Oilers Defeat Avalanche 3-2 in Final Seconds - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Oilers Defeat Avalanche 3-2 in Final Seconds

Mathieu Garon makes one of his 32 saves against the Colorado Avalanche
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jimmy Jeong)
What a disappointing ending to the Avalanche's second game of the season. After battling back twice to tie the game, the Oilers put the game away with a tip-in goal by Dustin Penner with 5.4 seconds left on the clock.

And just like that, the Avalanche are 0-2 on the season and the hand wringing has begun.

Budaj not winning over his critics
Peter Budaj played a solid game tonight and unfortunately it was all undone by a tip-in goal in the final seconds. Budaj had the save made but Penner was able to get a fiber of his stick on the puck and that was enough to let it slide through Budaj's five hole. Not much Budaj could really do there. 

The first goal was a great play by the Oilers on the PP and the second goal was a bit of a fluke goal that bounced off...someone. It was never really clear on the replay who it went off of - Hejduk I think - but Budaj lifted his pad for a second to readjust his position and the puck found its way through.

His stats are looking pretty bleak and I'm sure there are a lot of pundits patting themselves on the back right now for declaring the Avs goaltending duo as the worst in the league. 

But I still saw plenty of good in Budaj's performance tonight and as long as Granato keeps showing confidence in Budaj, things will get better. The last thing I want to see is Raycroft starting in net on Tuesday.

"unless Peter Budaj shows me something I haven't seen yet, I suspect the Avalanche will need their remaining cap room to acquire a goalie"

Two games - maybe even one depending on when he wrote the article - and Peter Budaj hasn't shown enough yet. Could that be because the season has barely begun? Remember Chris Mason's stellar start to last season? How'd that turn out?

Shots, posts and saves
The Avalanche got off 33 shots, hit 8 million posts and got stoned about a dozen times by Mathieu Garon. 

Shots are great and I'll never complain about somebody taking a shot. However you have to follow those shots up with some pressure. The Avalanche took a few shots from the perimeter and blueline which were pointless as there was no driving pressure from the Avs forwards after the shot.

And after all those shots off the post by the Avs, I'm on board for beveled nets. The score would have been 85-3 and that last minute goal would have made no never mind tonight.

Mathieu Garon deserved the #1 star of the game. He played great, made saves when he needed to and didn't whine when the Avs drove the net like Dwayne Roloson would have done.

Defense Picks It Up, Runs Out of Gas
At the outset of the game, the Avalanche were looking solid defensively. They were breaking out of the zone quickly and not giving the Oilers any time to set up.

However as the game wore on, the Avalanche's defensive efforts started falling flat. Midway through the second period, the Oilers were able to sustain pressure in the Avs zone for shifts at a time and were outhustling the Avs defenders down low. 

Once again, that hustle caused the Avs to look confused on their assignments and too often they were overloading one side of the ice as four defenders at a time chased after the puck down low.

I thought Ruslan Salei did a solid job of not chasing the puck and concentrating on his area of the ice. Once an Oiler forward circled past his area, he left it up to his partner, Jordan Leopold, to pick up the coverage. And he never got caught chasing behind the net while leaving the front of the net wide open. People behind the net don't score, it's the uncovered guys in front of the net that do.

Don't discount dump-and-chase
The new high-flying style of offense is great. It's not translating into the "W" column but it will. However, they shouldn't completely abandon the dump-and-chase tactic. I don't want to see it used exclusively, but if you're stood up at the blueline, don't slow down and try to find a lane. Dump it in so your forwards don't have to break stride and have a chance at retrieving the puck.

There was a lot of slowups at the Oilers blueline followed by soft dumps which were easily recovered by the Oilers. They might as well gift wrap the puck and place it at the opponents sticks. On a silver platter. With a cherry on top.

Oilers Opening Night
Not only was tonight the Oilers season opener, but it was also the 30th anniversary of the Oilers franchise so we were treated to some festivites before the game got underway. 

A little Offspring, a little backstory on the franchise history - in case anyone didn't know, Gretzky played for them and they won lots of Cups - followed by player intros, management and owner intros, long-time season ticket holder intros and the ceremonial puck drop which was taken by Ryan Smyth and Ethan Moreau.

Normally, I would have been saying "Drop the puck already!" but I thought the intro was well done, particulary the on-ice projections. Choosing The Offspring was a nice touch as well, even if their new stuff is nowhere near as good as the masterpiece that is Smash.

Stats
Scott Hannan and John-Michael Liles were the ice-time leaders tonight with 22:06 and 20:57 respectively.

The Avalanche won 72% of their faceoffs which is quite remarkable. 

Milan Hejduk fired off 7 shots on the night while Paul Stastny and Liles each had 4. Hejduk's converted penalty shot was a classic, quick low-blocker wrister. I loved it.

Odds and Ends
The Oilers announced Foote's 1000th game early in the 1st period and the fans gave a nice ovation for Adam. Foote's son was in the crowd with a "Congratulation Dad" sign as well. Good stuff.

The fourth line for the Avalanche played very well tonight. They forechecked like demons, got some scoring chances because of that, and played solid in their own end. 

I briefly switched to the Sharks-Kings game and was treated to a pet peeve of mine; anthem singers who change the pace of the song. Please, I beg of you, stop doing that!

David Jones didn't get any PP time but did get some time on the PK. He was the only guy left covering the left side of the ice on the Oilers first goal.

Mcleod did a good job sticking up for Smyth after Staios had plastered him from behind. The fight was boring but the intent was great.

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4 Comments:

Mike, (Avs Fan) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike, (Avs Fan) said...

You got the score wrong again, it was 3-2, as I'm sure you know. Maybe you really should go get that massage, you could use the rest/relaxation, lol.

No time to panic yet, but if Budaj has any fault in the next 2-3 games, then I want to see what Raycroft can do.

Shane Giroux said...

Thanks, mike. Not sure what's going on in my brain lately!

Draft Dodger said...

"Hejduk's converted penalty shot was a classic, quick low-blocker wrister. I loved it."

it was also the exact same shot that Guite took on the shorthanded breakaway.

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