Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Avs Survive in 6-5 win @ Minnesota

Peter Budaj was terrible and the penalty killing was atrocious but the Avs offense gave Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom a new career high for goals against and managed to skate out of Minnesota with a 6-5 regulation victory.

With Joe Sakic on the IR, the young players on this team will need to step up in the coming weeks. They certainly did last night.

After falling behind 1-0, the Avs came storming back with two straight goals from Marek Svatos and David Jones.

Jones has been much better in the past few games and finally appears to be playing the physical game he needs to play in order to be successful.

Falling behind 3-2, the Avs answered the call once again. Goals by Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk, TJ Hensick (first of the season), and Stastny again gave the Avs a commanding 6-2 lead. The Wild managed to put another one past Budaj, however, to make it a two-goal game heading into the third.

Through two periods, the shots favored the Avs 26-12, Backstrom had been pulled, Laperriere had two assists, and Stastny had a three point night going. Sounds good, right?

Uh-oh. For the second consecutive game, the Avs almost blew a three-goal lead.

When Brent Burns drove hard to to the netand (at least I thought so) interfered with Peter Budaj in order to score, the stage was set for a thrilling last six minutes. Basically, as you've already heard/read, the Avs managed to hold on, but not without some close calls along the way.

Overall, a solid effort on the offensive end and we're lucky that Budaj didn't cost us the two points.

The Ugly

In a great hockey game, it's tough to be negative. However, the Avs allowed the Wild to go 3/4 on the power play. I don't care if they have to build a human shield in front of the net. That can't happen.

Tyler Arnason was the only minus player for the Avs. That stat is probably the most overrated stat in the books and it's worth noting that Arnason has been decent in the past few games. He's still making stupid turnovers and I'd like to see him score on something other than an empty net.

Brett Clark blocks shots. Cool.

James Mirtle put together a very interesting post examining just how much shot blocking matters in the NHL. He states,
My theory is that this means that teams that (a) spend more time penalty killing, (b) spend more time in their own end, and (c) simply lack the speed and/or finesse to defend in other manners all rely more on blocking shots. If you're a puck possession team like Detroit or Washington, are you lying down in front of shots or stick checking? Is there a relationship there? Does speed and positioning trump the block?
This guy has been a weak link this season. With Foote on the IR, not is not the best time to be thinking about trades, but I have to wonder what will happen when Foote eventually returns to the lineup and the Avs are interested in giving Cumiskey and Tjarnqvist more playing time.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Paul Stastny (Two goals, three points, lead all Avs in ice time)
2. Milan Hejduk (Three points)
3. TJ Hensick (First goal of the season came from a turnover he helped create)

Next Up

The Avs take on the Nashville Predators at 8 PM ET on Thursday. Can we expect another high scoring affair?

Video Fix

The first 2009 Winter Classic commercial from the NHL:

BallHyped.com - Best Sports Blogs, Sports Blogger Rankings

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