Cleat Geeks

The Burgundy Breakdown

Welcome to the Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps the latest week in action featuring the Colorado Avalanche.

After their home OT loss to Calgary, the Avalanche returned to the road this past Tuesday with a trip to Madison Square Garden to face a Rangers team on a shaky start to the season. The Avs went to OT for the second straight game, as regulation ended in a 2-2 tie, but this time, nothing was scored in the extra frame, leading to a shootout. The Avalanche lost the shootout and the game, with Mikko Rantanen scoring the only Avs shootout goal of the evening (and, as of this article, the season). The Avalanche went to “the Rock” to face the Devils, and after trailing twice, with the latter deficit coming in the middle of the third period, Colorado netted three goals in the remaining regulation time, resulting in a 5-3 victory. The game marked the first time that Nathan MacKinnon did not score, but Gabriel Landeskog picked up his third hat trick of his career–scoring once in the second and twice in the third.

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On Saturday, the Avalanche went down south to Raleigh for a meeting with the Hurricanes. Landeskog’s hot streak continued, as he scored in the first and second periods to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead. MacKinnon scored in the third, and while Phillipp Grubauer’s shutout bid ended with over two minutes left, the Avalanche still held on and won by a score of 3-1. The Avalanche hot start to this season continues, as the regulation loss in Columbus still stands as the only one of the season. Landeskog scored five goals in two games, MacKinnon is still putting pucks in the net at rapid pace, and Mikko Rantanen is racking up helpers; he had three and a goal in the game in New Jersey.

The Avalanche will remain on the road on Monday, as they will face off with the Flyers in Philadelphia. After that, the Avalanche will host the Tampa Bay Lightning this Wednesday on NBCSN, and Friday will see the team host the Senators, marking the first game in Denver for former Avalanche player Matt Duchene since he was traded last November. On Saturday, the Avalanche will head to Minnesota for the second meeting of the season against the Wild.

That’s the Burgundy Breakdown! Until next week!

The Burgundy Breakdown

Welcome to the Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps the latest week in action featuring the Colorado Avalanche!

After winning their first two games of the season, the Avalanche went on the road for a pair of games, beginning with a trip to Columbus this past Tuesday. The Avalanche fell behind 2-0 after the first period, only to even things up with a pair of their own in the second frame. It was 2-2 after 40 minutes, but the Avs’ momentum stopped there, as Columbus netted three goals in the third period, resulting in a 5-2 loss–Colorado’s first of the season. The Avs went to Buffalo for the first of two meetings with the Sabres, and it got off to a good start for the team, ending the first 20 minutes up 3-0. In all, the Avalanche ended up winning 6-1, with Nathan MacKinnon netting two of the six goals.

The Avs returned home on Saturday for a meeting with the Calgary Flames, and right on jump street, MacKinnon scored 11 seconds in to give Colorado a 1-0 lead. It became 2-0 just minutes later, but the scoring stopped there. Calgary cut their deficit in half in the second period, and they tied it up in the third, sending the Avs to their first OT of the season. In the extra frame, Johnny Gaudreau broke away and put one past Semyon Varlamov, resulting in a 3-2 OT defeat.

Despite the slow week, not a bad start overall for the Avalanche at 3-1-1. Nathan MacKinnon has scored at least once in every game this season, and has six overall this year. He appears to be on pace to top his goal total from last season; MacKinnon scored 39 goals in 2017-18. Dating back to last year’s winner take all game against the Blues for a playoff spot, the Avs have only lost once in regulation in their last six games, and they have scored 19 goals this season, giving the Avs a 3.80 GFA. The Avs go back on the road on Tuesday when they face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. After that, they head to New Jersey for a meeting with the Devils on Thursday, followed by a game against the Hurricanes on Saturday in Raleigh.

That’s the Burgundy Breakdown! Until next week!

The Burgundy Breakdown

The NHL is back and so is the Burgundy Breakdown! Welcome to the first edition of the 2018-19 season, which recaps the latest week of action featuring the Colorado Avalanche!

