INSIDE HOCKEY » Colorado Avalanche Get Inside! Tue, 30 Sep 2014 06:23:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 McDonagh Injury Gives Rangers a Scare Fri, 04 Apr 2014 23:46:04 +0000

After a disappointing loss to end their Western Conference road trip, the Rangers fell short 3-2 in a shootout in Denver, after playing without one of their top defensemen, Ryan McDonagh.

Due to a shoulder/arm injury suffered during Tuesday’s game versus the Vancouver Canucks, McDonagh will be absent, more than likely, until the post-season begins. McDonagh was double-teamed by Alex Burrows and Zach Kassian, after which Burrows followed through with a heavy hit (McDonagh was essentially defenseless). He spoke with reporters about the injury afterwards, and he stated that he was sore and did not have a full range of motion in his shoulder. However, he remains optimistic. The hit he sustained didn’t do any structural damage and should be healed within weeks.

McDonagh plans to rest and do low-impact exercises so he’ll be ready for the playoffs in just two short weeks. He leads the team in average ice time (24:49) and leads the defensemen in points (43). Needless to say, the Rangers’ loss in Denver could have had something to do with his absence. John Moore, who’s been a healthy scratch for the past six games, will take the place of McDonagh for the remainder of the regular season.

The Rangers remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 91 points, only a few points shy of clinching their playoff spot as the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed.

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Photo Gallery: Avalanche @ Blue Jackets (4/1/14) Thu, 03 Apr 2014 16:26:43 +0000

The Columbus Blue Jackets lose 3-2 in OT against the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH.  (Inside Hockey – Rachel Lewis)

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A Feast for Saint Patrick? Fri, 21 Mar 2014 15:06:36 +0000

With less than a month to go in the regular season it becomes that time again to determine who should win the Jack Adams award as the NHL coach of the year. One can postulate nominations for Flyers interim head coach Craig Berube for taking a last place team with zero offense and zero morale and convert them into playoff contenders in the span of a single season; or perhaps Todd Richards who has patiently built the long suffering Columbus Blue Jackets into potential playoff contenders. You could also nominate Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper who took an underachieving Lightning team and gave them a new spark, new energy, and a new passion for the game; or perhaps Lindy Ruff who resurrected the Dallas Stars (and his own coaching career) by inspiring them to become potential playoff contenders once more.

But those nominations fade considerably when you bring Patrick Roy into the mix. By far when it comes to fulfilling the definitions of what earning the Jack Adams award is all about, “the coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success” then Patrick Roy is that man and the Jack Adams award should be awarded to him.

Before Saint Patrick’s arrival, Colorado was at a mile-low level: playing inconsistent, mediocre hockey; falling a long way from a decade ago when they dominated the Western Conference. Patrick Roy’s arrival has changed all that. After a dazzling start last autumn, the Avalanche team has regained its mile-high stature; playing with a confident, boyish exuberance. Not bad for a rookie coach (albeit a rookie with an HHOF pedigree).

After their great start the Avalanche slowed back into third place behind Chicago and St. Louis but now going into the closing stretch of the regular season the Avalanche have regained energy.  The Avalanche ranks among the top ten in team offense, power-play offence, and power-play percentage (a vast improvement from last season where the team ranked near the bottom in all three categories).

Colorado has shown great depth right down the middle. Center Matt Duchene supplies the offense with his superb playmaking skills while centers Ryan O’Reilly and Nathan Mackinnon pull the trigger on the power play. Duchene, O’Reilly, and Mackinnon have personally and collectively won 17 of the team’s 44 wins with their clutch shooting. Power forward Cody McLeod supplies the muscle when needed.

On defence, goalie Semyon Varlamov is having a career year and as a team Colorado has improved in overall defence and penalty-killing from the previous season but their team defence is not on the same par as Boston’s or St. Louis’ or even the Kings for that matter. It is average at best but will their defence be good enough to win the Stanley Cup? That is the question mark that follows the Avalanche during their stretch run.

The catalyst for all these changes is Saint Patrick himself. Injecting a hands-on passion combined with a paternal openness seasoned with his innate feistiness and eagerness to close with his enemies and spill their blood upon the ice, the Avalanche have found happiness, strength, and synergy; regardless of how far Colorado advances into the playoffs the fact that Patrick Roy has become an instant impact head coach in the NHL is the great coaching story of the 2013-14 in my view.

