Avalanche Finish Season Series 6-1-1 Vs Coyotes

Embed from Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche Gear

The Avalanche follows the trend of dominating, letting the team fight back, then stepping on their throats in a 4-2 win over Coyotes in the season-series finale.

The Avalanche came into the weekend with questions on size and goaltending. They left the weekend with a new winning streak, a new goalie, and just a few hours before puck-drop, something old, that became new. Carl Soderberg was announced to having been traded from Chicago to Colorado whom he played for from 2015-2019. Joining Patrik Nemeth and Devan Dubnyk as weekend recruits. The Arizona Coyotes came in fighting for their playoff lives on a 3-game losing streak. Coyotes get aggressive when they are hungry, the Avalanche would need to be ready.

Here are those moves courtesy of Altitude TV:

The first showed the Yotes would come out swinging as they outshot the Avalanche 8-5 at 8:29 into the period when things got weird. Conor Garland had a goal that wasn’t, turned goal, turned no goal between the call on-ice and two reviews. Garland knuckle-balled one that got between Keaton Middleton and Philipp Grubauer. They then had Nazem Kadri meet them in the crease completely obscuring the puck. No replay out of the dozen or so done by the home broadcast showed anything that was definitive that the puck ever crossed the line. But we will just have to believe Toronto had an angle no one else in the building had. Immediately after you saw how serious Coach Bednar took this game with a quick challenge. Bednar and the Avalanche won the challenge keeping the game deadlocked at 0-0.

The zeroes on the scoreboard lasted less than 4-minutes as Brandon Saad parked his lucky 13th over the glove arm of Ivan Prosvetov off some slick puck movement from Tyson Jost and Samuel Girard. The Avs hit another gear after that overturned goal, but the Coyotes just never stop. They would continue to push the pace and out-shot Colorado 12-9 by the time the period ended. The Yotes also out-hit the Avalanche 15-8, showing a physical edge to boot. Despite this though, the Avalanche had a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.

Here is a visual representation of the poetry in motion courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

The Coyotes would keep that that 3 shot lead on the Avalanche through 9:08 into the 2nd. And the Avalanche would grow their lead to 2 at that moment when Nathan MacKinnon took the perfect pass from Gabriel Landeskog and put a one-timer past Prosvetov for his 17th goal and 10th point in as many games. That’s the longest current points-streak in the NHL. This was also a power-play goal, that will help the one major bugaboo for this roster earlier in the season has slowly moved in to the top-10 (8th 23.4 PP%). They have ranked in the bottom third of the league in this stat just a little over a week ago. Now if they can keep up the mistake-free hockey (4 penalty kills in the last 5 periods combined).

The Coyotes despite their shot advantage and still outhitting the Avalanche, had given Colorado 4 power plays to their 1 through 2 frames of hockey. It wasn’t for lack of opportunities as the shot count shows, it had a lot more to do with Gru coming back fresh and loose after 5 days of rest. This renewed smooth dominance included a sequence that saw him block a shot, then the rebound attempt, then go full snow-angel to cover the puck and end the play. Then with a 22-15 SOG advantage for the Yotes over the Avs, MacKinnon decided to get Mikko Rantanen in on the fun to make it 3-0 with his 24th, giving him 2nd place in the league over Connor McDavid.

Here is that save by Grubauer courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

The two narratives pushed by most pundits to beat the Avalanche were to find a way to outshoot them, we established Arizona accomplished this through 40 minutes of hockey. The other was to be more physical and hit everything moving, they are a bunch of fast skating pillows they seemed to claim. Well, Arizona did that too, to the tune of out-hitting the Avalanche 21-12. Yet they went into the locker room down 3-0 and looking defeated. This Avalanche team just finds a way to score, it’s almost MacGyver-ish and an absolute joy to watch.

It took 27 shots, but the Coyotes finally snuck one past Grubauer as Oliver Ekman-Larsson bounced the puck off Michael Bunting and in for the rookie Wingers 6th of the season at 10:42. The Coyotes are as relentless as they get, they do nothing flashy, they just keep pounding. That onslaught of goals the Avalanche are used to putting on the competition started to make cracks in their defense and a cruising Gru up to that point. At 13:16 into the period and a 30-17 SOG advantage over the Avs, Johan Larsson put in his 7th of the season after some sloppy puck-handling in the neutral zone caused an odd-man rush for the Yotes.

