Archive for Game Recaps

Game 62 Recap: Avs Drop Tough One In Vancouver

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This game was really only one story. The Avalanche were pretty much the better team in virtually every single way, but Ryan Miller stoned the Avalanche left, right, center, diagonally and any other possible way that you can think of. The Avalanche simply could not buy a goal despite owning the action through the vast majority of the game. The chances that Vancouver got, they somehow found a way in, just one of those games that is hard to take.

Game Thoughts

The Avalanche had 27 shots on goal after the end of the second period. They just didn’t get any of the bounces, at all.

Matt Duchene got his 26th goal of the season with just under one minute left in the game, nullifying the shutout.

The 5-1 score does not do justice to the type of game this was. It happens though. I’ll take this kind of effort from the Avalanche any day of the week. Just a really frustrating game to watch.

Game 61 Recap: Barrie Powers Avs to Win

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The Avalanche started out after the All Star Break by stumbling, again, but came into tonight’s game with the chance to make it four wins in their last five games. This was also Colorado’s first look at Connor McDavid, and the Avalanche would not disappoint. Here is your Game 61 Recap.

Period 1

The Avalanche got things going straight from the beginning and controlled the action from the word go. They had several long shifts with sustained offensive pressure in the Edmonton zone, possessing the puck and forcing every member of the Oiler team to work for every inch. Despite the impressive possession early in the game, the Avalanche gave up the first goal of the game after Calvin Pickard made a couple good saves in a row, but the team in front of him was unable to clear the rebounds. Eventually, Taylor Hall found a rebound and deposited the puck top-shelf.

The Avalanche would respond quickly, though, continuing to own the puck possession time and creating offensive chances. Blake Comeau picked up a rebound off a shot from Tyson Barrie and made a quick pass in front to John Mitchell. Cam Talbot had committed to Comeau, and Mitchell slammed the puck home to tie the game.

The Avalanche continued to own the play, with very little exception, for the rest of the period. No more goals would be scored and the game would go to the first intermission tied, 1-1.

Period 2

The Avalanche came out hot in the second period and didn’t wait long to extend their lead off some excellent passing. Straight from the defensive zone, the Avalanche broke out of the zone and Mikhail Grigorenko gained the blue line easily. He fed to Matt Duchene, who dropped for Jarome Iginla, who snapped it right to Tyson Barrie who poked it through Talbot’s 5-hole to put the Avalanche up 2-1.

The Avalanche did an excellent job in all three zone throughout the game, and you could tell Edmonton was frustrated, as they tried to turn the game into a skating contest. The Avalanche simply wouldn’t have it and did a good job dictating the pace of the game. Both teams got a couple of power play opportunities in the second period, including about 1:20 of a 5 on 3 for the Avalanche, but nobody was able to score another goal. The Avalanche futility on the 5 on 3 continues.

2-1 after two periods.

Period 3

The Avalanche continued to play excellent hockey at the start of the third period. Just about four minutes into the third period, the Avalanche took advantage of another long shift with a great deal of sustained, offensive pressure. After some good cycling, Alex Tanguay got Tyson Barrie the puck as he crossed into the zone. Barrie saw a little bit of skating space and took it, and put a shot right through a great screen from Nathan MacKinnon to give the Avalanche a two goal lead.

Edmonton thought they got back to within one for a moment, but Taylor Hall had gone directly through Calvin Pickard in the crease, knocking him down and out of the way and the goal was disallowed. The play also withstood a coaches challenge. Edmonton did manage to get within one goal after Edmonton had pulled their goalie with just over four minutes left in the game. That was as close as they would get, however, as the Avalanche skated out of Edmonton with a 3-2 win.

Game Thoughts

So many positive things to say about tonight. It has been a while since we saw the Avalanche play a team beneath them in the standings and just dominate them. Yes, the game was 3-2, but the Avalanche were clearly the better team throughout the night. They possessed the puck, put the puck to the net and drove the front of the net. Haven’t seen them own the play like this in a long time.

Tyson Barrie had three points (2 goals, 1 assist) and was absolutely everywhere tonight. He’s up to 40 points on the season and needs to have more nights like this. When Barrie is making a big impact on the game, the Avalanche are winning, it’s pretty much as simple as that. It’s hard to make it clear exactly how important that scoring from the blue line is to a team, but it’s huge.

The Avalanche did a good job on Connor McDavid tonight. He did have a point, a secondary assist, but the Avalanche really did neutralize him. He’s a strong player, but the Avs did a good job of playing him physically and forcing him to make choices fast.

5 on 3 power play futility is just scary. Team is 0-12 now on the season but at least this one you could look at it and kinda feel as if the Avalanche got robbed. They had several good chances, Talbot had to make a few good saves and got a lucky break when Barrie hit a post. Still no goal, but at least that one had some kind of offense instead of nothing but bad passes and mysteriously losing pucks for no reason.

Avs have won 4 of their last 5 games and are continuing to play excellent hockey on the road. They play again tomorrow night in Vancouver, but I feel like they should still have some pretty decent legs as they didn’t really have the fast, intense, punishing game tonight. About the last four minutes of the game were the only time that looked a bit tiring for the team.