Although he is 48 Roy remains an emotionally young man leading a physically young squad. The future is theirs (and his) but it is up to them to grasp and hold into it just as Roy adroitly grasped and held onto the pucks launched at him during his glory days as a legendary goal-tender.

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Nathan MacKinnon: Time Tells All Fri, 21 Mar 2014 15:04:36 +0000

Like many natives from Nova Scotia, Nathan MacKinnon wanted to play in the NHL and possibly become one of the greatest players of all time.  In the past decade, Nova Scotia has furnished two top tier players in MacKinnon and Sidney Crosby.  MacKinnon has already achieved production in the NHL and is already setting the tone for the rest of his career.

“Every game he wants more and more,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy told   “It’s amazing to look at him. He’s been really sharp lately and performing really well. He deserves his ice time and he’s fun to watch. The speed that he has is just great to watch. For our fans it’s entertaining. For us even as coaches, it’s fun to see when he explodes on the outside.

The leading Calder Trophy candidate is a graceful presence on the ice.  His ability to move the puck with great speed is like watching a Thoroughbred gallop to the finish line at the Kentucky Derby.

Among NHL rookies, MacKinnon has the most goals (23), assists (30) and points (53).  Turning just 18 in September, the rookie had a 13-game scoring streak to break Wayne Gretzky’s record for an 18-year-old.

He has also contributed to the success of his team in Colorado.  The Avalanche have missed out on the playoffs for four consecutive seasons but are certainly in a comfortable spot with 93 points in the standings as of now.

MacKinnon has proven that with time, he only gets better.  “I think the only regret I have is not being more comfortable at the beginning of the year,” MacKinnon said.  Glancing back at the beginning of the season you would think he’s lying.  His first point came off of a beautiful assist from below the goal line, between Saku Koivu’s feet, on to the stick of Jamie McGinn and into the back of the net.

His presence on the power play has also been a significant asset for the Avalanche. With eight power play goals this season, his contribution has helped propel the team to sixth best in the league in power play conversions with 20.7 percent.

MacKinnon has perfect showmanship with the ability to convert in clutch situations as he has been credited with five game winning goals this season.

Patience in a game of hockey is important when necessary.  Given a scenario where a breakaway is given or one can’t find where to place the puck and time is on your side it is crucial to use it when the advantage is there.  We’ve seen players like Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane use it eloquently, but MacKinnon’s ability to hold the puck and elevate it top shelf on Josh Harding might be the most perfect example.

Click here to view the embedded video.

What makes MacKinnon so special is he is a complete package.  He’s about average height for a typical NHLer at 6ft 183 pounds.  His speed is almost unmatched and he has an extraordinary ability to make plays happen.  He’s a goal scorer, a playmaker, and he will explode right past you with the blink of an eye.

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End Of The Road For Bulldogs Is Near Mon, 10 Mar 2014 16:08:16 +0000

The Hamilton Bulldogs had their chance this year. They were four games above .500 on January 12th with a record of 19-15-0-4, and they were sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference playoff race. But just when the playoffs were looking like they were on the horizon, the team now two months later has fallen to new lows. With just 18 games left in the season, the Bulldogs are fighting to stay out of the basement of the Western Conference standings. You can pack it up and pack it in, because a playoff birth for the Bulldogs is not going to happen this year.

A number of things have gone wrong for the Bulldogs this season, and some will arguably point the finger at head coach Sylvain Lefebvre and his inability to win big games when big wins were needed. The team needed big wins on Jan 18th and Jan 24th against division opponents the Utica Comets and the Toronto Marlies and then a huge win was needed on the January 28th versus the Chicago Wolves, but in all three games the Bulldogs fell short. This weekend, winning two out of the three straight home games was paramount, and the Bulldogs just couldn’t win when they most needed to.

Unlike last year, the Bulldogs have also struggled to win at home this season, a record of 12-17-1-3 at home in mid March is not enough, like any good team, the Bulldogs must win at home if they are going to be successful. The team has now lost 9 of their last 12 home games and the Bulldogs can do no better than 17-17-1-3 at home this year.

Over the three home losses this weekend, the Bulldogs scored first in all three games, but in all three games they blew the lead and would never have the lead again. The team seems to struggle in the second period at home and they fell apart in the second period in all three games over the weekend. On Sunday against the Lake Erie Monsters, two goals within in three minutes late in the second period was enough to completely change the momentum of the hockey game.

Turning to scoring, or lack of it, the Bulldogs lack of scoring is evident once again this year, they are scoring at a pace of just under two and half goals per game and they are second worst in the Western Conference for goals scored.

