The Colorado Avalanche probably can’t wait to get back home.
After a three game road trip through western Canada, the Avalanche come back 1-2-0 and minus arguably their best defensive defenseman in Jan Hejda. Thankfully, Hejda is expected back as soon as Saturday after learning that his knee injury was a sprain and not something more.
Still, the Avalanche haven’t looked like themselves of late. They’re not playing with that electric energy, light-speed tempo and relentlessness that they displayed early on in the season. We could speculate all day on just why that is – maybe it’s injuries, maybe it’s a young team hitting a proverbial wall – but the fact of the matter is that the team needs to turn itself around a bit if they don’t want an extended skid to hurt their standing in the Central Division.
Injuries Starting to Hurt
Injuries happen to every team, some worse than others, and it’s just apart of every NHL season that teams have to try to weather and adjust to. That said, the Avalanche are being hit by it right now and it’s showing.
Alex Tanguay and Ryan Wilson have been out awhile now, but the Avs have had games missed from Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Jamie McGinn and Jan Hejda. Semyon Varlamov is battling some sort of groin strain, which could be why J.S. Giguere got his second straight start.
The fact of the matter is that you need to win regardless of who you’re icing, but when you’re missing important players at any time, it’s going to impact you. The Avalanche are hoping to get everyone as healthy as possible soon. If they don’t, they’ll need to start finding ways to win shorthanded.
I Don’t Practice Santor-ia
The game was closer than the 3-1 score would lead you to believe as the Avs outshot the Canucks on the night. The biggest difference, though, was the performance of Canucks winger Mike Santorelli.
What else is there to say about his performance last night? He picked up the first goal of the game about five minutes in, set up the all-important second goal that came off the stick of Ryan Kesler and sealed the deal just over five minutes later with his second tally of the night.
In what ended up being a tight game, the outstanding performance by Santorelli (six shots in nearly 19 minutes of ice time in addition to that three-point effort) helped propel the Canucks to the victory.
It’s hard to be mad at J.S. Giguere for giving up three goals on 21 shots after he pretty much stopped everything in sight over his first seven starts which, oh yeah, he won them all. He was outplayed by Roberto Luongo, who stopped 28 of 29 shots on the night, and there’s no shame in being bested sometimes.
That said, I hope that the groin issue Varly has been experiencing isn’t something that is going to linger. I would venture to guess that it’s the reason Giguere got his second straight start and one would think it hampered Varly in Edmonton during that shellacking.
With all of the injuries the team has been dealing with of late, Varlamov is the one they can least afford. He’s been playing so well this season, but more importantly, he can shoulder a full-time load. It’s doubtful that the 35-year-old Giguere can handle that kind of work load if he’s pressed to do so. Hurry back, Varly.
Next up: 12/10 vs Phoenix
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