So the Avalanche are 4-0.
Did anyone think we’d be sitting here saying that? Considering they’d never started 3-0 as the Avalanche, I’m going to guess not. But here we are. The really encouraging part of last night, aside from the outstanding performance of JS Giguere, is the fact that the team didn’t play particularly well but still beat a very good team.
Obviously, this isn’t going to happen every night, but being able to go into Boston, not have your best game, and still walk out with two points should have these guys soaring. The team is playing fast, aggressively, and above all else, confidently.
Here’s what we learned from last night’s 2-0 win.
Francois Allaire and Patrick Roy Poop Magic
I’ve done my fair share of fawning over Semyon Varlamov and his performance thus far, but after seeing Giguere stand on his head last night, it’s clear that the praise should go to goaltending coach Allaire and head coach Roy.
Allaire and Giguere were already familiar; he was with the Ducks when Giggy became an elite netminder for the then-Mighty team out of Anaheim. He’s in a bit of a different role now that he’s in the twilight of his career, but after watching him last night, you’d never think the latter was true.
The Avalanche were flat in large chunks last night, but Giguere never wavered. He didn’t make the prettiest saves, but he kept the puck out of the net all night despite escalating pressure from the Bruins throughout the night.
If Varlamov comes out and has another dynamite start, we might want to see what else Allaire and Roy can turn to gold.
That Was The Worst Game The Avs Played This Year
Not that there weren’t bright spots but holy smokes, that was a game the Avs should consider themselves lucky to have. Aside from a solid first period, the Avalanche didn’t look like the same team of the first three games apart from the goaltending.
They followed up a late first-period power play goal by coming out with no energy in the second period and managed to survive several strong chances from the Bruins throughout the period. The fact that they were outshot 29-16 through the final two periods should tell you a little bit about their performance.
But these things are going to happen. No team is consistently great for 82 games. More importantly, the good teams are the ones that can find a way to win when they aren’t at their best, so this should be a highly encouraging game for the Avs. They didn’t look great, but they fought hard, got some great goaltending, and managed to take advantage of the opportunities they were given.
Last year, this team may have buckled under the pressure from the Bruins, but this year’s club clearly buys into whatever Roy is teaching and they are playing with confidence.
This Penalty Kill is Good
One of the saving graces on the night was the dynamite penalty kill unit for the Avs. Coming into the game perfect and ranked first in the league, they had to kill off three penalties and looked good doing it (for the most part).
Controlled aggression is a big part of this unit, and they keep the pressure on the power play unit. Keeping a team like Boston from setting up is big, though on one kill, the group was stranded for most of the kill and got bailed out a bit by Giguere. But for most of their kills, they look confident in what they’re doing and they get the puck out quickly.
Hell, they damn near had a shorty in the first period when MacKinnon wheeled around starting just above the circles, gave it to O’Reilly, turned on the jets and nearly had a tap-in goal on a two-on-one. The only reason it wasn’t is because Tuukka Rask made an outstanding save that barely kept the puck out of his own net.
Also important: this isn’t a group anchored by a handful of players; all six defensemen got in the act. When you have that kind of depth and can rely on just about anyone to get the job done, you have that extra bit of confidence that makes you hard to beat. Add in the speed factor and this team is going to score more than a few shorthanded goals this season.
Matt Duchene Was Again Outstanding
He did pick up an empty-net goal with some outstanding hustle there at the end, but I feel like Dutchy should have many more points than he does right now. The guy has been playing extremely well, flashing that incredible speed, and making things happen.
There was a flurry late last night where Duchene sped down the wing, made a move, and rung one off the post before getting his own rebound and nearly putting that one in. Combine that kind of effort with his work in the faceoff circle and you see what I mean. He’s been playing at a high level even though the stats don’t show you that.
He’s clearly buying into this system and is playing with so much confidence, you can practically feel it radiating through your screen when you watch this team. It’s not hard to predict big things for him because he’s so obviously talented, but man, it’s just a matter of time before he goes off. Another outstanding game.
Next up: Saturday @ Washington
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