FYI, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not going to be a PG, or SFW recap. There will be copious swearing.
Just as we all suspected, the game began with the Minnesota Wild trying to implement their trap game and be physical with a more talented team. They actually started out fairly innocuously, with the neutral zone so clogged with Wild players we would need a plunger to get things moving. They didn't try to smash us right away, but tried to contain us in our own zone through the cunning use of traps. However, about 2 minutes into the game, a 4th line post-whistle scrum resulted in matching roughing penalties for Brad Malone and Clayton Stoner. On the resulting 4-on-4, I give the Avs the edge, but the Wild's clog was good.
After the PP ended, the Wild were able to get back to their awful trappy ways, but augmented it by spending time in our zone. It was quite annoying. The Avs felt it, too, because we started to lose our poise, and looked like we were on the run. Encouraged by us being flustered, Coach Yeo started juggling lines, trying to keep us off balance. On top of that, the guys started hitting more, and they weren't shy about it.
It culminated as rancid skidmark Matt Cooke (from here on, I shall dub thee Crock, short for Steaming Crock of Shit) laid a couple of hits on us in short order, the second being on Holden. Nick Holden lost his cool a little bit, and retaliated with a slash away from the play. Luckily Crock also took a high sticking penalty, so we had another matching scenario.
Note: Please, whoever's in charge, get the exposure settings on the XCEL Energy Center's cameras right. I can barely see the ice. Also, actually following the flow of play would be nice.
The Avs didn't feel overly dangerous on that 4v4. There were a couple of MacKinnon break away chances, but nothing sustained. The Wild started pressuring again, and Varly had to make like 5 stops right in a row. He was very sharp. As the 4v4 ended, the Avs got a PP as Charlie Coyle was called for roughing. The PP started out well, with good passing and active sticks, but they couldn't score.
With five minutes left in the period, Minnesota had 18 shots. Varly had to be really sharp, and had an outstanding save on Mikko Koivu, and a multitude of others. Really, he was fantastic the entire first period, but was great the final few minutes of the period. with 90 seconds left, a giant pileup ensued after Varly had been knocked down, and Max Talbot jumped up full of fire and brimstone, and managed to draw two penalties by getting into everyone's faces. Unfortunately, the Av's Andre Benoit had taken a roughing penalty too, so the matching penalties were called all even.
The Avs ended up with 22 shots against in the period, and only 8 for us. Varly was amazing, and we let them set the tempo for the entire period.
The period started off ok; there was a fair amount of back-and-forth in the open ice. And then, 2 minutes in, That giant fuckwad Crock killed Tyson Barrie. Clearly an intentional knee-on-knee hit, he knocked Barrie down on open ice and he could barely skate back to the locker room on one skate. Fuck that guy. Fuck him in his fucking ear. He was called for a penalty, but I saw him looking quite pleased with himself on one of the closeups. Fucker. [NOTE: Roy said MCL, 4-6 weeks. FUCK THAT MAN. IN HIS EAR.]
Unfortunately, the resulting PP was pretty wretched. We couldn't even get it started until late, and we didn't have many chances. Soon after that, Maxime Talbot (a name not exactly synonymous with hot headedness) got so pissed that he apparently slashed at a Wild player during a line change well away from the play and camera coverage. Talbot looked unrepentant as he sat in the box, so I guess he had a good reason [NOTE: The player he took a slash at was Niederreiter. That may come into play later]. Our PK started out nice as we had an early shorthanded chance, but after that, it turned into the Wild show.
Minnesota camped in our zone for the remainder of their PP, as well as the next, oh, three minutes. Seriously. I think they spent a solid three minutes in our zone. Cody McLeod battled with Dany Heatly behind the net, and guys traded out on the fly instead of having real line changes. Varlamov was outstanding. He stood about as tall as I've ever seen him. Finally the Avs got control, and as Andre Benoit cleared out the puck, that fetid pile of maggots Nino Niederreiter slew foot him against the boards. Granted that Benoit wasn't looking behind him, and he didn't really protect himself, I would argue that you cannot protect yourself against a slew foot.
Benoit fell prostrate to the ice, and lay there. For a moment it looked like he had lost consciousness, but after seeing him move, I think he just got the wind knocked out of him and a nasty shock from an unbroken "timber!!" onto the ice. Still, he followed Tyson Barrie to the locker room, and the Avs were suddenly down to only 4 defensemen with 12 minutes left in the 2nd. There was no penalty on the slew foot.
After that, I started to see some little things coming out on the ice. Did anyone else see Stastny slash Cooke's legs/ass far away from the puck? And Cooke returned a cross check into Stat's back? Getting even more chippy out there. All I could pray for was that Bordy was going to crush that Son of a Bitch through the glass. But, hey, that didn't happen, because Niederreiter went full Paul Bunyan and slashed the shit out of Patrick Bordeleau's hand. Bordy immediately threw off his glove and headed straight for the locker room, too. Fun. Three players in 10 minutes.
