Category: Hockey Stories

Not surprising. The Avs lost.

I will tell you what. I do not like the person who schedules the games for the Avalanche. There have been like four times this year where Colorado have has had four days off in a row, but the idea of traveling to Canada for two games in two days does not warrant a rest day? Actually after this next game against St. Louis the Avalanche have four days off for the All-star weekend/break. Hopefully the Avalanche don’t lose to the Blues on Thursday because it wouldn’t bode well for the tone of the break.

Last night’s loss was expected despite what I predicted, I did not want to watch because i knew they were going to lose after not scoring through the first. The Canadiens wore them down throughout the first period and scored two quick goals. The first goal was scored by Nicolas Delauriers (7) who slammed home a blocked shot off the stick of Drouin.

Nicolas Delauriers Goal (7)

The second goal was a PPG by Alex Galchenyuk (12), Galy finished off a muffed pass that was sent to Paul Byron. while he was sitting on the Back door.

Alex Galchenyuk (12)

The bleeding did not stop there former Halifax Moosehead, no not Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin sent home his seventh goal of the season to put the Canadiens up 3-0   early in the 3rd period. This goal I have some qualms with. It is purely a defensive breakdown. Not soul was challenged entering the zone and Jeff Petry found Drouin driving the back door for an easy tap in goal.

Jonathan Drouin (7)

Of all people Erik Johnson, the most senior person on the defense should have not been watching the puck but picking up his guy in front. I am going write this one up as a little fatigue from playing the night before. Another problem with the play is that we have 2 guys (Girard and Comeau) covering Petry as he drives the outside. Comeau should have peeled off and been looking for Pacioretty gliding through the middle, who was also wide open. Just abysmal.

Who but Nathan MacKinnon would start the scoring for the Avs in this game? This was MacKinnons 24th on the year. A wicked wrister from the point abusing a three man screen in-front and going top-corns on Carey Price.

Nathan MacKinnon Goal (24)

4 Minutes later Brendan Gallagher sealed the game with an empty-netter. but you don’t need to see that. JT Compher (8) though, they need to upgrade his shooting accuracy  and and speed in NHL 18 because this kid can fly and snipe. Compher breaks into the zone with Nail Yakupov and fires once, blocked, collects the puck again and fires and finds the same corner that big MacK found earlier in the game.

JT Compher Goal (8)

I think we found Carey price’s weakness, top glove for anyone who is wondering. The Avs need this off day today to get ready for the blues on Thursday. Let’s see if the Avalanche can maintain their playoff hopes going forward.

-Conner

 

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W9- Avalanche Beat the New York Rangers 3-1

On Friday the New York Rangers came to Denver to play our Colorado Avalanche. The Rangers arrived without a fully staffed defensive core, (missing Shattenkirk and Staal). The Avalanche have their share of injuries but surprisingly we have more depth on defense, apparently. The Avs have been missing Tyson Barrie for some time but you would not be able to tell by the way the Av’s blueliners have been playing. Erik Johnson has been playing like a man possessed. Johnson, since Barrie’s 10 game absence, has put up 3 goals and 4 assists +9 over that time period. All the while Johnson has been supporting young defenseman Samuel Girard, and no one is talking about him. On Saturday Johnson got involved with the two goals scored on Lundqvist. Johnson (7) buried the first on a backdoor feed from Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon, and was the primary assist on Mackinnon’s 23rd goal of the season in the second.

Pavel Buchnevich scored the lone goal for the Rangers on the day. It was a PPG off a shot-pass from Mats Zuccarello that got redirected passed Bernier.

Bernier was not really tested in the game, he fought off 27 of the 28 shots as the Avs locked up a 3-1 victory off the empty net goal by Mikko Rantanen for his 17th of the season with one second left in regulation.