Record

31-26-4 (66 points)

Colorado plays again tomorrow night in Vancouver against the Canucks. Puck will drop 8 PM Mountain Time.

DU Pioneers Sweep Second Ranked North Dakota

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After a barn-burner of a game the night before, the DU Pioneers came into Saturday night’s game looking to do what most people only dream about, sweep North Dakota. It would be impossible to expect the same type of frenetic chaos that engulfed last night’s game from start to finish, but we still saw two of the country’s best programs pushing each other from start to finish.

Period 1

As was the custom in each of the three periods from last night, North Dakota really came out and owned the play early in the game, earning the first six shots on goal. DU found their legs and stunned UND with a goal on only their second shot of the game. Once again it was the Pioneer top line that found possession and cycled very well. Danton Heinen fed Dylan Gambrell in the low slot and he rifled the puck top shelf on the glove side to give DU the early lead.

Just 30 seconds after, however, UND tied the game on a nice shot from Austin Poganski. Jaillet thought he had the angle, but Pognanski found a way to take a bad angle shot and beat Jaillet far side over the glove.

From this point on, the pace of the game slowed down a great deal. Both teams forced the other to work very hard coming through the neutral zone and were both excellent at exiting their zones when the other team was forced to dump the puck in. Last night’s track meet turned into a chess match tonight. Period ended tied at 1.

Period 2

The chess match continued, with Denver getting much better of the game of wits tonight. DU’s possession was greatly improved in what was definitely their best period of the weekend. The Pioneers gave UND no time or space and forced them to earn every inch. The frustration of the Fighting Hawks was definitely apparent, and continued when Jarid Lukosevicius (excellent hockey name) was fed a beautiful pass from Gabe Levin in the slot. He had time to load his shot and pick his spot and went bar down to give DU a lead they would never relinquish.

DU earned several additional opportunities, but UND goaltender Cam Johnson stood tall and didn’t let the Pioneers stretch their lead. DU squandered multiple odd man rush opportunities, including a 3 on 1 where they didn’t get a shot on goal, and a couple of power play opportunities. They were letting UND hang around, something you generally can’t do with one of the best and most talented teams in the country. 2-1 Pioneers after two periods.

Period 3

North Dakota owned this period from start to finish, at least from a possession stand point. The DU Pioneers did an excellent job keeping the vast majority of the shots to the outside. North Dakota had three power play opportunities in the period and put several shots towards the net. The Pioneers, however, did a great job blocking shots and making sure that UND got no second chance opportunities. Those that did get through, Tanner Jaillet stopped with ease.

With just about 4 minutes left in the game, Colorado Avalanche prospect Will Butcher made an amazing pass from between his own face-off circles to spring Trevor Moore on a breakaway at the opposing blue line. Moore froze Johnson and then slipped the puck five-hole to give DU the insurance they were looking for.

An additional penalty, late in the game, allowed North Dakota an opportunity to pull their goaltender for a 6 on 4 advantage. DU’s penalty kill was strong, giving noting easy to North Dakota. As the power play expired, a puck pin-balled off of about 3 players and started to find its way into Jaillet’s net, but Nolan Zajac dove behind his goaltender and cleared the puck away, killing UND’s hopes of a comeback. Dylan Gambrell later added his second goal of the game on an empty net to put the game on ice. 4-1 victory for DU.

Notes and Quotes

DU’s top line of Danton Heinen, Dylan Gambrell and Trevor Moore were outstanding this weekend. They scored eight of DU’s 10 goals from this weekend. “When they are on, they’re unstoppable.” Said coach Jim Montgomery. “That’s one of the best defensive cores (North Dakota) in the league and they weren’t able to stop them.”

Just watching tonight’s game, I truly believed that this was the best defensive effort from the DU Pioneers all season. They blocked shots, were on all UND players and forced them to make quick decisions all night long, helped clear rebounds and got out of the zone well all night long. Asked if he thought it was the team’s best defensive game of the season, Coach Montgomery said,

“Quickly, I’d say yes. I just loved, especially in the third period playing against a team that was pushing at us; our layers, our physicality and our ability to be five guys in the picture and make plays off of that was really good.”

Will Butcher might not have been noticeable much of this weekend, but this time it was in the best possible way. Butcher played some of his best defensive hockey all season over the last two nights and punctuated it with that outstanding pass to Moore in the third period.

“I loved the way he played. I talked to him after the first period, thought he was trying to force too much. I told him to just trust his brains, poise and make the plays when they were there. And those couple passes to Trevor up the middle, that’s what he’s great at.”

DU will face Colorado College next weekend in the Battle for the Gold Pan. In what is a bit of a change in scheduling, DU plays in Colorado Springs on Thursday night and will play outdoors at Coors Field on Saturday. Coach Montgomery knows about the added challenge that comes after a big win against such a fantastic opponent.

“We don’t really have a rink to practice on to help us (for the big ice in the World Arena). I don’t think we really play great there, since I’ve been here. I hope that through the experience we’ve gained and through what we preach and talk about that we’ll able to be ready. It sets up as a trap game.

On the experience the Pioneers will have in the outdoor game and what he’s looking forward to.

