Ugh, I hate hangovers after tight playoff losses, and this series is not disappointing in the "stressful overtime hockey" category.
Going into Game 2 last night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul I got the strange feeling that I get just before the Avs blow a game. As in, “this is getting easy”. Chalk one up to overconfidence.
It was the Avs kind of game, as both teams seemed less interested in playing defense until late, providing the kind of fast paced, ping-pong hockey that we aren’t treated to very often in the Northwest Division.
The Avalanche did not face a must win game. In fact, they had no pressure on them last night. The team had done their job and earned the commanding win in the first game of the series. Last night it was the Wild that faced all the pressure. If the Avalanche pulled out a victory the series was all but over, as the Wild would then face the insurmountable task of winning at altitude.
But these are the 2008 Avalanche, and I should know better than to get too hyped up over a team that plays Jekyll and Hyde hockey.
Early it seemed as if the Avs might indeed pull out a win, and they hung on to an early Peter Forsberg goal despite being involved in a track meet with a grinding team. Note to Brent Burns and Minnesota, please continue to anger Peter Forsberg, as an angry Pedro is a dominant Pedro.
Again the game was abusive to both teams with Branko Radivojevic taking the brunt of the violence this time, after being steamrolled by a feisty Paul Stastny. “Stats” seems to be waking up to playoff hockey and was more involved in last night’s game, as was Ryan Smyth who was buzzing the net on many occasions. It is fun to see guys like Smyth playing for my team in the playoffs this time. The Avalanche have been missing the services of a front-of-the-net tipper and grinder of ability since the days of Adam Deadmarsh.
My question, and I always seem to have these questions after the Avs play the Wild in the playoffs is, Keith Carney is still playing?! What the?! If there is one thing that I will never forget about Jacques Lemaire it is that he likes to stock up on random grinders from the 90’s. Next up, Darby Hendrickson ladies and gentlemen!
Both goaltenders again faced a ton of pressure, with Nick Backstrom slightly outperforming Jose Theodore. Although the Avs act of shooting directly into Backstrom’s stomach wore thin by the end of the night. It is never a good sign when your boys can’t seem to shoot around a goalie.
It was a good game even if the Avalanche walked out with an overtime loss. Their ability to come from behind with the goalie pulled in the final minute of play continued, even though this time it didn’t come to fruition in the final period.
I’ve said it before, this thing should go seven even if it would have been nice for the Avs to come home up two games to none.