If you watch the highlights the team that had all of the chances is very obvious. The Avalanche really took the game to the Rangers and this game could have easily been 6-1 based on the scoring chances. I would say that this run with the Avalanche should not be ending soon regardless of who the opponent is but I don’t think that would be an accurate assessment of the situation. A very large majority of the team’s recent games have been in Denver. Playing in Denver gives the Avalanche the obvious advantage of playing at altitude. After this homestand, the Avalanche have a 16 game span where they only have 3 games at home. This will be a true test of the fortitude of the Avalanche leadership and their mental strength.

Tomorrow the Avalanche take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto. I will preview that game tomorrow.

#goavsgo

-Conner

 

W8 Game 44- San Jose Sharks Post Game

This game went exactly the way I expected it to go. Not to be self aggrandizing but, I called it, literally. If you go back to the preview blog for this game I nailed the final score, right on the head. 5-3 Avalanche win. I guess I know my boys in burgundy and blue.

I mean it probably is not that impressive because the Avalanche almost always score 4 or more goals at home and have 17-7-1 record in Denver. It’s nice to see that they actually have a home rink advantage this year especially when they are playing at altitude.

The game started with 2 quick goals from SUPERSTAR Nathan MacKinnon (21,22). Nothing crazy to see with those goals. One was a one-t power play slap shot goal that went off of Martin Jones’ glove and the other was a wrister that managed to slip five-hole off of a misdirection.

Nathan MacKinnon Goal (21)

Nathan MacKinnon Goal (22)

Not too much later Carl Soderberg had a quick tap in goal that was set up by Matt Nieto. Nieto was stuck behind the net and sent a quick little backhand sauce pass to Soderberg who was perched out front. Soderberg ended of finessing a shot over the right pad of Jones to make the game 3-0. The Avalanche were able to take the lead into the dressing room.

Carl Soderberg Goal (10)

The second period the sharks dominated the avalanche outshooting them 17-7 and Bernier again, stood on his head in place of Semyon Varlymov. Mikko Rantanen Scored a 1:34 seconds into the period on a tipped shot from Mark Barberio.

Mikko Ranatanen (16)

Despite scoring first the Avs seemed to become complacent with their lead and sat back. This lead to Timo Meier’s 9th goal of the season. A muffled shot by Labanc from the point seemed to fool everybody. The shot eventually hit hit Bernier in the pads and Meier collected the rebound and stuffed it home. The Avalanche managed to maintain their three goal lead throughout the second. They period ended and took the 4-1 lead into the locker room.

Timo Meier Goal (9)

In the third the Sharks came out and punched the Avs right in the mouth, scoring two quick goals. One was rebound scooped up by Vlasic in front. The other was a 2-1 by Brent Burns and Joe Thornton. Burns threaded a pass underneath the stick of Nikita Zadorov, and Thornton took a quick wrist shot upstairs pulling the sharks within one (4-3). The Avalanche’s back was against the wall.

Vlasic Goal (6)

Joe Thornton Goal (12)

The line of Soderberg, Nieto, and Comeau has been incredible all season, to say the least. They have really carried the bulk of the secondary scoring for the team. The Avs were not in a good place and this line stepped forward. This time the goal was scored by Matt Nieto. Nieto ended up with a goal and an assist in this game, it had to have been a good feeling putting up two points and beating the team that waived you the season prior. Nieto’s goal was a redirection on a shot from the blue line from Blake Comeau.

Matt Nieto Goal (9) 

8 Wins in a row for the Avalanche, something even the most optimistic fan from last season would not have expected.

For those who don’t know, The Colorado Avalanche are a playoff team!

5-3 Avs win don’t @ me

-Conner

W7, Where did this team come from?

Colorado Avalanche have burst onto the media’s radar in the past couple of weeks, more specifically in 2018. For the first half of the season they flirted with a .500 record, Merely a blip on the radar for analysts. After what seemed like forever the Avalanche have been viewed in a positive light. Things seem to be falling in to place for them. Bounces are going their way and pucks are finding the back of the net, for once.

