The monster was toppled
These were the kind of games that the Avalanche always managed to last season. Tied 0-0 well into the third period, the game became one of "first goal wins." Thankfully, that goal was Milan Hejduk's, as the Colorado veteran trickled one through Tuukka Rask's five-hole to put the Avs ahead at 7:57 of the third period. Hejduk's goal ended up being the only goal thanks to a superb effort by Semyon Varlamov who stopped all 30 shots he faced en route to a 1-0 shutout victory.
The Avs are harder to play against. Nothing illustrated this better than when Ryan O'Byrne FLATTENED Bruins giant, Zdeno Chara, in the first period. There's been a drastic improvement in defensive zone coverage from last season; namely, teams are no longer able to enter the zone and get set up. The Avs are holding strong at the blueline, getting their sticks into the passing lanes, and winning the physical battles along the boards. It's great to see.
Jay McClement will continue to be the whipping boy for this blog until he proves himself to be an asset to this club. McClement's role is to win faceoffs and kill penalties. He was 2/7 on draws today (the Avs as a whole were dominated in the circle), including two losses in the defensive zone as the third period was winding down. Not a great start to the season.
Altitude mentioned it, but check out the balance on the Avalanche roster. No forward played more than 18:23 (O'Reilly) and three defensemen played 22+ (Johnson, Hejda, Quincey). Keeping guys fresh will really help when it comes to playing a strong 60-minute game.
Only 14 minutes of ice time for Matt Duchene, who tallied his first point of the season on Hejduk's goal.
Gabriel Landeskog added five more shots today, matching the five he had on Saturday night against Amway. His line (O'Reilly, Winnik) continue to be one of Colorado's best so far.
Cody McLeod was the third alternate captain today. He had NINE hits!
Every Av had a shot except for O'Bryne and O'Brien. O'No!
Finally, what is there to say about Semyon Varlamov? He looked (obviously) thrilled after the game when he took his mask off to let teammates congratulate him. The Bruins have several great chances and a few odd-man rushes where a goal seemed inevitable. Varlamov shut the door.
Check out Varlamov's awesome blocker save on Milan Lucic late in the third:
This was a huge start to the five-game road trip. The Avs defeated the defending Cup champs and out-worked one of the hardest working clubs in the league. They continued to be solid in their own end, and they have to be happy with the play of their newest goaltender.
Three Avalanche Stars
1. Semyon Varlamov (For the second game in a row, Varly takes the cake)
2. Milan Hejduk (Only 19 more goals for his 12th straight 20-goal season)
3. Daniel Winnik (Involved offensively, did a nice job in his own end, too)
Columbus. Wed 10/12. 5PM ET.