“The experience and seeing our players be able to focus and play Denver hockey in a different kind of environment. It’s like the NCAA Tournament, there’s a lot of stuff going on around you and can you focus and hone in? It’s like the Hoosiers movie when they get to Indianapolis and he measures the basketball and the basket. It’s the same with us, it’s still gonna be 200 x 85 feet, there’ll be two nets on there, two blue lines and we just gotta go play hockey.

I loved that answer.

I’ll be very interested to see how the polls reward DU for their huge wins this weekend. Until next week ladies and gentleman!

DU Pioneer Game Recap: Thriller vs. North Dakota

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The DU Pioneers have been trending in the right direction for several weeks now. The games have been improving and the team has been picking up its play after a big stumble in the middle of the year. Tonight, DU got a shot at some retribution against a team than sent them tumbling early in the season, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. What played out was one of, if not the best hockey games I have ever witnessed.

Period 1

The DU Pioneers seemed a little shaky at the start of the game. They were just coming off of a bye week and seemed to be a combination of rusty and also nervous against the second-ranked team in the country. Some early turnovers led to some early chances for North Dakota and, as any coach will tell you, when you give a good team like that too many chances, they’ll make you pay. North Dakota did that just before the six minute mark of the period when DU had a pretty soft clearing attempt that was immediately turned back into their zone. Christian Wolanin, son of former Colorado Avalanche player Craig Wolanin, was the late player on a 4 on 3 rush and he ripped a shot through Tanner Jaillet’s 5-hole to give UND an early lead.

DU would respond, however, and quickly. After being scored on, the Pioneers found their legs and quickly began to realize that they could skate with North Dakota, and you could see their confidence begin to rise. After some excellent forechecking, Nolan Zajac grabbed a loose puck and threw it at the net. The puck was redirected through a ton of traffic by Grant Arnold to level the game a one goal apiece.

Both teams began to exchange counter punches, each looking for the other to make the mistaken. The pace was furious, the hits were hard and the game just kept going. No more goals were scored in the first period, and it was tied 1-1 after one.

Period 2

North Dakota again came out firing and dominated the early play in the period. But DU managed to weather the furious forecheck and heavy hits from the Fighting Hawks. The Pioneers would then strike quickly and unexpectedly right off a seemingly innocent face-off play. Danton Heinen actually lost the draw, but hustled through the UND players and across the goal mouth to win possession of the puck. All eyes were on him and he immediately fed the puck back to a waiting Trevor Moore who tapped the puck into an open net to give DU a 2-1 lead.

Moore would find the puck on his stick in a prime scoring area again, as he led a 2 on 1 break into the zone. This time, however, Moore tried an ill-advised pass that was broken up and immediately sprung North Dakota on a 3 on 1 the other way. Some smooth passing saw Troy Stetch even the game at two goals apiece.

DU was not intimidated, however, and showed their resilience, yet again. Just two minutes later, Trevor Moore immediately atoned for his missed opportunity on his last shift. Heinen and Moore provided a beautiful cycle, playing keep-away with the puck. Adam Plant snuck in on the back side and Moore found him with a dart of a pass through the low slot and across the goal mouth, putting DU back on top by a goal.

Both teams continued to push the pace at each other, trading opportunities and body checks. This was truly the heavyweight battle everybody expected. The period ended with DU holding a 3-2 lead.

Period 3

North Dakota, once again, came out of the period flying and dominated the play. They spent the first minute and a half in DU’s zone, putting on an absolute clinic on cycling. It ended up with the puck on Brock Boeser’s stick, and he tied the game at three.

DU, once again, battled back. It would have been easy to just allow themselves to be overwhelmed by what many consider to be the best team in the country, but they took North Dakota’s best punch and then put them on the mat with theirs. In an outstanding breakout, rush, DU broke out from behind their net and flew through the neutral zone. Danton Heinen and Trevor Moore connected on a perfect give-and-go, setting Heinen up right between the face-off dots. Heinen unloaded a monster of a shot and gave DU the lead again.

DU had found their life and began to dominate play more and more. In a period that appeared as if no penalties would be called, two were suddenly called back to back. DU had a brief power play, and then Nolan Zajac took a penalty, allowing a brief 4 on 4, then a UND power play. Just as UND was going on the power play, Quentin Shore began what he thought would be a great rush, but was nearly crushed by the UND player exiting the penalty box. Danton Heinen out-hustled everybody to the puck and noticed that Shore was inexplicably alone in the slot all by himself. He fed Shore the puck, who went bar-down for a shorthanded goal to give DU a two-goal lead.

This would be short-lived, as UND took advantage of a bad change on the PK from DU on their next shift, and Nick Schmaltz brought UND back to within one goal as the teams traded goals.

DU remained composed, however, and kept North Dakota from evening the game with a combination of outstanding shot-blocking, and big saves from Tanner Jaillet. Eventually the puck would be cleared and Trevor Moore, who easily could have put home the empty net goal himself, moved the puck to Danton Heinen, who slammed the puck home for his second goal, and fifth point of the night.

DU earned a 6-4 win against mighty North Dakota in a thrilling game from start to finish.

