Friday, October 2, 2009

Avs Win Opener on Joe Sakic Night!


What a trip!

Having just gotten back from Denver, I can say with 100% certainty that I'll be making a return trip in the future. Besides one messy encounter outside my hotel (which I'll get to in a later post), the city was most impressive and the game was exactly what I hoped for.

The Ceremony

Not much else I can say that hasn't been said by every other person who was in attendance. It was extremely well done. The walk-in, the locker, the chants, the number 19 itself. I'm a little confused as to why the former-Avs who showed up for the game weren't introduced (Forsberg? Podein? Hinote?) but nonetheless, the ovation by the fans and the tribute to Sakic did the legend's career justice.

The Game

Matt Duchene, anyone? The kid was everywhere - the opening faceoff, the power play, penalty kills, breakaways. If I'm not mistaken, I believe he has sewn up his spot on the team. I don't care if he doesn't get another point for the next eight games - the kid is in.

What struck me most about Duchene is the energy he played with. Never giving up on the play, #9 created turnovers and opportunities. He was rewarded later in the game with an assist on JML's second period goal.

Craig Anderson, the first star, was brilliant and definitely earned the chant of "ANDERSON, ANDERSON, ANDERSON" later in the game after a spectacular glove save. His moment of glory included reaching back for a puck that hit the post, escaping from his crease, and tossing the puck into the faceoff area. He put on a great show. (Albeit a sometimes scary one) When the Avs made the score 4-2, I felt confident with the lead for the first time in awhile. Just knowing that we had a competent goalie between the pipes made a world of difference.

Wojtek Wolski, Paul Stastny, and Milan Hejduk earn line of the night honors. Wolski had two goals, Stastny assisted on both of them, and Hejduk registered his first assist a season on the first goal as well.

Kyle Quincey is a stud on the point. At least for the night, the Ryan Smyth trade is looking pretty darn good.

Congratulations to Ryan O'Reilly on his first NHL point, an assist on Cody McLeod's first of the season.

Darcy Tucker scored the first goal of the Avalanche season, and promptly took penalty. I'll take it.

Scratches

-TJ Hensick
-Ruslan Salei

I was surprised to see Cumiskey warming up, but I can't say I'm not pleased. Sure, he had some tough times (a really bad turnover that lead to a bad goal) but the Avs were SO slow last year. Not a problem last night.

No bone to pick with the Hensick scratch either. I assume that Koci, Hendricks, and O'Reilly will all be scratches at some point over the next nine games, at which point O'Reilly may be sent back to Juniors and Hensick will find himself back on the roster.

Negatives

Forget it. 5-2 Avs win. #19 to the rafters. No negatives for now.

AF's Three Stars

1. Craig Anderson (38 saves on 40 shots)
2. Wojtek Wolski (2 goals, GWG)
3. Matt Duchene (1 assist, tons of energy in debut)

Next Up

On Saturday night the Avalanche will reveal their new mascot as the team takes on Vancouver. Anderson will be goal for the Avs.

In Closing

1-0 baby. Go Avs.

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