Avalanche vs. Penguins [The “experts” edition]
Drinking Update: I need to start strong because this is going to be a massacre. I mean, it’s a perennial Stanley Cup contender coming into town against an AHL team with no defense. Maybe if I drink a lot, I’ll enjoy the inevitable loss more.
They started off the broadcast by talking about goalies. They failed to mention how Fleury is a consistent 30-win goalie and Varly was traded for four 1st round picks and is always hurt. Weird.
The game started off with the Avs playing very cautiously, which was not expected from a team that has no system with a rookie coach. Avoiding the inevitable.
3 minutes in and it became MacKinnon-time, since the better Cole Harbor-born player was gone. He took the puck and skated around the entire Pens team and fed it in front but it was blocked. He found the puck again and Fleury had to make a spectacular save to stop him.
And back and forth they went. Clearly the Penguins were just toying with the Avs. However, Varly was tested on a nice shot from the point and a rebound from the player in front.
The following shift saw MacKinnon’s line get a great chance from McGinn after a nice/scary/amazing/risk/slash/cool play by Johnson. He pinched a little too deep but managed to make an extremely tight pass to McGinn in the slot.
TANGENT 1: Patick Raw. Jesus Julie.
MacKinnon’s line stayed out and after some cycling, McGinn found Guenin at the point whose shot deflected oh so dangerously off a leg but Fleury stopped it. A few shifts later Barrie skated his way into the zone and almost fed Carey. That followed another good shift from Carey and Malone and they drew a Power Play!
TANGENT 2: I think Carey and Malone both make this team next year.
The Power Play had great movement for the first minute but couldn’t generate more than a few shots.
The shift after saw a breakdown by the Penguins at their blue line and Landeskog and Stastny had a 2 on 1. Landy walked around Fleury and tried to get it in front but it just went through the crease. Fleury had to make another scrambling save once the puck made it back in front, but still no goals.
I genuinely don’t know where the last 6 minutes went. The game had some great flow, which is amazing for a team eliminated from the playoffs and playing for nothing like the Avs.
And something happened!! The Penguins got called for the puck over the glass. They are clearly so much better that they think they can win with 4 players. With less than 10 seconds left the Avs had a great chance off an amazing feed from MacKinnon to Landy but then Barrie was robbed. Wait sorry. I mean this team full of busts and semi-pro players almost got a lucky goal against one of the best teams in the league. Period over.
Whores Summary: The Avs played cautiously/tired at first. About halfway through, their game came out and they had some great chances. Fleury did a great job though.
“Expert” Summary: A depleted Pittsburgh was sitting back and just letting the worse team try their best. Clearly that is the best the Avs have to offer and its still 0-0? Even Edmonton would have scored a few goals.
The second shift of the period saw a weird breakdown by the Avs, not surprising since they must be the worst defensive team in the league; Mitchell had a chance to clear but the puck rolled away. The Penguins got a great chance and Varly stopped it with his glove but it popped and had to make a tough rebound save.
MacKinnon’s next shift saw him get socked from behind and that anger game out. He ripped the next shot off the post. But the Penguins came right back and saw the Penguin forward wide open in front. He chose to walk around Varly but hit the post and the puck rebound out in front. It was cleared easily.
Unfortunately, the Avs aggressive defense comes at a cost. Holden was in deep as he is wont to do but that resulted in a 2 on 1 the other way. Sutter was able to take the puck down the right side and instead of passing; he ripped a perfectly placed shot far side on Varly. 1-0 Penguins.
The game evened out and it was clear the Penguins found their legs. Benoit sadly took a high sticking penalty on Neal. And that didn’t take long. Sutter was able to make a perfectly place high tip and it slipped between Varly’s pad. 2-0 Penguins.
MacKinnon followed that goal looking like a man on fire. He was just flying, but couldn’t beat Fleury who was looking about as unbeatable as any goalie I have seen this year.
The Avs caught a break on the next shift as Landy was hooked and drew a penalty. Unfortunately, for all the zone time they had, their shots went for nothing.
Roy changed up his lines and brought MacKinnon up with Stastny and dropped Mitchell down. Same thing as during the New York game.
Never mind, now O’Reilly was up with Landy. The Avs forecheck almost gave the Avs one when McGinn forced a turnover by Fleury behind the net, but Paul Martin made an amazing save to prevent it. Period over.
