Tag Archives: Avalanche Game Review

Colorado Avalanche Lose Duel With Knights

The Colorado Avalanche was coming off a big shootout win over Tampa Bay. The Vegas Golden Knights came in limping on a 4-game losing streak.

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The Colorado Avalanche did nothing to show they were supposed to be the better and healthier roster in the first period. The Las Vegas Golden Knights came out with the energy and desperation you would expect from a contender in the throes of a losing streak. The Knights also had an injury list that looked like this. That’s a lot os size, scoring, and just plain nastiness.

So hence why I was so optimistic in my preview of this game. The Avalanche came out flat looking like the jet lag hadn’t worn off yet. They were lethargic all over the ice and Darcy Kuemper allowed to early goals to Chandler Stephenson (3rd at 2:00). Then a short-handed goal to Reilly Smith, his first, at the 9:37 mark. That’s right, not only did they go 0-2 on the power-play, they allowed the Knights to score on the Avs advantage.

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Darcy and the defense were able to stiffen from there, though the Golden Knights won the scoring and physicality battles in the first period, taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

The 3rd period started with the Avalanche coming out hot. The physical play hit a level I haven’t seen from this team yet this year. You had Kadri de-skating Knights in the corner. Logan O’Connor was decapitating players in the neutral zone and taking on all comers that the Knights could throw at them. You even had folk-hero Jack Johnson getting a 10 minute major for a questionable hit on Keegan Kolesar mid-ice. Which lead to him giving Nicolas Roy a 2-piece and a biscuit. That foray lead to this ruling and penalties assessed:

Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

This boiled down to two minutes of 4-on-4, and three minutes of Vegas with the advantage. This turned into a godsend for the Avalanche skill players that couldn’t seem to find a crack in the Vegas defense despite the uptick in physical play swinging the pendulum of momentum in their direction and had Ball Arena rocking. Cale Makar would send them into a frenzy at the 19:23 mark with his first goal of the season, assisted by Nathan MacKinnon (5) and Bo Byram (4).

After being outshot and outhit in the first period, Colorado flipped the script in the second. Taking a 16-11 lead in hits, and getting to 19-18 in SOGs. They also brought it close in blocks at 13-12. The Colorado penalty kill showed some grit also as they kept the Knights scoreless on the advantage through 2 frames, and Darcy looked like the steady vet Sakic traded for.

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Many will consternate about Jack Johnson’s hit being across the line. That would imply it was dirty, I don’t believe it was dirty, and was just what this team needed at the time. It sparked them to bring it to within one goal. Yes it left them short handed on defense. But it wasn’t the reason they lost, it was the reason they got back in it. Unfortunately they just ran into Robin Lehner on a night he was all the way on. Kuemper had a winning stat line with a .929 save% stoning 26 of 28 shots. Lehner was just better stopping 26-27 for a .963 save%.

The Golden Knights had never lost 5 in a row. Lehner ensured he was not going to be a footnote in that history. The Avalanche were able to continue their energy through the third. Just too bad for them, Vegas matched it, and were able to hold on for a 3-1 win that concluded with Colorado giving up their third empty-net goal by Kolesar.

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It was great to see this Avalanche team stand up to the bully, too bad they still took the L. The old bugaboo of a poor power-play reared it’s ugly head for Colorado, but they also held Vegas scoreless on the advantage. Vegas has still not scored a single power-play goal this season. But they still stole a win on the road.

Up next they have a St. Louis Blues squad that already has a dominate win against the Avalanche this season. The Avalanche were not playing with this level of precision and physicality then, which should lead to a much better showing by the home squad.

Up Next:

@ St. Louis Blues Thursday, October 28 @ 6:00 PM MST

Where to Watch:

Stream: ESPN+(w/subscription)

National: ESPN

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Colorado Avalanche Break Streak Against Lightning

The Colorado Avalanche came in amidst a 3 game losing streak. After the game they handed that baton to the defending champs in 4-3 shotout win.

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The Colorado Avalanche finished their East Coast road trip with a shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. Both teams were in a rut and came out with high energy. The Avalanche were on their first power-play barely 30 seconds into the contest. And the high-energy chippiness never waivered.

The Lightning had the right game plan, using their size and aggression against the smaller Avs squad. They outhit Colorado 43-32 and the Avalanche ended up with 7 power-plays when all was said and done. But this Colorado Avalanche squad showed the resilience and 5-on-5 dominance that took them to the President’s Trophy a year ago.

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Darcy Kuemper was able to get to a .900 save percentage on 29/32 shooting by the Lightning. The Avs have two wins so far, both have Kuemper with a .900+ save%. One of those goals would have knocked this team off-kilter during their 3-game losing streak. It was the first goal by Mathieu Joseph, his first point of the season, that he smacked out of mid-air and squabbled past a sprawled-out Darcy. It was great to see Kuemper bounce back and show some resilience after back-to-back sub-par performances and a day-off against Florida as we discussed in our preview.

