Lessons Learned from the Avalanche Jets Rematch


“(Landeskog’s fight) showed a lot of character. You cannot lose a game where your captain does that.” Patrick Roy

The Colorado Avalanche pretty much had everything on the line when they hosted the Winnipeg Jets for their third of five meetings. They had suffered an embarrassing loss at MTS Centre just six days ago. With just nine wins to their name, and not one minute of 500 hockey under their belts this season, they were quickly watching their season go up in flames.

Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie threw down the gauntlet, though, declaring:

"“One game can turn a season around, and I think tonight’s the night.”"

Considering the Avalanche were going into their 29th game of the season, tonight had to be the night.

And it was — the Colorado Avalanche beat the Winnipeg Jets. They had to come from behind. They had to win it in the shootout. But they got two points from the rematch.

#1: Captain-on-captain fights are exciting.

Like it or not, fighting is still a part of hockey. I was at Pepsi Center tonight, and I can tell you the fans cheered as loudly for the fight as they did for any of the Avalanche’s goals.

Of course, tonight’s wasn’t just any fight. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog took on Jets captain Andrew Ladd. and when I say “took on” I mean “owned.” See for yourself:

The fight did what it was supposed to do — it got the crowd and the team into the game. Indeed, Patrick Roy expressed pride in Landeskog’s leadership as evidenced by the fight.

Landeskog is a supreme captain. He’s been snake-bitten for goals despite his excellent chances, so he’s contributing in other ways, no matter the personal cost.

#2: Calvin Pickard‘s a monster.

And I don’t mean he’s a Lake Erie Monster. He’s probably earned the #2 spot for Colorado goalies. He may have earned the #1 spot. With Semyon Varmalov’s groin making him seem very much human, and Pickard looking like a stellar goalie… well, Pickard may be more monster than Monster in the foreseeable future.

Head coach Patrick Roy said of him:

"“What I loved about our game tonight was, first of all, the goalie. He was phenomenal. On that breakaway he made a great save, and on the rebound an even better save.”"

He added that Pickard “deserves to be where he is” and that he’s proud of the young goalie.

#3: The Avalanche can win

.It was getting doubtful.One step forward, two steps back…It looked like it was going to be another disappointing night for the Avalanche when they went down 2-1 on a Jets power play goal. When Jet skater Mark Scheifele made it 3-1 in the third, disappointment was almost sure.

However, coach Roy apparently decided to give the lines a little stir. When Jarome Iginla scored at 7:05, he was playing on a line with Alex Tanguay and Matt Duchene instead of his usual Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon partners. That worked out well, though, because when Ryan O’Reilly tied the game at 2:32, he was on the Landeskog-MacKinnon line.

Not only can the Avalanche win, they’re not dead last in the Western Conference or even the Central Division with tonight’s win. If they can keep it up, they might just squeak into a playoff spot.

#4: Scorers are starting to score.

Coach Roy has been expressing frustration with the lack of production from the top lines. Well, apparently they’ve heard and responded because look at who scored goals and assists in the Winnipeg rematch:

  • Matt Duchene, from Jan Hejda and Alex Tanguay
  • Jarome Iginla, from Alex Tanguay and Matt Duchene
  • Ryan O’Reilly, from Gabriel Landeskog and Zach Redmond

All the goal scorers are Colorado big guns, and most of the assist players are top-six as well. Additionally, both Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon scored on the shootout — Nate’s was the game-winner.

The key now is for the Avalanche to capitalize on this win. They have been lacking confidence of late, which has helped lead to losses, which has led to more lack of confidence… They’ve got to go on a run.

The Avalanche host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Here’s their chance.