Wild Squeak Past Avalanche - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wild Squeak Past Avalanche

(AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)
Damn that was close. If it wasn't for Nik Backstrom putting in an amazing performance, then this game very well could have gone to OT. Heck, the Avalanche might have even won the game altogether but that might be asking for too much. I mean, according to Q this team just aims to make the playoffs, not to win the division. Why set your sights high since it could just lead to disappointment, right?

Goaltending the Difference
Nik Backstrom was on fire while Theodore was very good and that was the main difference tonight. The Avalanche had quite a few opportunities, especially late in the game, but Backstrom stood tall - well, he goes down a lot so maybe "stretched far" would be a better term - and turned away all the Avalanche attempts at the tying goal.

At the other end, Jose Theodore played fine though he still tossed out a few juicy rebounds, one leading to a highlight reel save as he scrambled to stop the second chance. However he couldn't stop the ones he couldn't see and that was the difference tonight.

Do I expect a goaltender to stop pucks he can't see? No. But Backstrom did stop a few he couldn't see so whether it be luck or skill, that was the factor tonight.

Foote and Forsberg Factor
Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg returned to the Avalanche lineup and while they both played well, there wasn't that spark you initially saw when those two came back. I guess the novelty factor has worn off a bit and now those two really need to step it up and lead this team to the division title (that's right, I said it)

Wolski Riding the Pine
Wojtek Wolski was a healthy scratch again as there is an overabundance of forwards on this team. If Wolski would wake up and put in the effort that he started off the season with then he'd definitely be in the lineup consistently. Unfortunately he isn't showing that same passion and is paying the consequences.

Sakic Waiting on 1,000
Joe Sakic is still waiting on that elusive 1,000th assist but he did fire home a circa 2001 Joe Sakic wrist shot for the only goal of the game. I have to admit I had concerns on Joe's wrist shot for a while now as he seemed to either be missing the net and/or releasing the puck while it was still too far back on his blade. However tonight's shot was picture perfect and gave me hope that he hasn't lost it just yet.

Hockey State
How about those Wild fans? You can lament the teams defensive style but you certainly can't say the fans aren't there for this team. From the opening faceoff until the final buzzer, they were cheering for every hit, save, goal, clear, dump, scoring chance and stick handle. Ok, maybe there weren't that crazy but they were certainly in the game and knew how to voice their appreciation for their team.

Ol' Mick McGeough
I won't complain about McGeough's reffing much (the Forsberg dive call aside) but I will point to a nice article about this being his last year. First, I'll say say that that's a good thing. The man has obviously grown a bit too fond of himself on the ice. But I'll preface that with one thing: he definitely shows passion while out on the ice. Is it too much sometimes? Absolutely. But I bet he's had the time of his life during his lengthy career.

Oh, and I couldn't help but laugh at MacT's comment: "Aw, he's a good ref. He's not retarded"

Division Standings
The Wild now take full control of the Northwest and the Canucks, starting up shortly, have a chance to pull even with the Avalanche and Flames for 2nd in the Northwest. This is shaping up to be an ever crazier race than last year and that's saying a lot!

It's not do-or-die yet for the Avalanche but with the remaining set of games - all divisional - coming up, that time will arrive very soon.

Related Articles
NHL.com Event Summary
In the Cheap Seats Game Notes
ColoradoAvalanche.com Recap
Cumiskey Loaned to Lake Erie


Draft Dodger said...

I'm not a goalie or a goalie coach, but it really does seem incredible that Theo can have such a resurgence...and yet still be terrible at screens and deflections. You'd think he'd stop one eventually just by accident, but it never seems to happen.

Does he know he can look around players in front of him?

not blaming him, but man that's frustrating

Shane Giroux said...

Yeah, I really don't understand it and all to often, his reaction basically says "Well there's no way I could stop that. Geez guys."

I'd prefer he just pull the puck out of the net and get ready for the next shot, not give a "Why me?" arm toss.

But nonetheless, he is still playing very well after the off game against Jersey so I'm not going to complain too much.

Mike at MHH said...

Screens are tough for any goalie, but Theo tends to be at a disadvantage because he's smaller than a lot of NHL goalies and he never seems to flare out his butterfly on screen shots.

I think there could be a few things wrong:

He has trouble recognizing when the shot that he can't see is taken (You're supposed to listen and anticipate),

He's gotten burned by trying to look around screens and gets beat to the other side, so he's not working as hard,

and he's not 'getting big' on screen shots. The way I've always been told is that you get out as far as you can (right behind the guy screening you), and try to get as big in the net as you can, ie. wide butterfly, seal up the holes, and battle to see the puck.

Shane Giroux said...

"He has trouble recognizing when the shot that he can't see is taken (You're supposed to listen and anticipate),"

I think that might be the biggest key. On the 2nd Wild goal last night, he appeared pretty cavalier over what appeared to be a fairly obvious slap-pass. I didn't have my PRV last night so only saw a good replay the one time from the VS feed so I can't be too certain about it though.

Nonetheless, his small size is a definite disadvantage so he's got to get aggressive. But not too much ;)

Shane Giroux said...

Geez, how many times am I going to say "nonetheless" in one of my comments.

But nonetheless, it's an easy word to use as a segue.


Jed said...

My wife ordered me a Statsny Jersey for Christmas and it finally came in. (She ordered it in October). This means Stats is gonna get a goal (or at least a point) in each of his remaining games and the Avs are going to make the Playoffs easily!

You heard it here first!

Shane Giroux said...

Good stuff, Jed. I was bad luck last night as I was driving back for a visit with the parents as the game was going on. I still got them to tape it for me but the Avs obviously were missing a vibe last night ;)