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Avalanche Fall Hard!

Look carefully at the picture at the left — almost 1 year ago, LaCosta leads Syracuse over the Avs affiliate, Lake Erie, with the help of Mark Methot.

Fast forward 1 year, and LaCosta cashes his 1st NHL shutout against the Avalanche, completing a season sweep of an opponent that has historically bedeviled the franchise. The 8th shutout this year, all of the coming from players that were in the AHL when the year began. Wow!

In many respects, this was the type of game Jackets fans have come to expect this year, and in other ways not. As we have in many games, we dominated the first period, 16 shots to 4, had an overwhelming advantage in possession, but had nothing to show for it. Budaj made some nice saves, and other opportunities we just missed. As in some previous games, we went catatonic in the second period — taking penalties, getting outhit, etc., and were outshot by almost as large a margin. Starting the 3rd, we again dominated, and once Murray scored, there was no turning back. This was different from past games. Tonight, we got them down and then stepped on their throat. The intensity went off the chart after the first goal, and we went for more — and got them. That is learning how to win, and how to beat a team that they should. No backing off, no protecting the lead. We gave up a few rushes toward the end, but 1 post and a couple of nice saves preserved the shutout.

Here are the +/- for the night:

++LaCosta — Labrador City is drinking heavily tonight! What an effort by this young man. Though not nearly of Mason’s stature, his movements in goal are very similar, and his style of movement is closer to Mason than Leclaire. The team also responds well in front of him, which is huge. Where would the CBJ have been this year without the efforts of Mason and LaCosta?

++DefenseNot the stifling display we saw against San Jose (we were outshot 31-30), but somehow watching the game you never felt that imminent threat from the Avs. Sure, they rang one off the post after it didn’t matter, and LaCosta made some great saves, but much of their effort was kept at the perimeter and we did a nice job of poke checking and clearing the slot.

++Special Teams — Penalty kill was perfect, even after some ticky tack calls against us. No goals on the two PP attempts, but I sure like the look of it a lot better.

++Players — Hejda, Commodore, Tyutin were just huge all night. Russell was a single handed puck moving machine, and Klesla showed some energy. Murray was strong, and got a crazy goal from no angle, after his one-handed spike was disallowed (properly) by the on ice officials and Toronto. Torres had his best game as a Jacket, and Modin and Chimera both worked hard. Voracek turned in what is becoming a normal strong effort. Williams continues to prove that Howson is a genius.

Puck Handling — When we get in trouble, it is because we get too fancy and/or careless with the puck. Our top line can crisply move the puck back and forth, but they did not click tonight, though they generated lots of chances. Turnovers in the neutral zone and near our own blue line robbed us of chances and gave the Avs the few chances they had.

Fans — 14+ K at the game on a beatiful night in Columbus was a weak showing, and the crowd was unduly quiet. Sure, it was a measured game, but we dominated the first and you would have thought that we were at a chess match. Guess the blood alcohol took awhile to reach therapeutic levels, as enthusiasm returned in the 3rd.

A necessary win that we did not let get away, and one that moves us up the line. We need to keep the pedal to the metal as we go up against the Wings and Carolina, but watching that confidence and effort, you have to have a good feeling about this club. Go Jackets!!

2 Comments

  1. soultrain

    February 11, 2009 at 4:29 am

    I will give you the comment on the fans at first, but I really blame the effort of the team on that one. They did dominate the game in the first, but there was still a lack of energy and it seemed as though the Avs realized the Jackets weren’t really taking it to them and by the end of the first had picked up their hitting and started pressing the Jackets, leading to that snoozer of a second. The crowd really rallies behind the team when they put forth effort, when the players look like their going through the motions, the crowd will remain silent. This is a crowd that appreciates a blue collar effort and they know when their getting one and respond, when the product is less than that, they wait. Great win and way to put the hammer down in the third and great to see Murrey rewarded with the goal, he is much under appreciated with his role on this team. Good for Modin, but that was a great play by Umberger drawing two defenders and putting one right on the tape of Hajda for the shot from the point. Unluckey that Vancover made the come back, looks like we will wake up under the bar again. Gotta get one more and even up with those lame Ducks!!!

  2. Rick

    February 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    This was definately a game we should win. If they put forth the effort and don’t let up, this is how they are rewarded. Series shutout capped by a shutout. The words of Bill Davidge come to mind… “That’s as good as it gets!”

    Put your foot on their throat and don’t ever let up.

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