In the Avs last game versus The Anaheim Ducks (1/15/18) this sort of narrative found itself true. A Monday matinee where pucks were finding the back of the net for the Avs. Literally, pucks happened to be going in. Matt Nieto’s (8) of the season came on the back of some serious perseverance while he literally had Hampus Lindholm draped over his back.

The goals have not been over the top flashy this year but the Avs have been finding a way to get them.

But if we are talking flashy, we can talk about Jonathan Bernier. Most goalies like to show the glove to assert their dominance, not Bernie.

There have been two specific times this year that I can think about that have been worth signing him alone. This save against Ryan Kessler is for sure one of them. The other highlight would have to be this highlight during the second game of the season versus the New Jersey Devils. Bernie just up and steals Damon Severson’s Lunch.

You bundle these highlights with the fact that he is absolutely crushing it between the pipes for the Avalanche recently and you have one hell-of-a backup goaltender. In his last six games he is (6-0) and in each of these games he has only let up as much as two goals in each contest.

It truly is odd how some things pan out in sports though. I don’t know how it happens but the momentum from positive happenings can carry a team like a wave and propel them forward. In this case, what I’m referring to is how at one end of the ice you have Jonathan Bernier planting his flag firmly inside the skull of Ryan Kessler and the rest of the Ducks, with a reciprocal action carried out by Nathan Mackinnon and Gabe Landeskog on the other end of the ice.

This line of Mackinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog has been a thing of beauty for the Colorado Avalanche. They finally have an established first line that is producing the bulk of their points competitively in comparison to other teams across the league.

What Nathan Mackinnon has been doing has been remarkable. He is currently tied for second in the league for points (54). He is joined by other phenoms like Johnny T., Johnny Hockey, and Claude Giroux. This is excellent company and something I think we all expect from our 1st overall draft pick. It may have taken some time but we are finally here.

There are some things to notice about how Nathan Mackinnon scored this goal, his 20th this season. James Neal in his Players’ Tribune article said: “The real secret to scoring goals is all about the release.” From the range that Mackinnon was at, it’s relatively easy to stop a wrist shot for a goaltender. There are some contributing factors that made the degree of difficulty for this shot, higher. Cam Fowler squared up and in between him and the net. As Cam Fowler swipes at the puck Nate has to adjust the area where the puck is located in order to maintain possession. Upon adjustment, he fired the puck through Cam Fowler and passed the goaltender Ryan Miller.

These are two factors that make the shot more difficult to stop. Cam Fowler acted as a screen and masked the exact location of the puck. The quick adjustment to the puck puts the goalie in the position where he may no longer be perfectly square to the puck thus making the save harder. Young shooters should be taking notes.

With 7:04 left in the second period the Ducks ended up potting their first and last goal of the game. The puck rolled down off the back of Jonathan Bernier. Not a huge defensive break down or anything of the sort. This would be something last year that might cause the team to panic. This year has been a different story the team has been able to hold it together instead of breaking down and giving up late leads. This goal was credited to Chris Wagner for his fifth of the year.

Now I’m a big Colin Wilson guy. I don’t know why. The fact that he is finding life on the second power-play unit is making me happy. Colin is a former 20 goal scorer for the Nashville Predators but in recent years he hasn’t been as productive. He is a big guy weighing in at around 220 lbs, and he is from Connecticut. That’s probably what does it for me, in a league dominated by Canadiens a little dash of American here and there is pretty nice. Colin ended up netting the third goal for the Avalanche on the power play from Alexander Kerfoot with 20 seconds left in the second period. That would be the last goal in the game and the Avalanche would go on to win their 7th game in a row, 3-1.

Next game is Thursday night. The Avs will be hosting Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks.