Game Thoughts

There are just too many things to say about this game, so I’m going to boil it down to a couple thoughts.

1) Danton Heinen and Trevor Moore played an unbelievable game tonight, put DU on their shoulders and won the game. They were impeccable. It was poetry watching the way these two found each other all night.

2) North Dakota’s CBS line was equally amazing and, if not for some timely saves, might have evened this game late.

3) This could have been the best game that I’ve ever seen. It was fast, hard-hitting, intense, filled with amazing skill, showcased several spectacular goals, had your heart racing until the very end. It had absolutely everything.

4) What are these two teams going to do for an encore tomorrow?!

 

Game 57 Recap: Avalanche Special Teams Power Ugly Win

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After a dismal home stand right after the All Star Break that saw the Avalanche go 0-3-1, the Avalanche started back on the road to play an Ottawa team that played the night before. The Avalanche looked to see if their road success could help them salvage a stretch of very bad hockey. Here is your Game 57 Recap.

Period 1

The Avalanche were very sloppy to start the game, again. Several opportunities were simply given to the Senators early in the game and, lucky for the Avalanche, Ottawa was unable to capitalize on them. The Avalanche caught a break when Andreas Martinsen took a stick to the face, which put the Avalanche on the power play for four minutes. The Avalanche would spend the vast majority of the four minutes in the offensive zone and absolutely peppered the Ottawa goaltender with shots. Just before the second power play ended, the Avalanche caught a break. Tyson Barrie took a big shot from the point that was blocked but fell right onto Blake Comeau’s stick. Comeau put it off the far post but the puck took a favorable bounce and found Jarome Iginla found the puck. Hammond attempted to dive across to stop Iginila, who turned and shot and banked the puck off Hammond’s glove and in.

The Avalanche ended a sloppy first period with the lead, 1-0.

Period 2

The second period started off much better for the Avalanche, who actually played pretty well through the first 10-15 minutes of this period. Early in the period, Matt Duchene drew a penalty with some outstanding hard work down in the corner that put the Avalanche back on the power play. Ottawa thought they had a shorthanded chance coming, but it quickly turned into a botched play and bad change as the Avalanche quickly transitioned and earned a 4 on 2 break. Carl Soderberg dropped the puck to Nathan MacKinnon who sniped Hammond top shelf to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead.

Andreas Martinsen drew another penalty later in the period and the Avalanche quickly took advantage. Jarome Iginla rifled a one-timer into the net to give the Avalanche a 3-0 lead.

With a three goal lead, it’s smooth sailing right? Wrong. Ottawa converted two power play chances as the period ended and the Avalanche appeared as if they were beginning to wilt under the pressure. 3-2 Avs after two.

Period 3

The Avalanche fought hard to try and keep Ottawa to the outside, but had issues. They continued to play sloppy hockey in their own zone and just gave pucks away, creating more chances against than anything. They did manage to calm things down a bit as the period went away, and killed another penalty before Blake Comeau put home an empty net goal that would eventually be the difference. Seconds after the empty netter, another defensive lapse allowed Ottawa to pull back within one goal, but the Avalanche survived with a 4-3 victory.

Game Thoughts

The Avalanche are an incredibly frustrating team to watch. They go through stretches where they alternate between playing very solid, structured hockey and then switch to looking like they have only played beer league hockey. Sometimes within the same game. They’re going to have to find a way to be more consistent if they want to make the playoffs.

Tyson Barrie is one of the worst offenders at this and he was at it again tonight. Early in the game he made one of the worst turnovers I’ve ever seen, basically setting up an Ottawa player for a one-timer with a horrid pass from behind his own net. He calmed down and then ended up with two assists, but man, he can make some terrible decisions sometimes.

Good for Iggy getting a couple goals tonight. Always nice to get production from him because it usually means that the power play is doing well, too.

Duchene didn’t have any points tonight, but he had a very good game. I’m expecting Dutchy to put a couple in here very soon and crack that thirty goal mark.

Record

28-25-4 (60 points)

The Avalanche will play in Detroit tomorrow night, puck will drop at 5:30 PM Mountain Time.

Game 55 Recap: Avs Lose to Gutless Jets

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The Colorado Avalanche have not played well since the All Star Break. The team has been slow, refuses to shoot the puck and incredibly sloppy defensively. The Avalanche got a gift in the scheduling gods by getting a very frustrated Winnipeg team on the second half of a back to back while being rested and playing at home. Everything set up well for the Avalanche, but making it happen still seems to be a struggle for this team. Here is your Game 55 Recap.

Period 1

The Avalanche came out pretty strong early in the game, looking as if they were going to be able to take advantage of a tired Jets team. The Avalanche got an early power play and took advantage, doing the simple things. Iginla shot the puck at the net with a lot of bodies in front. The puck didn’t get through, but there was a big juicy rebound. Mikhail Grigorenko made a sweet little move to pull the puck around a couple players and buried the first goal of the game.

From there, it was all downhill. The Avalanche stopped skating, stopped passing, stopped hitting, stopped shooting, stopped playing hockey. Semyon Varlamov, making his first start since his civil trial, allowed the first goal by clearing a puck from in front of him directly to the Jets player who shot it into the open net. All of this began when Erik Johnson made a terrible turnover behind his own net while the Jets were making a change. There was no excuse to the turnover, and it led directly to the goal. A game that should have been 1-0 after one, was 1-1.

