It is only out of a feeling of duty to the readers that I post a game report for this evening as the team certainly didn't work hard enough or seem to be focused enough on the game to warrant my efforts in return.
From the very beginning of this one the theme was consistent; we were to be at least one stride behind every chance (and there were plenty, don't let anyone tell you there weren't) all night long. They were there for the taking as the puck bounced and Anderson looked just okay in the nets. There were times when the door was WIDE open and we had nothing...no exceptional individual efforts or team effort to take advantage. I'll give the AVS credit for tracking down loose pucks but they aren't really good positionally, nor do they have incredible speed. They simply wanted it more than we did this evening and were really really focused.
Large errors caused every goal against us. On the first goal Horcoff lost the puck in corner (something happening far too often this year) then screened his own goalie in a feeble block attempt and the puck wound up in our net. On the second goal an overworked Taylor Chorney (who shouldn't have even been in the lineup) made an error playing the puck along the boards and broke the cardinal rule of "man or puck" and allowed an elite scorer in alone (and even then Khabibulin almost robbed him), then Chorney again took himself completely out of the play on the third "goal" into the empty net.
Colorado didn't really generate much exceptional offence; and when they did #35 was there for us. We got enough from him tonight.
We also seemed to be getting enough once again from Lubomir and Ladislav. Watching Smid outskate Duchene behind the net in a relentless effort to keep the puck was simply beautiful as a fellow defenceman. He had many other excellent journeys out of our zone with the puck as well. What happened to Visnovsky? I must've missed it? He was providing the steady hand only a guy like he could provide until he disappeared from the ice.
Our other 4 defencemen all struggled which is completely unacceptable. I'm really losing any and all remaining thoughts I have as to why Gilbert and Grebeshkov are struggling so. They look like they've lost all poise with the puck and it's hampering our breakout and defence. They keep going up the boards when neither should be due to their elite skating and passing skill. It just doesn't make any sense the way they're playing. Chorney and Strudwick are simply overmatched.
Up front, I still like the first line. They struggled with the exact same issues everyone else did; Penner specifically missing two chances he'd have easily scored on last homestand. Every forward tonight seemed to be in this ugly habit of shooting from very low in the zone; every puck missing the goalie and going on by to an Avalanche player who'd clear the zone. Not once did it really generate a chance or wind up as a pass to anyone.
I grow increasingly tired of watching Ethan Moreau think he can still lug a puck somewhere. I've seen him take it up the ice successfully with authority all of once this year, yet he keeps trying. I fear our captain has reached his end of service date and that's really too bad. Even his shooting ability and desire to hit are gone. That continued tonight. Filling he shoes might be Stortini, who is starting to look like a better "hockey player" than Moreau most nights. I don't know if the numbers add up at all yet, but I think the captain is being displaced in terms of on-ice usefulness. Cogliano's got to find a way to get open and let the gifted D get him the puck. Right now he's generating precisely zero offence and that can't stand.
It was good to see Gilbert Brule back in the lineup even if he didn't have a stellar night. I really like the way he's settled into a confident NHL game now and he only really had one gaffe tonight which was more of a mix-up than a screw-up. Too bad he couldn't find some reserve offence in the tank this evening. I agree that Nilsson, while attempting to expand his game, just isn't all that useful right now. He doesn't have the offensive confidence to produce and isn't playing good enough positional hockey. That doesn't work. Give or take with Jacques as he's playing okay but I sure wish we were good enough that we didn't need to use him above the #13/14 slot.
I don't mind the Comrie-Horcoff-O'Sullivan line much at all. Even with Horcoff struggling they very rarely get the team into any kind of a pickle. Comrie knows he should've scored tonight, specifically in the second period at the side of the net. He normally doesn't miss those. O'Sullivan's dynamic offensive game only showed in short spurts which unfortunately only occurred when Comrie or Horcoff wasn't open. None of the passes on this line within 10 feet of the net connected tonight despite generally doing the right thing. That would've changed this game quite drastically.
#35 was excellent again. So very calm, so very consistent.
I'm fairly angry at our squad tonight; though I'm also aware that this type of game happens from time-to-time and it's not always from lack of effort. We had our chances and they weren't jumped on for a myriad of reasons. I'm pretty sure the next effort will be better in this regard.
If not; then we have a problem.