Game Review: Avalanche 4 - Stars 3 - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Game Review: Avalanche 4 - Stars 3


(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Thanks to Anaheim and Detroit going to a shootout, I missed the first 7:30 of the game. But once the feed kicked over to the Can, the season officially started for me. The lines were as expected however Ben Guite did make the lineup tonight over Scott Parker. Todd Fedoruk not being in for Dallas may have had something to do with that.

It was a nerve-wracking finish to the game as the Avalanche showed shades of their old selves after taking a 4-1 lead into the third period. Some stellar saves by Peter Budaj helped the Avalanche hang on to win at home in an exciting opening night matchup.

So let's jump into the action!

First Period
The Avalanche D, for the most part, looked solid in this period. Leopold in particular looked to have some excellent positioning and some solid physical play. Smyth almost cashed one in around the 10 minute mark off a great cross-ice feed but Turco was there with a spectacular save. Hlinka also had a glorious opportunity but caught the post and possibly a bit of Turco as well.

Colorado got running around in their own zone at about the 15 minute mark but did a good job of not taking a penalty while keeping the puck out of the net. Shortly after that, Paul Stastny broke in down the left side and buried a wrister underneath Turco's armpit. It wasn't the prettiest goal but they all count.

Brett Clark was involved in a nasty incident with Brendan Morrow. Morrow was racing in for the puck and Clark was pursuing. Just as Clark was about to connect, Morrow slipped up, hit the ice and caught the back of Brett Clark's leg right in the face. Clark immediately stopped to see if he was all right but Morrow was up and off the ice quite quickly. It could have been worse if Morrow caught a skate but he was lucky. Good on Clark for stopping to check on him.

Second Period
A great start to the second period as Paul Stastny buried his second of the night off a beautiful behind-the-back feed from Andrew Brunette. This line is showing some amazing chemistry which should ease fans concerns after seeing the scheduled lines for the night. Many were questioning why Q would change the lines after the preseason lines had looked so impressive.

Andrew Brunette then got penalized for shooting the puck over the glass which is still the most ridiculous penalty in all of the sporting world. The Avalanche were able to kill off the penalty but about 15 seconds later, Trevor Daley blasted a puck which got by Budaj after being tipped by Jeff Halpern. There was bit of a review after the goal was scored though I'm not really sure what they needed to review.

But then Paul Stastny went and got the first hat-trick of his professional career as the second line again came through with an amazing play. Brunette gave a deft tap pass back to Hlinka who came in down the left side looking like he was going to shoot. But at the last second he rifled a pass across to a streaking Paul Stastny who made no mistake and buried it behind Turco. The hats were raining down on the ice as the fans showed their appreciation for this young phenom. "Sophomore slump" my "you-know-what".

Wojtek Wolski then continued the youth movement as he buried one short-side on Marty Turco. It was a bit of a weak goal by Turco but he remained in net as Tippet decided not to pull the trigger to quick on his #1. The third line is still looking to find its groove but if they can score while searching for it, I've got no complaints.

Peter Budaj was solid this period including making an amazing save on Niklas Hagman. He had some help from Scott Hannan towards the end of the first as well. Budaj was down and out but Hannan dove in and got his body between the puck and the net to keep it out.

Third Period
The third period started out with Brunette trying another behind-the-back pass to Stastny but the Stars are wise to that one. Marek Svatos then took a hooking penalty which led to trouble. With Hlinka and Laperriere on the PK for the Avs - and I only note that because I was surprised to see Hlinka out there - the Stars were able to capitalize and Jussi Jokinen put one past Budaj.

The Avalanche then sat back a bit and got too enamored with defending their lead. The Stars were able to put some pressure on them and nearly capitalized a couple times. An untimely too-many-men penalty then gave Dallas the chance they needed. It was a bizarre goal as Hannan whipped the puck behind the net, right onto Hagman's stick who whipped it in front of the net, right off Brett Clark's skate and through Budaj's legs. It took longer for the players to notice the puck in the net than it did for that sequence to happen.

Going into the final couple minutes, I was sweating a bit. The Avalanche were scrambling every which way and couldn't seem to clear the puck. But Peter Budaj came up huge with 2 big saves to maintain the win. He kicked out a blast from the point and then Paul Stastny helped him out by keeping the rebound out. He then flashed the leather and got just enough of the puck to keep it out with only about a dozen seconds left to play.

If Budaj can continue to come up big when it matters, I'll be a happy man.

Overall
The second line is looking amazing at the moment. Brunette and Stastny showed some real chemistry in terms of knowing where the other was without looking. Hlinka was exactly what he's been hyped to be so far.

Clark and Hannan got #1 pairing minutes tonight with 27:04 and 28:05 respectively. They both closed the night at +2. Jordan Leopold looked very solid tonight. He had excellent positioning, solid physical play and racked up 4 blocked shots in his 18:22 of ice-time.

Marek Svatos saw just over 8 minutes in ice-time tonight. Q was rolling the #1 and #2 lines heavy - for obvious reasons - which didn't leave much room for the 3rd and 4th lines.

The Avalanche gave the puck away 16 times to Dallas' 8. That's a stat that needs to be improved. As does their faceoff percentage which was a dreadful 39%. There were crucial times where faceoff wins were needed and the Avalanche just couldn't get it done.

Notables
- Wolski still seems a bit uncomfortable with himself but seemed to get better as the night went on.
- the 3rd line is not clicking at all yet
- defensive play by the team was solid but they got caught running around in their own zone a few times
- Budaj was solid overall and came up huge when it was needed
- Hlinka is an excellent skater and a superb playmaker
- Hannan is very uncomfortable with the puck on his stick

The Good
- getting the win at home on opening night
- Stastny showing the "sophomore slump" folks where to put it
- Brunette contributing on all 3 of those goals
- Hlinka showing himself to be a potential runaway candidate for steal of the year

The Bad
- blowing a lead again ala the 2006/2007 Avalanche team
- Sakic not tying Espo on opening night
- an abysmal 39% faceoff percentage

The Ugly
- Brendan Morrow eating the back of Clark's leg

Related Links
NHL.com Scoresheet
CBS Sports Recap
TSN Recap
In The Cheap Seats Recap
Mile High Hockey Recap
Jibblescribbits Recap
ESPN Recap
ColoradoAvalanche.com Recap
Denver Post Recap

3 Comments:

Mike Thompson said...

Nice job, Shane. It's good to see that my unsubstantiated gut feeling about the 3rd line not getting much ice time was spot on. The top line was kept off the scoresheet, but it's important to remember that the Stars are a good defensive team, so Joe and Co. likely saw top D-pair all night.

Budaj looked good, and aside from the flukey first and third goals was really solid and made the saves he should have made.

Faceoffs need to be fixed. Losing d-zone faceoffs drags down every other stat category. You give up possession time, you give up scoring opportunities, you put pressure on your own backend which leads to penalties and goals, etc. Richardson can't get back soon enough. Maybe they should have thrown some money at a specialist this summer...

Draft Dodger said...

"Maybe they should have thrown some money at a specialist this summer..."

I DEFINITELY think they should have done this.

Shane Giroux said...

Thanks Mike. They didn't get much but it wasn't sparse minutes really. If they can start clicking a bit better, they might see their ice-time go up a bit.

They definitely need to work on faceoffs. When you watch our centers, it's almost like they're surprised when the puck is dropped.

I caught times where Sakic, Arnason and Stastny hadn't even moved their sticks and the Stars had possession.

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