Period 2

Some of the worst hockey I have watched the Avalanche play in a long time. They spent most of the period in their defensive zone, were behind the play in every sense of the word and then took a penalty because they were just chasing the puck. On the power play, the Jets scored, but Andrew Ladd made a bit of contact with Varlamov. Enough to make Patrick Roy challenge the play. The play was upheld and Patrick Roy lost his mind, screaming at the refs and earning another penalty for the team. Things quickly evened out when Winnipeg took a penalty eight seconds into their power play.

Roy’s outburst seemed to ignite one line, as Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene kept the pressure on the Jets the entire rest of the night while they were on the ice. Andrew Bodnarchuk took a would-be clearing attempt and quickly got it down to Matt Duchene who willed the puck into the smallest opening and brought the Avalanche back to within one.

Despite a pathetic period, the Avalanche were only down one going into the third period.

Period 3

The Jets basically gooned up the third period, displaying what a trash team they are at heart. The Avs gave up another goal and did nothing really to jump back into the game. All in all, a terrible effort from an Avs team that is supposedly “fighting” for a playoff spot.

Game Thoughts

The effort from the Avalanche in this game was completely inexcusable. No energy until it was far too late. Sloppy, terrible turnovers, it’s like they forgot how to play hockey. It was a pathetic effort from the Avalanche against a team they are better than who was on the second half of a back to back set. No excuse to be that flat and be completely dominated all game.

John Mitchell played like absolute crap tonight. It was by far the worst game I’ve seen him play in a long time. Every time he touched the puck, he turned it over. Whenever his line was on the ice, they were hemmed in for 2 minutes or more. It was awful.

The officiating in this game was so horrendous. I honestly can’t even think of a word to use that will adequately describe how bad the officials were. They are not the reason that the Avalanche lost tonight, by any stretch of the imagination, but they certainly had an impact on the game, especially in how completely dirty the Jets ended up playing. Too much leeway was given early, and then you have Dustin Byfuglien using a linesman as a shield as he throws punches at Landeskog. They let the game get out of hand very early and should be disciplined for their pathetic display of officiating tonight.

Final thoughts, the Winnipeg Jets are a trash team. Nothing personifies Dustin Byfuglien’s game more than the way he waited for a ref to get there before dropping gloves and throwing punches. Pathetic. Lots of right crosses to the face several seconds after whistles, because the officials made it clear that was okay. Gutless team.

Record

27-24-4 (58 points)

The Avalanche play next on Tuesday night at 7 PM Mountain Time. Must be better, no excuses.

Game 54 Recap: Avs Blow Late Lead, Pick Up 1 Point in OT Loss.

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Another game, another divisional opponent, another night when teams that were chasing the Avalanche lost games in regulation tonight. This was another HUGE opportunity to put some space between themselves and the rest of the pack. They got part of the job done, but not quite enough, here is your Game 54 Recap.

Period 1

This was an ugly start to the game as the Avalanche gave up the first goal of the game as everybody just got caught chasing the puck and not playing defense. The first goal did seem to wake the Avalanche up a little bit and they responded well. Carl Soderberg managed to corral a tough pass that came his way and make a sweet little move around a Stars defender at the blue line. He then passed off to Blake Comeau, streaking down the left wing, who sniped the puck far side from a very difficult angle to tie the game at one.

Not long after, the Avalanche continued to push and were quickly rewarded. Matt Duchene did some strong work below the net to fend off Stars defenders while maintaining control of the puck. A couple quick passes got the puck up to Nick Holden, who just threw the puck at the net. Everybody else began to crash the net and the puck somehow got through. Niemi had no chance and never saw the shot. Avs up 2-1.

Period 2

The second period was pretty terrible for the Avalanche, with very few exceptions. For about nine of the first 10 minutes of the period, Dallas controlled the puck in the offensive zone almost totally uncontested. Somehow, Calvin Pickard kept the Avalanche ahead, until a bad line change sent Ales Hemsky in by himself. He sniped Pickard’s glove and tied the game. The Avalanche responded immediately off an amazing play from Blake Comeau who made an unbelievable pass to Carl Soderberg. I cannot even describe the pass, so I’ll just let you see it.

The Avalanche scored again about a minute later, but the goal was called back with clear goaltender interference on Andreas Martinsen.

Period 3

The third period turned into a penalty and cheap shot show. The Stars were playing desperate and incredibly dirty, yet the Avalanche only got one power play off of several cheap and late plays. A power play that was squandered when Blake Comeau took a penalty. On Dallas’ ensuing power play, a lack of communication, and Tyson Barrie doing his best to screen the goalie, allowed Dallas to tie the game. Regulation ended 3-3.

Overtime

The Avalanche did not last long in overtime after Tyson Barrie, who was just brutal tonight, turned the puck over trying to be too cute at his offensive blue line and sprung Dallas on a 3 on 1 break. He then did nothing to force Klingberg to make any type of decision and allowed him to unleash a huge shot from just below the face-off circle. Pickard never had a chance. Avs lose 4-3, but do gain a point.

