Colorado Avalanche Game 1: Anatomy of the Game Winning Goal

The Colorado Avalanche are currently ahead of the Minnesota Wild 2-0 in the best of seven series, thanks to a dominating performance in game two, and an inspired come back in game one that ended when Paul Stastny scored a fantastic goal with 13.4 seconds left and then again in overtime to win. In general, there would never be a reason to address anything that had already happened, but there is too much whining coming from the Minnesota side about the game wining goal from Paul Stastny.

Minnesota beat writer, Michael Russo, is convinced Tyson Barrie took out both Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak intentionally on the winning play. His direct quote from the recap of this game was: “I just watched this play again. Barrie skated in the slot after making the pass, undercut Cooke, knocks him to the ice, and then also bowls over Brodziak. No call by either ref on undeniable interference.” Undeniable interference, okay, well that’s where we’ll jump into this.

First off, I’m sure you Avs fans never have an issue seeing this play as many times as possible, so here it is again.

So first off, at 3 seconds in the video, Tyson Barrie has the puck knocked off of his stick by Jason Pominville.

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Nothing wrong here, but here is the point where Russo’s entire argument shows up and falls apart. Russo insists that this is clear interference by Tyson Barrie. Russo is claiming that Barrie intentionally took out Matt Cooke and Brodziak, you know, the way a kid goes down a slip and slide to try and take out the feet of his friends. This argument is complete nonsense, and here is why.

Barrie, after the puck is hit off his stick, does what any offensive player trying to score a game-winning goal in overtime would do, drive to the front of the net. Matt Cooke does what any defending player trying to prevent this from happening would do, attempt to impede his path. Now, Barrie is completely unaware that Cooke is closing on him and that the two will make contact, something that is obvious to anybody who simply looks at Barrie’s head.

Here is a series of pictures just before contact is made showing exactly where Barrie is looking:

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Also notice that Cooke is slightly behind Barrie, in a blind spot.

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Both Cooke and Barrie looking right at MacKinnon. At this point, the only one of them that knows for certain any contact is going to happen, is Cooke. Next will be the moment immediately preceding contact.

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Again, both players looking directly at MacKinnon, Barrie has not changed his skating position at all. He’s trying to get to a scoring spot and didn’t see Cooke move in to take space away. Cooke might expect that Barrie would expect to be challenged, but his stagnant body position that never makes any noticeable brace for impact speaks otherwise. Russo is claiming that Barrie knew exactly what he was doing here, which is completely and totally ridiculous to anybody who is actually watching what is happening.

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Contact, clearly initiated by Cooke that takes Barrie off his feet. Cooke is leaning in on top of Barrie, though I don’t believe Cooke expected that Barrie would go down, another point in favor of a guy who didn’t know contact was coming. If Barrie had known contact was coming, as he is driving to the net, wouldn’t he keep his feet and try to create havoc going to the net? No, he clearly had the intention of falling down and being driven into Brodziak, he’s just a really good actor. Also, I defy anybody to find me a clip where Tyson Barrie takes a dive. I’ll wait, you can find me @BrgBrigadeKevin.

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The end result. Cooke’s momentum drives Barrie into Brodziak. What Wild fans, and the esteemed Mr. Russo should get cheesed about is, why was Cooke moving in to take Barrie? Brodziak had that pass lane covered, MacKinnon would have had to have made an insane pass to get the puck past both Brodin and Brodziak. Cooke’s responsibility was Paul Stastny. We all know what happens next, but let’s look at it anyways.

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MacKinnon makes a nice pass past the only stick sort of challenging him, Cooke looks back at a wide open Stastny and knows what he did wrong, but it is too late. Stastny takes a quick shot, catches Bryz by surprise and wins the game. All that’s left is the celly.

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Have a look at it all in real time again.

Barrie made an aggressive offensive move to the net that drew Matt Cooke out of his position because he wanted to stop Barrie from getting a quality scoring chance. Barrie didn’t see Cooke coming in and the two made contact. Barrie went down because Cooke had leverage on top of Barrie and forced him into Brodziak. This action took Cooke away from the only man he was actually responsible for, Paul Stastny. Stastny was left alone and only needed a good pass from MacKinnon, which he received in order to put the puck past Bryzgalov and win the game. Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

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