Last night's game was as thoroughly entertaining as last Friday's game in Phoenix was boring. It's amazing that two games three days apart can be so completely opposite in every way - style of play, effort, scoring, atmosphere. There were plenty of mistakes made by both teams, to be sure, but it was fun to watch.
The Avs actually played hard and forechecked from the beginning of the game. Even at the NHL level, defensemen (and forwards) make mistakes when they are pressured. The Avs carried the play for most of this game - the score was alot closer than it should have been.
Why was it only a one goal game? Well a familiar bane of the Avalanche again reared its head - penalty killing. The Wild were 3 for 4 on their power play, and scored almost immediately on two of them. The middle PP goal came only 22 seconds in to the second period. The Avs did not even get to set up their PK before the Wild scored any of these goals. Perhaps it was simply a concentration issue on the part of the players? It's hard to blame it on the PK system, since they never got to actually use it in those situations. They were able to kill a third period chance off.
5 goals on 17 shots is not a good night for any goaltender at any level, but the odd thing about this game is that none of those goals were really Budaj's fault. Yes, one would hope that he could come up with a big save or two, but all of those goals were basically scored from his doorstep. There were no 45 foot stinkers, or any pucks bouncing off his pads from behind the net. The Wild were able to capitalize on the few chances they had, and that kept them in an otherwise lopsided game.
Much more fun to see a 6-5 Avs win in a packed X than a 2-1 loss at the empty Jobing.com! It was great to see the Avs generate so many chances without Sakic in the lineup. Hopefully they can carry this confidence on with them to Thursday's game in Nashville. These are the types of points the Avs must win if they are holding playoff aspirations.
There has been some speculation again regarding the Avs trading a d-man away for a forward. I didn't believe it last time, and I don't put much stock in the rumors that would send Afinegenov to the Avs. I would love to see this guy in an Avs jersey. When I attended the Sabres/Wild game earlier this year, he was the best player on the ice for most of the night. However, if Foote comes back soon and Sakic gets put on the IR or (god forbid) is done for the season, then I could see the Avs getting more serious about a trade. I just don't think Clark or Salei would be enough to get Afinegenov, and I don't want to see the Avs trade away any more draft picks.