Game Thoughts

I really only have a couple of thoughts. First, defense is starting to look more and more like it did at the beginning of the season, and that is not a good thing. The team needs to get back to working and figure this out again because they look terrible right now.

Tyson Barrie played the worst game that he has played in a couple of seasons tonight. He was just terrible. There is really no other way to put it. His decision making, especially, was terrifyingly bad.

Soderberg’s line continues to be excellent. Despite Comeau’s penalty (which frankly I thought was a bad call. This is hockey for crying out loud), he was very good. Capped by that unbelievable pass to Soderberg. Landy was a force tonight, as well. He didn’t have a point but he was everywhere and guys were noticing when he was on the ice.

Offense still going through stretches where they just don’t want to shoot the puck and I don’t get it. The Avalanche have had their greatest success when they just pound the puck on the net and they just aren’t do it. I don’t get it and it bugs me that these players, who struggle so mightily when they aren’t getting the puck on the net, just stop shooting for long stretches. I don’t get it.

Record

27-23-4. Avs play next Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets. Puck drops at 8 PM Mountain Time.

Game 53 Recap: Avs Can’t Find a Point vs. Hawks.

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With 30 games left in the regular season, the Colorado Avalanche find themselves in the top wild card spot in the highly contested Western Conference. It’s time to start putting some distance between the you and the guys behind you, and the Avalanche had an opportunity to do that tonight, an opportunity that would go wasted. Here is your Game 53 Recap.

Period 1

Things did not get off to a good start for the Avalanche who, once again, had to deal without Semyon Varlamov. While Calvin Pickard has played admirably in Varlamov’s absence, Pickard was the victim of two unfortunate bounces early. One where a Blackhawk player managed to bat a puck that had bounced a couple feet in the air in front of him, and another that went off an Avalanche players’ stick as he was breaking up a 2-on-1 down low. At the same time, the Avalanche just seemed to be very off and clearly affected by the long break, an all-too-common theme. At one point the Avalanche were being outshot in the first period by a total of 13-2. Luckily for the Avalanche, that second shot was a beauty of a shot from Gabriel Landeskog, who suddenly had the puck on his stick in the low slot and rifled it past Corey Crawford.

Avs had a late flurry towards the end of the period, but could not convert, 2-1 Hawks after one.

Period 2

For lack of a better term, this was just a plain sloppy period by the Avalanche, at least offensively. Chicago got a lot of shots, but they didn’t really do too much that was dangerous, and the few things that were dangerous Pickard managed to snuff out. The Avalanche continued to not gain shots and the ones that they did get weren’t on target. The team was fighting the puck in a big way and it was obvious.

Period 3

The Avalanche finally woke up in this period and began peppering Crawford with shots. Crawford was a combination of very good and incredibly lucky, not allowing the Avalanche to get anything by him. Several late flurries, including a glorious chance for Landeskog, were thwarted and the Avalanche dropped their first game after the All-Star Break.

Game Thoughts

Best game from Landy in a while. Nice to see him string a couple good performances together, even though the last game was nearly a week ago. If Landy gets going, that will be huge for the team.

Last game for a while without Varly. Picks has done well, but Varly is our guy and is going to have to be down the stretch! Hopefully the many days off for the civil trial have him rested and in good spirits, with a favorable result for him, when he gets back.

Jarome Iginla looks old and out of place next to Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene. Dutchy had some good chemistry with him last season, especially down the stretch, but Iggy has definitely lost a step or three and really holds that line back. You need to have three strong guys on your top unit and with Iggy right now, it just looks like two guys and a walker (maybe that can be a new movie?).

Just a bad effort tonight, but since it was right after a long break where most of them didn’t play or practice for the majority of the time, I’ll give them a pass on this one. Next one, though, they have to be better, plain and simple. Only real positive of the night was that none of the teams behind the Avalanche won, so yay for that.

Record

27-23-3

The Avalanche will play next on Thursday night vs. the Dallas Stars. Puck will drop at 7 PM Mountain Time.

DU Game Recap: Pios Sweep Duluth in Chippy Game 2

Kevin Goff | Burgundy Brigade

Kevin Goff | Burgundy Brigade

The DU Pioneers have been surging of late. They came into Saturday night’s game on a seven game unbeaten streak and looked to put a healthy amount of daylight between themselves and University of Minnesota-Duluth with another win tonight. It would not come easily, though, as UMD brought a whole lot of physicality to challenge the Pioneers. Here is your DU Game Recap.

Period 1

Evan Cowley was in net for the Pioneers again tonight after a fantastic effort in relief of Tanner Jaillet last night. He was tested a few times early, but remained just as sharp as the night before. Both teams seemed to be feeling each other out a bit to see what adjustments had been made early in the game, before really going all out. It was also clear that it was going to be a challenging evening with the officiating as several clear penalties were allowed to go for both teams. DU did end up with the first power play of the game and made it count. Some excellent passing saw Dylan Gambrell make an outstanding shot/pass right off of Danton Heinen’s stick. The puck re-directed perfectly past UMD goaltender Matt McNeely, to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.