The Avalanche opened the season at home against the rival Minnesota Wild this part Thursday. The Wild opened the scoring in the first period with a goal from Mikko Koivu, but Carl Soderberg tied things up later in the period with the Avalanche’s very first goal of this new season. It was 1-1 after 20, and in the second frame, Nathan MacKinnon gave the Avs the lead with the period’s only goal. Colorado netted a pair of empty netters in the third period, with Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher scoring the goals and sealing a 4-1 victory for the Avs.

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Photo by; The Durango Herald

The Avalanche remained at home on Saturday with the first of two meetings with the Flyers, a battle between the last two teams to lock up playoff spots last season. Colin Wilson scored 1:35 into the game, giving the Avs the 1-0 lead, only for Sean Couturier to tie it up later in the period. Compher’s second goal of the season gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead after one period of play, but Philly tied things up early in the second. Captain Gabriel Landeskog gave Colorado their third lead of the game later in the frame, and late third period goals by Wilson and MacKinnon ended up giving the Avs a 5-2 victory.

As we all know, the Avalanche are coming off an amazing season that saw the team improve from their disastrous 2016-17 campaign. Last season, Colorado nearly doubled their point total and made a late run that put the team into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where they lost a six-game opening round series to the Nashville Predators. With the team’s huge and quick turnaround, Avalanche fans were left wondering where the team could go from that point. How will they start? Where will they end up? The second question will take some time, but as for the first question, a 2-0 start is definitely a good step. Even better: both wins came against fellow playoff teams.

The Avalanche’s second week of play will begin on Tuesday, with a trip to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets (another playoff team from last year). The team will head to Buffalo on Thursday to face the Sabres, and will return home on Saturday for a game against the Calgary Flames.

That’s the Burgundy Breakdown! Until next week!

Winged Wheel Watch: 2018-19 Red Wings Preview

After an expectedly rough 2017-18 season, the Detroit Red Wings, with a significantly changed landscape, have their eyes on improvement for the 2018-19 season.

Come in, come out

The Red Wings’ first order of business was to sign general manager Ken Holland to a new, two-year deal (the minimum term for an executive contract). Otherwise, they had a very quiet offseason, adding only two new faces in the forms of goaltender Jonathan Bernier and winger Thomas Vanek. They also re-signed defenseman Mike Green to a new two-year deal. The team also parted ways with defenseman Xavier Ouellet via a buyout

The most significant change for the Red Wings, however, is the loss of Henrik Zetterberg, their team captain, who was medically forced into retirement due to recurring back issues.

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Photo by; Detroit News

In addition to losing Zetterberg’s presence on-ice as a playmaker and leader, they also lose his leadership in a younger-by-the-minute locker room. What the Red Wings will do in the immediate future to replace the vacant captaincy is not clear, the prevailing thought among fans and beat writers alike is that Dylan Larkin is the next in line for the captaincy. Whether he, or anyone else, will be given the “C” for the upcoming season is yet to be determined, though it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that the team operates with three alternate captains as they make the decision.

The team

Head coach Jeff Blashill is set to return for his fourth season behind the Red Wings’ bench.

A few injuries have accelerated the long-anticipated youth revolution for the Red Wings, as Green has been ruled out for the season opener, as well as about a month afterwards, due to a virus. Injuries to fellow defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall have the potential to open up more spots to begin the season.

As a result, these are the players you can expect to see on opening night.

(note: “A” denotes alternate captaincy.)

Image result for dennis cholowski red wingsForwards: LW Justin Abdelkader (A), C Andreas Athanasiou, LW Tyler Bertuzzi, C/LW Christoffer Ehn, RW Martin Frk, C Luke Glendening, C Darren Helm, C Dylan Larkin (A, home games), RW Anthony Manta, C Frans Nielsen (A, road games), RW Gustav Nyquist, C Michael Rasmussen, LW Thomas Vanek

Defensemen: Dennis Cholowski, Danny DeKeyser, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, Nick Jensen, Libor Sulak

Goaltenders: Jonathan Bernier, Jimmy Howard

Injured: D Niklas Kronwall (A), D Mike Green, D Jonathan Ericsson

Cholowski and Rasmussen have both, at least for now, been guaranteed spots with the team to begin the season. And if you caught any preseason action involving either of them, you know that it’s not surprising that they’re here. Ehn, a 22 year-old, 2014 later round pick, is a surprise here after putting on a solid show during preseason play.

