Colorado Avalanche Defeat Red Wings In Shootout Thriller


1. 72. 2. 103. Final

Hey, hey… hockeytown! Meet Calvin Pickard. The Colorado Avalanche found a way to win a game. Call it an early Christmas present. Call it a fluke. I call it two points in the standings, where things still look bleak, but suddenly Avs fans can once again tease themselves into optimism.

Here are your five takeaways from tonight’s thrilling win in Motown.

1. Calvin Pickard

This tweet from a rival twitter handle sums up Pickard’s impact on the game fairly thoroughly. It seems like every time I write about the Avalanche, I end up typing the same thing. Holy meatball marinara sub, Calvin Pickard is a stud. It isn’t even getting tedious.

Pickard stopped 34 out of the 35 shots he faced tonight, and was only beaten twice in the 9-round shootout. Pickard made a flashy save on Pavel Datsyuk in the first period, and even denied Henrik Zetterberg of a shootout winner when the smooth Swede attempted the ‘Peter Forsberg move.’

Pickard stole a point in Pittsburgh, played well in Buffalo allowing the Avs to run away with things, and stole another two points in Detroit. You’d think Calvin Pickard was a spot up jump-shooter on this road trip, because he was responsible for 3 points. You could say he got buckets on this road trip from downtown. Enough basketball references. They are a real stretch. Which is exactly what Pickard had to do with his left pad to keep Zetterberg from tucking home that shootout attempt.

2. Calvin Pickard

Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Calvin Pickard deserves an encore. Take a bow, my friend.

3. Those shootout moves were straight up nasty. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. MacKinnon and Duchene are filthy!

The MacKinnon move should be on film by now. He’s pulled it off on several occasions already this season. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me again… and again… and again… and again, oh hello, you must be Nathan MacKinnon embarassing NHL goaltenders.

The thing is, what is a goalie supposed to do? He has to bite, and honor the backhand. If goalies try and cheat to take away the against the grain forehand shot MacKinnon has mastered, he can easily just turn over the wrists and flick it home on the backhand side. I’d take No. 29 over anyone else in the league in the shootout right now.

Speaking of nice little backhand flicks.

I absolutely loved this Matt Duchene goal. So smooth on the moves to set things up, and so quick once he saw his opportunity. That puck practically teleported into the top corner of the net. You could put gravy on that goal, and serve it up for your holiday dinner. Even that annoying picky relative, who complains about everything, would eat it up. Simply delicious.

4. Can’t wait to play a real rival next Tuesday at Pepsi Center

Yeah, you heard me. Avs fans will always hold a special spot in the hate-bank for the Red Wings, but this isn’t a rivalry anymore. Not even close. Things were already cooled off, but the move to the Eastern Conference by Detroit put this rivalry on ice. Playing a team two times a season in the NHL just doesn’t allow there to be a rivalry.

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The old guard has all moved on. Detroit has many young players, who are relative unknowns. How can I hate a guy, when I barely even know he exists? That’s how I feel about Detroit.

The Blues on the other hand… Let’s get it on. Rivalry clash remix. That TJ Oshie dagger hurt in their last meeting. The Avs/Blues rivalry is certainly more heated than Avs/Wings these days, but revenge is still a dish best served cold.

5. This is why you throw the puck at the net sometimes.

The only thing beautiful about the Erik Johnson goal to tie up the game, is the fact that it tied up the game. There was nothing spectacular about the play leading up to the shot. There was nothing spectacular about the shot. Yet, somehow, it found its way into the net.

Erik Johnson now has 4 goals in his last 4 games, but none was bigger than tonight’s equalizer. On a highlight reel, they would replay his other three goals several times before even showing tonight’s. The point is, taking shots is rarely a bad thing. I still think the Avalanche struggle with this mindset.