Later, in a 4-on-4 situation, the Pioneers had a nice rush come up the boards sprung by Will Butcher, who made a great stretch pass to Danton Heinen. Heinen found himself with a 2 on 1, but the defender committed to Heinen early. Heinen put a pass through the legs of the UMD player right onto the stick of Dylan Gambrell, who made an excellent shot to give DU a 2-0 lead.

UMD did push back later in the period, but was unable to beat Cowley who was absolutely locked in. 2-0 DU after one.

Period 2

Things began to get very ugly in the second period as the officiating, or lack thereof, began to rear its ugly head. UMD upped their physical game, but began taking several liberties. DU got away with a few, as well, but when several scrums began to break out in front of each goalie after rather innocent plays, it was clear that the officials had no control over the game. A few power plays for both teams towards the end of the period were not converted, and there was no scoring in the second period.

2-0 DU after two.

Period 3

The officials suddenly found their whistles, and DU found themselves with a two-man advantage for nearly a minute very early in the third period and had the opportunity to ice the game. Both Will Butcher and Danton Heinen rang pucks off the post, and the Pioneers could not find the third goal. DU then began what was their best period of the series and covered all 200 feet of the ice magnificently. Only one breakdown occurred, which led to UMD’s goal. Cowley let a rebound get away and couldn’t get over to stop the shot as a UMD player was standing directly in the crease. The goal would be reviewed and would count.

Very late, after UMD had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, DU was back on the power play and any remaining control quickly left as multiple UMD players made no bones about hiding their intentions to attempt to hurt DU players. The game ended with DU having a two-man advantage, and then a few UMD players needing referees to escort them through the handshake line at the end of the game. It was a truly gutless, and classless display from UMD.

Despite all the shenanigans, DU emerged with a huge 2-1 victory and a series sweep.

Game Stats

Period 1

Period 2

Period 3

Totals

Notes and Quotes

It would be impossible to talk about this series without talking about how outstanding Evan Cowley had played. These two games are made even better by the fact that he had essentially been relegated to the back-up role when Tanner Jaillet was playing very well. Coach Montgomery had nothing but good things to say about him. “He was spectacular, I mean, that’s the best I’ve seen him play this year. Hopefully he can build on this.”

Over the past few weeks, I have really begun to notice Matt VanVoorhis more and more. He had another fantastic night tonight and, especially after Coach Montgomery singled him out last night for his leadership and vocal activity on the bench last night, really thought he shined again tonight.

“Matt was playing great hockey and then he got that concussion and it took him a while to get back. When he takes away time and space and wins his battles, he is an energy guy for us. And he brings great positivity to us on the bench.”

More great things from the top line, Danton Heinen factored in on both goals tonight and is rolling now. He looks like a different player.

“It’s nice to see these guys break through and start scoring two goals a game like they have recently. We need them to continue that if we’re going to be a team that wants to trend in the right direction.”

It is unfortunate that I have to talk about it, but the officiating in this series, especially tonight, was abysmal. The officials lost control of this game so fast tonight you could tell it was going to get ugly. Coach Montgomery mentioned how proud he was of his team for standing up to UMD, but also not getting involved in the garbage after the whistles. I asked him if he thought the officials let the game get out of hand tonight.

“It’s tough. When emotion comes in. They’re a frustrated team, they’re not scoring goals and they’r enot winning games. They were preseason number 2 in the country and number 1 in the NCHC and it’s tough, when you’re an official, to control that.”

The Pioneers are now very comfortably number three in the NCHC. They are unbeaten in eight games now and could possibly make a run at the NCHC regular season title.

“We’re just going to worry about keep moving in the right direction and if we end up third in our conference, we’ll probably be in the tournament. Then it’s more about setting ourselves up for a good opponent and being at home in the playoffs so you can get as high of an at-large seed as you can.”

As usual, a big thanks to Jim Montgomery for his comments after the game. A huge win for DU who now looks forward to University of Miami (Ohio) for a big road series next week.

DU Game Recap: Pioneers vs. Minnesota-Duluth Gm. 1

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The DU Pioneers game into this weekend with another big opportunity. This time, playing against the UMD Bulldogs, who sit directly behind the Pioneers in the standings, DU had the opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the Bulldogs to help assure themselves of home ice advantage in the NCHC Tournament. The Pios came into this weekend’s series riding a six game unbeaten streak and looked to continue to collect points against a UMD team that had suddenly gone cold. Here is your DU Recap.

Period 1

The first period could not have gotten off to a worse start for the DU Pioneers, who just didn’t look crisp at all. The Bulldogs jumped all over the Pioneers and created the first real opportunities of the game and scored the first goals of the game. First, UMD’s Tony Cameranesi threw a puck at the net after coming up the side boards. Tanner Jaillet made the initial save but the rebound fell flat in the crease and right on the stick of Karson Kuhlman who won the 1-on-1 battle in front and scored an easy goal to get things going for UMD. Not long after, after the teams had taken coincidental roughing penalties, Jaillet let a very bad rebound out off of a harmless 2-on-2 rush. Another open net for the Bulldogs and it was quickly 2-0, prompting DU Head Coach, Jim Montgomery, to give Jaillet the hook in favor of Evan Cowley, who saw his first action since the St. Cloud State series.