The aforementioned injuries to veteran defensemen present opportunities for Hicketts and/or Hronek, who have both been assigned to the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. Both have long been considered to be among the Red Wings’ up-and-coming core of defensemen, as well as the 24 year-old Sulak, who brings size and skating ability to the blue line.

Already assigned to Grand Rapids Griffins, among others, D Vili Saarijarvi, RW Givani Smith, and LW/RW Filip Zadina, this year’s sixth overall draft pick. There was hope that the 18 year-old Zadina would immediately crack the Red Wings’ rotation, but struggles with the quicker pace of play and physicality of the NHL in preseason play showed the need for a little more seasoning.

Predictions

There will be signs of improvement as younger players mature and we begin to see current up-and-comers like Larkin, Mantha, Bertuzzi, and Athanasiou make this team their own. There will be excitement as we see the likes of Rasmussen, Zadina, Hronek, Hicketts, and Cholowski get time on the ice. But there will be little else.

There is scoring talent, both with their younger players and some veterans, but there are issues in the consistency of offensive production and there is little in the way of defense. They are in no position to contend. It won’t be without excitement, but a low finish in the eastern conference, coupled with a higher draft pick, is a likely outcome for this group.

 

 

Winged Wheel Watch: Free Agency Round-Up

After a successful draft, the Detroit Red Wings turned their attention to free agency, where unrestricted and top restricted targets loomed. General manager Ken Holland was able to tie up most of those loose ends quite quickly, however.

Restricted free agents

This off-season’s top priority fell here as Holland was tasked with retaining top young talents like Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Andreas Athanasiou.

Bertuzzi and Martin Frk were the first to re-sign, signing, respectively two-year and one-year deals worth $1.4 million and $1.05 million annually. Retaining Bertuzzi, especially at that cost, is a huge victory for the Red Wings, as his grit, presence on the power play, and eye for making the play led to 17 assists and 24 total points in 48 games. Frk adds depth and a mighty slap shot, but little else. And until he learns to better control his shot, he is even dangerous. But, as a fourth line presence, there are worse options than Frk.

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Photo by; ClickOnDetroit

Next came Athanasiou. After a lengthy holdout to begin the 2017-18 season, many feared a similar scenario would unfold this summer. Further headache was expected as Athanasiou was eligible for arbitration rights. Luckily, the signing went off without a hitch as The Athletic’s Craig Custance reported a two-year deal in early July. The contract is worth $3 million annually. In this, the Red Wings hold onto a talented forward with incredible speed and ability to score goals.

Mantha followed suit not long after, inking a two-year, $3.3 million AAV deal. The team’s leading goal scorer in 2017-18, Mantha brings size, skating ability, and an incredible eye for the net. Consistency has been an issue, as have a few nagging injuries, but there’s no reason to believe that Mantha can’t be a 30 goal scorer (or more) if paired with the right line mates.

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Photo by; Zimbio

Finally, after much anticipation, Dylan Larkin re-signed with the largest contract of any of the RFA group, returning on with a five-year deal worth $6.1 million AAV (breakdown of the deal can be found here). Perhaps the most important target, Larkin was the Red Wings leading points scorer last season (16 G, 47 A, 63 points), he has developed more of a playmaker’s eye than that of a goal-scorer, which is acceptable given the presence of the likes of Mantha and Athanasiou, as well as up-and-coming youngsters Filip Zadina and Michael Rasmussen. Larkin also took a step into more of a leadership role last season and is, by all accounts, primed to be the next captain for the storied franchise. And perhaps sooner than later, as recurring back issues have cast doubt on the future, both immediate and long-term, of current skipper Henrik Zetterberg.

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Photo by; Detroit News

Unrestricted free agents

The Red Wings acted quickly in the UFA market, making all of their moves immediately after free agency officially opened on July 1. The club elected to add one new face, veteran goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and a couple of familiar faces in winger Thomas Vanek and defenseman Mike Green.

