This time it was the opponent's goalie who gave up a bit of a weak one to allow the Avs to force overtime and win in the shootout. Tjarnqvist did a nice job of finding the open space, calling for the pass and one-timing a nice hard shot at the net with Stastny creating some traffic, but I'm sure Schneider would tell you that he should have had it. Anytime the puck appears to go through the goalie instead of around him, it's not a good goal.
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After two pretty listless games, the Avs did appear to change strategy a bit last night. Although they were generally outplayed again in the first period, they did at least attempt to forecheck and pressure the puck in the offensive zone. They only used the one-man forecheck in situations where the Canucks had clear posession breaking out of their end, like off of a line change. The biggest problem in the first period was the Avs' god awful powerplay attempt. That disaster pretty much sucked the air right out of the arena.
Fortunately, David Jones showed up for this game. He played a fantastic game and put a spark in to the team with his highlight reel goal to get the Avs on the board in the 2nd period. Amongst the youngsters, Jones stood out and so did Chris Stewart. I wrote that in his first game Steward looked fast, small and scared (despite being 6'2", 220 lbs). Well last night he looked fast, strong and hungry. Looking forward to seeing more of him in the coming games. As with most young players, consistency will be an issue, but that is Granato's task to get these guys going every night.
This game's formula is one the Avs must have in order to win right now: RPM line played like a true #1 elite NHL line, and some young guys contributed. That's how it has to be. The RPM line absolutely cannot take a night off, and specifically Ryan Smith needs to lead. He played very well last night, and as a result the RPM line factored in on three of the Avs 4 goals, and the Avs won.
Granato shortened his bench last night in the the third period. Hensick and the Codys rode the pine in the 3rd. That's something we haven't seen from Granato yet this year. Stewart, Jones and Lappy played together in the third, and played alot. I don't mind this approach, the only major drawback is that Laperriere is terrible at the faceoff dot. But this team is hurting at the center position, see Arnason as the 2nd line center.
Another successful shootout and the Avs walk away with 2 points. This team needs to put some distance between itself and the .500 mark where it currently resides. Step 1 is against the Kings tomorrow night.
The Avs have been mentioned in several rumours lately. One is Mats Sundin. This isn't happening unless the Avs win 10 out of their next 12 games. And I'm guessing that Mats will sign before this unlikely event could even happen. No more about him.
The other rumour is the Bouwmeester trade talk. I don't get this one. Yes, the Avs need a PP QB. But Bouwmeester isn't exactly that guy. And the organizational depth of the Avalanche is at defense. It would be really stupid to trade draft picks or young forward prospects for another D man. The only trade that makes sense at this point is for the Avs to trade one of their current D men for picks or prospects. I would expect that to happen whenever Foote is ready to come back.
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