In a night of preseason surprises, it just wasn’t meant to be for the Colorado Avalanche.
You’d think, at this point, that we’d all be used to the Vegas Golden Knights laughing the other teams right off of the ice. But after Vegas absolutely steamrolled Arizona in their first preseason tilt - taking home a 7-2 final score with Arizona’s number two in net across from WHL prospect Dylan Ferguson - and then did the same to the Avalanche on Tuesday night, skating away with a 5-1 decision in their favor.
In Colorado’s defense, preseason is preseason and Paul Stastny went out there ready to let loose. You can only evaluate so much during these games, when teams are trying out new things and no one wants to get hurt.
Still, there was a lot going in favor of Colorado that made that kind of a loss a little rattling.
To start, the Avalanche played Varlamov, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, and their entire top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen. In comparison, the Golden Knights had both Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty sit this one out. Oh, and they didn’t have William Karlsson on the ice, either, nor did they use Marc-Andre Fleury. They didn’t even have Malcolm Subban, instead watching in amazement as fallen Montreal prospect Zach Fucale managed to turn away 24 of 25 shots faced for a .960 save percentage. And that was on the road for Vegas, too, as they debuted Fucale at The Can.
Anyways, here’s a nice long read on that preseason opener from the Denver Post, although you may need a subscription to check it out. [The Denver Post]
You can also check out how excited Nikita Zadorov is for the season:
16— Nikita Zadorov (@zadorov61) September 18, 2018
Look at that excitement! Heck yeah.
For those looking for some actual excitement, here’s something to try on for size!
This is a lot to unpack.
For starters, kudos to the Senators brass for being so willing to just go on TV and chat during intermission after the offseason they’ve had. It’s bold and maybe not so well advised, but at least it’s the kind of confidence that we live and breathe for during the weeks leading up to actual, meaningful games.
Getting into the meat of this clip, though, we really do need to have a talk with Senators GM Pierre Dorion.
This dude is given an absolute softball of a question, considering that he started dismantling his team for parts (and not doing it particularly well) mere months after going all in by sending off a massive haul for none other than former Avalanche forward Matt Duchene. Just one thing Senators fans should feel positive about. That’s all he needs to give.
There really isn’t a whole ton for him to say here, to be fair. Their generational defender was just shipped out to San Jose for a similar return to what Duchene (a great player but far from a perennial league award-winner) fetched from them this past fall. They had already dealt away one of their top forwards due to some horrific off-ice issues involving said player’s fiancée and the aforementioned defender’s wife, once again getting a marginal return. Their assistant GM resigned after allegedly sexually harassing a teenaged bus driver at the combine in Buffalo earlier in the offseason. They lack a first round pick this year, their other two top scorers (Duchene and pending UFA Mark Stone) are likely to bolt this summer, and one of their few remaining top pieces is out for nearly the entire season with injury. Add in that they covered 1,500 seats with tarp last season to falsely inflate their attendance percentage, and there’s some real misery there.
Still, there are so many answers to give no matter how dark the tunnel ahead. The fact that the team has owned their rebuild is a big one. There are two new prospects in town, thanks to the Erik Karlsson trade. The younger Tkachuk brother has brought the family’s antagonistic flair to the lineup already. There’s even some hope to discuss in guys like Colin White getting ready to take a big step forward.
Instead? This delightful joker gives a big pause, looks panicked, and comes out with “we’re a team”.
I don’t know if he’s referencing the fact that the off-ice dissonance was all dealt away this summer (presumably, that is) or if he’s legitimately telling the fans “even if it’s an AHL roster, at least there is a team here in the city still”, but it’s some kind of answer.
In more news around the league, here’s a look at how Toronto skating coach Barb Underhill has done great things with Leafs center Auston Matthews:
Interesting stuff from Auston Matthews today about how Barb Underhill made him a more explosive skater. Just from watching her sessions with players you can tell how respected her direction is: https://t.co/vVu34qA6BR— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) September 18, 2018
Finally, the NHL continues to do weird things:
Jägermeister is now the "official shot of the NHL." I'm not kidding.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 18, 2018
Personally, I consider Jägermeister to be the “official shot of underage frat guys”, but maybe the NHL is on to something here. Who knows? Maybe, they figure the taste of licorice and regret is exactly what we’ve all been missing.