Colorado Avalanche: What’s with the Goon Squad?

Oct 18, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla (12) fights Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) in the second period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla (12) fights Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) in the second period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 18, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle (83) battles for the puck with Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla (12) and Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) in the first period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche are taking a lot of penalties early in the season. It cost them the game against the Washington Capitals.

The Colorado Avalanche have a new coach with new systems. I’m going to venture those systems don’t hinge on the team always playing on the penalty kill. Yet in the first three games of the season, that seems to be the case.

The team started out slowly, with just eight minutes of penalties against the Dallas Stars, who had six. Colorado had more penalty minutes against the Pittsburgh Penguins, 12. However, Pittsburgh had 14.

It was against the Washington Capitals that things got crazy. In their first back-to-back game of the season, the Colorado Avalanche took an undisciplined 27 minutes’ worth of penalties. It’s no stretch to say that cost them the game. Not only could they never get their own offense going, but the Caps scored all three of their goals on the power play.

(TJ Oshie scored twice. He has the worst habit of scoring against the Colorado Avalanche. Thank goodness he’s no longer even in the conference, much less the division.)

It all started when forward Blake Comeau inaugurated the season with a holding penalty just 31 seconds into the first period of the first game. The rest of the Dallas penalties weren’t too bad — until Comeau slashed Radek Faksa in the third.

Dallas scored two power play goals in that game, including during the first penalty. However, in that high-scoring game, the Avalanche also scored two power play goals and came out on top of the 6-5 score.

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In Pittsburgh, there were some of the usual penalties you find in most games — a few hooking and tripping charges. Midway through the second, Jarome Iginla and Chris Kunitz got into it. They earned matching roughing calls.

Scoring occurred on the power play in Pittsburgh again, with Trevor Daley putting the Penguins ahead 3-2 midway through the third. Luckily Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog answered just a few minutes later with a power play goal to tie the game. (Colorado’s first goal of the game also came on the power play.)

As I intimated, the real issue came to a head in Washington — 27 minutes of penalties and a 3-0 loss.

A lot of the penalties came from chippy play. For example, Blake Comeau (again) was sitting in the penalty box for cross checking when Alex Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game.

One of the more controversial penalties came late in the second. There’s no question that the two captains, Ovechkin and Landeskog, deserved roughing penalties, but look at how the penalties came about:

Ovechkin sucker-punched Landeskog. In similar instances, Colorado Avalanche players have gotten supplemental discipline for such behavior. However, Ovechkin and Landeskog got matching minors for roughing.

The absolutely most controversial penalty came a little before. Jarome Iginla got a five-minute major for fighting. That’s not the controversial part — he definitely fought with Tom Wilson.

What’s controversial is that Iginla earned a total of 17 minutes’ worth of penalties, including a two-minute minor for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct. Wilson got just the five for fighting.

Here’s the fight:

Now, Tom Wilson is known as the Capitals’ tough guy. And, according to Iginla himself, Wilson had been yelling at him for the two to go since Tom was still on the bench. Plus, Iginla clearly waits for Wilson to drop his gloves before he throws a punch.

Meanwhile, the referees failed to call Dmitry Orlov for this dangerous check on Matt Duchene:

Many are calling that an “old-fashioned hip check.” However, hip checks usually result in  player pin-wheeling back to back over the checker. Considering Duchene went front-first about five feet into the air makes it look like Orlov was aiming for the knees. And that could have been a devastating injury for Duchene.

Luckily Duchene wasn’t hurt, and the nine-on-nine action is pretty entertaining — as long as you’re not an Avs fan.

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Anyway, the Colorado Avalanche can’t control what the officials call or don’t call. They definitely have been too loose about taking penalties. They especially shouldn’t be so undisciplined with Eastern Conference teams — it’s not like “setting a tone” can be a factor as it might be against the Minnesota Wild or St. Louis Blues.

Hopefully a little rest will allow the Avalanche players to keep cooler heads down in Florida when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.