Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Avs Shutout Flames, Win 2-0 // Wolski/Smyth hit milestones

When the Avs took the lead in a game for the first time since March 13th, I was just thinking to myself - "how long will it take for the Flames to get it back?" Well combined with outstanding defense and a 23-save shutout performance by Jose Theodore, the Avs managed to hold onto the lead and win 2-0.

The first goal was scored by Jordan Leopold on the power play. It was his first power play goal of the season. Interesting to note that the goal was not scored by some down low play, but on an odd-man rush in transition. That's the kind of hockey the Avs should be playing and they were defintely doing more of it in this game.

The second goal was scored by Milan Hejduk late in the third. After the goal, the Flames pulled Kipper and replaced him with Curtis Joseph.

Key Play

With a 5-on-3 in the second, the Avs were leading 1-0 when the Flames picked up the puck and cruised in on a breakaway. A goal by the Flames, already down two men, would crush the Avalanche and probably change the game. Obviously, Theodore made the save and that was the last major rush against the Avs all game.

The Defense

Anchored by Liles, Sauer, Salei, Hannan, Leopold, and Finger, the defense played very well. Finger and Liles, in particular, had extremely strong games. Liles has been one of the best defensemen for the Avalanche since the trade deadline. He's been jumping up into the play often, registering four shots in this game.

Penalty Kill

The Avs killed off all five penalties they acquired and did it by only allowing four shots on those five Calgary powerplays. They held the blueline well, not letting the Flames get set up in the zone.

This is the way the Avs penalty kill needs to be every game. No more passive box waiting for a mistake. They need to cause the mistake.

Forechecking

Excellent work by all the players, especially Ian Laperriere. He was in the face of every Calgary player all night long. But each time Calgary had the puck in their end, Colorado had at least one guy forechecking and providing pressure. This made it much more difficult for the Flames to sustain offense.

All season, the Avs have surrendered the neutral zone in hopes of not getting caught. Taking notes from great defensive teams like Detroit and New Jersey, forechecking is most certainly the way to go.

Milestones

With an assist on Leopold's goal, Wojtek Wolski registered his 100th career NHL point.

Likewise, with an assist on Hejduk's goal, Ryan Smyth recorded his 600th career NHL point.

Forsberg

Played 15 minutes in his return, mostly on the power play. He registered an assist on Leopold's power play goal.

Check Out This Stat!

As opposed to the 7-5 game against Edmonton, every single player was an even +/- or better.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Jose Theodore (A 23-save shutout and a huge save shorthanded to save the game)
2. Jeff Finger (Probably the best player on the ice for the Avs in this game)
3. John-Michael Liles (A monster game, including breaking a 2-on-1 pass)

Next Up

The Avs do battle TONIGHT with the Vancouver Canucks at 9 PM EST. Theodore and Luongo will be the goaltenders.

On the Bubble

This Avs-Nucks game is going to be a huge one. It's worthy to note that the fifth seeded Dallas Stars also have 89 points.

6. Minnesota - 89 Points (5 Games Remaining)
7. Vancouver -86 Points (6 Games Remaining)
8. COLORADO - 86 POINTS (5 Games Remaining)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
9. Nashville - 84 Points (5 Games Remaining)
10. Edmonton - 83 Points (5 Games Remaining)
Northwest Division Leader: Calgary Flames - 90 Points - Five Games Remaining

Tonight's Key Games

Edmonton vs Minnesota

The Oilers beat the Wild two nights ago so Minnesota will be looking for some revenge. The Oilers are 8-2-0 in their last ten games and it would be nice if the Avs could win and the Wild could stop Edmonton's streak, virtually eliminating Edmonton's playoff chances. Remember, the Oilers play Colorado on Saturday.

Video Fix

Highlights of Theodore's shutout. Thank you NHLVideo on YouTube.

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