The Colorado Avalanche proved Monday night that not only are they able
to beat a team down on their luck, but that they also have excellent depth. The
Avs handed the Edmonton Oilers their eighth loss in a row, by a score of 6-0,
helping the Avs maintain their first place lead in the Northwest Division.
In addition to the deciding victory, this youthful team went from third
youngest in the NHL in terms of age, to the youngest team in the NHL. With
veterans such as Adam Foote and Milan Hejduk out of the lineup, Brandon Yip and Chris
Durno were in for the injured players.
What was very impressive with the outing against the Oilers was that
they had control of the game. There were a couple instances where it looked
like the Avs were going to let the game slip and give the Oilers a chance, but
they pulled themselves together and held on for the shutout.
Craig Anderson had 24 saves in the game to earn his fourth shutout of
the year. This shutout was the easiest of the year for him, only being tested a
few times in the game. His best save came in the second when he stopped Patrick
O’Sullivan’s close-in wrist shot.
Matt Duchene had a very productive night, notching two goals and an assist, and earned the second star of the night honors. Both of Duchene’s goals came off of hard,
aggressive work in the offensive zone. His first goal was a rebound off of Wojtek
Wolski’s shot from the point. His second goal started in the defensive zone,
which lead to a two-on-one, and was then able to find the rebound from behind
the net and tuck it in under Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers.
A big reason for the Avs success was the production they received from
the defensive core, which combined for and a total of seven points (3 g, 4 a). John-Michael
Liles lead the way with a goal and two assists, while Kyle Cumiskey had a two-goal performance.
Not only was the defensive unit very productive in the offensive zone,
they were outstanding in the defensive zone. Ryan Wilson suffered a head injury
in the first period and did not return, leaving the defensive core down a man.
Even though they were down a man, the coaches rotated the defensemen very effectively
and got excellent performance out off all of them.
In a game were the deciding factor was a shutout, and a six goal
performance on behalf of the Avs, it is hard to figure out what the Avs did
wrong. There were a couple of unnecessary penalties taken during the course of
the game, but a few of them were nullified when Edmonton took foolish penalties
during their own power-play.
From start to finish, the Avs outplayed the Oilers. Even when it looked
like Edmonton might have a glimpse of getting back into the game, Colorado regrouped and took advantage of the Oilers miscues.
What was more impressive then the victory was that this young team didn’t
show any signs that they were the youngest team in the NHL. They came out and
were ready to play a team that had lost seven in a row. Giving the Avs very
good depth in their lineup; this is something that is key to a team’s success.
The Avs are doing what they have to do in order to maintain atop the
division, and they did everything right against the Oilers.