There has been some panic percolating amongst Colorado Avalanche fans lately. The team hasn’t been bad, but they certainly have not played up to the lofty standard set by the stars in this locker room. Concern was mounting that the dominant Avalanche that has captured the hearts of Avs fans across the world was fading into the parity the NHL was designed to create.
Perhaps that kind of talk is premature because at least for one night, the Avs were back.
Avs lines tonight:— Ryan Boulding (@rboulding) December 24, 2023
Nichushkin -- MacKinnon -- Rantanen
Wood -- Colton -- Drouin
Cogliano -- Johansen -- O’Connor
MacDermid -- Olofsson -- Kiviranta
Toews -- Cale Makar
Byram -- Josh Manson
Johnson -- Malinksi
The Avs and Coyotes were pretty even during the opening stretch of the game, and not much of note happened—outside of Miles Wood and Lawson Crouse throwing all caution to the wind and throwing haymaker after haymaker at each other—then Bowen Byram fired the first shot of the night that put Arizona on its heels.
This is where the literal avalanche we all know and love plummeted onto the Coyotes, as they accounted for 72% of expected goals in the period. Just 90 seconds in, Valeri Nichushkin found himself on the end of some slick passing from the top line, and he buried it.
The Avs controlled the rest of the 2nd, putting Arizona on its back foot shift after shift, and eventually, all that pressure mounted into a nifty Josh Manson goal on the rush from a great feed from Fredrik Olofsson.
The Avs stuck the dagger in with just seconds remaining in the period, as Andrew Cogliano made perhaps the pass of the night that Olofsson did not miss.
The Avs came out playing hard, clearly determined to put together a complete 60 minutes of hockey in a season where that has been a rare occurrence. It was the kind of period you see a lot by leading teams in the NHL, where they just slowly absorb their opponents and smother them without taking many chances.
The Avs could have played another high-octane second period if they wanted to, but they clearly wanted to close this game out with some defense that they did not showcase the other night in the fire wagon hockey game against Ottawa. Just when it looked like they would close it out in style and get Georgiev his shutout, Miles Wood took a penalty with three minutes left, and Arizona scored off the faceoff. We cannot say for certain what caused this shift in vibes, but there was a wave that took place right before this turn of events in Arizona’s favor.
There was no more drama after the wave subsided, and the Avs won comfortably 4-1. This was honestly the most notable news from the third period.
All The Small Things is playing for likely the second time this season.— Ryan Boulding (@rboulding) December 24, 2023
R-E-L-A-X Avs fans. There have been some struggles this year for sure, but despite all that drama, they find themselves tied atop the Central Division with Dallas right now. They definitely need to find some more consistency, but that fearsome hockey force of nature that put the fear of Mack into the rest of the NHL is still here, and can still show the world on any given night why there’s no better team when they’re at the top of their game than the Colorado Avalanche.
The second leg of this home-and-home with the Yotes comes after the holiday break on Wednesday night. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. MT. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us here at Mile High Hockey!