Yay!!! Hockey time! It’s been awhile, I had that crazy little thing called life get in my way. But I’m back with a vengeance.
Avalanche vs. Blue Jackets. With no BJ innuendos.
DRINKING UPDATE: I am drinking something called Stratheneden. It’s a blend that was made to replicate a bygone distillery from the 1880’s. It’s interesting to say the least.
The Stastny line started with a good possession shift. Mitchell looked at first like he might fit there, at least for a few weeks. I typed this in the first, little did I know what was to come.
Under 3 minutes in, the Blue Jackets caught the Avs defense with a gaping hole between them in the middle and the Blue Jackets snuck in deep and got a good shot off but Varly was there. He did give up a rebound, which kept the Jackets in possession. The puck eventually squirted out front and Varly covered. Then there was pushing. Then Malone started fighting with Mackenzie. Good for him.
"Not Duchene" came out with his new line and they came out flying. He and O’Reilly almost had a nice two on one, but they did manage to keep pressure and McGinn ripped a bad angle shot off the post.
The Blue jackets sure were a-hittin! This excited me in fun tingly ways because the Avs can also hit. This could be fun game.
The Avs 3rd/4th/5th? line came out. McLeod and Bordy managed to create a very unexpected two on one and McLeod took a shot that was deflected out.
At the 13-minute mark, "Not Named Matt Duchene" flew out of the zone with speed and O’Reilly was trailing. He tried a drop pass but it was tipped. Those two looked to be on the same speed page but they’ll need some time to gel I think. (Again, little did I know what was to come)
Stastny’s line had another good shift and what stood out is how north and south it was. Without "Someone Other Than Duchene "on the line, he, Landy and Mitchell are all north-south players. Their entire game will be one straight line. That should be interesting mix for teams now to deal with that juxtapose to a much more actively east-west line with O’Reilly. (This is kind of comical how much this changed by the end)
O’Reilly had another takeaway behind the net and fed McGinn (even this made me laugh outloud) but Bob was able to stop it. Great play by O’Reilly
Phew! Half way through the period a non-threating Jacket shot was tipped at the hashmarks and shot straight down. It just skirted wide as Varly was still standing up in the air.
PLEASE BEAR WITH ME WHILE WE TAKE THIS SHORT BREAK. COURTESY OF GAME CENTER. GAME CENTER, it knows better than you do.
And we’re back. I’ll just fast forward through commercials to catch up. Or the second period. (hahaha I am extremely prescient)
With 6:30 left, Mitchell got a little lazy. The Avs were somewhat pinned but the Jacket were basically just ringing it around the boards. No real threat. However, Mitchell was lazy with his clear and it was kept in. Thankfully Landeskog is a god and took care of it for him.
TANGENT 1: There have been no tangents because this game was fast and entertaining.
"Not Also Known As Matt Duchene’s" line had a great shift. It started with, finally, some space in the neutral zone and O’Reilly and "That Other Guy At Center" brought it in. After some passing and moving around McGinn had a good chance but Bob was able to cover.
TANGENT 2: There were just two non-calls against the Avs. That was crap. However, that is playoff hockey and I love it.
The final 2 minutes were fairly hectic. Some space opened up in the Avs zone but the Jackets never really threatened which was nice because I don’t like losing. Period over. 0-0.
SYSTEMS SUMMARY: It was a tight, hard hitting, entertaining period let you tell me. The Jackets play a very tight defensive system and clogged the neutral zone very well and throw in an aggressive forecheck. The Avs played an equally good defensive game, only giving up 5 shots, and they matched Columbus hit for hit. That is the way they’ll have to play sometimes. I love their adaptation. The other interesting thing is that the Jackets do not dump and chase, at all. They skate it in. This gives the Avs a lot of chances for turnover at their own blue line. Eventually, or better said hopefully, they can capitalize on that with their speed.
The second period started a little more hectic and the play was significantly more back and forth. As the back and forth lay continued, O’Reilly managed to get some speed into the zone but his cute little chip play behind the net was quickly spun out and the Jackets almost got a breakaway. However, Barrie broke it up nicely and "I’m Maybe Matt Duchene or Something" brought the puck in with some speed but the shot ended up trickling to the net.
On the following shift, the Jackets got some amazing pressure and started ripping shots. Johansen (you are an amazing player) ripped the shot off the cross bar. Tyutin followed that with a headhunting shot on Varly. The Avs began to run around and the Jackets did a good job pressuring. However, nothing came of it thankfull.y
On the same shift-sort off, the puck was in the Avs zone and the Jacket player whipped it in front, it bounced off Guenin’s leg and just went wide--such a weird broken play. As the play went on, Dubinsky found himself in front and Varly just managed to get a toe on it. Another great save.
The Avs started to run around again in their zone and this was becoming an issue. Something was off, however "Possibly A Really Good Center Not Named Matt" was sprung on a partially breakaway but could only mange a weak backhand.