In order for the Bulldogs to have a chance at the playoffs, they would need somewhere between 85-91 points at the end of the year, no team has made the Western Conference playoffs with less that 85 points dating back to the 2006-2007 season.

With 13 out of the final 18 games on the road, the task to at least finish strong will become even more difficult. The team will embark on a nine game road trip in late March and early April. The final 18 games for the Bulldogs will not be easy as they face a number of Western Conference playoff bound teams. To put this season into perspective, on March 9th of last year after 58 games played, the Bulldogs had a near identical record of 24-28-1-5 similar to this years 25-28-1-4 record, the team would then finish with a record of 29-41-1-5, they finished last place in the Western Conference. The end of the road for the Bulldogs is near.

Scoring for the Lake Erie Monsters on Sunday was James Van Der Gulik with two goals, while Matt Hunwick and Michael Shumacher each added a goal a piece. The Bulldogs only goal came from Christian Thomas.

Attendance for the three game home stand on the weekend averaged a very good 5146 while 6287 fans showed up for the Sunday afternoon home game.

Finals scores over the weekend:

Friday March 7th Oklahoma City 2 Hamilton 1
Saturday March 8th W/B Scranton 4 Hamilton 2
Sunday March 9th Lake Erie 4 Hamilton 1

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Photo Gallery: Avalanche @ Islanders (2/8/14) Sun, 09 Feb 2014 15:48:26 +0000

The Islanders fell 5-2 to the Avalanche on Saturday night, sending them into the Olympic Break on a down note.

It was Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon who opened the scoring at the 13:04 mark of the first period scoring his 22 goal of the season and putting the Avalanche up 1-0 at the end of  one period.

At the 1:17 mark of the second period Thomas Vanek poked a puck past Giguere but it was ruled the the whistle had blown prior to the puck passing the line so the goal was dis allowed.

It was Matt Duchene who would score a pair of goals at the 7:49 and the 10:33 mark of the second period his 18th and 19th of the year to put Colorado up 3-0 at the end of 2 periods.

John Tavares would score his 24th goal of the year at the 11:17 mark a PPG to make the score 3-1.

Lubomir Visnovsky would  then score his 2nd of the season at the 12:14 mark a PPG to make the score 3-2 and put the Islanders within one goal.

Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog then scored a open net goal at the 19:13 mark of the third to put the icing on the cake for the Avalanche.

Paul Stastny was credited with an empty-net goal after the game ended, when it was ruled that Vanek threw his stick in Stastny’s direction while he put a shot towards the goal at 19:58.  Final Score 5-2.

Islanders Goalie Evgeni Nabokov said “It doesn’t feel good”.  “Anytime you lose the game like that and the game against Calgary it’s two pretty similar games. Evgeni Nabokov made 22 saves in the game.


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Isles Comeback Falls Short Vs Avs Sun, 09 Feb 2014 05:13:37 +0000


The Islanders comeback attempt fell short and the team limped into the Olympic break with a 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum. Matt Duchene scored twice for the Avs while Tyson Barrie added three assists. J.S. Giguere made 30 saves to earn the win for Colorado.

The Islanders trailed 3-0 after 40 minutes on the strength of a pair of second period goals by Duchene and Giguere’s excellent goaltending. In fact, the Isles had a 10-1 advantage in shots on goal in the first 7:37 of the game but couldn’t get on the board.

“If you go back and look at the chances we had during the first two periods,” a frustrated coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “We had some unbelievable chances. Give their goaltender credit. He played extremely well.”

Nathan MacKinnon opened the scoring 13:04 into the game when he was left all alone for a rebound attempt just to the right of the crease. Then Duchene scored twice in the second period to increase the Colorado lead to 3-0.

In the third period, the Avalanche took a series of bad penalties that resulted in a pair of 5-on-3 power plays for the Isles. First John Tavares scored from the right circle at 11:17 to make it 3-1 Colorado. Then, Lubomir Visnosvky scored from the point 57 seconds later and the Islanders were suddenly trailing by just one goal with 7:46 remaining in the game.

The crowd was back in the game and the Islanders had the momentum, but Giguere closed the door, stopping 13 shots overall in the third period. Empty-net goals by Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny in the final minute closed out the scoring.

A frustrated John Tavares realized his team’s chances of reaching the postseason are getting slimmer with each passing loss. “It’s a tough go and it’s frustrating not getting to where we want to be,” Tavares said. “Clearly as each game goes by, the window gets smaller and smaller.”

