Colorado Avalanche: Hope in Play Against the Blues


How the young guns for the Colorado Avalanche played against the St. Louis Blues should give fans hope for the future of the team.

The Colorado Avalanche’s youngsters are all right. They’re actually… awright.

This has been an awful season for every single player’s productivity. For the majority of the core players and many journeymen, this is the worst in their career. Defense is at an all-time low as well.

However, just as there was hope for the future in the goal against the Detroit Red Wings, the offensive production in the St. Louis Blues game on Friday also provided hope.

There was only one goal in regulation during the game. That goal came from forward J.T. Compher, who was part of the trade that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Buffalo Sabres.

The goal came in the second period with the Colorado Avalanche down by one but on the power play. Nathan MacKinnon — who reminded us all of his genius in the game against the Washington Capitals — took charge of the play again.

MacKinnon drove into the offensive zone, stickhandling his way past Blues defenders all along the way. He lobbed a shot, which St. Louis goalie Jake Allen saved… and let rebound.

The rebound popped straight over to Compher:

Compher was driving the net, and we all know good things happen when you drive the net. In this case, it was a power play goal that tied the game.

More from Mile High Sticking

What I liked about that goal was the aggressiveness of both MacKinnon and Compher. Nate didn’t just dump the puck in and chase. (Side rant — I hate the dump and chase. I know it has its place, but I’ve been watching the Avs do it for years, and it is way too much a part of their repertoire.)

And JT Compher drove the net. He was in exactly the right place to pick up the rebound, which shows good hockey vision. These are good omens.

JT Compher was a call up from the San Antonio Rampage just 16 games ago, and he already has three goal. That’s pretty amazing considering the year the Avalanche are having. That shows us Compher is a solid part of Colorado’s future plans.

Another player I think is a solid part of the Avalanche’s future is goalie Calvin Pickard. I’ve said before that, with a decent defense in front of him, Pickard could be Colorado’s starting goalie.

Calvin had a solid game against the St. Louis Blues. He faced 28 shots in regulation and overtime combined, stopping 27. And some of those were big saves.

The biggest save came in the last few seconds of overtime. Play turned over in the offensive zone, and the Blues sped down the ice. Blues winger David Perron drove the net, but this time good things didn’t happen. (Not for them anyway.)

Perron lobbed a pass that looked like a shot, and Pickard bit. Jaden Schwartz was all set for the tip in. And then this happened:

Somehow Calvin stretched all across the crease to make a pad save. Pickard saved overtime — and yet another crushing loss.

The game went to the shootout. A lot of people don’t like the shootout because it’s not a hockey game, but I personally love seeing the talent on display. The Colorado Avalanche have such exciting talent.

One of the most exciting talents — and one that has been especially frustrated this year — has been Matt Duchene. Even though he’s second on the team for scoring, his 37 points in 72 games is a low for him.

Well, the shootout gives us the chance to remember he’s so skilled. He has a favorite shootout move — a little back kick inspired by Sidney Crosby — that was on display against the Blues:

Classic Dutchy. The goal goes in.

The other shootout goal came from Nathan MacKinnon. He doesn’t necessarily have a signature shootout move, but this one was another chance to see his skill on display:

And, since Calvin Pickard had stopped all three of the Blues’ shooters, it was the game winner.

This season has been a disaster. Make no mistake, we’ll spend a good portion of the long offseason dissecting why. (And if you’ve read much of my work, you know some of what’s coming.)

Next: Observations from Jost's Debut

That said, games like the one against the St. Louis Blues give me hope for the Colorado Avalanche. The youngsters are awright.