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Avs wilt after fast start in season-opening loss to Blues



Final Score

Well, at least none of you wasted any actual money on that one.

In the first game of the 2021 season, the Avs lost to the St. Louis Blues, 4-1, in front of a crowd of. … yeah, you get the joke. Even if there had been actual fans in the stands of the newly-named Ball Arena, they wouldn’t have had much to cheer about. After taking an early 1-0 lead and looking every bit juggernaut the preseason clippings said they’d be, the Avs just flat out outworked and outplayed for most of the rest of the game.

“We got outworked right from the start,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “We were not ready to go. We were hoping it was going to be easier than it was and it showed. We got outworked all over the ice.”

Sure, it would be easy to shrug this game off as just one in the next 82, but this is a 56-game season. Certainly, no time to panic here, but every loss is magnified by about a third of what it would be in a normal season. The Avs get another crack at the Blues Friday night here at Ball.

It was certainly a night the Avs’ new second line of Gabe Landeskog, Nazem Kadri and Brandon Saad will want to forget. The line was on the ice for the first three Blues goals, all at even strength. Goalie Philipp Grubauer, making his first start since Game 1 of the second round against Dallas last summer, looked shaky at times. But it’s hard to pin the first two goals against on him, as turnovers and out-of-position teammates in front of him led to relatively easy goals against. The last two goals, which turned a 2-1 game into a 4-1 game?

Yeah, you can go ahead and pin some major blame on Grubauer for his play on them, including the fourth one, in which he misplayed a puck behind the net and was caught out of position.

Andre Burakovsky gave the Avs an early 1-0 lead, ripping a shot past Blues goalie Jordan Binnington on the power play. The Avs were outskating the Blues and almost upped the lead a couple more times. Then, mysteriously, everything just kind of fell apart from there.

The Blues may have been overlooked by some, especially after losing defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to Vegas. But new addition Torey Krug looked excellent opposite teammate Colton Parayko, and the Blues played well offensively despite the absence of veteran free-agent signee Mike Hoffman, who has some visa work issues still to sort out.

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The Avs just couldn’t really sustain much of anything offensively after the Blues got the lead. The Blues started clogging the neutral zone, and sitting back more. The impatient Avs tried to do a little too much fancy-dan, one-on-one play, but that only usually gets you more entwined in St. Louis’ web.

“I didn’t love our power play,” Bednar said. “We didn’t look like we were in sync. I didn’t expect to love our power play because when you look at our five-on-five play, it wasn’t like we were going to all of a sudden show up on the power play.”

The Avs’ top line had some moments, with Nathan MacKinnon looking flashy and dangerous at times. Linemate Mikko Rantanen, though, struggled to make any real impact on the contest.

With no fans in the stands, the Ball crew had crowd noise piped in that resembled the decibel levels of a jet engine. By the last minutes of the third period, they pulled the plug.

Some game highlights:

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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I was a bit reminded of the Dallas series in the fall where the Avs at times seemed thoroughly outworked and outmuscled, which brings me to what I think is the big question here. Just like in the second round in the bubble, the Avs didn’t look great tonight in their role as early favorites. Will they be able to handle the pressure?

Richard Trujillo

Avs looked tiny out there compared to St. Louis. Seems like this is the exact same team that hasn’t been good enough to jump into the elite few of the NHL the last few seasons. Too small and easily pushed around. Poor goaltending. Lack of depth, when Mackinnon doesn’t score no one scores. Saad looked awful. I wish I could chalk it up to first game jitters and say “it’s only one game” but this is way too characteristic of what they have shown us basically for the last decade. And something seems off with the chemistry. Anyone else see… Read more »

[…] favorites to win the Stanley Cup…but nobody said it’d be easy. This was a rough start. Colorado drops its season opener against the St. Louis Blues, […]

Maxwell Stetson

Uninspired play. Time to put O’Connor back in.

Maybe replace Nichushkin. I think his game in particular brought the team down. He had multiple chances to make big time plays and floundered, including an opportunity in front of the net on the power play where he couldn’t control a pass.


It appears to me that the AVs believed all of the press about them winning the cup and forgot to show up. They were outworked and outplayed the entire game. Hopefully this was a wakeup call.


Yup, just like they were already looking past Dallas in the playoffs last fall before that series had even started.

Jared Moss

Horrible same old Avs, I hope they can flip the switch quick otherwise let’s just signal the next rebuild

Oliver Bauer

People are panicking already for some reason. You don’t have a lot of time to get on track in a 56 game season but with a 10 day training camp and no exhibition games it’s going to take a few games for these lines to gel a bit. Especially Saad, Kadri, and Landy.

The Avs were punched in the face last night. I’d expect a much different looking team on Friday.


The Blues and Stars of the world know how to beat us, and this was more of the same. I liked our second period, but that was about it.
I thought if we cashed in on one of the PPs in the period that the game might have turned, but it looked bad as usual.
There wasn’t any one line or pairing that I especially liked. Need to forget about this one and come out to play on Friday, or else there might be trouble.


Watching the first period I thought “been reading your own press boys?” They won’t stay favorites they keep playing like this.

I don’t know why this is but; this team just isn’t the same without Johnson.

Luke Waggoner

I think you can chalk this one up to rust and guys not being in game shape. I saw a ton of missed passes, missed timing, Grub looked a little slow at times, and that stuff isn’t going to come from practices, it’s going to come from playing games. I think them coming out and losing the first one could be a very good thing as a wake-up that it’s real time now, and every point matters.

[…] turned some heads on the ice and on social media when he debuted his pink visor to the world during Wednesday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues. The visor, though eye-catching, is not a matter of style […]

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