Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, what a game that was. I was dreading seeing the Blues, but I never predicted that. I have been trying to hold my Dario-esque recaps in check, but today was just too eventful, so here's an extra long one for fun.
Paul Stastny, Gabriel Landeskog, and John Mitchell for the first line. Interesting. Johnson and Hejda. The listed lines are different than what I've seen so far, so I'll have to really pay attention. Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O'Reilly,Jamie McGinn. Patrick Bordeleau, Maxime Talbot, Marc-Andre Cliche. Tyson Barrie is with Nate Guenin. Ryan Wilson on LW, Brad Malone at center, and Paul Carey at RW. Andre Benoit with Nate Holden.
3 minutes into the game, Steve Ott is still a Douche Canoe. Looks like he was a little emphatic at crashing the net, and Johnson didn't like it. I like that all the boys came together as one to stand up for a teammate. Nothing really came of it, but it's another sign of playoff hockey.
The 3rd line playing well, getting good pressure on their matching line. Nice job, boys. The whole team looks composed and calm. Workmanlike. St. Louis looks the same. 3rd line forecheck was really good, generating a couple nice chances. In the first 6 minutes, the Avs didn't manage a SOG, while the Blues had 3.
Hey, Jordan Leopold is playing for the Blues! I had forgotten! That's kinda fun. I'm glad he landed a good home. I guess he got injured recently, and is just returning from a high ankle sprain.
So, I guess we got called for a penalty. Malone got called for a hook, and so we head onto the PK. Jordan Leopold drew a penalty with a little trickery holding Malone stick in place, but we still got called. Mark Rycroft did a really nice breakdown of it during the intermission.
Who will we use? Hejda, Guenin, Cliche, and Talbot. Started off with the Blues hitting a post, so that was kinda shocking. Soon after David Backes tipped a shot from the point on net, but Semyon Varlamov snagged it easily. The second PK unit is Mitchell, O'Reilly, Benoit, and Holden. The Avs killed off the penalty very well, but had a moment of panic right at the end when TJ Oshie drove right thru the Avs zone and put a shot on net; Johnson gave him a push, and Oshie promptly ran Varly right over. There was no penalty on the play, but after a rush the other way gave the Avs their first shot on net, the boys took exception to the play and started banging heads, even tho Oshie had already handed off the ice. Backes and Talbot got into it pretty good, but didn't drop the gloves. Things are getting chippy out there already.
Luckily, Talbot and Backes had matching penalties for roughing, and resulted in 4 on 4 hockey. Stastny was really beastly on that first shift with good defensive play. Right after that, MacKinnon took a big hit after skating the puck right through the neutral zone and into the Blues zone all alone. What I really liked was that MacK got right up and rejoined the play with a mission and played very doggedly. I like that; he's becoming more of a hockey player every day. The 4 on 4 ended with only a couple shots for each side, and both teams were very aggressive and precise.
Big hits. I haven't seen anything dirty, but the Blues play a rough style of hockey. Hard checks, speed, relentless play. TJ Oshie can game, I forget when I don't get a chance to see him. He just dodged a hip check attempted by Holden and put a crashing shot on net that Varly had to be sharp for.
Bordeleau put a hit on Dmitrij Jaskin just after he had lost the puck to Erik Johnson, resulting in an interference penalty. It was legit, I guess, but it was pretty poor timing. The Blues started off strong, with a couple shots in the first 12 seconds. After that the Avs stepped up and were able to play a little stronger. They played more aggressively, and killed off the penalty despite a scary last second shot.
Just after that, TJ Oshie got called for a high stick after Nick Holden came in for a hit. Oshie got Holden accidentally with the shaft as he tried to skip around Holden into the zone. The Avs PP was looking good, spending a lot of time in the St. Louis zone, but the Blues were very good at keeping the puck toward the perimeter. That and the Avs decided to wait for the perfect moment instead of putting the rubber on the net right away. I think we only managed two shots on the golden opportunity PP.
Right at the end of the Period, the brawl began. I couldn't even see exactly how it started, but it was a very explosive moment. Everyone stepped up and crashed the corner. It looks like Vladamir Sobotka gave Landeskog a cross check right after the buzzer, and everyone jumped at each other in half a second. Nothing really came of it tho, we'll just have to see if any penalties are given at the beginning of the second.
First Period Impressions: A very hard fought period. Both teams played very well. We were out shot 14 - 6, which was very unfortunate, but we still kept up. Some of that had to do with the fact that they had an extra 2 minute man advantage, but mostly we were just a little bit outplayed. It was just a little chippy, which was a sign of how frustrated both sides were with each other.
Avs come away with a PP to start the 2nd; Landy was in the box too with a matching roughing penalty against Sobatka. The Avs started out great, spending all the time in the Blues zone, and it resulted in a Stastny goal! MacKinnon had a nice little thread-the-needle pass; Max Talbot got the other assist, and did a great job getting into the Blues collective faces.