Here is another example of Gru keeping his team in the lead courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

The Avalanche were forced to sweat that one-goal lead until 18:03 into the period when Mikko Rantanen put in his second of the night and 25th goal of the season to secure his 2nd-place standing on an empty net, full-ice, empty-net goal. We saw the fight in both teams boil over shortly after this as pretty much both rosters hit the ice in a scrum reminiscent of that 70’s hockey grandpa told you about. The last 19 seconds of the game saw two such scrums as tempers boiled over for the second consecutive night that Colorado wraps up a season series against a division rival with a win.

The Avalanche got sloppy in the 3rd both offensively and defensively allowing 37 total shots-on-goal while only getting 19 of their own. Yet they found a way to win, and in a way that somehow felt dominant for the majority, that’s what matters. Can you still find a way to get the 2-points even when you do not have your best game going on the second half of a back-to-back? Now they get a day off before visiting St. Louis and the Blues on Wednesday.

What’s Next:

@ St. Louis Blues Wednesday, April 14 at 5:30 PM MST

Where to Watch:

National Broadcast: NBC Sports

Avalanche Toss Hats: Take Lead in West

Embed from Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche Gear

The Avalanche came out hot, slowed in the 2nd, then pushed the gas to finish dismantling of Coyotes 9-3.

The Avalanche came in looking for their 12th win of the month after dismantling Anaheim 5-2 on Monday. The game saw teams at 2 ends of the spectrum. One is a top-tier team fighting for division supremacy. The other is a pesky .500 team that just doesn’t seem to understand they are supposed to be bad. The Coyotes rank in the bottom half of the league in almost every significant offensive statistical category. They rank in the top-10 in the Penalty kill, and that’s about it. Yet they find themselves 1 point out of the playoffs. And were forced to put a rookie in goal. Granted Adin Hill beat the Avalanche just a week ago with the newest Av Jonas Johansson in goal.

The Avalanche have the best goalie in the goal in the league. Philipp Grubauer leads the league with a 1.74 goals-against average. And the Avalanche Defense has allowed the league-least amount of shots-against with 848, an average of 24.9 per game (all numbers courtesy of hockey-reference.com). They are also top-10 in every other category except power play %. Every trend would continue.

Embed from Getty Images

The Rookie lasted 6 minutes, giving way to a goalie making his NHL debut in Ivan Prosvetov. The poor kid doesn’t even have a headshot in that Yahoo! Sports profile. And hats hit the rink with more than half the period left to be played. That’s right in 207 seconds and 2 goalies, Joonas Donskoi had himself a hat-trick. While playing in front of fans for the first time in a year, the Avalanche had energy the Coyotes couldn’t match, for the first 10 minutes at least. The Coyotes came out with offensive aggression I haven’t seen since the bubble, this leads to them allowing the Avalanche free runs into their end.

Here is the 3rd goal by Donskoi courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

This belied the usual defensive discipline of the Yotes, who typically force teams to dump the puck in and chase. By the time Arizona got things calmed down. Donskoi had the 11th-fastest hat-trick in NHL history, doing it in 7:31 of ice-time, growing his season total to 15. Andre Burakovsky scored his 8th at 4:31 in, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare put in his 5th at 5:36. With Michael Bunting scoring his 1st on the first shot on goal by the Coyotes on a turnover in the neutral zone by the Avs that allowed him a 1-on-1 chance with Grubauer.

The 10-minute mark saw the Avalanche usual stoic dominance show cracks in their discipline. A strange series of hockey starting with Tyson Jost taking a penalty, a 2-minute goalie-interference call. On that power play by the Coyotes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson hook Michael Bunting, committing his own penalty causing a 4-on-4 on the ice. Then during that 4-on-4 Devon Toews hooked John Hayden causing the ever rare 4-on-3 power play for the Yotes. Arizona didn’t end up scoring, but it allowed them to find an offensive groove, and settle down on defense.

