Hockey is back and the Avs looked just as good as ever in their season opener against the Dallas Stars.
A back-and-forth first period was broken with a goal by Paul Stastny a few minutes before the intermission.
The Avs came out flying in the second, with Stastny adding two more goals and getting his first career natural hat trick. How about that for a sophomore slump?!
Wolski added another goal to make it 4-1.
However, the Stars made it a game, and came back strong and the game ended 4-3. That takes us into our Good/Bad:
Nothing about teamwork or passing or whatever will come into play yet. This team has some new faces, some new role players, and they still have some meshing to do.
Special teams stunk. Avs were 0-2 on the Power Play and lazy penalty killing lead to a Dallas goal. The Avs need to maintain consistent pressure on the puck when it goes back to the point. And while blocking shots is usually a good thing, it does leave players out of position at key moments.
Last year, the one reason we didn't make the Playoffs was our inability to put away games. It was pathetic how many games we blew in the third period. This game was almost a repeat, as the Avs had a 4-1 lead in the third and the Stars came "that" close to tying it in the third. Which leads us into our positives...
Paul Stastny is a machine. Last season, I believe he should have won the Calder and this year, he starts off by scoring a hat trick? Unreal. But totally awesome. Also, don't underestimate his defensive play. He made a key block in the third period which might have saved a goal. He was paired with Brunette and Hlinka, a combination that will stay in place as long as they produce. Speaking of which...
Jaroslav Hlinka is going to have a huge impact this season. We got him from the Czech League, where he was consistently hailed as the "best" player. This guy has mad hands and set up various scoring chances, including two goals.
The Stastny-Brunette-Hlinka line combined for 8 points.
Defense is much improved. Scott Hannan had a big impact, usually clearing out bodies in front of the net. And we saw a bit of his edge. If Jordan Leopold can remain healthy, that pairing could be one of the best defensive pairings in the league. Even Saurer, our weakest defensive player, played pretty well.
Andrew Brunette is showing he can play without Sakic, which is a big advantage when it comes to depth. He had three assists last night, including two REALLY nice passes.
Peter Budaj was great. The three goals came on deflections, which any goalie will tell you is basically impossible to track down. If he can play like this for the rest of the season, there could be something to this team.
The Avs play tonight at 8 against the Nashville Predators. It'll be the Predators first game of the season.
Lines Last Night:
Our music was back! Rock and Roll Part 2 is once against out goal song. HOWEVER, they changed up our victory music. Where's Star Wars? Lets hope it's not permanent.
Versus still sucks. Cut to our game when it was halfway through the first period. (At least show us the opening faceoff!)
Avs sit atop the NW Division. Lets keep it that way!
Three Stars of the Game. A new feature this year will be the "Three Stars of the Game." It'll look at the top three Avs each game. (Possibly Games.)
1. Paul Stastny
2. Jaroslav Hlinka
3. Peter Budaj