Avalanche Still Winless, Fall 5-4 to Flames - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Avalanche Still Winless, Fall 5-4 to Flames

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal)
Three games in and the frustration is starting to mount. Once again the Avalanche found themselves in a hole early, battled back hard but ended up just short of the still elusive "W" as the Flames downed them by a double-checked score of 5-4.

Brace yourselves, there's a lot of talking below.

1st Period
The Avalanche started the game off solid. Milan Hejduk nearly snuck one past Kiprusoff early, Paul Stastny showed what it means to cover the middle of the ice on defense, and Liles and Jones teamed up on Bertuzzi with a knock-em-over-elbow-em-in-the-head move.

But just over three minutes in the Flames got on the board with their first of three powerplay goals. Peter Budaj made the initial save - a very nice save - but the rebound hung around in the slot and Dustin Boyd got a handle on it before anybody else. 

While everybody was still reeling from the Avalanche giving up the early lead again, Peter Budaj tried to snag a tipped puck that went about 50 feet in the air...and it bounced out of his glove right to Todd friggin Bertuzzi's stick. And just like that, the Flames had a 2-0 lead on back-to-back powerplay goals.

Cody Mcleod calmed everybody's fears though as he brought the Avs within one. Ryan Smyth worked hard down low but the Flames still got it out of the zone. However they were confused by the brilliance of Smyth's work down low and ended up running into each other in the neutral zone. Cody McCormick, in for the benched Marek Svatos, then stole the puck, fired a shot on Kipper and Mcleod banged home the rebound. The best part of that goal? Phaneuf lost coverage and ended up falling into the net just as the puck was going in. Norris trophy my ass, Phaneuf.

Craig "Crazy Eyes" Conroy restored the two goal lead on a goal that Budaj certainly would like back. Hell, I'd like it back. Conroy broke down the wing and whipped a backhand on net that went right through Budaj's five hole. A backhand fired from close to the hashmarks with a defender draped on the shooter should never make its way into the back of the net. Unless the net was empty.

The Avalanche capped off a wild first period with a powerplay goal of their own. Mark Giordano crunched Milan Hejduk along the boards, completely wiping himself out of the play in the neutral zone. Smyth grabbed the puck, fed it to Stastny - and took a hit from Rene Bourque in the process. Stastny got Phaneuf to bite on covering the cross ice pass and ended up dropping it back to Liles who had the entire ice surface to himself and made no mistake. Meanwhile, Phaneuf was left standing idly by Kiprusoff while Mathew Lombardi's speedy backcheck left him helpless behind the goal line. 

And then the rough stuff began. At the end of the period, Phaneuf put a late hit on Mcleod and Mcleod shoved him over. McCormick then deflected Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow away from Mcleod, leaving Mcleod to jaw with Phaneuf. Iggy got a little feisty, McCormick popped him one, knocking him down, and then it was on.

McCormick gave Iginla time to take his visored helmet off but Iginla left it on and lost a bit of street cred in my book. The two tossed some punches and Iginla ended up taking McCormick down to the ice.  But I still give the win to McCormick because that's how I roll.

2nd Period
I spent the first five minutes of the second period watching election results, making a quiche, and twittering. Luckily I didn't miss any excitement.

Nine minutes in, the Avalanche tied it up on an absolutely gorgeous powerplay goal. Joe Sakic took a hard hit along the boards from Robyn Regeher but maintained control of the puck. He then fired a pass across to Paul Stastny who held the puck long enough to draw a defender to him. He then whipped a pass across to Ryan Smyth who was uncovered behind Kiprusoff. Smyth cooly buried the puck and hopes were restored.

The Flames surged hard at the end of the second but Budaj made a couple nice saves to maintain the tie going into the third period.

3rd Period
The Avalanche were getting outshot 27-15 going into the third and you know Tony Granato brought that up during the intermission pep talk. 

Unfortunately, the Flames got off the first two goals of the third period. Iginla scored the Flames third PP goal as David Jones failed to clear the puck, leading to a wide open Iginla firing a rocket shot top corner past Budaj. 