Whores Summary: The Avs lost their game a bit, or a lot. They still had some good chances but the Penguins began to use their very good cycle game and jumped on their opportunities: an odd man rush and a power play. Whereas the Avs couldn’t get anything off their Power Plays. That’s the difference right there.
“Expert” Summary: Just another great period from one of the best teams in the league and that bottom-feeding Western team couldn’t score on a real defense like Pittsburgh.
O’Reilly’s line gets the start of the 3rd and just like that the Avs score. McGinn found himself behind the net and fed O’Reilly who flipped a deft little shot past Fleury. Only 18 seconds in. 2-1.
After an icing, Hejda got a nice little bit of timber in his mouth and the Avs got a Power Play. They were already 0 for 3 at this point. The MacKinnon unit came out first and Fleury had to rob Landeskog with his blocker. The second unit had a great chance when Holden found himself playing forward again but even with 4 shots they got nothing. The Penguins countered right away with a semi-break away but Varly came out about a billion feet to save it.
MacKinnon seemed to find another gear. He was absolutely flying and moved the entire Penguins team into the zone. He spun, stickhandled to get more space and found Johnson at the point. The first shot was blocked, but Fleury had to come up big on the second.
Mid-way through he period it was getting clear the Penguins were trying to prevent this cellar-dwelling team from tying it. The Penguins were barely forechecking and were lining up a 1-1-3 in the neutral zone.
The Avs took a little bit to figure out the trap but once they got MacKinnon going he sped into the zone, dropped to Hejda whose shot went up in the air. Stastny swatted it but just wide. The Penguins came right back with a semi-2 on 1. Landy was forced to take a penalty to stop the play. This was a huge Penalty Kill, “game changing” since I invented that term.
The Avs PK was incredibly aggressive and killed 1 minute without the Penguins in the zone. The Penguins were able to get zone entry but the Avs easily killed the rest of it.
MacKinnon had a giveaway to Guenin and the puck found Sutter who beat Varly but clanged off the post. Phew. The Avs came right back and O’Reilly had a great chance and the rebound came right to Barrie trailing the play but Fleury came up huge.
Under 4 minutes in Roy sent out his 3rd line. They dumped the puck to beat the trap and Talbot went and got it. As the Penguins tried to clear the Avs kept it in and it came to Barrie. Barrie took a nice wrist shot that was low and Bordy managed to tip it in. 2-2.
The next shift saw MacKinnon play keep away for 20 second, but then Neal found his way up the far side and hammered a slap shot that trickled through Varly but just wide. Still a tie game.
Final minute was still hectic but nothing came of it. I think the Penguins are fairly happy that they are getting a point the way this period went. Period over. [Editor’s note. I am so fucking excited for overtime right now. It could be nuts.]
TANGENT 3: How much did American Furniture Warehouse pay to have the entire glass behind the net covered with an advertisement. That must really get in the way of the fans sitting there. Anyone have seats around there? Are they cheaper?
Whores Summary: Great period. The Avs kept attacking with their game and it worked.
“Expert" Summary: The Penguins don’t have Crosby, Malkin, Matta, or Kunitz in the lineup.
There was some nice movement by both teams at first, but the real excitement came off a very pretty save by Fleury off a blast from McGinn. The Avs kept getting the puck in their won zone and circling waiting for a break out. The Penguins stayed in their trap and made it very difficult to get into the zone. Even MacKinnon with his super human speed couldn’t get through it.
Oh wow. A delay of game penalty on Pittsburgh for the puck over the glass. 30 second of 4 on 3. This is interesting. The 30 second wasn’t quite long enough and the Avs couldn’t score. Onto a shootout.
FYI: this is my first recap with a shootout.
Avs: Barrie (fucking Roy, such a troll). Annnnnnnnd…Miss. Puck rolled.
Pens: Neal. Annnnnnnnd…Save by Varly. No five hole for you.
Avs: O’Reilly. Annnnnnnnd…Save. Fleury closed the five hole as well.
Pens: Jokinen. Annnnnnnnd…Score. HE took it wide and got Varly to sprawl.
Avs: Landeskog. Annnnnnnnd…Miss.
Pens win. BOOOOOOOOOOOO
3rd Whore: Varly. He stepped up when needed after two goals that he had little chance on. He made the big saves in the 3rd.
2nd Whore: O’Reilly. Aside from the goal, he kept that entire line looking dangerous and forced Bylsma to focus on him as well as Stastny’s line.
1st Whore: MacKinnon. The kid was flying. Just flying. He’s getting better and was the best player on the ice.