 

 

 

 

An Unforgettable Ride… For The Boys

JJ Santagata The Last Ride

I have never really thought of this, for so long I always thought “oh that will never happen to me” or when the time comes I’ll be fine. It’s not that big of a deal. I never imagined I would be sitting here looking back on my career, the ups, the downs, the blood, sweat, and tears put into this sport. The broken bones, bruises and playing through injuries. All the bad that has happened this sport always kept me around. All because this sport asked me to give it my all, so I gave it my heart. I never really thought much of it, when numerous coaches would tell me “I wore my heart on my sleeve”, I thought my sheer ruthlessness, emotion, and love for the game was normal and at times, I would question myself and think am I crazy or do people not love the game as much as me. I can confidently say, I have probably said a thing or two to hurt a teammates feelings or put down a coach, nothing I am proud of, but that is what happens when I allow my emotions to overcome me and control me. Most of the time, in between periods I have no idea what to say, for those who have played with me, when I sit there quietly sometimes, it is not because I am thinking, it is because I legitimately have no idea what to say. But as a leader, you expect me to speak and step up and that is what I will do. You always think I say the right thing or do the right thing on the ice or in the locker room. But remember at times I have been lost and I have been completely unsure of myself in certain moments and games. I have made mistakes and I have lost games or caused turnovers. Leading a team is not easy and it was nothing I imagined to do, but with this opportunity, I was given to lead this 20 some odd guys alongside two great captains as well, you all have given me the confidence, support to always know what to do or say.

Now, you see many times this season we all have agreed that this year has been a bit different than years past and I would have to agree. See, my freshman year was an amazing time but I was young, irresponsible and had nothing to worry about. Nor did I truly appreciate those moments enough, I was not present enough to cherish those times. My sophomore year and junior year I put a lot of pressure on myself and dealt with my own personal problems. Now, my senior year after coming into it knowing that this could possibly be my last year with this team, this organization and certain players, a sense of awareness and urgency hit me. “The enjoy it while you can” moments hit me, the “it goes by fast” moments hit me. And I realized through my three years I probably was not the best role model nor teammate. Therefore I strived to be that, I strived to be the best teammate, captain, role model, person for all of you. When a team believes in you as much as you guys do, it changes my perception of many things. I don’t enjoy waking up Sunday mornings not being able to feel my body, or bruised from head to toe, or coming off the ice after a game ready to throw up. But. when I have a team like you guys, it makes all the negatives of this sport a positive. I am blessed to be able to wake up bruised, because I know that bruise was for you guys, I am blessed to wake up not being able to feel my body because I know plenty of you feel the same way and we worked our tails off and I am blessed to come off the ice ready to hurl because at the end of that 60 minutes I gave it my all, I played like it was my last shift and it was all for you guys. I know you all look to me for answers or to be that role model that is always there but remember boys, I too once was lost, unsure and thought I could not handle the pressures of a leadership role. I faked my way through many days in the past and I put on a mask so many of you would not see me struggle. That is why I cannot be more blessed to be apart of this team because you all have allowed me to break through many barriers in my life, be the real me, show compassion, kindness, and understanding without judgment, and fully supporting everything I do or say.

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I want you boys to look back on this year and remember all the good times we had, the feeling we all shared after a win, the late nights after games, the bus trips, the constant arguments we would get in, the yelling the screaming, the crying, everything about this season remember and cherish it. I want you boys to realize how much this season has meant to me and what has done for me personally.

This season I like to think it reminds me a lot of how that USA team was in the movie Miracle, the brotherhood that team displays in that movie is one of a kind and I wanted to bring that feeling here to you boys. Remember during that movie, when they were doing the secret Santa and everyone was just sitting there cheering having a good time, those times I’ll never forget with you boys. Remember the time, when they all shared the gold medal platform together and they are standing there, together on that small platform, smiling ear to ear, raising their hands with their fingers pointing high in the air. I want those times for us, after a win, when we get in that locker room and start dancing our face off, I think back to the time Team USA won that gold medal game and they shared the platform together.

Every moment, every win, every loss and every time I step on that ice with you boys I will cherish for the rest of my life. We are only guaranteed so much time together, one more full semester to battle every single night with the best group of men. I have not had this type of love for hockey in the last five years, you all have sparked my love for the game back and I cannot wait to absolutely leave it all out there, one last time.