visibly tough for the Avs. They had to dump instead. Duchene’s unit took their place. Oh noes, McGinn took an interference penalty. Not good by McGinn but sort of a tough pick play. Good call by the refs, not really his fault.

4 on 4 TIME!!!!!!!! NO goals. PP for Chicago followed. Keith took a massive onetime but somehow Varly was able to see it, sort of, and smother. Leddy unleashed a blast, but Cliché cleared it and the kill off the 3rd penalty.

The Avs followed up with another great forecheck. Stastny was able to get the puck, move it around, and it eventually came to MacKinnon down low who did his Mario Lemieux thing from the goal line (i.e. a slap shot for the goal line).

Oh noes. Ben Smith was able to tie the game on what looked like meaningless forecheck. Varly was not happy about something. He was mad at Hejda. Landy simply lost his man. He tried to slash his way out of the situation, but couldn’t stop Smith. A great shot. 1-1.

The final two minutes were hectic but nothing really threatening. The period ended 1-1.

The Avs rebounded in shots fairly well and it was basically even for the period, from the best I could tell without having the effort to look at I am barely a writer.

SULIA SYSTEMS UPDATE 2: The Hawks, and my praise to them, did not change their system except the forecheck. And it worked. Q made a great adjustment to pressure the Avs D more and it didn’t pay direct dividends, but it did transfer momentum back to them on a few shifts. One of which resulted in a goal. The Avs played great that period. They had their legs, they had their system, and they were able to find space.

SULIA TANGENT 4: I love in these high powered games between high-scoring teams that have 3rd or 4th liners get the goals. I love hockey. That is the pure nature of this sport. You never see the 8th man on a basketball team or a 3rd string wide receiver be the difference in a game. Fuck you other sports. Just. Fuck. You.

SULIA DRINKING UPDATE 2: Honestly, this game is so exciting I am not drunk yet. Time to remedy tha…..SULIA LINK!!!!!

3rd Period:

This was a big one for the Avs. The Altitude commentators more or less explained it. This period had ramifications in the standings and the mentality of the Avs and I agree.

Less than two minutes in, the Hawks had some good pressure down low, Sharp made a great pass out front but the Hawks couldn’t get a shot off. The puck stopped in the circle in the Avs zone and it looked like the Hawks might keep cycling. However, Duchene was able to win that small, tiny, seemingly meaningless battle for the puck. He passed it up to O’Reilly who took the puck off his skate, to his stick, and skated into the zone. The Hawks defense had horrid gap control to not only let the pass get to O’Reilly but also let him into the zone. Three stride in and O’Reilly rips a wrist shot between Crawford’s pads in a perfectly placed five-hole shot. Talk about goal scoring ability. He shot mid-stride and it looked like Crawford was going down expecting one more stride from O’Reilly. That was a great, just great, shot. The Avs needed their big guns to step up and they did. Just like that. 2-1 Avs.

Following the goal, Mitchell’s line took the ice and did something unique. He, whether at Roy’s command or not, started a very aggressive forecheck. It was useful because it stopped Keith (I think) from moving the puck. That killed momentum.

Duchene then took the puck, skated around the Hawks defense in his patented back hand to forehand move but the puck juuuuuust rolled off his stick.

Awwwwzzz MacKinnon took a penalty. It followed a good shift by Stastny’s line but MacKinnon got his stick all-a-wrapped up in the Hawks defender’s legs. Huge penalty kill followed for the Avs. Let me repeat. Huge. Like super gigantic. Like so big McGinn would need at least 3 bites to eat it. Get it now?

Well that sucked. The Hawks were able to gain entry and Mitchell’s stick broke. That made it tough. Eventually the Hawks moved across the crease to Toews who was able to roof it on Varly. Tough break (ha!) for the Avs. 2-2. Tie game.

11 minutes in Stastny’s line had another great shift and they were able to move the puck back to Barrie. Barrie took a good shot but more importantly, Oduya interfered with Stastny and a penalty was called. Another huge Power Play ensured for the Avs -- Game changing in fact.