This penalty was called, and the Avs went back on the power play. They finally started to look good on the PP, and there was a great surprise as Benoit rejoined his team on the ice. I thought he was going to be down for the count, but he made it back out! Also, Jamie McGinn game so very close to scoring on that PP; half an inch might have been the difference.
Oh look, another Avs PP. I didn't even see it. Zach Parise for high sticking against Nick Holden. But it didn't matter much, because the Wild PK was actually really good, and we couldn't get anything going. Just after the PP expired, Holden got a (deserved) interference penalty. That was the second time this game he lost his cool a bit, and could have cost us. Luckily we killed off the PP with some really good clears and good rebound collections, and Varly was stellar again.
At the end of the 2nd frame, the Wild had 31 shots on us, doubling up our 15 SOGs. Also, three injuries (one made it back) and three completely douchey Wild plays.
The third period was much more open, with lots of action. The infamous and awful trap play had been somewhat abandoned, but that didn't mean that we could suddenly do as we wanted on the ice. On the contrary, the Wild were once again spending time in our zone, being hella dangerous. Also, I noticed Bordeleau's jersey out there, so I guess his fingers aren't broken. He is all that is man. So is Benoit. So is Barrie, tho we won't see him again.
Halfway through the period, the Avs finally showed signs of life. Its really like they woke up and remembered how to play, and both of the top Avs lines looked really good for a couple shifts apiece. We started getting hella pressure, and making them sweat. But, just as things started to look sweet, Nate Guenin missed a hip check on a streaking Zach Parise and let him get around, resulting in a two man breakaway. Luckily, P.A. Parenteau was able to use his speed to catch back up, and Varly stopped Parise's shot. Parenteau drug Mikael Granlund down from behind. Excellent penalty to take; it saved a sure goal against us.
Guenin missed another check during the PK. Normally that wouldn't bother me much, but it looked like it would have been a perfect, legal, bone-shattering hit on Dickshit Crock, but Guenin missed, and allowed Cookie to put the 40th Wild shot of the game onto net. Varly remained sharp and stopped it, but I really hoped Crock could have been smashed there.
As the 3rd began to count down, the Avs were able to play much better without the Wild trap. Much more fun game at that point, and I started to feel better. With 90 seconds remaining, a Minnesota player panicked a bit and threw the puck over the glass. However, the Refs blew the call, and said that the puck went off of Nathan MacKinnon's stick. They were flat wrong, and that could have changed the game completely. The time counted down, and we went to OT scoreless.
We started out strong, winning small battles and keeping the pressure on the Wild. There was no sign of the Wild players and their clogging ways, and I was feeling goo.... fuck. There it went. Granlund made a really good play, fooling a tired Avs team, and taking advantage of a screen to slide down and put the puck behind Varly. I don't think Varly ever saw it until it was behind him. Shit.
- On Matt Cooke: Kyle Keefe asked Peter McNab about the hit. McNab avoided it less than eloquently, saying that Crock's reputation will speak for itself. Kyle was livid about it. Rycroft broke it down, and showed how Cooke tracked Barrie's knee. Roy said that it was a knee on knee in no uncertain terms, and that he was going to leave it at that. Mike Yeo said that he was following the puck and didn't yet have a chance to review the tape. None of those reactions change the fact that that fuckwad needs to be fucked in his ear.
- Rycroft: "Tonight, Cooke will be suspended, but he did his job to help his team to a win."
- Yeo is a smug bastard. He was fairly dripping with self satisfaction during his post-game interview.
- The Avs were 0 for 4 on the PP. That's just not going to cut it, folks. No matter how good your goaltending is, you have to take advantage of the man advantage to get your wins.
- Speaking of how good the goaltending was, Semyon Varlamov was simply outstanding. He stopped 45 of 46 SOGs, .978%. We could have asked for nothing more from him.
- Now, we've talked about all of that. But the bottom line is this: We may be the better team, but the more effective team won. The Wild did everything that they wanted to do to us. They made us play their game, stopping us from playing ours at all. They played their shitty, awful game, and they went out to hurt our players, and they were adequately pest-ish. We bought into all of it, even tho we tried hard not to. Before next game, we need to figure out how to rise above it.
1) Semyon Varlamov. 45 saves.
2) Gabe Landeskog. 2 shots, 3 hits.
3) Maxime Talbot. 5 hits.
Game 4 is on Thursday at 9:30pm ET, 7:30pm MT. Lets destroy these assholes, shall we?