After the goal, the Avs started to play more aggressively . Their forecheck was better, but it got overly enthusiastic and the Avs got called for too many men on the ice. I hate taking that penalty. The bench minor was served by Brad Malone. Luckily, the Avs continued their solid forechecking ways, and didn't even let the Blues make it into the zone. In fact, it was so effective that Ken Hitchcock called his time out to get it figured out with his guys. It didn't really help much, except that the Blues got two shots on net with just a couple seconds left in the PP. Other than that, Colorado was excellent killing off that man advantage.
Just after that, the Avs stole the puck from a transitioning Blues team and rolled into the St. Louis zone. McGinn drove down the near side and put a shot right onto Miller's right pad, and it rebounded right out to where Nathan MacKinnon was speeding in. Naydinn dropped down to one knee and fired a lightning shot behind a diving Ryan Miller, and the Avs went up on the Blues 2-0. It was a great play, doing what they have been struggling to do all day: get passed the Blues forecheck.
The Blues countered the goals by sending out their bruising third and fourth lines to try and beat us up a little bit. They were definitely tenacious and aggressive, spending a fair amount of time in our zone. But both of our 3rd and 4th lines were able to stand up to them, and keep them in check. They were very staunch too, down to a moment when Carey was hanging out in the Blues zone by himself just to buy his team an extra 10 seconds for a change, and then being able to dish it to the fresh line instead of turning it over to STL.
You could tell that we did a great job pissing The Blues off, because there started to be even more face washes after stops in play, and elbows started coming up. The Avs' top line answers by playing one of the best shifts I have seen all season. It was glorious. Stastny, Landeskog, and Mitchell just made the Blues look foolish, keeping the puck in and all around the zone, putting pucks on net and retaining control. Nick Holden seemed to forget he was a defenseman, and spent most of his time right in front of the net. Finally a shot trickled through Miller's legs and Holden was able knock it in!
But wait.. will it be overturned? It does look like Holden might have kicked it in, but it also looked like it went off of Ott's stick after it went off of Holden skate. After a long time under review, it turns out the call on the ice was the right call. Toronto allowed the goal, and the Avs went up 3-0! Altitudes didn't study that one overly closely, but it was really clear to me from their replays.
That goal just seemed to take all the wind out of St. Louis' sails. The Avs continued their forecheck, denying the Blues any chance to generate offense. Our third and fourth lines continued to be instrumental to our play, taking the puck away and making smart poke checks. Finally that Douche Canoe Ott was able to get the puck into the Avs zone for like 20 seconds. And then we went back to our awesome forecheck.
The Altidudes gave me a scare when they said that Tyson Barrie was not on the ice, but he was out again a couple minutes later. I hadn't seen any injury or anything, so I got awful worried for a moment; I figured that it was going to be OK since we had Wilson available to play D, but I was still concerned. I'm still not sure exactly what happened there.
Oops... Penalty on Colorado in the waning seconds of the period, as Mitchell got called for hooking with 45 seconds left. The Avs were able to kill off the penalty time remaining in the period, but there is still more than a minute to face after the intermission.
Impressions of the second: A fantastic period. The Avs set the pace the entire time, dictating the play and scoring three times. It was perhaps the best I've seen them play all season. They didn't cave to the Blues attempted goonery (even tho there was nothing blatantly dirty that went down), and matched all the intesnsity. Good job, boys!!
The Avs started on the PK, but they were certainly up to the challenge. They killed it off easily. The Blues just felt flat, completely deflated. The Avs didn't. They felt very much in charge of this game. Even so, I'm not feeling any killer instinct like I would like to feel. The boys are doing everything right, spending time in the Blues zone, putting shots on net and not letting anyone into their own zone. But they don't feel like they desperately want that last goal to seal things up.
The 3rd line then stepped up big, and stopped the some momentum shift that you could feel was beginning for St. Louis. Some nice forechecking and hard play along the boards stopped a drive into our zone, and then they then drove do the other end of the ice and Bordeleau put a nice play on Kevin Shattenkirk and drew a holding penalty. The Avs went back on the PP.
This PP felt different, much more like the Avs were just letting time tick down. They didn't even try to gain the zone until 55 seconds had elapsed. After that, they never felt dangerous. They are not pushing at all. They are definitely sitting on the lead. I don't think they even got a shot on net, but they gave one up in the last seconds. I feel sitting back like that was a tactical mistake.
And then Brody smashed Shattenkirk into the boards Kevin jumped up bloody and broken from his mouth and nose. There was a great replay of the hit, and it was a clean hit [Rycroft also broke this hit down, and Shattenkirk's own stick bloodied his face]. Kevin is just little, and Bordy's shoulder is at his head level. Barret Jackman immediately went after Bordy, and they were both given matching minors for unsportsmanlike conduct. I doubt we'll see Kevin back in the last 12 minutes. A 4 on 4 resulted, but now the Blues had some energy. Despite an early chance by MacKinnon and a great save by Miller, they spent the whole time in our zone.
