The Colorado Avalanche played the Minnesota Wild’s style of Trap hockey — and won 2-1 in overtime.
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Prior to last night’s game, the Colorado Avalanche were 40-34-12 against the Minnesota Wild. That may seem surprising — that the Avs were over .500 against this team. Lately it hasn’t been that way at all. The Avalanche went 1-4 against Minnesota last season and started off this season 0-2.
As I observed, and as Mile High Sticking writer Will Radke detailed, the Minnesota Wild play the Trap in the neutral zone. It’s a very effective style of defense that slows the action way down in the neutral zone. That’s disastrous for a fast-skating team like the Colorado Avalanche but seems to suit the less-skilled Wild better.
"“It was really slow. There was not a lot of flow in the game. It seemed like a lot of neutral zone play and bouncing pucks.”"
Well, yes, Zach, that’s the type of hockey you guys always play against the Colorado Avalanche. It’s why I’ve been calling the Minnesota style “constipated” for two years — because it’s all clogged in the middle. I guess most teams that beat Minnesota do so by exposing the flaws in the Trap system.
Instead the Avalanche threw that system right back in their faces, and the results were a total snooze-fest:
Luckily for us the team will certainly go back to the reckless speedsters we know and love.
Zach Parise did have a point in that there really wasn’t a lot of shooting. The two teams ended regulation equal with just 17 shots apiece.
Backup goalie Darcy Kuemper noticed the lack of shots, too:
"“It seemed like they were passing up a lot of shots and trying to make that extra play, which kind of resulted in a lot of standing around. You have to do your best to stay in it.”"
Again, yeah, that’s how Avalanche fans feel when the Wild are on their game.
Play definitely opened up more during three-on-three overtime. Each team got three more shots, but each one was a crazy scoring chance. In fact, goalie Semyon Varlamov… made a save? I don’t know what happened, and I don’t think he did either. The puck looked to be heading straight for an empty net, but it somehow careened away — Varlamov stayed put for a few seconds, not sure where the puck had gone.
There was a fair amount of hitting — mostly by the Avalanche, who labeled them with 22 hits. Cody McLeod laid out four hits himself, and Nick Holden wasn’t far behind with three. (The fragile Wild managed only eight hits total.)
It shouldn’t be too surprising there was a lot of hitting on Colorado’s side — the Avalanche really don’t like the Wild. Matt Duchene said it during a pre-game presser, and Tyson Barrie reiterated the idea during the post-game:
"“This is a team, we hate these guys, to be honest. It’s a rivalry for us, and they’ve had our number over the last season and a half. This is a big win for us.”"
I find it very interesting that the Minnesota Wild don’t seem to realize how much we hate them, how very infuriating their style of hockey is. I found one of Zach Parise’s remarks especially funny in that vein:
"“I guess [the game] didn’t have very much, for us anyways, that excitement and quick pace and speed that the game on Saturday had.”"
Yes, we’re all sure you prefer when the Colorado Avalanche attempted to play their brand of speedy, skilled hockey and your team was able to expose the weaknesses of that style with the neutral zone trap. Nothing like a trap to slow opponents down. Of course when you’re the Wild and not very speedy anyway, your play ends up resembling molasses on a Minnesota winter morning when it’s employed against you.
Never mind — the record has now improved to 41-34-12. The two teams won’t get a chance for a re-match until March 1, so the snooze-fest gets put on hold.
What did you think of last night’s win vs the Minnesota Wild? Should the Colorado Avalanche employ the Trap more often?