That was a 5-star meal at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills. That was a root beer float on a 98-degree day. This was an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo. It wasn’t just that the Colorado Avalanche beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the season-opener tonight. It was the craftsman’s quality in which they did it.
No little detail was too small for Avalanche players to adhere to. From the appetizers to the main courses to the desserts and aperitif, this was just a full-menu feast for those who appreciate full-experience, fine cuisine.
Avalanche players definitely did not look hung over, after winning the Cup and partying harder at times over the summer than the cast of Jersey Shore. They were magnificent, save for a brief lapse on a penalty-kill in the first period.
The Avalanche power play was something else, passing the puck at times like the hockey version of the Harlem Globetrotters. Artturi Lehkonen scored twice on the power play in the second period and Valeri Nichushkin added another as part a dominant first two periods, with Colorado owning a 22-10 shot edge.
New goalie Alexandar Georgiev didn’t have to do much in getting the win. That’s probably going to be the case on a few more nights in his Avalanche career. He was vicitimized for goals on two of the first 11 shots he saw, but both were on the power play.
One of the things you always wonder about is how a defending champion will come out to start the season, whether there looks like there might be just something to worry about with complacency.
I saw none of that from high in the press box tonight. The Avalanche looked like they were playing Game 6 again in Tampa, just methodically dominant in all areas in the first 40 minutes. The defense had the puck all the time it seemed like. All four lines did something noticeable. For the aging, scandal-plagued Blackhawks organization, they were like the Washington Generals against the Globetrotters.
Mikko Rantanen had three assists in the second period and four overall, including a beauty to Lehkonen for a redirect goal that made it 4-1 at 3:49 of the second. Those two Finns are going to put up a lot of points this year.
So too, I think, will the Colorado Avalanche.
NOTES AND QUOTES FROM AVS PR:
MIKKO RANTANEN: On The Stanley Cup Banner Raise: “I didn’t really know what to expect and the crowd was really into it. They sang our song from last year. It was [a] really cool moment, like the video they did and obviously, the banner raise was he cherry on top, so really, really cool moment.”
On The Avs’ Start:
“I think we had a good jump right away. I think we had some energy from the banner raise and
the crowd. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much crowd in the warmups already, so guys were excited. We always feed off really well from our crowd and they were good again tonight.”
Colorado RW Artturi Lehkonen
On His Two Power-Play Goals:
“Mikko (Colorado RW Mikko Rantanen) and the guys set up really good spots for me and I was just trying to get the shots to the net and luckily they went in.”
On The Avs’ Start:
“We’ve known for quite a long time that it [was] not going to be an easy night but we had time to prepare for it. I think we did a really good job of coming out the gate after the banner was raised.”
Colorado G Alexandar Georgiev
On Tonight’s Game:
“It felt really good to get the first one. The boys had a really, really good game. For me, it was kind of just staying focused on my job, being in the moment and not getting too far ahead of myself. The guys really helped out a lot, so many blocked shots. When you spend so much time in the offensive zone, it puts you in a good position.”
On The Avs’ Performance:
“It was [a] really fast paced game [tonight]. Guys have great vision and at the same time, they don’t sell out just for offense, they did a really good job at coming back and protecting on the rushes.”
Chicago C Jonathan Toews
“There are a couple situations we were a step behind. Getting a stick on a guy, or maybe cheating a little bit to survive and not get scored on.”
On The Third Period:
“There were moments it was there. What stood out to me is when we want the puck we’re not afraid to go out in traffic, support the puck carrier and we know where our next play is going to be. It makes the game a lot easier for the other four guys. If we do that a little more often we won’t be chasing and won’t get behind the play like we did at times.”
Chicago C Max Domi
On Playing Against Colorado:
“It’s a hell of a hockey team they have over there. They had some good plays defensively, you have to expect that to happen, they’re Stanley Cup Champions, so you have to expect to go defend.”
On His Goal:
“It’s a heck of a play by Johnny (Chicago C Tyler Johnson) there. I got to the back post and got my stick there and that’s a great pass by him.”
The Avalance/Nordiques are 30-9-4 (.744) all-time in home openers, the second-best mark of any team (min 10 GP) behind only Minnesota (15-2-4 .810). Colorado is 18-6-3 in home openers since moving to Denver.
Colorado’s four power-play goals is the most by the club in a season opener in Nordiques/Avalanche history and Power Play: 4-6 the most by the Avs in any regular-season contest since Jan. 15, 2021 vs. St. Louis (5).
Penalty Kill: 1-3
The Avalanche opens the season with a back-to-back for the first time since the 2007-08 season when they played Dallas at home and Nashville the following night to start the campaign. Colorado posted a 15-5-2 combined record when playing on consecutive nights last season.
The Blackhawks and Avalanche combined for six power-play goals, one shy of the most in a season-opening game (since 1933-34 when goals by type was officially tracked) established on Oct. 9, 1975 between Boston.