Thanks to Calgary's online stream, Avalanche fans got their first glimpse of the team on video. What we saw wasn't the opening night roster, with nearly all of the important veterans taking a night off, but mostly what remains of the camp tryouts -- and there were no surprises against a solid Flames squad that squeaked into the playoffs last year.
The first goal of the evening was scored by Calgary's Jiri Hudler 24 seconds into the game. The play began innocently enough in Colorado's zone, with each skater in sound defensive position, until Nathan MacKinnon broke his stick going for the puck and sent everyone scrambling. Sean Monahan poked the puck back to Johnny Gaudreau on the blue line, who then made a nice pass to down low to Hudler, who made a quick move to the net to score on Calvin Pickard. It was quite a demonstration of passing, one that caught rookie Mikko Rantanen in between covering for MacKinnon and the crafty Hudler.
The former Red Wing would also put the second puck in the back of the net after a turnover. John Mitchell, trying to carry the puck out of the zone, got tripped up when a Flames' defender stuck his knee out at the blue line. Fortunately, Mitchell had no weight on the leg and tumbled right over, but the spill caused him to turn the puck over and yield yet another Calgary goal. Jiri Hudler has really had the Avalanche's number in recent years and it doesn't appear he'll be letting up, even in preseason.
The 2nd period would continue heavily tilted in the Flames' favor, but Calvin Pickard stood his ground and kept the Avalanche in the game. The 3rd was much more favorable, but ultimately nothing fell in the net. After a now-famous Patrick Roy two-and-a-half-minute empty net scenario, the game was over.
- Comeau-MacKinnon-Rantanen may have been the best line on the ice for much of the game. They would pin the Flames in their own end for entire shifts, cycling the puck behind the net and firing off shots out front. Comeau would personally put 7 shots on net tonight, all in the first two periods. The recent free agent signing took every opportunity shoot the puck and created some good chances.
- Mikko Rantanen should not be listed in this next round of cuts. I'm not saying he makes the team yet, but he has not once looked out of place on top times. I think he continues to get looks the final two games while Tanguay and Iginla get the veteran treatment.
- None of the defenseman stood out in a good way tonight. Gormley and Redmond were on the ice for both goals, Nate Guenin continues to be adverse to starting a breakout play, Bigras is still raw (though, I'm still impressed by his physicality), and Noreau and Holden were mostly non-factors. I can see Noreau and Bigras being sent down to AHL camp after tonight. The others? Roy needs someone to separate themselves soon.
- Calvin Pickard makes a lot of solid goaltending plays. He doesn't have the elite height and athleticism of Varlamov and Berra, but he should have a future in the NHL. Played very well tonight, even when his team didn't.
- Bleackley didn't get a lot of time in the 3rd. Yes, lot's of penalties, but Roy was prioritizing players who could make the roster. It's been a good camp. Go have a great year in Red Deer and we'll see you, perhaps, for a couple of games in San Antonio this spring.
- Grigorenko/Hishon/Martinsen? This isn't the showing any of them needed. Bad penalties, listless skating, non-factors on offense. Martinsen may get sent down to AHL camp after tonight. He needs to grow the physical element of his game and be more assertive without the puck. There's potential there, but he's not beating out incumbents.