The stretch run for the Avalanche's playoff bid began tonight. The Minnesota Wild easily dispatched of the Calgary Flames up in St. Paul 6-2 to put the Wild at 83 points and forcing the Avs to win to keep reasonable pace. The game for the Avs was even more important considering the fact the Wild come to The Can on Saturday afternoon for a critical game that might very well determine which team makes it into the playoffs, and which team is left getting possible tee times booked.
And the Avs blew it. What looked like a solid game from the burgundy and blue most of the night translated into yet another late period meltdown, this one arguably being the worst.
1st Period: Spectacular first period for the Avalanche that the score sheet didn't reflect. Relentless pressure on the Flyers as Philadelphia got a limited looks at goals. Their best chance at putting a puck in the net might have been on an Avalanche power play where after a face-off, a Flyers defenseman launched the puck off his OWN post nearly giving the Avs a lead that way. Colorado looked like it has acquired the lead some ten minutes earlier when Philly was on a power play, and a shorthanded chance caused quite the mess in front of Steve Mason. Gabe Landeskog sent a puck going half a mile in the hour off the crossbar and I gasped like a little girl.
2nd Period: Mark Rycroft said this was playoff hockey. And he's absolutely right. For two teams fighting for their lives to get to the postseason, they know these games are essentially playoff games. The Avalanche started this period the way they ended the 1st, dominating the Flyers. Their hard work finally paid off with a Nick Holden goal that the defenseman tipped in following a Mikhail Grigorenko shot. Hot stud Mikkel Boedker was credited with an assist as well.
After the Avs scored, the classic turtle the Avs have patented when they get a lead showed its head. The Flyers started to tilt the ice themselves, and at first, Semyon Varlamov was stopping everything, making some of the best saves he's made all season. Rookie Flyers phenom Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot from the blue line that ricocheted off P.E Bellemare to knot the game at 1. Nothing Varly could really do, if you want a scapegoat for the Avs on this unwelcome goal, it's probably John Mitchell.
3rd Period: Andreas Martinsen made an unbelievable play to set up John Mitchell for a goal several minutes into the final frame to put the Avalanche ahead 2-1. Things looked good. It was a galvanizing play from Andy that appeared to have the chance to be the play of the year for the Avalanche to date. Instead, what happened from this point onwards makes it an unfortunately forgettable moment that serves of no use to us now.
I'm very angry and I'll sum up the rest of this period by saying this. The Avalanche did not register a single shot for nearly ten minutes after that goal. In that time, Radko Gukas and Glaude Giroux scored in the span of 19 seconds. Philly got an empty netter with a few seconds left to put it away. I don't know what the hell this team doesn't understand about maintaining a lead in the 3rd period. Just completely mind-numbing.
Mr. Fish's Three Sardines:
#3: Semyon Varlamov- Played great in the 2nd to keep this game within reach for the Avs. The 3rd period goals weren't entirely his fault, but it bumps him down from the top pedestal.
#2: Andreas Martinsen- Poor Andy. That beautiful goal he scored was one of the best all year. Like I said, it means nothing now.
#1: Erik Johnson- Lord have mercy did he play hard. No one deserved to lose less than him.
Mr. Fish's Three Flounders:
#3: Calgary Flames- Thanks for the help tonight, you useless dicks.
#2: Home-ice advantage- There had to be more Flyers fans in Pepsi Center than Avalanche fans tonight. I know Philly has a lot of fans outside Pennsylvania because it's a trashy city no one wants to live in, but c'mon Avs fans. Make it seem like you want the hometown team in the playoffs.
#1: Francois Beauchemin- Not much veteran leadership or helpfulness from him tonight. God you sucked.
If the Avs don't win on Saturday, this season is toast.
Discuss and be angry as you want to without taking it too far.