Tag Archives: AVALANCHE

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 21/22 Season Preview

After a disappointing exit in the 2020/2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Colorado Avalanche come into this season as the odds-on favorite to win it all. Did they do enough to come through?

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The Colorado Avalanche start the 2021/2022 season with a new look. Between the Expansion Draft for the Seattle Kraken, Free Agency, and the Amatuer Draft. The Avalanche have a new goaltender, and a new look defense. The acquisition of Darcy Kuemper from rival Arizona Coyotes was one that grabbed headlines. But the acquisition of big winger Kurtis MacDermid and his 6’5″ 233 lb. frame will add a lot of heft to the Avalanche lineup. He won’t add much scoring with only 6 goals in 118 games played. But that’s the last thing the Colorado Avalanche need.

With Nathan Mackinnon (despite COVID issues), retaining Gabriel Landeskog, and moving Valeri Nichuskin to the 2nd line will provide all the offense they need. What cost the Avalanche in the 2020/2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs was that they couldn’t match the Vegas Golden Knights physicality. Once Zach Whitecloud and Co. hunkered down and started hitting Colorado in a way they weren’t used to, the Avalanche rolled right over.

Below is the full Colorado Avalanche Roster:

Courtesy Yahoo! Sports

Joe Sakic continued to show an ability to look internally, find the problem, and create a solution. He moved deftly through all 3 major phases of the offseason with ease and has been recognized for it nationally. It looks like the Colorado Avalanche are back to relevance. From the aformentioned move to get MacDermid for a fourth-rounder 2 years from now (2023). Retaining The Captain Landeskog for a manageable $56 million over 8 years, pretty much ensuring the 28-yr. old retires in the maroon and blue.

Obviously with a hard salary cap you can’t keep everybody, and losing Brandon Saad, Ryan Graves, and Philip Grubauer hurts. And regardless of Grubauer having a shaky start for the Kraken against Vegas on opening night, you can’t help but thing Darcy Kuemper is a slight downgrade while Pavel Francouz is out with an injury to start the season. Graves and Saad brought a veteran presence/attitude you will miss. But again MacDermid and more Bo Byram will help salve that wound.

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So all in all, Sakic either kept the same level of talent, or upgraded pretty much every where a loss was suffered. You still have the star power of Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Cale Makar. Then you have the tight rope walker in Nazem Kadri. And also you have the depth in J.T. Compher, Nichushkin, Tyson Jost, and so many more. This team is primed for a title run if the goaltending is just middle of the road. Hence Sakic choosing to keep Landy over Gru.

I know I said Kuemper was a slight downgrade, and he is. But he is cheaper and competent, that’s all this team needs. Once Francouz comes off the injured list, the depth doesn’t really worry me either. I worry about Jonas Johansson taking on an expanded role, but Kuemper/Francouz I can trust to play steady and not lose a game for you. Kuemper will even mix in some absolute gems as many Avalanche fans can attest too. Here’s how they stack up:

Grubauer: .923 save percentage, 2.29 goals against average over nine seasons.

Kuemper: .917 save percentage, 2.72 goals against average over nine seasons.

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So the biggest question mark on this roster is a small one. If Francouz can get and stay healthy. If Kuemper goes down for any extended period of time, then this will transform into a huge one. As for offense, this is the reigning NHL scoring champion, it’s what got them to the dance. The lack of size and physicality is what cost them the ultimate prize and allowed Vegas to take their place in the finals and the Lightning to repeat.

This year has a new feeling, maybe its the new faces? Maybe it’s the simple high that a new season of hockey gives fans when Opening Night approaches? But I, as with all Mile High Hockey fans, can’t help but be optimisitic. Sakic closed the open wounds with surgical precision, Landy and Mack are back, Cale and Bo are set to take the next step, and Sam and Kurtis look to bring to the wood. How can you not be ready for October 13, 2021 at Ball Arena?

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Season predictions below:

Record:

58-20

Leading Scorer:

Nathan MacKinnon

Team MVP:

Gabriel Landeskog

Top Rookie:

Bo Byram

Most Improved Player:

Valeri Nichushkin

Best Offseason Acquisition:

Kurtis MacDermid

Awards Won:

Nathan MacKinnon Hart Trophy

Cale Makar Norris Trophy

Bo Byram Calder Trophy

Season Ends:

With a parade.

Avalanche Toss Hats: Take Lead in West

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Bury Wild 6-0

When the game started the Colorado Avalanche had a season 2-2 record after their 5-1 beating of the Minnesota Wild on Thursday in Ball Arena.

Then they entered the Saturday matinee matchup picking right up where they left off beating the Wild 6-0. And Grubauer must have taken that one goal given up personally as he stopped all 31 shots sent his way.  It all started at 16:45 to go in the 1st-period as the Avalanche got their 1st Power-Play of the game. Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche scored on a wrister from the high slot at 15:47 to go in the 1st, bouncing off the left post and in.

