DALLAS – Where have all the good times gone?
OK, now it’s starting to get a little bit ridiculous, these same patterns of losing games by the Colorado Avalanche, a team that once seemed like the fair-haired golden boy in all aspects but now is continually getting in trouble.
In four of the last five games the Avs have played, dating to Oct. 26 at home against Anaheim, they have allowed the first two goals of the hockey game. Despite playing pretty well in each game after that, the Avs have lost ’em all, in regulation.
So it went again Tuesday night here at American Airlines Center, where the Avs topped their first-period ineptness of Saturday night in Arizona with an even more fumblin’, bumblin’, stumblin’ start in a 4-1 loss to the Stars.
Coach Jared Bednar can’t blame this all on his players this time, either. Judging by his reaction on the bench late midway through the second period after his second straight failed challenge of a goal in the game, Bednar didn’t know the new rules this year: for each successive failed challenge of a goal in a game, the penalty isn’t just a two-minute minor – it’s four minutes.
Bednar challenged Radek Faksa’s goal, at 10:54 of the second, on the premise that he knocked in the puck with a broken stick, which is against the rules. Bednar had unsuccessfully challenged Dallas’ first goal, at 19 seconds of the game, which drew a two-minute minor.
But here’s rules change that was implemented this summer:
“Coach’s challenges no longer will be limited based on the availability of a timeout, but a minor penalty for delay of game will be assessed for any failed challenge under any of the three categories. Any subsequent failed challenge will result in a double minor for delay of game.”
Mistakes happen. I remember reading about the rule change over the summer, but it’s easy to forget it in the heat of battle. But there’s no question that lost four minutes of play after the unsuccessful challenge didn’t help matters for Bednar’s club.
“He shot it, and you can see Faksa’s stick break. So I challenged it for when he touched the puck, should have been a stoppage, playing a puck with a broken stick,” Bednar said. “I had a couple questions for the referee first. Then, when you kind of read through later on, on the rule, you can challenge it for the stoppage, but if it’s a penalty then they can’t overturn the goal. That’s my mistake. I take full blame for that one. If they could have seen that it was broken, then they could have disallowed the goal, but they couldn’t see it and even if it’s on video, it doesn’t matter. It’s a penalty if he plays it, and you can’t overturn the goal.”
Mostly, though, it was just more sloppy, uninspired play at the start of a game that doomed the Avs again. I mean, 19 seconds into the game, it was 1-0, after Sam Girard not only was stripped of a puck behind his net but then compounded the mistake by giving it away again when he got a stick on it. At the 5:46 mark, Philipp Grubauer lost sight of a puck floating around over his head, then flopped in vain as it plopped into milky white smooth ice behind him.
Erik Johnson is DONE with any excuses his team might have over this start:
“It’s losing hockey, playing from behind. You dig a hole, you’re going to have a tough-ass time winning in the NHL,” Johnson said. “What’d we, give up a goal five seconds into the game, 10 seconds into the game tonight? We’ve talked enough. It’s time to go out there and do it right. You can’t lose games like this in a row. We got lucky last year and got away with it, but we don’t want to rely on other teams losing too. We’ve got to find a way out of this. Five, six games in row, what is that?? You gotta be ready to go. It comes from us. If we had the easy button, we’d press it and it’d be over. But we don’t. So, we gotta find a way out and play our asses off.”
J.T. Compher cut the Stars lead in half at 19:24 of the first, and there seemed some real optimism the Avs could turn this thing around entering the second. And it’s not like they didn’t have some chances, getting three separate power plays in the period. That’s where they kept stalling out, through. Right now, the power play just is NOT working.
Then came the Faksa goal – the stick appeared to break AFTER it hit the puck, not before – and the flubbed challenge. The third period was essentially 20 minutes of garbage time.
Just like the first 19 minutes.
- Avs need to call someone up from the Eagles who can make a little more of a difference than Jayson Megna has made so far, which is…none. Look, it’s not all on him. He’s barely playing. He played just 1:55 in the first two periods. So, what’s the point of him being here?
- Nazem Kadri took a dumb penalty at 13:03 of the first period. The Avs were on the power play, when Joe Pavelski had a decent short-handed chance. There was a scuffle after Grubauer made the save, but instead of just leaving it alone after a shove or two, Kadri decided to try and drive Pavelski in the boards and take off his helmet. That drew a roughing minor and killed the power play, in a 2-0 game.
- Vladislav Kamenev got his first point of the season, a nice little back pass to Compher on his goal.
- Matt Nieto started the game at left wing on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Joonas Donskoi. That’s not working either. Hard to expect a 3rd-4th liner to play in a role like that.
- It’s just going real bad suddenly, folks. It’s a long season. I’m not panicked or anything. Growing concerned at what I see? Yeah. Some really bad habits are seemingly happening every night lately. Indifferent starts, some bad penalties, not very good situational awareness. Yeah, concerning.