TANGENT 3: How the fuck can Autonation use that theme? Right Ghostbusters?
God damnit Mitchell. Another weak clear led to the Jackets with a low 3 on 2 and he was forced to take a slashing penalty. He needs to calm down and make smarter plays--Penalty Kill time.
The first minute saw two quick shots on Varly but the rest was played in the Jackets zone with some great PK pressure. Johansen walked through the neutral zone and also the entire Avs team to get a great shot but Varly flashed the leather and it deflected high. Penalty Killed.
The Jackets kept pressure after the penalty but Varly was easily able to smother a Johnson shot from the point.
The pressure from Columbus continued ad extremam and inevitably the Jackets scored with all that pressure. Guenin made a very lazy and stupid turnover behind the net, the Jacket player fed Atkinson who was able to ripe a wrist shot by Varly. 1-0 Jackets. Mark Rycroft broke down how though it was a bad play; it was really a better play by the Jackets. Fair point Rycroft, entirely, but still Guenin needs to tighten that up.
Ideally, this would be a wake up call to the Avs. With 13 gone the Jackets almost had a 2-goal lead. Cliché skated around the net and the puck just rolled on him off his stick right to a Jacket who shot wide.
Stasnty’s line finally came to play though. They had a good minute and half shift in Jacket zone with some great movement. They still couldn’t generate more than one shot but it looked nice!!!! RIGHT!!!!
The following shift saw more pressure and Holden found himself down low with a nice opportunity, but Bob was there again.
I told you I should ignore the 2nd period. It started with McGinn just missing wide and followed with a Jackets goal. The Jackets found themselves on a bizarre 2 on 1 after a weird long-range pass and bounce. Guenin really had nothing to do and unfortunately Foligno was able to get the bouncing puck in front of Varly and feed Comeau. Good bounce for Columbus, bad for the Avs. 2-0 Jackets.
The Avs followed that sad goal with some good pressure by the Stastny line but they were unable to muster any real chances. Period over. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
SYSTEMS SUMMARY: Defense was not good. The Avs offense is still a little hectic and less dynamic and it will be that way while Duchene is out and while "Other Young Center and High Draft Pick" find his comfort level in that role, which I expect him to do fully.
The defense wasn’t awful, per se, except for that 8-minute or so window of total Jacket domination, those two abysmal turnovers and that bad bounce. The Jackets a strong fast team for sure and can get a great cycle going. They also have a great forecheck when it gets going and it has weighed on the Avs defense tonight. That is what broke the Avs system down in the second. The Avs didn’t do the best job controlling that cycle by keeping them to the outside, the Jackets had too much high-risk area penetration. That needs to be adjusted in the 3rd. The Avs also couldn’t find their space in the neutral zone but the Jackets could and that difference really is the lynchpin of the Avs entire game, system, and season.
A two goal lead is the hardest to keep right? RIGHT GUYS?????????
Anyway, period started with a bang and Varly had to make a great save, point blank. The "I Swear I’m Good Like Duchene" line came out and after a smart dump and a great chase by McGinn, the Avs almost had a glorious chance. They needed to build on that and keep that to keep going.
Malone’s 4th line had a pretty shift off a long carry in by Carey. (A carry in by Carey!!!!). The boy has some speed for sure and it was showing. The Avs need that 4th line to create havoc because it creates better defensive matchup for the top lines.
Landeskog then skated from behind his own net, through the entire Columbus team and fed Stastny but the deflection was just wide.
TANGENT 4: Mitchell not on the 3rd line really showed. It allows Columbus to focus on the top two lines and not have to worry about the bottom two. Mitchell also creates pressure and possession, even if no goals come, which wear out the other team and keep the Avs fresher. That 3rd line center role is so vital to most teams and especially Roy’s team.
6 minutes in, Roy changed up the lines. Mitchell was up with O’Reilly and McGinn, "May or May Not Be As Good As Duchene" was back with Stastny and Landy. Interesting choices but Roy wanted more fluidity of his lines I think. He’s overloading the Stastny line.
Bordy’s line then had a great shift. They were hitting everything that moved. It forced some good tough defense by Columbus. The Avs need that to open up space for the top lines.
O’Reilly’s line had another nice skating shift, maybe Mitchell can work there since he just skates the puck the whole time. Stastny’s line had more pressure and Bob needed to make a great save on Hejda. This is what Roy wanted. Multiple hard shifts back to back to back.
The following shift say Cliché come into the zone and Malone scores a lucky, lucky goal. The puck went deep into the left corner and Malone beat his man to the puck and threw it in front, it hit off the defenseman’s leg and behind Bob. I’ll take it. They’ll take it. Columbus got a bounce, now we got one. 2-1 Jackets.
The very next shift saw a great steal by McGinn at the Columbus face off dot, but Bob got a shoulder on it. The play opened up like a large, gaping something. I dunno. The Avs had a chance, then Columbus came back and Mitchell should have been called for a tripping penalty. But justice was served as Mitchell as called for hooking. This was a huge kill and likely one of those "turning points" of the game. I am sure I am the first person to use that term to describe this situation so you can go ahead and credit it to me forever.
