Keenan was pissed off at his team after getting their doors blown off in San Jose, and that translated to his team's attitude as the Flames came out and dominated play against the Avs Tuesday night. Sorry haters, you'll have to wait another game to shriek about Budaj, as he was only tights and a cape away from being a superhero and stealing this game for the Avs. He fought off some weird bounces in the first period to stop 47 of 50 shots with one of those goals coming in garbage time.
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Apart from Budaj's strong play, the silver lining in this game was again the Avs penalty killing. The PKers are pressuring the puck when appropriate, filling the shooting lanes, and clearing the puck on the first try. The Avs killed off all 8 penalties until the garbage time goal by Moss at the end of the game. Again, it's no coincidence that when Budaj plays well, the PK is effective. Not only does a hot goalie stop all the pucks, but he inspires confidence in the defenders to pressure the puck and force mistakes in situations that they otherwise wouldn't.
I agree with Granato in that the Avs came out and played pretty well at the start of the game, but they couldn't recover momentum from constantly killing penalties. Svatos' goal was very nice and is what Avs' fans are used to seeing from him - close quarters finishing shot, upstairs off a nice feed. Svatos needs guys to get him the puck, and Wolski and Hensick can both do that when on their games. It's hardly even worth mentioning line combos as they were a jumble most of the night due to the immense amount of time spent killing penalties.
I was most disappointed with the Avs first power play of the evening at 1:51 of the third period. They had just killed off a long 5 on 3 and had only 2 seconds remaining on Wolski's penalty. It was a great opportunity to use the momentum from the kill to apply some pressure on Kipper, who had not seen much action. A goal to take the lead is a dagger to the Flames who had controlled the game to that point, but even if the Avs don't score, just to apply some pressure to get some fire going offensively could have turned the third period around. Instead, the Avs did almost nothing on the PP, and the Flames went on to control play for the rest of the period and win the game.
Anyways, the Avs didn't deserve to be in that game, let alone win. Hopefully Granato can use this game as an object lesson. They will have to be much better in Denver on Thursday against this same Flames team. The Avs can still hit my goal for them in this stretch against NW opponents - 3-1 - by winnng Thursday. I've joked about the streakiness of this team, but they absolutely cannot afford any more prolonged slumps such as their previous 5 game skid. The game Thursday becomes a big one for that reason - hopefully they come out flying.
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