Paul Stastny and Peter Forsberg missed the game.
It's still no excuse for the effort Avs fans saw last night.
Allowing two first period power play goals is bad enough, but to see a team play a period with no drive is really ugly. With just 16 shots in the game and the only goal coming from third-line spark plug Ben Guite, the Avs lost a crucial game to the Calgary Flames. I want to make a few points:
The Avs are usually one of the least penalized teams in the NHL. In the past few weeks, this statistic is now non-existent. That's not always a bad thing. Aggressive teams take more penalties. But look at what each penalty was for:
Ruslan Salei - Hooking
Joe Sakic - Holding
Jeff Finger - Hooking
Cody McLeod - Holding
Hooking and holding penalties are taken when players are out of position or weren't hustling at times when they needed to. Judging by the players who took these penalties, it's rare when one of them isn't hustling, but it can be inferred that they were out of position.
REMEMBER, there are good penalties to take. But when a team is taking four hooking/holding penalties in a game, something is wrong.
Sixteen shots is not enough to win a game. The Avs need to shoot, shoot, and shoot. With scorers such as Milan Hejduk, Joe Sakic, and even a guy like Wojtek Wolski, shots should be coming at all angles. Ryan Smyth was brought in to cause traffic in front of the net. The Avs are trying to hard to stuff pucks home when the goals that they are known for scoring are on backdoor passes and shots from the slot. Putting the puck on net is key in the playoffs, as anything can happen once the puck is heading towards the net.
He bounced back really well in this game, stopping all 22 shots he faced during 5-on-5 hockey. That leads me to...
The Avs play a box style in which they cut off the shooting lanes and wait until the other team juggles the puck to attack them. The problem usually is a guy like Iginla juggles the puck, recovers, and hits a point man. The guy covering this point man attempted to attack Iginla when he juggled the puck, leaving the point man all alone to get off a shot.
The Avs also seem to have a problem clearing the puck. So often do they take possession of the puck and get it taken away. Or, a loose puck is in the corner and the Avs won't be the first ones there. This also goes for the...
One main issue on the power play. The puck goes to the corner. Brunette is there, trying to dig the puck out and two opponents move in and take the puck. On the power play, you have the man advantage. That has to be used in all aspects of the game. The Avalanche need to make sure they outnumber opponents in the corner. They also need to stop dumping the puck in on the power play and start carrying it into the zone. They must waste at least 75 seconds chasing the puck back to their zone each time they have a man advantage.
Luckily for the Avalanche, Edmonton and Nashville both lost last night while the Flames and Canucks both distanced themselves. With the way this team is playing, I'll be happy with a playoff spot.
Three Stars of the Game
No one gets it this game. While Adam Foote and Jose Theodore did do well, it wasn't a great effort by anyone.
The Avs play a giant game against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at 3:00 EST. The Oilers sit just five points back of the Avs for the 8th spot in the Western Conference.
On the Bubble
If the Avs plan to move up, they better do it soon.
6. Vancouver - 86 Points (8 Games Remaining)
7. Calgary - 86 Points (8 Games Remaining)
8. COLORADO - 84 POINTS (7 Games Remaining)
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9. Nashville - 80 Points (7 Games Remaining)
10. Edmonton - 79 Points (7 Games Remaining)
Northwest Division Leader: Minnesota Wild - 87 Points - 8 Games Remaining
Tonight's Key Games
Vancouver vs Minnesota
It's a game for first place between the Wild and the Canucks. Who do Avalanche fans want to see win? It really depends on what our chances are at moving up. If the Avs want to win the division, secure the third spot, and play either Vancouver or Minnesota in the first round, root for the Canucks. If the Avs want to take the sixth spot and play the Wild in the first round, root for the Canucks.
I'll be rooting for absolutely no one. Whatever happens at this point in the season happens.
Why is hockey called hockey? I'm not sure if I can count on this guy: