Avalanche 5 - Hurricanes 4; Game Highlights - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Friday, October 23, 2009

Avalanche 5 - Hurricanes 4; Game Highlights

A couple weeks back, I was covering a World Junior announcement regarding ticket packages at TCU Place in Saskatoon. While I was there, I decided to pick up a couple tickets to A Chorus Line. I'm not a big fan of musicals but it's a pretty famous one and I thought it would be a good way to score some points with the lady friend.

"What day?", the ticket agent asked. "How about Friday?", I said, thinking that way I could get it out of the way and enjoy the weekend. Of course, I forgot to check the Avs schedule and I was left taping the game for later viewing.

And view it I did. Most times when I record a game, I fast-forward through a lot, only checking out goals or big hits. This time, I skipped through commercial breaks and intermissions but didn't touch the remote while play was underway.

When you think about it, it's not hard to understand why I would be willing to sit through a whole game even though the outcome was already decided. This team is simply fun and exciting to watch. 2-0 deficit? No problem, I'll keep watching.

And as Peter Mcnab said, any fans at that game will be coming back to the next one. And hopefully they bring their friends because my goodness there were a lot of empty seats.

Game highlights

Did anybody have any doubt once the first Avalanche goal went in that this game was about to be tied real quick?

The Avalanche continue to have trouble clearing pucks. It was a bad decision on a clearing opportunity by David Jones that led to Carolina's third goal. They need to solve this problem.

With John-Michael Liles still injured, the Avs tried Milan Hejduk out on the point on the powerplay. The first shift, it did not go so well. But after that, things settled down and Hejduk ended up scoring a beauty of a goal after sneaking in from the left side. I'm still not a huge fan of putting a forward on the point but their options are limited with Liles out of the lineup.

After Darcy Tucker was injured - oh don't worry, I'll get to that - the lines were shuffled around a bit to fill in the gap. But the overall combos felt very solid tonight. Marek Svatos is not a first line talent but moving Milan Hejduk down to play with Matt Duchene was a solid move. Hejduk and Paul Stastny still have more chemistry than Duchene and Hejduk but it was nice to see Duchene with someone who can move the puck with him rather than seeing Duchene try to do it all himself.

Oh, and the Canes first two goals? From the left side D-men? Maybe somebody could cover that spot in the future, mkay?

Player Highlights

Paul Stastny had what could be his breakout game for this season. Two goals and one assist along with an excellent defensive showing has me hopeful that he's picked up the pace on what was a bit of a lackluster start for Staz.

Wojtek Wolski has appeared again now that the team is back on home ice. Maybe he gets lonely on the road but home ice advantage really seems to help out Wolski's game. He played on the third line with Ryan O'Reilly and Chris Stewart and I thought that was a solid combo.

And speaking of Chris Stewart, after being sent down to Lake Erie he was called right back up - notably skipping above T.J. Hensick - and put in a good showing on the night. I still wouldn't call it great, even though he did assist on two goals and had five shots. I still expect more out of Stewart and find he isn't strong on his skates and isn't throwing his body around with as much conviction as he can.

Matt Duchene has started firing the puck with a much more relaxed release. He got off eight shots on the night, four of which were on goal. While some are undoubtedly disappointed he only has one goal, it's not for lack of trying.

Ryan O'Reilly really doesn't even need explanation anymore. There is no doubt that he is the steal of the 2009 draft at this point. 10 games, two goals, seven assists. He played for 19 minutes tonight which is a new career high. It was nice to see him get some powerplay time as he's certainly earned it.

Ryan Wilson could be making Brett Clark expendable. Once John-Michael Liles is back, I wouldn't mind seeing Wilson stay up with the club and have Clark watch from the press box.

The Darcy Tucker injury

Cover your ears, kids as this one won't be pretty.

There is absolutely no f'n room in hockey for bullshit hits like the one Tuomo Ruutu put on Darcy Tucker tonight. I don't care that Ruutu is not a dirty or overly aggressive player or that he didn't mean to hurt him. I don't care if he was sainted by JC himself, it's a complete brainfart of a move and Ruutu deserves a suspension and fine to prevent his brain from farting again.

The concept is so braindead simple that I could teach it to a monkey in about 20 minutes. IF YOU SEE THE NUMBERS, YOU DO NOT HIT THAT PLAYER. No exceptions. No "Oh, he turned his back to me." No "I thought he was turning into it." No "The game is so fast it was just a 'bang-bang' play". Bullshit. Those are all excuses that players use because they couldn't pull their head out of their ass.

It happened to me once and I still feel the effects to this day and I'm one of the lucky ones. Others have suffered serious injuries including broken necks and paralysis due to completely avoidable hits. Are we really waiting for a poster child from the NHL to be paralyzed before people start raising hell about this problem? Won't somebody think of the children?

And I'm serious about the children. To get this completely out of the game, you have to start at the lowest level and drill it into their heads from day one. Coaches teach kids to "finish their man", which is great and I 100% agree with that, but it has to be tempered with the caution that you never finish a player who has their back to you.

If a player turns and gives up their back, you let up. I don't care what sort of insults you hurl at the player who pulled a coward move like that, but it can not be an excuse for delivering a hit from behind. Do you really want to be the person who injures someone because your coach will yell at you if you don't?

While watching Team Canada's U20 squad practice in Saskatoon over the summer, I noticed they all had "STOP" signs on the backs of their jerseys. Maybe that needs to be there from day one all the way through to the show.

Related Links

NHL.com Game Summary
Update on Tucker from AD
MHH Recap
Video and thoughts from Puck Daddy on Ruuto hit on Tucker

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