Avs’ Big Guys Have a Big Night


The Colorado Avalanche’s performance against the New York Rangers highlighted what head coach Patrick Roy has been talking about all along — the high end talent has to produce for the team to have success. Well, some of the big players for the Avs certainly showed that in last night’s game against the Rangers.

Matt Duchene Goal

Ryan O’Reilly showed great strength in holding onto the puck while being pestered by Ranger’s defenders. He got the puck to Tyson Barrie, who got a shot off. Duchene positioned himself perfectly so that, when Barrie’s shot got saved by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, he could stuff the rebound into the net.

Perhaps the three key players of O’Reilly, Barrie and Duchene didn’t get to show of their flashiest skills, but all three made solid hockey plays that led to a goal.

Duchene finished the night with a goal and an assist. O’Reilly earned one assist, and Barrie earned two.

Alex Tanguay Goal

Duchene flew into the offensive zone with the puck, beating the Rangers defenders. He backhanded the puck toward the front of the net but it bounced off of a Ranger. Erik Johnson pinched in to pick it up, whipping around and throwing it at the goal. Tanguay was in just the right spot to tip it into the net.

All three of the players — Duchene, Johnson and Tanguay — kept with the play. They threw the puck toward the net, and good things eventually happened.

Both Duchene and Johnson earned assists on the play. The goal marks Tanguay’s seventh of the season — he leads all Avs in goals.

Nathan MacKinnon Power Play Goal

The Avalanche have been struggling with the power play recently, so it’s nice to finally see them get one. In this particular instance, Zach Redmond and Barrie work like a well-oiled machine on the blue line to keep the puck in the zone. Redmond gets a tape-to-tape pass off to MacKinnon, who throws it on net. Duchene was in the slot, and he may have cleared some space for the puck. But it was MacKinnon’s goal.

This play showed of what the Avs are capable if they get their power play sorted out.

The play earned Barrie his second assist. Redmond also earned a point on the play. Duchene didn’t get any points for that goal, but he was integral to its success.

Johnson Flies Past Duchene

This is a play that, unfortunately, results in a Rangers goal. However, let the heading sink in for a moment — someone flew past Duchene, and it wasn’t MacKinnon. Duchene is often touted for his speed, and rightfully so. However, it appears that, in an open-ice sprint, Johnson may be capable of beating him.

It’s the legs, see — Johnson’s five inches taller than Duchene, and it appears it’s all in the legs. Compare their strides. Duchene’s got his roadrunner stride going, that dynamic leg movement that typically propels him past everyone. Johnson, however, lopes with his long legs. He takes about one stride for every two from Duchene, overtaking Dutchy in the defensive zone.

O’Reilly, bless his heart, gets left in the dust — or snow, in this case.

Erik Johnson Plays Goalie, Tanguay Does the Dutchy

Johnson wanted to play goalie when he was a little kid (little may be a relative term here), and he still has a penchant for lingering near the goal. This time, it saved Semyon Varlamov’s bacon, and the game for the Avs.

During overtime, a Rangers shot dribbled through Valamov’s five-hole. It was either going to trickle into the net, or wait for a Ranger to finish the play because Varlamov didn’t know where it was. Luckily for the Avs, Johnson was, literally, Johnny on the spot. He scooped the puck right out of the crease before it crossed the line.

The puck moved with enough force that Tanguay picked it up well clear of the net. He took off on a breakaway.

Matt Duchene is renowned for doing The Dutchy, a between-the-legs pass to himself before back-handing the puck. Tanguay effects this move on the culmination of his breakaway. Unfortunately, the puck doesn’t go in.

Nonetheless, these plays along with all the others highlight how well the Avs play when they show determination, when they don’t allow themselves to get flustered. Yes, they actually blew two leads yet again. Yes, they fell behind in the third period. Yet they kept playing their best game, with the big players leading the way.

It just goes to show you that, when the big guys in the big skates have a big night, the Colorado Avalanche are a force.