Duchene’s line started the PP and had some good movement but nothing to write home about. Chicago was able to clear twice. On the second clear Chicago got strong shot off on Varly and Duchene picked up the rebound at the blue line. Instead of changing, he skated it in. He passed back to O’Reilly, who went back to Duchene, who went back to O’Reilly and he did one those cross crease passes he loves. Nothing doing, but the puck came back to O’Reilly who fed Johnson who instead passed to Barrie sitting in the Stamkos zone and Barrie ripped a shot in the upper right corner on Crawford. Great movement. Great non-change by Duchene. Great 3-2 lead for the Avs. SEEE GAME CHANGED!

7 minutes left. The Avs needed to protect this lead. Chicago had some good pressure and sadly McGinn broke a stick. Varly grabbed a shot and no harm was done.

5 minutes left and MacKinnon almost outraced the Hawks defender, the cameraman, time and space, and likely quantum physics, all to get the puck. Not quite. Off-sides.

4 minutes left and Hawks had more possession. When that team gets going, just wow. However, Varly was up to the task on a shot from the defense. There was some of that rough stuff after the whistle. Punches were thrown. Swears were said. Drinks were had. Wait. I am confused because Talbot absolutely socked the ref. Fuck that. That was funny.

As the Hawks pushed, Landeskog was able to gain a breakaway. The Blackhawks defense did a great job to get back and as Landy cut across Crawford he just slid it past him but hit the post. Really tough break, but whatever, Landy can only pass now.

2 minutes left and Chicago again gained zone entry. They set it up and took more shots from the defense. My god that defense is good.

1:33 left and Crawford was on the bench for an extra man. Colorado cleared and it would have been icing but Mitchell outraced the puck. What a great play by Mitchell. Amazing for a guy who can barely skate. Kidding, kidding.

Hahahahahaha. Hold on. I am laughing still because that was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. First off, MacKinnon kept his point streak alive. Second, the Avs were down a man and honestly ran a forecheck with the Hawks having an empty net. It looked like a regular shift but Crawford was just not there. It was great. Also, it resulted in an empty net goal by Stastny.

Game over. 4-2 win by the Avs. 1 point behind Chicago with a game in hand. Hear that Chicago. That’s a fucking Avalanche coming your way. Get ready for the 1st round matchup against this team. It’s a fucking toss up.

SULIA GAME SUMMARY: Great game by the Avs. In the end, Chicago will claim based on shots they outplayed the Avs. The first was that way for sure, but the Hawks were down most of the game. That led the shot difference by a lot, in my humble opinion, and absolutely outplayed the Avs during the game but it was not that uneven. That Avs played very well. After the 1st, they were able to get their speed going and created some havoc. Chicago, as all great teams do, responded well, but it sure looked like the Avs system and their speed kept Chicago on their toes. Chicago never looked 100% comfortable; they would for a shift and then not. Then they would for a shift and then not. That is Roy’s system right now. It worked. Roy won. The Avs won.

3rd Whore: Duchene. He didn’t score but his line with his speed was able to wear down Duncan Keith and the Hawks top pairing. He his play on the Power Play led to the Barrie goal that won the game.

2nd Whore: Varly. He was great. He only had to make a few amazing saves but he was just a consistent and great force in net. He oozed confidence and I think it let the Avs play their style in the 3rd instead of holding back.

1st Whore: Johnson. He had 3 assists which is great, but his defensive play was spectacular. Outstanding. He went head to head against Toews’ line and but for that Power Play goal, Toews looked almost useless. Toews had one good chance. Against Guenin. Erik, you are a top 10 defenseman in this league. The world will see you soon. Just keep it up.

I am so so so sor sorry that you had to read this nonsense. I try so hard to write but I barely have a 5th grade education. I like to think I know hockey but I know nothing. I am not worth reading. Nothing on this blog is worth reading. Except Andi’s analysis, Cheryl’s research based writing, Sandie’s Cupcakes and interviews, Mike’s goal analysis, Earl’s Lake Erie reviews that the Denver Post never does, Cole’s analytical articles, Sean’s summary of the league’s doings, AJ’s humor, Matt’s recaps, and Stevehouse’s previews among other things. #NotWorthReading