Columbus had complete control and moved the puck around the outside at will. O’Reilly did a great job keeping them at a distance and then McLeod scarily broke his stick and was hurt. But a huge play by Guenin solved this problem as he stole the puck and then skated it out. Penalty killed.
That ended up being a gigantic kill for the Avs as they had some amazing energy afterwards. Those kills in tight scenarios are such confidence and motivation boosters it is remarkable. What an amazing sport we watch.
15 minutes in, Stastny’s line, now with more "Duchene Is Not My Moniker", came out. Barrie beautifully skated the puck from his zone into the zone and found Stastny. Stastny dropped it at the high circle to "A Duchene-ish Hockey Player" who skated around the defenseman, used some spectacular stickhandling and fed a perfectly placed Landeskog who tipped it by Bob. Beautiful goal, start to finish form Barrie to Landeskog. 2-2.
The following shift saw the Jackets get a wonderful opportunity in front of Varly but the shot went just wide.
With under 3-minutes left, Roy trusted another Bordy/McLeod shift. He has faith in them for sure. The Jackets were able to get movement, but Bordy made a great diving play to clear the zone. That is playoff effort and I love seeing it from a guy who might get 4 minutes in the 1st round.
The O’Reilly line came out with 1:30 left and found their space to create possession. A nice block by the Jackets wing broke up any chance
Well, with 40 second left the Avs almost lost the game. A shot from the point went in front and Barrie lost positioning on Comeau. Comeau was able to get a great shot from the crease but Varly thankfully got his pad and saved the Avs at least one point. #Vezinarlamov. Period Over.
SYSTEMS SUMMARY: Good. The Avs used their speed and forecheck to create more opposing zone-time. That eventually led to a lucky goal from Malone and then once they found space and their legs in the neutral zone, they were able to tie the game on a great offensive play. Defensively they battened down as well and played much tighter game. Nothing stayed in the zone really and they really gave the Jackets little space.
The second shift was fun Johnson-time. He just played keep away until he found space. I like that, he’s not pressuring because he knows Columbus needs those points more than the Avs--they will take the chances. And then Barrie came out… DUH DUH DUH!!! Nope then he went back. Y U NO LIKE OVERTIME GOLAZ WAH????
Landeskog then jumped on a turnover in the neutral zone on the near-side boards, skated in, drove to the net, and drew penalty. Oh fun!!!!! Power Play in overtime!!!!
The Avs won the face off but the puck skirted out of the zone. Columbus was playing the rarely used 0-3 neutral zone trap.
At the start the Avs had great movement and great shots but Bob stood tall and the Jackets could clear. Back into the zone the Avs came but the Jackets were able to clear it again with 48 left in the Power Play. Landeskog and "Duplicate Fast Center" had a 2 on 1 but the puck just skipped over his stick on the pass.
The Avs then found their way back in zone with 30 seconds left as the Power Play ended. Then, "Some Other Guy aww fuck it, MacKinnon. MacKinnon had the puck at the left circle, fed Barrie at the hashmarks who passed down low to Landeskog. Landy looked and made a semi-pass across the crease to MacKinnon. Landy’s pass was both a pass and a possible deflection-looking shot. The later happened as it hit off the Columbus defenseman sprawling leg and in behind Bob. Victory was ours. 3-2 Avs.
Summary: Good first. Awful second which was actually more the Jackets playing well. They just played great. The Avs found themselves down 2-0 and that is the hardest lead to keep for a reason. They came out harder and grinded and grinded and tried to find space. Once they got some luck and a goal, they were able to manufacture their game and their speed. Once that happened, this game was over. Varly needed to stand tall, as he and all goalies usually do, and he did. This was a gutsy, grueling game with a lot of hits and the Avs did a fantastic job on the road. Here’s to them. This team is resilient.
This was great because Columbus got a point which may help detroit miss the playoffs. FUCK YOU COMPUTER STOP CAPITALIZING detroit. Communist fucking Autocorrect.
3rd Whore: Johnson. A quiet game but in the 2nd and especially the 3rd he was the only one slowing down the Jackets. He’ll go unnoticed some games like this, but he shut down the top lines every time and personally I think by doing that gave the Avs a chance to come back. IT could have been 3-0 or 3-1 witout it.
2nd Whore: Varly. Vezinarlamov.
1st Whore: Landeskog. Two goals and basically his line was the only one in the first two periods creating chances. Without Duchene the team needs him to score. What does he do? Score twice.
Honorable Whore: Ryan Johansen. The dude can play. He will be a force in this league.
Bring on the Rangers. Oh hi Chicago. You’re kinda far away right now, I have to squint to see you. Are you doing okay? Oh. No? I’m sorry. You want home ice advantage in the 1st round? I’m sorry, it’s not happening.