Minnesota Wild Embarrass Colorado Avalanche On Opening Night


The Minnesota Wild defeated… errr… decimated the Colorado Avalanche, to the delight of their crazed northern fans, on Opening Night by a score of 5-0. The Avs were out of this game in the pre-game warmup. They just flat out didn’t show up. Here’s a quick list of things that show up more than the Avalanche did tonight:

  • Emma Watson to the dates I invite her on
  • The Denver Broncos when they wear their orange jerseys in the Super Bowl
  • Yellow font on cream paper
  • The sun during a solar eclipse
  • My dead great-grandmother at family Christmas

The Wild set the tone early, dominating the first period of play. Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov minimized the damage, allowing a single Jason Pominville goal. The real goat on the first goal of the game was newly acquired defenseman Brad Stuart, who failed to pick-up any Wild players entering the zone, giving Pominville a clear path to the rebound.

“That’s what happens. A team that wins battles looks good against a team that doesnt.”  Gabe Landeskog

The second period was an opportunity for the Avs to find their game. Varly kept things tight, despite the Wild having played well enough to be up by several goals. The second period gave both teams what they deserved. The Wild poured it on, opening up a 5-0 lead, and a 38-13 shot disparity through two periods. The Avalanche defense looked lost. Nick Holden got caught flat footed, and Alex Tanguay didn’t drop back into the zone to cover for him on the Jared Spurgeon goal. Zach Parise was able to whack away at a puck several times before burying a goal, while Jan Hejda casually observed from his left hip. Suddenly the Avs were behind 3-0, and the rout was on.

The Wild continued to pour it on. Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Suter added goals to open the gap to 5-0 in the second half of the period. The final frame was relatively uneventful, with the only storylines being if the Wild would hit 50 shots, and if Darcy Kuemper would get the shutout. The shots finished 48-16 in Minnesota’s favor.

The Wild flexed their muscles, with passing and creativity, and the fans jovially waved their rally towels and taunted the Avs starting goaltender with chants of “Var-Ly” despite this game being entirely the fault of the other 18 players on the ice. The Avs looked deflated. Dejected. Uninspired. Where was that leadership we paid a premium for this off-season?

The Wild’s top line looked fantastic, with Zach Parise finishing the game with 1 G and 2 A, Jason Pominville with 1 G and 1 A, and Mikael Granlund with a pair of assits. They were dangerous in the Avs zone nearly every time they stepped on the ice. Generally hockey analysts will speak in hyperbole when they make statements similar to this, but tonight that statement is as literal as it gets.

Even without the glaring mistakes that led to several of the Wild goals, the Avs were flat outworked and outhustled. The Wild won every battle, and on the rare occasion that the Avs did take control of the puck they bumbled it away. The power play over passed, with the Avs unable to secure a single shot on any of their four PP opportunities.

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  • Overall, just an awful, awful game for the Mile High crew. I think this would have been their worst game of the year last season. The good news is, the Avalanche have 81 more games to show their stuff. Remember last year? The Avalanche beat the team who finished with the most points in the Western Conference, the Anaheim Ducks, 6-1 at Pepsi Center on opening night. One game isn’t going to define their season. How the Avalanche respond will.

    The Avs will look for revenge on Saturday night, when Wild come to Denver for a re-match. Here are some positives the Avalanche can take into that game:

    • The Avalanche outshot Zach Parise 16-9
    • The Avalanche team matched the Wild’s top line in shots 16-16
    • Reto Berra posted a shutout during his period of action
    • We get to play the “who scores the first goal for the Avalanche this season?” game again Saturday
    • The Avs might be able to find their game, since clearly they left it in Denver #TreasureHunt!
    • Colorado Rockies mascot Dinger is not expected to show up behind the plate during the ninth inning on Saturday