Tavares is leaving for Sochi to represent Canada at the Olympics while teammates Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner will represent Austria. The rest of the Islanders will get some time off over the next couple of weeks. The team returns to action on February 27 when they host the Maple Leafs.


Duchene’s goals were the 100th and 101st of his NHL career.

Attendance was 15,360.

Travis Hamonic made his return to the Islanders lineup after missing the past 12 games with an upper-body injury.

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Photo Gallery: Avalanche vs. Flyers (02/06/14) Fri, 07 Feb 2014 14:03:16 +0000

The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the visiting Colorado Avalanche by a score of 3-1.

1st Steve Mason (#35 PHI)
2nd Mark Streit (#32 PHI)
3rd Semyon Varlamov (#1 COL)

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Callahan Does All His Talking On The Ice Wed, 05 Feb 2014 04:03:21 +0000

NEW YORK – Ryan Callahan told the media last week he doesn’t want to talk about the trade rumors circulating around him anymore.

His play on Tuesday did all the talking.

Callahan scored a pair of first-period goals, his second multi-goal game of the season and 16th of his career. It came in the Rangers dominating 5-1 win over the Avalanche (36-15-5, 77 pts, 3rd in Central) at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers (31-23-3, 65 pts, 2nd in Metropolitan) have put the full-court press on the 27th captain in franchise history, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Reports in multiple media outlets – likely fed from the team’s front office – have Callahan’s demands at a too-high seven years for $42 million, while the team is believed to be comfortable offering its captain five years.

“I try not to bring that business to the rink,” Callahan said of the storm surrounding him. “I try to concentrate on the Rangers, and what we’re doing here, and trying to get two points. That’s my main focus.”

“He wants to contribute. It’s not easy going through these things,” said Brad Richards, who assisted on Callahan’s second goal and added a third-period tally. “It’s part of the world we live in now, which sometimes is fortunate and a lot of times is all good stuff–meaning financially we’re lucky to do what we do and do that stuff. It is also part of the business sometimes and it’s unfortunate when you have to go through it.”

Included in the full-court media storm is the apparent desire by Rangers general manager Glen Sather to have Callahan either re-signed or, if they can’t come to an agreement, traded by the Olympic roster freeze this Friday. The NHL’s in-season trade deadline is March 5, a week after the Olympic break ends.

“I think Ryan’s been playing real hard since the first game he played with us,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. “The captain of this team, he prepares himself real well, he competes every shift he’s on the ice. Tonight was just one of those nights he did exactly the same thing, except he was able to finish a couple of great set-ups by his linemates.”

Without question, the team is hoping Callahan will be spooked by the trade rumors, and lower his demands so he can stay with the only franchise he’s ever known.

For his part, Callahan’s camp has stayed mostly silent. He appears to want to remain with the Rangers, but the question remains whether he’s prepared to call Sather’s bluff.

“Throughout all of this, he’s kept his focus on what’s important, and that’s playing the game,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 27 saves to improve to 9-2-0 in his last 11 games. “We all know what’s going on. It’s obviously an important time for him with his contract and everything. He’s focused on playing the game, and we need that.”

Callahan, if he’s indeed on the trade block, becomes perhaps the most sought-after available player on the market. But unless he signs an extension after a trade is consummated, he would be a six-week rental. His status as an unrestricted free agent – the reason the Rangers may be thinking of trading him – is also the reason other teams may have a tough time giving up fair market value for the Rangers’ heart-and-soul.

And, perhaps, that’s the biggest reason Callahan is likely to still be with the Rangers on March 6. But until then, the franchise will continue exploring all options.

As for Callahan, he’s just happy to be contributing. He doesn’t have to talk about it. Well, he does. Tuesday night, he did all his talking in front of 18,006 of his closest friends.

“That’s where I want to be, on the ice playing for the New York Rangers,” Callahan said. “It’s nights like this that I enjoy.”


The Rangers improved to 16-0-0 when scoring at least four goals.

New York outshot the Avalanche – who were playing for the third time in four nights – by a 43-28 margin. It’s the ninth time this season the Rangers have taken at least 40 shots.

Lundqvist is three wins away from 300 for his career, and four wins away from Mike Richter’s franchise record of 301 career wins.

The Rangers will play the 6,000th game in franchise history Thursday against the Oilers, before finishing the pre-Olympic schedule Friday in Pittsburgh.