Embed from Getty Images

A big, and legal, hit on Nathan MacKinnon at about the mid-point of the period really seemed to ruffle the Avalanche feathers. MacKinnon chased down his aggressor Kessler, to dole out a big hit of his own on the other end. But instead of just sparking his team, they seemed to lose their cool. This caused them to make uncharacteristic mistakes defensively which is what leads to Oliver Ekman-Larsson putting in his 2nd goal of the season at 18:57 in. Both have come against the Avalanche.

The highlight of the first 18:00 of the 2nd period might have been the 1-minute 26-second glass repair by the Ball Arena Conversion Crew. I know one thing about that scene, everyone above the Mason Dixon line needs those shoes during the winter. Seriously though, both teams came out flat. The Avalanche started the period with a golden opportunity to grow the lead with a 2 min. power play due to a penalty drawn by John Hayden as the teams left the ice at the end of one.

Embed from Getty Images

The Coyotes’ over-zealousness calmed down in the 2nd though as they didn’t draw a single penalty and played their game. The Avalanche on the other hand became almost aloof, drawing 2 penalties and having Gru bail them out of bad situations caused by poor defensive effort. That was until a goal by Conor Garland, his 10th, that was scored on a bad turnover in the neutral zone by the Avs got him a primo scoring opportunity, drawing the game to within 2 at 5-3. This must not have sat well with Gabriel Landeskog, or maybe he realized the top-line had only contributed 1 assist to this point. Either way, he created his own neutral-zone turnover and streaked through the offensive zone. Knocking-in his 13th of the season, unassisted, growing the lead back to 6-3. This would be the final scoring of the period.

Some credit needs to be given to Prosvetov for debuting down 5-1 and slowing the bleeding to almost 1 goal-per-period. As opposed to 1 every 1:52. The kid came into an impossible situation, and made some nice saves. He even kept it relatively close for most of the game. At 6:02 into the 3rd period Mikko Rantanen put in his 21st of the season, drawing him even with Connor McDavid for 2nd-most in the league. This is where the wheels began to fall off. Gabriel Landeskog then deposited his 14th at 11:57 in. That was followed by Andre Burakovsky’s 9th at 16:57 as he streaked from the penalty box. That would end the scoring and give the Avalanche a 9-3 thrashing of the Coyotes. Buried under the good though was a late 10 min major by MacKinnon that got him tossed. And may carry a suspension after MacKinnon tossed Conor Garland’s own helmet back in his face to draw the penalty.

I mean seriously, imagine this being your welcome to the NHL and honestly say you wouldn’t want to quit. Courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

The Avalanche had 3 players score at least 2 goals (highlighted by Donskoi’s hat-trick). Six players scored at least 2 points (highlighted by Donskoi’s 4). Nothing is perfect, but offensively, this as perfect as you can get on the ice. You definitely don’t want to see the defensive lull for most of the 2nd-period, but that feels like nit-picking. And thanks to a 4-2 loss by the Las Vegas Golden Knights to the Los Angeles Kings. The Avalanche took sole possession of 1st-place in the West. Read that again, this team was barely clinging to a playoff spot a month ago. The first game in front of fans for the Avalanche this season went off without a hitch. Even the glass-repair was seamless.

Colorado Avalanche Gear

Up Next:

Vs St. Louis Blues Friday, April 2 at 7:00 PM MST

Where to watch:

Denver Market: Altitude TV

St. Louis Market: Fox-Sports Mid-West

Colorado Avalanche Streak Snapped by Arizona

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 26: Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) skates during a game between the San Jose Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on January 26, 2021. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Arizona Coyotes looked for revenge as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Colorado Avalanche bounced back, but fell short.

Colorado Avalanche Gear

Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche got the game off, and to start the first period, it seemed as if the rest of the roster thought they did too. Within the first 5 minutes of the opening period, Colorado found themselves down 2-0 after bad turnovers/defensive positioning lead to 2 easy goals for the Yotes. Jakob Chychrun (9) put one in at 1:25 into the period, then was followed by Alex Goligoski at 4:52 into the period for his first of the season. Goligoski joined fellow defenseman Ekman-Larsson to notch his first goal of the season against Colorado in as many nights.

