The Colorado Avalanche played a pair of games tonight, in the rare split-squad, pre-season get together with the Anaheim Ducks. Both teams seemed to load up their home sides with the majority of their big-name players, with rosters found here for the game at Pepsi Center and here for the game at Honda Center.
Neither game went particularly well for the Avalanche, losing the home portion of the set 5-2, and falling in Anaheim 4-0. Ouch!!
Pepsi Center (Denver) Recap:
The Avalanche managed to do something they never did last season, lose a game in regulation when leading after two periods. The Avs entered the third tonight with a 2-1 advantage, but gave up 4 straight goals to the Ducks in the final frame (one was an empty netter). The Avs had the 3rd best record in the NHL when leading after 2 periods last season, posting an impressive 35-0-3 record. This was one of reasons the Avalanche were so successful during the regular season, and captured the Central Division crown.
Zach Redmond scored his first goal in an Avs sweater, and is making a strong push towards earning the final starting defenseman spot. I said after day one of training camp that Ryan Wilson was probably the favorite, but after watching the B&W game, and given the performance Redmond turned in tonight, I’d say he has taken over the clubhouse lead.
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Brad Stuart led all Avs with 21:47 of ice-time. Matt Duchene led all forwards with 20:57 of ice time. Erik Johnson had a solid game, and was on the ice for both Avalanche goals. EJ had an assist on the Avs first goal, and also blocked a couple of shots. Dennis Everberg was one of the Avs’ most physical players at Avs rookie camp, and he showcased that tonight with a team high 7 hits. Joey Hishon, a guy who I had high praise for earlier today had a solid game, although he struggled in the face-off circle. If Hishon wants that 3rd line center role, he is going to have to be better than the 1/11 win-rate he had tonight. Andrew Agozzino was a bright spot on offense assisting on both Avalanche goals. Alex Tanguay and Zach Redmond were the goal scorers for the Avs. Brad Winchester (2), Andrew Cogliano, Patrick Maroon, and Jakob Silfverberg scored for the Ducks. The Avs were outshot 28-26.
Overall, not the best start to the pre-season for the Avs, considering they had several of their big guns playing on the home ice, while the Ducks left their stars in California. That being said, it is just pre-season. The lines were all jumbled, and the Avs had youngster Calvin Pickard in net. Perhaps starter Semyon Varlamov would have been able to hold the lead, like he did so often last season.
One last thought. The new Ducks road unis are a significant improvement over what they had been wearing for the past few seasons. Well done on the re-design!
Honda Center (Anaheim) Recap:
Reto Berra didn’t get off to the start he, or many Avs fans apprehensive about having him as the back-up goalie this season, were hoping for. The Ducks struck quickly putting two pucks past Berra within the game’s first 6 minutes. Berra finished with 26 saves on 30 shots. Danny Heatley took less than a minute to score his first goal in a Ducks uni, causing the #50in07 crowd to go nuts on Twitter. Essentially a long-standing joke about Heatley being the best player in the NHL, destined to score 50 goals every season…
The Avs never recovered from the slow start, and ended up getting blown out 4-0. The Ducks got goals from Heatley, Rickard Rakell, Ben Lovejoy, and Brendan Bell. The Ducks also won the shot battle 30-27. Nick Holden led the Avs with 21:26 of ice-time. This re-cap will be kept short, since I actually didn’t watch or listen to any of this game. Plus, if the Avs don’t decide to show up and play, I don’t think I should have to show up and strain myself for a well thought out recap, especially in pre-season! I think everyone would much rather quickly forget this game ever happened.
The Avs will look to rebound on Thursday in Montreal. And remember Avs fans, don’t panic… It’s only pre-season!