Watch just how sweet it was from the kid courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

Gabriel Landeskog scored the 2nd goal of the game and first of 3 points on the night at 8:47 left in 1st. Even though Landy got a little handsy almost brushing his top-shelf shot off the goalie’s shoulder before inertia took it to the net on its own. As a result, Nathan MacKinnon got an assist on his way to his own 3-point game. As well as Cale Makar’s 2nd point in his own multi-point contest:

Watch below courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

The first true scoring chance for the Wild came with 5:37 to go in the 1st when they were able to uncork 2 shots on goal with bodies falling everywhere in front of the crease. Philipp Grubauer was able to stone both attempts though. As a result, Clearing the zone on the second with a poke check save. Their only other real opportunity came At 7:06 to go in the 3rd. But yet again Gru makes 2 consecutive saves as bodies fall in all directions and wearing both colors.

The Wild got a Power Play at the 5-minute mark in the 1st. The Avalanche killed it with 4 amazing saves by Gru. Including a fully sprawled-out superman rejection while diving from the left side of the crease to the right. There was no doubt from the opening whistle just how much this game meant in the standings as calm aggression seemed to permeate the roster. With this win, the Avs were able to crawl their way into 2nd place in the West Division. Just 3 points behind the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Listen to Gru discuss the performance in his post-game interview courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

After yet another penalty kill and more aggressive play to close the first the Avalanche lead the wild 2-0. Then the 2nd period started and the onslaught commenced. Mikko Rantanen at just over a minute into the 2nd scored with the assist of the crossbar and post. The assist went to Grubauer for his 2nd of the season. This tied him for the most ever by an Avalanche goaltender with Calvin Pickard who accomplished the feat in the 2016-17 season.

Watch below to see how a goalie gets points courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

Then just 21 seconds later Tyson Jost gets in on the action as he sends a one-timer to the back of the net putting the Avs up 4-0. The Wild barely showed any fight after this goal. Landeskog took a penalty at 4:41 to go in the 2nd, the Wild’s third Power Play of the game. The Avalanche continued their show of synergy and calm aggression as they killed it with suffocating pressur. With a couple of “easy” saves by Gru thrown in. The Avalanche allowed only 2 shots on goal or less on all 4 Penalty Kills.

At 1:13 left in the 2nd-period Devin Toews took a cross-pass from Nathan MacKinnon and chipped the puck off the left post and in. This appeared to be the dagger that seemed to suck all life out of Minnesota.. Therefore the assist went to MacKinnon after nifty skating at the offensive blue line opened a hole he exploited with said pass to Toews who was trailing perfectly. Avs 5, Wild 0 after 2 periods of hockey.

Colorado Avalanche Gear

There must be something with Colorado and Kaapo Kähkönen. As the only 2 games he has given up at least 5 goals have come this season against the Avalanche. The last coming in their matchup on January 30th of this year. But the Avalanche gave the Wild a chance to get back in it as Nichuskin took a penalty with .3 seconds left in the 2nd.

Which means the Avalanche began period 3 on the penalty kill. The Av’s did not allow a shot on goal during penalty kill. Putting the Wild at 0-3 on Power Plays for the night at that point. Then just a few minutes later at 15:07 to go in the 3rd period, the 6th goal is scored by Valeri Nichushkin after some strong skating up the left side of the rink and a sweet flick over the pad to the back of the net.

Watch the poetry in motion courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:

On the ensuing face-off Joseph Cramarossa gets a 10 min major and ejected for slashing JT Compher. This would not end the penalty chances for both teams for the night. Greenway of the Wild would get a 2:00 minor at 10:00 to go in the 3rd of no consequence. Even though Minnesota had 4 PP’s to Colorado’s 2. The Wild outpaced the Avalanche in penalty minutes 14-8 thanks to this indiscretion. With Colorado leaving the contest with the only PPG. As the NHL’s 2nd ranked penalty kill (Avs at 87.1%) showed its strength once again.

All in all the Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild 6-0, with all 6 goals coming from 6 different scorers. And outscored them 11-1 overall in the 2-game set. You wouldn’t know the Minnesota Wild were riding a 5-game winning streak coming into the 2-game set this past Thursday night. After the thrashing they were handed by this ascending roster you may assume they were a bottom dweller. Not the 2nd place team in the division coming in.

Notes:

The Colorado Avalanche offense that is currently ranked 13th in Goals For (91) and 13th in Power Play % (23.5) is heating up and can easily climb into the top-10 with just couple more performances like tonight. And add in the 3rd best defense in Goals Against (65, all numbers courtesy of Yahoo! Sports) and a red-hot goalie on a 6-game win streak coming off a shutout that came with an assist. Therefore the rest of the league better take notice over the second-half of the season. As the Avalanche has begun, with nothing to even slow it in the way it seems.

Avalanche have an off-day Sunday before taking on the Arizona Coyotes in a back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday 7:00 PM MST and 7:30 PM MST respectively.

You can tune in on Altitude TV or Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 for the broadcast. Check local listings.