Where Grubauer was able to turn away seemingly every breakaway or odd-man rush by the opponent. Sub Jonas Johansson was not up to the task at first. That’s not to say his defense did him any favors with said goals. But this is where you truly see the value of a goaltender like Gru. Then the Avalanche showed why they are so dangerous when Gabriel Landeskog deposited his 10th goal of the season in net at 14:47 into the period. Then Mikko Rantanen followed with his 19th of the year at 18:89 into the period to tie the game at 2-2.

WINNIPEG, MB  November 12: Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates his goal during the regular season game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Colorado Avalanche on November 12, 2019 at the Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg MB. (Photo by Terrence Lee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The third-period saw the Avalanche raise their energy and Coyote keep their foot on the gas. It looked like it was going to be a period dominated by the Arizona poke check, and Colorado Penalty Kill. The Colorado special teams killed 6 minutes of Coyote Power Play in the 2nd-period alone. Nathan MacKinnon had both the worst and best plays of the game to that point. At 56 seconds into the period MacKinnon was cut-off at his blue line by Chychrun and knocked off balance. This caused Nathan to lose control of his stick on his way to the ice and caught Chychrun square in the face drawing blood, and a 4-minute major. The Avalanche then commenced to display a clinic on penalty kill, not allowing a single true scoring opportunity throughout the power play for the Yotes.

The best play came on Nathan’s 10th goal of the season off a slap-shot from just below the blue-line that was slightly deflected and in with just 11 seconds left in the period. Sandwiched between these two major moments was good-old-fashioned, buckle-your-strap, rival hockey. Neither team willing to give an inch, both goaltenders locked in and effortlessly tossing aside shots. But as I mentioned last time, that is what is so crushing about this Avs squad. You can do everything perfect for 19:49 of the 20:00 minute period. This team only needs one shot and those last :11 to burn you.

Here is that goal by Nathan courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

Then the 3rd-period showed why the Coyotes can be just as infuriating. The Avs looked to be in a comfortable position after Valeri Nichushkin snuck his 7th goal by Adin HIll to make it 4-2 Avalanche at 5:28 into the period. It seemed everyone took a breathe, which turned out to be a mistake. The Yotes are just a band of pesky bandits waiting for targets of opportunity. And Lawson Crouse (2, 6:38) and Phil Kessel (10, 8:41) found just that to tie it at 4-4. Johansson and Hill settled down to lock things up and not allow another goal in regulation.

So we go to overtime where the Avalanche had every opportunity to get the 2nd point. Including a 2:00 power play with just less than 3-minutes left in overtime. But Hill transformed into Hasek and somehow found the puck no matter where he threw his body. Which lead to the first shoot-out of the season for Colorado, where Johansson was unable to stop a single Coyote shot. The Avalanche lost the shoot-out 3-1, and the game 5-4 as a result. The new kid put up a valiant effort, including some impressive saves in OT. But as I mentioned earlier, I choose Gru, unfortunately, he can’t play every night. And Avalanche fans will have to endure a tough loss like this from time to time. Wednesday is a day off and a chance to recharge so the avalanche can return on its path of destruction.

Colorado Avalanche Gear

Up Next:

@Vegas Golden Knight, Thursday, March 27, 2021 at 7:00 PM MST

Where to watch:

Colorado Market: Altitude TV/Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Vegas Market: At&t Sports Rocky Mountain

Colorado Avalanche Continue Streak 5-1 Over Arizona

DENVER, CO - MARCH 04: Colorado Avalanche team members skate off the ice following a first period goal by Avalanche Right Wing Vladislav Namestnikov (90) during a regular season game between the Colorado Avalanche and the visiting Anaheim Ducks on March 4, 2020 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche enter and exit a dominate force of nature after (enter score here) thrashing of the Arizona Coyotes.

The first period saw the Arizona Coyotes and their suffocating defense threw their best at the Colorado Avalanche. For the first 14:22 it seemed to be working. For this, almost a quarter-hour of play Arizona tricked many into believing they could hang with the Avalanche. As they were able to keep them pinned in their defensive zone for long stretches. Then when Colorado did make it into their offensive zone, Arizona did a great job of bodying and bullying the Avs around the ice to prevent any scoring opportunities and only 3 shots on goal to that point.