Iginla then capped off his Gordie Howe hat trick as his initial shot was kicked out by Budaj directly onto Todd friggin Bertuzzi's stick for his second of the game. It was a big rebound by Budaj but Adam Foote left Bertuzzi alone to gobble it up so they share equal blame.

I was ready to call it a game at that point. Then lady luck smiled on the Avalanche.

18 seconds after the Flames fifth goal, Ben Guite wristed a shot in from the blueline which took a bounce about eight feet away from Kiprusoff which carried it over his shoulder and into the back of the net. Now the Avs can't claim this game was due to bad bounces!

But that was all she wrote for the Avs as they couldn't capitalize on a Phaneuf penalty or once Budaj was yanked for the extra attacker.

An 0-3 start to the season and not only has the handwringing begun, there are some broken fingers starting to pop up.

Granato shook up the lines a bit tonight starting with bringing in Cody McCormick and sitting Marek Svatos. Svatos had been pretty silent in the first two games but I didn't think he was silent enough for a benching. But McCormick played a good game tonight and I can't say that Svatos would have made a difference.

The new lines were (for the most part):

The defensive pairings were unchanged with Clark-Foote, Liles-Hannan and Leopold-Salei.

Ryan Smyth was the ice-time leader with 23:59 and for good reason. He was a demon on the forecheck all game long.

The Avalanche were credited with 15 hits on the night, three of them coming from Wojtek Wolski. Again the RTSS stats show their subjectivity as Jones only had one credited hit but I personally had a note of three obvious hits for Jones.

Hejduk and Smyth fired off five shots on goal while Sakic managed a mere four shots on goal. He must be feeling his age. 

The Avalanche were outshot for the first time in the season. They managed a respectable 29 shots on goal to the Flames 35.

The Avalanche lost out in the faceoff circle thanks to Tyler Arnason's stellar 2-for-11 outing. Ray Ferraro commented that "It looks like Arnason is scared to rip the tape on his stick in the faceoff circle." Yep, that's our Arny.

Odds and Ends
I'll lead off with the greatest note. It's so great I'm actually going to take a video of it and put it on YouTube once I find my camera. Around the four minute mark of the third period, Dion Phaneuf fell off the bench on a line change. I'm not 100% positive it was Phaneuf but he was on the ice on the ensuing whistle, the fallen player was definitely a defenseman and it appeared to be the right side D-man. That's a conviction in my books!

The Avs PP looked brilliant at times and utterly atrocious at other times. The PP goal was a thing of brilliance but too often they looked disorganized breaking in to the zone and spent a lot of time not moving their feet once they'd established themselves. Granato needs to tighten that up.

The defense looked more cohesive today. Wingers were sticking near their point men more often as opposed to collapsing down low too early. Not every time, but more often than the last few games. Hopefully they keep working on that adjustment.

Paul Stastny is making a statement so far. And that statement, unfortunately for the Avalanche, is "I am worth a boatload of cash." Time to re-up his contract, Mr. Giguere.

David Jones is looking good physically but he's not getting any points nor very many scoring changes. After spending time on the top line and not getting any production, he could find himself stuck on the third line until he picks it up a notch.

TSN is still talking about Mats Sundin like people still care. Here's a hint: nobody cares. Especially not the Rangers who don't have the cap room to sign him nor the have the need to sign him. And man, Torts is boring so far on the panel.

And just to make sure I rag on TSN enough, what a brutal "video montage" to go along with their prized acquisition, the old HNIC theme. It looked like shots from NHL '09 haphazardly put together by a 10-year old. There was no passion, no fire, no reality. In short, it was an epic fail.

But I prefer Ferraro on color commentary as opposed to Pierre McGuire. So there's one point for TSN.

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Ryan said...

I'm sure you all would agree that Jerome Iginla Is a P*^sy! What kind of hockey player agrees to fight someone and doesn't take their helmet with a plastic shield off!?? Hell I'll fight Scott Parker with a full shield and helmet and I'm 5'6, 145lbs! F' the Flames! The beginning of our season is only setting up a great middle and end. I'm not too concerned...

Shane Giroux said...

I'm not sure I'd take a run at Parker even with a full shield and bulletproof vest ;)

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