The Avs lost 2-0 last night despite getting 33 shots and several quality scoring chances on Wild goalie Backstrom. The effort was back tonight, but in the NHL effort isn't always enough. That's why it is imperative to have a maximum effort every game. Had the Avs played this way against Phoenix and Nashville, perhaps this would have been their only loss instead of their third in a row.
From a gameplay standpoint, my only observation is that the d-men weren't getting their shots through and on net like they were during the Avs' previous home winning streak. Leopold alone missed then net several times on good scoring opportunities. The Wild blocked a ton of shots which they should be given credit for, but the Avs also share the blame for not figuring out how to get the shots through. This team is dependent on getting mucking goals now, and in order for guys like Smyth and Tucker to do that, those point shots have to get through to the goalie.
Speaking of Tucker, what a nut job. His freak out on Clutterbuck at the end of the game was embarrassing. What a stupid time to get a holding the stick penalty - it iced that game for the Wild. The undisciplined play from several guys in the last couple games is a strange new problem that the Avalanche do not need right now.
The big story going in to this game was Granato's recent line shuffle. The biggest piece of this was moving Wolski to center (finally). I am happy about this, but I am mystified at the scratching of Guite for Willsie. I like Willsie just fine but he only played 6 minutes and change. The Avs are hurting at center and they scratch Guite? They don't have anyone that can consistently win faceoffs and they scratch their best faceoff guy? Just seems strange. Granato must really be wedded to the idea of keeping Lappy at center for some reason. Move him back to wing already and set the 4th line at Lappy-Guite-McLeod and sit Tucker for being a moron.
Much was made of Hejduk moving to the left side on a line with Wolski and Jones, but that lasted all of a period before Hejduk was moved back to the right wing with Smyth and Wolski as the center. I prefer this arrangement. Hejduk still needs someone who can get him the puck, and his defensive awareness can pick up whatever slack is left by Wolski (who does dog it in his own end at times). Smyth will do the dirty work and Wolski can create and distribute. I also like a second line of Hensick centering the two young power forwards Stewart and Jones. Willsie can hop up to the third line and McLeod can stay on the 4th. Hopefully Granato sticks with this for a few games at least.
Also, I should mention that Foote got hurt so add that to the list of injuries. At least the Avs have defensive depth with Tjarnqvist. And Budaj had another strong game wasted by a lack of offensive support. But if the Avs get this effort and goaltending, the results will improve. On to Smashville Tuesday.
Congrats to Canada for winning a fantastic game against the Russians. All that I love about the WJC rolled in to one superb game. Looking forward to the gold medal game tonight against the Swedes.