Quick Hits: Colorado Avalanche at Columbus Blue Jackets


Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Colorado Avalanche – 3 Columbus Blue Jackets – 2 (OT)

*This was a bad game by the Colorado Avalanche, especially the first 50 minutes. Not much happened in the first period as both teams clogged things up and didn’t allow many offensive chances, but they were brutal in the second period. Defensive zone turnover after defensive zone turnover led to a bunch of chances for Columbus.

*Nate Guenin and Tyson Barrie in particular had a bad defensive game. Guenin coughed the puck up to Brandon Dubinsky behind the net, which led to Dubinsky finding Cam Atkinson wide open in the slot for a rocket shot past Semyon Varlamov.

*The second goal came when Barrie made a bad turnover, the Avs had to do a “emergency clear” and then Barrie and Guenin whiffed on a bouncing puck at the blueline, which led to a Blue Jackets 2-on-1 after Barrie stopped skating. Varlamov was hung out to dry as Blake Comeau put the puck into an empty net.

*The thing about this team is that, even when they’re playing bad, they somehow find a way to win. And that’s what happened in this one.

*It all started when Brad Malone threw the puck out front to essentially no one, but the puck bounced off of Nick Foligno’s skates and past Sergei Bobrovsky. That goal got the Avs going and seemed to breathe new life into the team.

*It’s always nice when a guy like Malone scores. He always works hard on every shift, so it’s good when a guy like that gets a fortunate bounce. Malone also put a beatdown on Derek MacKenzie in about the only eventful moment in the first period.

*Joe Sacco used to switch lines all the time when things weren’t working. And things still wouldn’t work. When Patrick Roy switches lines, things magically work.

*Roy put Nathan MacKinnon back with Paul Stastny and Gabe Landeskog, moving John Mitchell to center with Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn. I thought this should’ve been the plan all along since Mitchell played well in replace of Matt Duchene against San Jose and MacKinnon, Stastny, and Landeskog were turning into something, but I also understood Roy’s strategy.

*To the original point: when MacKinnon was reunited with Stastny and Landeskog, magic happened. They combined on the second goal after some very pretty passing with MacKinnon finding Landeskog in front of the net for a tip in front. The puck actually went off a Columbus player, but, unlike the first goal, this one was the result of hard work and not just an extremely fortunate bounce.

*So, despite going through the motions for 50 minutes, the Avs somehow found a way to steal a point and get things into overtime.

*Then they stole the extra point.

*Landeskog drew a penalty and scored the game winning goal on the power play. Actually, Jack Johnson scored the game winning goal as the puck went off of him and into the net when Landeskog tried to pass the puck across to MacKinnon.

*So how do the Avs find a way to win these games? Two reasons: 1. They keep pushing and don’t wilt when things don’t seem to be going their way. 2. Semyon Varlamov.

*As I wrote last time, Varly should not only get Vezina consideration, he should get Hart consideration as well. If there is a more important player to their hockey team than Varlamov is to the Avs then I haven’t seen him play enough this year.

*When the game was 2-0 in favor of Columbus, Varly made a number of huge saves to keep it that way. A third goal would’ve likely been the end of the Avs, but Varly wouldn’t let it happen. Even after Landeskog tied the game, Varly had to make a point blank save to salvage things. He’s been absolutely spectacular this year.

*Once again, this was not a good game by the Avs, especially their second period. In fact, before the comeback, I was ready to call this their worst game of the season.

*I don’t get to see Columbus as often as I used to with the division changes, but they are a really skilled and deep team. They just need someone to bring in that “winning culture” that Roy and Joe Sakic brought to the Avs. Considering that Columbus doesn’t have a rich history of winning, it’s more likely that they’ll have to establish a winning culture on their own, which isn’t done overnight.

Next Game: Thursday vs. New York Rangers