Post-game vs Tampa Bay - Jan 6, 2007 - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Post-game vs Tampa Bay - Jan 6, 2007

I planned on getting home last night, downloading the game, then watching it this morning as if I was watching it live. It would have worked if the radio station I was listening to hadn't decided to lead off with "And in NHL news, Colorado dumped Tampa Bay...". All year long they use the Avalanche as a footnote to end NHL updates, last night they decide to lead off with them. Go figure. Nonetheless, the Avs were able to get the win tonight over Tampa Bay. Interestingly enough, as big as the win vs Nashville was, I see this as a bit bigger. Tampa has been a struggling team all season and we know how the Avs play against struggling teams.

A lot of players has solid games tonight and I don't think I'll have enough time to break them all down so I'll pick and choose a few. I'll start off with Ossi Vaananen. It's almost like the coach said to Ossi "Maybe pinch more often" and Ossi went "Ok" and that was all it took for him to start jumping into the play offensively. I couldn't count the number of times I saw him jump in and keep the puck in or try and sneak behind the Tampa D for a scoring chance. When I first saw it happen I had to back up the video and make sure it really was him. He was also solid on defense and absolutely crushed Lecavalier at one point.

And if I give kudos to Ossi Vaananen, I have to give it to Karlis Skrastins as well. Our iron man put in a great defensive showing while logging an amazing 26 minutes of ice-time. He also came flying off the bench during a powerplay and blasted a puck on net which was deflected by Tyler Arnason into the back of the net. Cumiskey had just gone off the ice during the PP and Clark passed to where Cumiskey would have been. So Skrastins put on the wheels and sent the puck flying, much to Joe Sakic's liking as he had a huge smile on his face after that play. At the end of the night, Skrastins came away with 2 assists, 2 blocked shots, 26 minutes in ice-time and a +2 rating. I don't think he's played a more complete game all season.

Finally, a plus to a couple more defensemen. Kyle Cumiskey continues to look extremely comfortable and competent on the ice. With the puck on his stick, he's cool, calm and collected making smart plays to keep possession of the puck for the Avs. He plays well in the defensive zone and looks to be a very solid d-man in the future. Once Brisebois is back, he'll likely find himself back in the minors but I can easily see him on the roster full-time next season. And Brett Clark found himself with 25 minutes in ice-time as he was partnered with Skrastins as usual. I actually have a tough time deciphering which one I should give kudos to for a good play since "3" and "5" look very much alike on the Avs jerseys.

So, what we've learned from the last 3 paragraphs is that if you can give a lot of defensemen pats on the back, it's likely a game that the Avalanche won. I know, I know, it's a bit surprising. But it is what it is and we're going to have to accept that if the Avs play well defensively, they're going to get points.

To go along with solid defensive play by the d-men, the forwards were also doing their part. Both by putting the puck in the back of the opposing net and hustling back to try and prevent the puck from going into their own net. That sort of hustle led to a goal by Hejduk as Stastny absolutely stripped Dan Boyle of the puck and went in 2-on-1, fed Hejduk a great pass and the Duke buried it.

Wolski also had some jump in his step on the backcheck and I find he's started finishing his checks more often. They're not crushing hits by any means, but the definition of finishing your check is to simply put the body on your opponent and eliminate him from the flow of the play. Wolski wasn't rewarded with any points tonight but he still put in a solid showing. He did take a penalty in the third but it was a pretty weak call as Alexeev went down on his own accord I believe.

The Stastny, Hejduk, Brunette line ended up getting top-line minutes tonight with Sakic, Wolski, Svatos right behind them. It didn't quite match the minutes of the Lecavalier-St. Louis-Prospal line for Tampa. Tampa plays the balls off of Lecavalier and St. Louis who both picked up about 24 minutes of ice-time, including a 2 1/2 minute shift at the end of the game. Prospal (who averages a 1 minute long shift!) and Richards also played just under 24 minutes. To accomodate those sort of minutes, it meant that Tim Taylor and Andre Roy both got less than 4 minutes of ice-time. Yep, Tim Taylor is their captain and he gets 3 1/2 minutes on the ice. He must be one hell of a leader off the ice.

The Avalanche special teams didn't get much chance to strut their stuff tonight. Both teams did a good job of staying out of the box. The Lightning did bury one powerplay goal on a 4-on-3. However, I'm very forgiving of 4-on-3 advantages because their much harder to defend than a 5-on-4 if you ask me. On the PK, I did see more pressure on the opposing team which forces them to make quicker decisions, thus leading to poor passes. Let's hope they keep it up tonight.

The Good
- solid game offensively and defensively
- 3 point night for Stastny

The Bad
- PP goal against (it's still bad)

The Ugly
- Lappy's snake bite


Mike Thompson said...

Here's an interesting statistical analysis of some of the hottest and coldest shooters in the league this season. Notice Lappy is the only Av to make either list.

Shane said...

Thanks for the link. It's tough to watch as Laperriere just can't buy a goal and you can easily sense his frustration.

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