Takeaways From 1st Avalanche-Wild Game


“We have one more to go (Saturday) so we’re not going to hang our heads or feel sorry for ourselves. We’re going to move on and get ready for Saturday.” – Gabriel Landeskog

It was ugly — that’s the number-one takeaway from the first match of the Colorado Avalanche vs the Minnesota Wild in the Xcel Energy Center. The Avalanche were outshot 48 to 16, and they lost 5-0.Yep, it was one of the uglier games in Colorado’s recent history.

So, let’s have a look at why the Avalanche-Wild game was so ugly.

#1: The Avalanche haven’t found their chemistry yet.

Head coach Patrick Roy showed at the beginning of last season that he likes to shuffle his lines around in the first month or so. He’s following true to form this season. The top-six lines that took the ice for the first game of the season were cobbled together during the third period of the final preseason game.

He’s not happy yet. In his post-game presser, he remarked:

"“We were hiding behind it in the preseason. Now we can’t hide it anymore. We’re going to have to compete. We’re going to have to change our game.”"

Coach Roy also seemed to be allowing offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie secure a top spot on the team. He started the Erik Johnson-Brad Stuart top pairing at the beginning of the game, but he quickly pulled them in favor of Barrie and Nick Holden. Barrie even saw big minutes against the top lines. Speaking of…

#2:Tyson Barrie is no Erik Johnson.

Tyson Barrie is the Colorado Avalanche’s best offensive defenseman. And he has definitely recovered completely from his Matt Cooke injury. However, he’s a smallish guy, and he doesn’t make up for it with that much offense — not Erik Karlsson-level offense. That said, when he sees big time against the big lines, it shows. He was -3 for the night.

Of course…

#3:Erik Johnson was no Erik Johnson last night.

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It’s as rare for me to speak against Johnson as it is for Johnson to have such a questionable night — the two go hand-in-hand. It is just so uncharacteristic of Johnson to take bad penalties. As great as it was to see him get physical against the Wild — and it


satisfactory seeing him whack the mouthguard out of Minnesota’s Ryan Carter — the resultant penalty cost the Avalanche. He took another penalty late in the second which, luckily, the Avalanche killed.

On the plus side, he did lay a monster of a hit on Matt Cooke — his bones are probably still vibrating.

#4: The Wild are in Colorado’s heads.

The Avalanche started out nervous, just like veteran Daniel Briere predicted:

"“Every year, everybody’s fired up, everybody’s very, very emotional, and they’re going to go a hundred miles an hour. So, the most important thing is to stay focused, keep your composure, and try not to get too emotional in your first game.”"

However, the Avalanche are no longer a team of rookies or extreme young ‘uns. They’re still young, but they have some experience. The continuing nerves throughout the game prove the Wild have wormed their way into Colorado’s head space.

Coach Roy was a little less forgiving:

"“Our top two lines have to be our best players. Tonight they got out-played and out-worked. ”"

#5: Berra looks good to go.

Backup goalie Reto Berra got the shutout. Unfortunately, it came on the heels of Semyon Varlamov’s letting in five goals — not that it’s his fault. As rarely as I remark semi-negatively on Johnson do I champion Varlamov, but the Avalanche hardly gave him any support. He faced 38 shots in two periods. That’s ridiculous.

Berra only faced 10 shots, but a couple of them were tough saves. He made all of them. Considering the questions Avalanche fans had about him coming into this season, that is a good sign.

So, Avs Nation, the Cinderella rule is in effect. No more lamenting what happened last night. There’s still plenty of hockey ahead.