St. Louis Singing the Blues After Colorado Game


The Colorado Avalanche hosted the St.Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center for the second time in 10 days and for their third of five meetings. St. Louis took the first two wins in very close games.

Defensemen Rule!

The Colorado Avalanche came out like they wanted to change St. Louis’ dominance. They had their skating legs early on. They also started peppering Blues goalie Jake Allen early, outshooting the Blues two-to-one throughout the period.

The Avs did blow a five-on-three power play. Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson drew a penalty when he put on the speed and Blues skater Joakim Lidstrom felt forced to hook him. Less than a minute later, Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk caught Jarome Iginla with a high stick.

When the Avalanche failed to convert on the power play, there was danger that the Blues would catch the momentum. However, the Avalanche were able to kill the Blues’ power play when forward Daniel Briere went to the box for holding.

The Avalanche were not so lackadaisical when they got another power play attempt. Blues forward TJ Oshie was in the box for slashing Jan Hejda. Johnson received a pass from center Matt Duchene, and he got it in the net on a long wrist shot. That was Johnson’s ninth of the season and his third in a row against the Blues. Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon earned assists.

A little over three minutes later, Avalanche defenseman Zach Redmond decided to give scoring a try. He received a pass from center Ryan O’Reilly ans scored on a wrist shot. O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog earned assists.

The Avalanche went into the first intermission leading in shots, 14-7, and of course in scoring, 2-0.

News Flash! The Avs did not cave in the second period!

The Colorado Avalanche have had a tendency to not play well in the second period. Well, this was not the case against the St. Louis Blues. They kept up with puck possession and shooting. It paid off when Jarome Iginla shot at the net, and Alex Tanguay redirected the puck with his chest. The Avs were up 3-0.

That’s when play started getting ugly — at the Blues behest, of course. Remember when St. Louis captain wrestled Nathan MacKinnon like he was the prize steer at the rodeo? Well, he tried it again, but this time against Matt Duchene. Scrum ensued behind the Avalanche net. At the end, though, Backes was the only one to go to the sin bin.

It got rough again when big Blues players, this time Steve Ott, went after Avalanche skill players again. This time it was MacKinnon again, but MacK worked out a lot over the summer, so Ott didn’t have it as easy as Backes did last season. Both players sat for two.

While the ice continued to slant in the favor of the Avalanche, for a change, especially on the 4-on-4, they didn’t convert on the matching minors. No matter, center Ryan O’Reilly scored late in the second. Iginla liked how that looked so much, he scored 40 seconds later. Amazingly, the Avalanche were up 5-0 against the nemesis Blues.

5-0 remained the score going into the second intermission. The Avs had outshot the Blues 31 to 14 to that point.

Calming Waters

Play calmed down in the third period. The Avalanche remained strong, but, of course, they didn’t need to play with the same desperation as usual. The Blues needed to play with desperation, they just… didn’t. At times, the Blues looked like they were on Christmas break already.

The biggest change came when St. Louis replaced Allen with veteran goalie Martin Brodeur, playing in his first and presumably only season away from the New Jersey Devils. The replacement titillates Avs fans because the debate has always raged about who was the better goalie in his time, Brodeaur or Patrick Roy.

To be clear, Mile High Sticking’s position on the matter is that of course Patrick Roy was the far superior goalie. (Well, it’s my opinion, and I can’t imagine any of my fellow Avs fans disagreeing.)

In the end, goalie Semyon Varlamov capped off his return to the Avalanche with a shutout as the Avs maintained their lead through the third period. Varlamov got a lot of help from defensive play, facing only 26 shot and very few of them scoring chances.

Best of all, the Colorado Avalanche got to 500 hockey for the first time this season. So, thanks for the early Crhistmas present, Avs.