And then another pair of penalties. Backes tripped Landeskog, and they Landy definitely embellished the trip as he went to the ice. 4 on 4 hokey continued for four seconds, and when Brody and Jackman came out, , it reverted to 5 on 5. I didn't know it would do that; does anyone else know why? Is it to avoid a 3 on 3?
Of course, during the commercial break, Brendan Morrow cross checked John Mitchell in the face, and he got a five minute major and a game misconduct. The Avs had a man advantage for 5 minutes of the remaining 9 minutes, so it dramatically increased our chances. Alas, Colorado sat back on this one, too, at least for the first couple minutes. I think that the Blues had more shots on goal than the Avs for that time. Come on, boys, this is basically playoff hockey. Get 'er done.
Why are they even in our end much less getting shots??
And then Backes takes the shit out MacKinnon, who didn't even drop the gloves. If that piece of shit landing on MacKinnon hurt him I'm going to piss in his cereal. Seriously? Backes outweighs the rookie by 40 pounds! Fuck that and fuck you!! Nathan straight to the locker room in pain.
And then Mitchell and Jackman get into it, and everyone is getting kicked out. Everything is getting out of hand. Jackman and Backes both kicked out. Oh thank god, MacKinnon is back and sitting in the penalty box. Now it's a 5 on 3 for a minute, and the Avs are actually putting shots on net. Just after the 5 on 3 ended, Ryan O'Reilly was right out front of the net and potted a PP goal. And then we still had a PP even after that.
Oh man, what a game this has been. And it's not over. Lapierre, Ott, Bordy, Malone, Mitchell, Talbot, Polak... Everyone is fisting everyone after a pair of attempted hits on Bordeleau along the benches. Jesus. Even the Ref got knocked down. I guess Bordy is out. I haven't seen MacKinnon back out yet.. Is he still in the box? I can't even tell. I hope he's really ok, and not cradling his arm as he watches the shenanigans. Everything is being figured out, and honestly, I'm not going to run it all down. You can check it out on the box score, but I'll add it all up in the final notes.
2 minutes left. Please don't send out good players, but I don't know who is still available. It looks like an amalgamation of the fourth and third lines. Oh, and there's Shattenkirk back out there. Hockey players are tough. The Avs end up with Power Play time for the remainder of the game, and it was fairly uneventful. Aaaaand its over. What a ride.
Final Impressions and notes:
- What a nuts game. We were easily the best team on the ice, and that was despite missing three of our top 6 and a our leading hitter. Varly was amazing again, turning away all 31 shots. I'm so proud that we only answered the St. Louis goonery, instead of instigating it. We stood up to them without being prickish about it. It was fantastic.
- The third and fourth lines were vital in our win. The fourth line only had 7ish minutes of TOI, but it was enough to spell us before we face the Penguins tomorrow. The third line was especially effective, especially since it was basically made up of the original 4th line, and Mitchell wasn't on it. Very well done.
- St Louis had a dude in from of the Avs net any time they were in our zone, ass firmly in Varly's face. I would love to see us be able to clear that out. Often that guy was David Backes, but others did it, too.
- Nathan MacKinnon had 2 points before he got crushed, cementing himself firmly into the lead for the Calder. He also threw down Backes before Backes attacked him [FYI, in the post game, Coach Roy called that play "gutless" and dressed Davey down for it]. That dude is going to be a staggeringly good player. As if we didn't already know that.
- Pauly Stastny was fantastic today. 3 points and 7 SOG. If the Avs let him walk I will be so incredibly pissed.
- Ditto for Ryan O'Reilly.
- Today's win ties the record for the most road wins in franchise history.
- The Avs is also the only team to have beaten every other team in the league at least once.
- Varly has tied Roy's 2000 - 2001 record for most wins in a season.
- I forgot to add up the penalty minutes... Avs had 68 total Penalty minutes, including 5 10 minute misconducts on Hejda, Malone, Talbot, Guenin, and Bordy. The Blues had 117, including 7 10 minute misconducts on Morrow, Jackman, Backes, Lapierre, Pietrangelo, Ott, and Polak.
- Are you fucking kidding me? We just whooped up on the best team in the NHL. Can we actually do this? What an amazing ride this season has been! I am so frickin pumped!!
I'm sure there's more, but thats enough for the moment.
MHH 3 Stars:
1) Semyon Varlamov. Anytime he gets a shut out I'm going to credit him with a star. He wasn't tested overly hard for most of the game, but he still stood tall.
2) Paul Stastny. For reasons listed above.
3) Nathan MacKinnon. For being a man about things.
Next Up: The Avs face the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night at Pepsi Center for the final home game of the regular season. Lets all show up and be loud, boys and girls!! This team is worth cheering for!!
If you want to go visit the competitions's blog, check out Pensburgh to see what they think about us.