Nov 7, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing Alexander Steen (20) handles the puck against the Calgary Flames at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned: Avalanche - Blues


Oof.

That was a bit rough, no? The Avalanche needed this game. They needed it to show the world that they are for real, that they are to be included among the elite in the NHL. The St.Louis Blues ended up schoolyard bullying them and showing them who’s in charge.

Granted, it’s one game. The rest aren’t likely to be blowouts on either side and the Avalanche are still off to an incredible start at 14-4-0. So it’s definitely not time to panic, but this should be a red alert for the Avs: you need to get better if you want to compete with the big boys.

Let’s get on to what we learned from Thursday night’s 7-3 loss to the Blues.

Penalty Killed

I don’t care how good you are on special teams, you never ever, ever, ever want to give the opposition multiple power plays. I understand that the Avalanche have had one of the best PK units in the game this year, but you definitely would not know it watching this one.

The Blues were damn near unstoppable with the man-advantage. They went three-for-four on the night, something the Avalanche haven’t had happen to them this year. The top unit with T.J. Oshie, David Backes and Alex Steen was pretty much the catalyst for that, collecting nine points as a unit. Oh, Oshie was also responsible for this hit which was the epitome of the night:

 

And that’s how you sum up the night for the Avalanche, especially on special teams: abused.

Goaltending? What Goaltending?

You can’t even really be mad here. Semyon Varlamov and JS Giguere were playing so far above the norm that they were bound to come back to the mean eventually. Just not this precipitously.

Giguere was okay for 20 minutes before surrendering two quick goals in the second period and giving way to Varlamov. Varly wasn’t much better, allowing two goals on six shots and getting yanked for Giguere again in the third period.

There were a few goals that are going to happen – deflections, rebounds – but Giguere and Varly just looked bad. In a statement game, they didn’t come to play and it killed the Avalanche.
A bad start here and there is expected, so no need to panic, but if the Avalanche want to stay in the hunt for the division, this problem can’t persist.

Beat Up, Beat Down

Perhaps the biggest statement made by the Blues was physically. As you saw above with that Oshie hit on McGinn, the Blues punished the Avalanche both on the ice and on the scoreboard.

There were three fights on the night and the Blues walked away with two decisive wins and a draw. Cory Sarich tried to swing some momentum towards Colorado in the disastrous second period by scrapping with Chris Stewart only to have his hat handed to him. Matt Duchene and Vladimir Sobotka had the surprising fight of the night just :40 later and Cody McLeod got destroyed by Ryan Reaves to finish out the period.

This got ugly for the Avalanche and they looked like the Avs of the last few seasons with the way they were flat-out bullied. They get an easy kill on Saturday when the Panthers come to town, but they seriously need to work on things if they want to compete with the elite of the West. 

Ryan is the editor of Mile High Sticking as well as co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to talk Avs, Sabres, hockey in general, or to let him know what a yutz he is.

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Tags: 2013-14 Season Alexander Steen Colorado Avalanche Matt Duchene NHL Semyon Varlamov St. Louis Blues TJ Oshie