Friday, October 8, 2010

Same Old Crap (But We'll Take It)

"For me, some of those guys were like gods to me"

It was a magical night at the Pepsi Center. In honor of the 15th Anniversary of Denver's first major sports championship, the 1996 Colorado Avalanche team was honored with a ceremony at Center Ice.

Too bad Versus didn't show it.

Major Gripe #1:

It's opening night and there's a big time ceremony coming on. It's the late game - so only fans of Chicago and Colorado are conceivably watching, and even if there are others, screw it, cater to the fans of the two teams who are set to play.

Why did I have to sit through a montage of the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup run, followed by discussion on whether the Avs can "exceed expectations" again, when some of hockey's all time greatest players are being honored.

Speaking of which, check out those cheers for Roy, Forsberg, and Sakic. Amazing to see them back.

More video should be popping up shortly, I'm sure.

The Game

A couple notes to mention:

Two roster changes from what was expected:

Ryan Wilson got the start over Jonas Holos.
Mark Olver played on the fourth line in place of Philipe Dupuis.

The Avs were flying early, and it probably could have been 1-0 or 2-0 in their favor; alas, the Blackhawks got the opening goal on their first of seven power plays.

The Avs stormed right back. Three unanswered goals including a sick move by Chris Stewart:

Absolutely nasty. You knew he was going to score when he stormed in with that speed. He's a beast, and he's going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.

As for the other Avalanche goal scorers, they were exactly who you wanted them to be. Matt Duchene got on the board during a delayed penalty thanks to a beautiful cross-ice pass by Adam Foote. Later in the period, Paul Stastny added a power play goal to make it 3-1.

Then the horn sounded. And it all went to the dumps.

Major Gripe #2

I sent a text out to one of my friends, a casual fan, who was excited by the Avs' taking a two goal lead.
"They blow more third period leads than I can count...need a fourth to make me feel safer...two goal lead = most dangerous in hockey"

I don't have the stay on how many leads the Avalanche have blown in the third the last couple years, but the number has to be near the top of the league. To be fair, they did a somewhat better job last night. Instead of being outshot by double digits, the shots were even in the third at 14 apiece. (Avs outshot the Hawks in the game 41-38.)

Still, it's disheartening to not be able to feel any sense of comfort or relief when this team goes up by two with only twenty minutes to play.

In any case, opening night went to OT, and to be frank, it was a relief to get a point. A fourth goal allowed in the final minute would have been devastating.

In OT, the teamwork of Stastny and Duchene got me thinking of the ol' Sakic-Forsberg combo. Was it running through their minds, too? Did Sacco feel the energy?

Fast forward to the 2:00 mark.
Beautiful teamwork and a brilliant pass by Dutchy.

Interesting game to say the least. Once again, this is going to be an exciting club to watch, and it already looks like the chemistry has grown from last season. They look comfortable with each other, and there were times when they did a much better job possessing the puck in the offensive zone.

Some Other Notes:

-TJ Galiardi but he did a lot of things well. A few key penalty kills, and he also drew a penalty when he attempted to split the Chicago defense. He also had the third most ice time behind only Liles and Stastny.

-Ryan O'Reilly had seven shots on net. Keep shooting.

-Brandon Yip was somewhat invisible. Least amount of ice time outside of the fourth line guys, Olver, Porter, McLeod.

-JM Liles played 26+ minutes and deserved all them.

-Mark Olver definitely wanted his name on the score sheet. It was very disheartening to see his first NHL shift end up in the penalty box.

Three Stars:
1. Paul Stastny - Two seasons ago, he had a hat trick on opening. This year, we'll have to settle for two goals and the game winner. He has his naysayers, but Stastny is legitimate.
2. Chris Stewart - Initiated the energy for the Avs, five shots on net, and added a secondary assist on Stastny's first goal.
3. TJ Galiardi - No points, but very impressive nonetheless. It pains me though to realize how good this team would be with a legitimate top line left winger, leaving Gali to the second and third line where he probably belongs.

Solid start. 1-0. On pace for 164 point. Should be good enough for a tie in the Presidents' Trophy race.

Next Up

Monday, 7 PM ET, at Philadelphia.

I'll be there. The Flyers have a rookie goaltender starting who shut down the Penguins. Can't wait to see this.

Hockey is back and it feels good.
Go Avs

Photo credit: Jack Dempsey/AP - Best Sports Blogs, Sports Blogger Rankings

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A little birdie said to check Private Messages on Talkin' Sports.

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