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Five First-Time Olympians Poised to Break Out Mon, 03 Feb 2014 13:35:50 +0000

By Jason Karnosky,

Matt Duchene

Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene will be competing at his first Olympics for Team Canada. | Photo by Dan Hickling for

In the spring of 1998, Dominik Hasek was 33 years old. He’d never won a playoff series in his career, almost all of which was spent playing for the small-market Buffalo Sabres.

Hasek wasn’t an overnight star at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, but he was close. When Hasek led the Czech Republic to the gold medal, he went from a recognizable NHL player to the best at his position in the world.

Who will be this year’s Hasek? Here are five possibilities.

1. Matt Duchene, Canada

With young forwards Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon all blossoming this season, there is a reason why the Colorado Avalanche are National Hockey League’s surprise team. Duchene leads the three future stars, and all Avs, with 27 assists and 44 points. Those efforts led to a surprising Canadian Olympic team selection over the likes of Claude Giroux, Martin St. Louis, James Neal and others.

The maturation of this recently turned 23-year-old has been impressive to watch. For Team Canada, Duchene will likely fit onto a lower-line role, and will be expected to play a strong two-way game while showing off his great skating ability. On a team full of big-name stars and better-known talents, I expect the Haliburton native to be one of the tournament’s big surprises.

2. Roman Josi, Switzerland

When watching third-year Nashville defenseman Roman Josi play, it’s easy to forget that he’s only 23. The Bern native is one of the NHL’s best-kept secrets, and fast becoming a superb transition blueliner who can take over a game with his puck skills. Josi has six goals and 22 points in 44 games this year. Already, he fits in nicely on the Predators’ emerging young defense alongside Shea Weber and Seth Jones.

On the international stage, Josi has already stepped to the forefront in 2013 after leading Switzerland to his country’s first silver medal at the World Championships since 1935. Josi took home tournament MVP honors while leading all Swiss players with nine points. He was also named the tournament’s best defenseman. In Sochi, a larger audience will see first-hand the evolution of this talented defender as he helps Switzerland contend for a medal.

3. Cam Fowler, United States

When the U.S. unveiled its 2014 Olympic roster, one of the biggest surprises was the selection of Fowler over Team USA veterans Jack Johnson and Keith Yandle. The 22-year-old has done nothing but amaze in his fourth NHL season with Anaheim. On the league’s best team, Fowler is fifth in scoring with 29 points, while posting an impressive plus-12 rating. Put in perspective, the Northville, Michigan native struggled to a minus-28 rating in 2011-12.

Now heading to Sochi, Fowler will be expected to take all that he’s learned from mentor Scott Niedermayer and provide a youthful spark on an American squad quickly maturing into a perennial gold-medal contender. Likely to slot just behind cornerstone blueliner Ryan Suter, the smooth skating Fowler should be a player to watch on the big ice in Russia.

4. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Sweden

Joining perhaps the best blue line in the world heading to Sochi, it’s easy to overlook Swedish defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Yet this 22-year-old has already emerged as the go-to blue liner on the Phoenix Coyotes and a player well worth paying to see every night with his dynamic two-way game.

Under the guidance of Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, Ekman-Larsson is strong and effective in his own end. He’s among the top 60 NHL defenseman in hits, one of few offensive stalwarts on the list. He’s also posted a positive rating in each of his first four NHL seasons. Meanwhile, Ekman-Larsson is an effective transition scoring defender, capable of contributing offensively night after night (26 points through 50 games). In Sochi, look for the Karlskrona native to play a significant role for the always-dangerous Swedes.

5. Vladimir Tarasenko, Russia

On a St. Louis Blues team not known for its elite skill up front, Vladimir Tarasenko is emerging as his team’s game-breaker. In his past 13 games Tarasenko has 14 points, upping his season total to 17 goals and 31 points. Perhaps most impressive for the 22-year-old: A plus-12 rating, representing just how much Tarasenko’s overall game is maturing under the guidance of Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.

An always explosive player who loves to shoot, the Yaroslavl native might get lost on Team Russia as opponents try to match their best defenders against Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuck. This means Tarasenko might find some unusual skating room to shine and become a well-known face on the home favorite Russians.

Five more poised to step out on the international stage: Gabriel Landeskog, Sweden; Olli Maatta, Finland; Zemgus Girgensons, Latvia; Tomas Tatar, Slovakia; Valeri Nichushkin, Russia.

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