Cowley would be tested early and was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce as the Pios were quickly on the PK. Another fortunate bounce gave UMD another open net and possible 3-0 lead, but the puck went off the post and DU escaped just down two. This would be big as the tide would turn when Grant Arnold just forced himself into the slot and drew all five UMD players to him to knock him off the puck. The puck fell flat for Matt Marcinew and he rifled the puck home immediately to cut the UMD lead in half and awaken the Pioneer bench. Suddenly the Pioneers were all over the Bulldogs in the offensive zone, creating turnovers and scoring chances, including what lead to the game-tying goal. Trevor Moore and Dylan Gambrell fought hard for a loose puck at the front of the net, drawing all the attention of the UMD defenders. Danton Heinen snuck away with the puck right in front and slipped a backhand through the Bulldog goaltender to tie the game and ignite the crowd at Magness Arena.

DU had a couple more chances in the final minute of the period, but the period would end 2-2.

Period 2

The second period started off much more even than the first one did, with both teams playing a bit more cautiously through the neutral zone. Slowly, but surely, UMD began to tilt the ice in their favor with a considerable advantage in possession. DU played solid defense, though, and Evan Cowley played a very solid second period to keep chances at a minimum. In sudden flurried, DU saw an open net, but Grant Arnold shot the puck wide. Moments later, UMD saw another open net of their own, but couldn’t manage to get the puck in. It seemed nobody wanted to score a goal, no matter how open the net, until Danton Heinen added his second of the night. Heinen simply won the 1-on-1 battle to the net, freed up his stick and chipped home a good pass from Tariq Hammond to put DU up 3-2.

The rest of the period was mostly controlled by UMD, though DU did manage a few brief flurries of offense. No more goals were scored as the second period came to an end with DU leading 3-2.

Period 3

The third period continued along very much like the previous two periods, with UMD controlling the puck most of the way, but DU’s defense was very solid. Again, most of the shots that came through were from the outside, and Cowley got a good look at most of them. The ones that were in more “dangerous” areas, Cowley was in excellent position and used his big body to give the shooter nothing to shoot at. DU held UMD at bay and no goals were scored in the third period, as DU cruised to extend their unbeaten streak to seven games and earn three extra points in the NCHC standings.

Notes and Quotes

You can’t start talking about this game without talking about Evan Cowley. He came in in a very difficult spot, already down 2-0 with UMD taking it to DU, who was playing very sloppy hockey at the time. Cowley was nothing short of fantastic for DU, and Coach Montgomery heaped the praise on him. “Evan was huge tonight. He picked our team up and made a couple of great saves right when he came in.”

Cowley made 39 saves in relief of Tanner Jaillet tonight, in his first action since Jaillet really assumed the number 1 role on the team. “I give Evan credit, he’s had an incredible team-first attitude; he’s worked incredibly hard and has really battled in practice; so he was ready because of the effort he gave.” When asked if Cowley had earned a start tomorrow night, Coach Montgomery would not commit. “It’s too early for me to talk, I’m just going to enjoy this win.”

The turning point of the game came when Grant Arnold forced his way into the middle of the ice, which led directly to Matt Marcinew’s 8th goal of the season. The captain, along with Matt VanVoorhis, had made a plea to his team moments before on the bench, according to Coach Montgomery, about needing to play with more emotion and paying a price to make their chances. “I thought Grant would give (us emotion), and he did. It wasn’t a pretty goal, but it found the back of the net and after that I thought we played good hockey.”

Danton Heinen scored 2 goals tonight and looked like the player we have all expected from him, especially after his first goal. “He’s been fighting it a little bit and you could tell after that (first goal) the puck was on his stick like magic.” Heinen’s difference in confidence was apparent to all, as he didn’t start out the game with much fire until he did manage his first goal tonight. “First shift he had he coasted and I told him ‘that’s not the work ethic that’s going to get you out of it,’ and after that he was much better.”

Coach Montgomery spoke a lot about needing the team to be faster with decisions and admitted they were taken aback by UMD’s speed early in the game. “Especially after playing Western (Michigan University), it’s like you’re playing ten times faster.” The Pioneers got better about coming out of their own zone throughout the game, but look for this to be a point of emphasis coming into tomorrow night’s game, as well.

Coach Montgomery definitely wants the defensive effort to improve. Though DU was able to keep a large portion of the shots out to the side, Coach was definitely not pleased with the many breakdowns that did occur. “We did (keep shots outside), but we had some big breakdowns. We gave them an easy one 2-on-1 in the middle of the ice and that should never happen. We talked with our defenseman about trying to keep them outside to limit their grade-A scoring chances.”

There was definitely a lot of chippiness between the two teams. “I was surprised by how they went at some of our players after the whistles,” said Coach Montgomery. UMD was definitely frustrated by their inability to put DU away after their quick start and it showed as tempers flared several times throughout the game. It will be interesting to see how this bleeds over to tomorrow night’s game.

DU will finish out the series with UMD tomorrow night at Magness Arena. Puck will drop at 7:06 PM Mountain Time.