Looks like Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog read the preview as well. They came into this game with 1 goal and 2 assists between them. They ended the game with 5 points, 2 goals, in this game alone. And this doesn’t include the game-saving Landy shootout goal.

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Bo Byram and Cale Makar took another step. Cale was everywhere with 2 assists and 3 hits in 34 shifts, he was also responsible for the game-winning shootout goal after an Anthony Cirelli miss. Bo showed he’s not scared of anybody giving up 30-50 pounds against players like Pat Maroon and Victor Hedman without backing down an inch. He put the league on notice, you can’t bully the kid.

Although it was nice to see old friend Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, it was better to shut him out of the boxscore outside of 1 SOG. But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the Avs. They were outshot 32-27 when it comes to SOGs. They were only 1-7 on the power-play. And they lost the face-off battle as well as being outhit as mentioned before. So there is definitely still plenty for Bednar to harp on their two off-days.

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But let’s not nitpick too much, and just enjoy the fact this squad finally showed their dominance outside of one unlucky goal in the second period as mentioned before, and a late let-down that allowed Brayden Point to score his second goal of the season at the 17:25 mark in the 3rd. In between those 2 plays, this Avs squad showed resilience and physicality that was lacking in the previous 3 matches.

It was also crappy to see Sam Girard hit the injured list after a horrible hit that should have drawn a boarding penalty. The hit was almost identical to the one that got The Captain ejected and suspended. Yet nary a whistle within earshot. But again, unlike the last three contests, this Avs squad responded and fought for the victory instead of sulking and rolling over.

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Next on the docket is division rival Las Vegas Golden Knights, that resilience will be paramount to this Avalanche team turning this much-needed victory into a winning streak.

Up Next:

vs Las Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday, October 26 @ 6:00 PM MST

Where to Watch:

Stream: ESPN+

Colorado Avalanche Continue Losing Streak in Sunrise

The Colorado Avalanche switched it up in goal for the first time this season. Unfortunately the results remained the same after 4-1 loss to Panthers.

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The Colorado Avalanche decided to go with Jonas Johansson over Darcy Kuemper to try and inject some life in this squad. Early it seemed to work as the Avs matched the Panthers’ energy through the first frame. After the Panthers took an early lead on Sam Reinhart’s first of the year at the 14:32 mark of the period. Much has been made of the non-call for icing on this play that lead to Sam Girard eating the boards hard and sending him to the locker room for evaluation. But one play should never derail a championship team. The Avalanche answered with Mikko Rantanen’s second goal of the season at the 19:06 mark. Unfortunately, this would be the only time they could manage to get the puck to the back of the net.

Sergei Bobrovsky, the Panthers’ backup goalie, looked like he belonged as a starter after stoning 30 of 31 Avs attempts. Bobrovsky was a brick wall, very few shots even hit the post. Johansson did his best to match Brobrovsky block for block. But unlike Bobrovsky’s defense, Johansson’s defense hung him out to dry like poor defensive positioning that lead to the Sam Bennet goal, his 4th, in the second period, on the power play.

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Johansson actually surpassed the .900 save% we discussed in the preview to this game with a .917 mark. But when your defense allows 38 SOG, that number becomes much less important. I couldn’t fathom a team with Bo Byram, Cal Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog could be outscored when they met the physicality of the opponent. The consistent lack of effort on the defensive end is getting concerning.

It was nice to see the Colorado Avalanche show more physicality as they tied the Panthers in hits with 26, and outpaced them 18-16 in blocks. This was a nice step forward to see, and one I want to see continue. Erik Johnson was a big part of this, leading the team with 4 hits and 26 shifts. I think if he, Jack Johnson, and Macdermid can get on the ice together consistently, this physicality will only increase,

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The biggest concern to me is their lack of oomph on the Power Play (0-3). This team was able to cover for this bugaboo last year with 5-on-5 dominance. This year, that 5-on-5 dominance is non-existent, amplifying their Power Play woes. Then you add in the poor defensive showing so far, and you have the ingredients for this start to the season.

Another concern is unlike the last 2 games where the Avalanche showed life late and brought it close before giving up an empty-net goal to end it. In this game, they couldn’t even do that. They were thoroughly dominated from the beginning of the second period forward. They made Brobrovsky look like the second coming of Dominik Hasek. I don’t want to take anything from Brobrovsky’s performance, it was masterful, but he’s not .968 save% good.

Here’s to hoping another day off gives this team time to make real adjustments, regain some energy, and come out firing on the last leg of this road trip in Tampa, Florida Saturday evening.

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Up Next:

@ Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday, October 23 @ 5:00 PM

Where to Watch:

Stream: ESPN+

Denver: AltitudeTV