Colorado Avalanche Gear

Then Pierre-Edouard Bellemare took the pass from Matt Calvert and deposited the puck in the net to make it 1-0 for his 3rd of the year. The Coyotes had to believe that this was an ok result after the way Colorado had dominated its last 2 opponents. Well, that was before Mikko Rantanen revisited his favorite corner of the cage as he deposited a wrister above the left shoulder of the goalie to make it 2-0 on just 5 shots on goal just over a minute later. It was Rantanen’s 18th of the season. How frustrating does it have to be to play this team? The Coyotes played an almost perfect period and still ended it down 2-0.

The second period saw the unstoppable force that is the Colorado Avalanche offense continue to press the issue. After drawing blood at the end of the first period. This offensive pressure had the Coyote take the first penalty of the game penalty at 16:14 left in 2nd period. It was a 2-minute minor for holding on Jakob Chychrun that the Coyotes killed. But not without a fight and flurry of pressure from the Avalanche special teams. The hold was a necessary play as Nazem Kadri was about to blow by him for a one-on-one opportunity.

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 02:  Colorado Avalanche Center Nazem Kadri (91) celebrates a third period goal during a regular season game between the Colorado Avalanche and the visiting St. Louis Blues on January 2, 2020 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Antti Raanta put forth a Herculean effort stoning shot after shot to begin the 2nd period. Until Nazem Kadri took a huge swipe at a one-timer off the face-off win by Andre Burakovsky. The shot was slightly deflected over Raanta’s right shoulder. This would be the only scoring in the 2nd period, with a huge part of the credit going to Philipp Grubauer. As he stopped all 9 shots sent his way during the period. Gru was yet again the calm within the storm as he made multiple break-away and odd-man saves. These were during the rare lapses in the Colorado discipline that created turnovers for the Coyotes. But every time Philipp was up to the challenge, showing yet again why he is the MVP for Colorado a little over half-way through the season. This man has reached another level within the crease.

The 3rd period was a showing of both team’s defensive and goaltending prowess as Raanta and Gru went back and forth with impressive save after impossible save. Both Defenses pressed hard in their own zone, throwing their bodies around and bullying each other off the puck. This game was a prime example of the difference between a “try hard” team and a talented team. The Arizona Coyotes get by on guile and want-to. The Colorado Avalanche has one of, if not the deepest and most talented rosters in the entire league.

Even emergency call-ups like Jacob MacDonald are playing at a high level. A journeyman defenseman that currently has a season +/- of 6, that is 8th on the team by the way.

Here is the top-10 for the Colorado Avalanche courtesy of Hockey-reference.com:

You also see Devon Toews leading the team in the 5 games he’s been able to play. If this team stays healthy and keeps this same energy. The heights this team from a Mile High can reach is dizzying. You did see Grubauer’s shut-out streak end at 3:38 on Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s 1st goal of the season in his 22nd game. This was the only Power Play goal of the game for either team in 5 tries combined. This drew Arizona within 2 goals at 3-1. For a little more than a minute as Rick Tocchet pulled Raanta after Larsson’s goal anyway. Then Joonas Donskoi stole a goal, his 9th, on a slap-shot by Valeri Nichushkin that doinked off Donskoi and into the empty net. Valeri had to settle for his 6th assist of the season.

Joonas must have felt he needed to legitimize his boxscore with 10.9 seconds left as he goes unassisted for his 2nd goal of the game, and 10th of the season to make the final score 5-1. Thankfully we only have to wait 24-hours until we get tho see this team take the ice again. And they get to show us some more things we have never seen before. The Avalanche improve to 20-18-2. Gru gets to 19-7-1, and the avalanche keeps destroying all in it’s path.

Colorado Avalanche Gear

Next Up:

@ Arizona Coyotes, Tuesday, March 23, 2021 @8:00 PM MST

Where to watch:

Colorado Market: Altitude TV/Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Arizona Market: Fox Sports Arizona