Bernier (three years, $9 million) is coming off of a solid season with the Colorado Avalanche (19-13-3, .913 SV%, 2.85 GAA). He is a sensible addition, as there is no heir apparent in their system to serve as a backup to Jimmy Howard following last season’s trade of Petr Mrazek and the off-season departures of Jared Coreau and Tom McCollum. Bernier’s three-year term will, ideally, provide enough time for one of the goalie prospects in the Red Wings system to step in and take the reins.

Vanek (one year, $3 million) previously starred for the Red Wings in the first half of the 2016-17 season, where he recorded 38 points (15 G, 23 A) and served as a strong presence on the power play before being traded to the Florida Panthers after 48 games. In 2017-18, at age 34, he recorded 56 points (24 G, 32 A) in 80 games with both the Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets. He will provide a good veteran presence, if not a familiar one, for younger players like Zadina, Rasmussen, Mantha, Athanasiou, and Evgeny Svechnikov.

Green (two years, $10.75 million) returns after spending the last three seasons with the Red Wings. When healthy he proved to be a solid offensive presence from the blue line, recording 104 points (29 G, 75 A) in 212 games. He provides veteran experience and some offensive prowess from the defensive zone. However, he provides very little stopping presence in that zone, posting a -40 plus/minus rating during his time in Detroit. And ,with the likes of Filip Hronek, Joe Hicketts, and Dennis Cholowski waiting in the wings (no pun intended), one has to wonder if Green’s presence, along with other, more concerning contracts given to other defenseman, will block the road for any of these talented prospects.

Where do you stand on the signings made by the Red Wings this offseason? Let us know in the comments below!

Duelly Noted: Are the Blues Ready for 2018?

The St. Louis Blues are a team that has something to prove after narrowly missing the playoffs in the 2017-2018 season. After such a dismal outcome, Blues fans were pining for a big change of some kind but fan expectations for that change were low. This off-season, Blues GM Doug Armstrong has pulled off some huge moves that can make the Blues dangerous going into the 2018-19 run.

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It all started with some moves that made it seem like the Blues were content with what they had but wanted to fill some holes. The Blues wanted a center and they found one in Tyler Bozak. He now has a deal with the Blues for 3 years at $1.5 million He got 11 goals with 32 assists in 2017 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. After a draft that did not lead to much big news for the Blues this signing garnered something of a mixed reaction from fans as Bozak was not the big signing or trade they hoped for. They assumed the Blues would be done after signing Bozak and the small move of re-acquiring David Perron following his run as a Stanley Cup Finalist for the Vegas Image result for Ryan O' Reilly bluesGolden Knights but the best was yet to come.

The Blues most shocking move this off-season was trading for Ryan O’ Reilly in exchange for Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson and a first round draft pick. Ryan O’ Reilly had a great year with the Sabres last season with 24 goals and 37 assists. O’ Reilly coming to the Blues made the hockey world sit up and take notice because nobody saw it coming. If Ryan O’ Reilly can manage to put up similar or better numbers this season, he can help make the Blues a really tough team to beat.

The last big move the Blues have made is acquiring left winger Pat Maroon. Maroon has a $1.75 million dollar contract for one year. The Pat Maroon signing is an extra special one for the Blues because Maroon is originally from St. Louis and he gets to play close to his family. In the 2017-2018 season, he had 17 goals and 26 assists with the Edmonton Oilers.

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After years of either missing the playoffs outright or making early exits, Doug Armstrong took  what appeared to be a dull off-season at first into a fun and interesting one for the Blues and their fans. It does come with the price of Carter Hutton leaving the Blues for the Sabres but on paper, the positives outweigh the negatives. All the Blues have to do is be ready to execute come October.

Winged Wheel Watch: NHL draft round-up

As their rebuild continues, the Detroit Red Wings are hot off of ten selections in the 2018 NHL entry draft. And, by all accounts, general manager Ken Holland and company made the most of them, putting together a very solid draft.

Here’s what you need to know about the selections made by the Red Wings.

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Photo by; Freep.com

Filip Zadina, RW/LW (round 1, 6th overall)

Age: 18

Height/weight: 6’0″/196 lbs

Shoots: Left

Amid heavy speculation that they’d select a defenseman, the Red Wings were presented an unexpected opportunity as Czech winger Filip Zadina, a projected top three pick, fell squarely into their laps.

Widely considered one of the best offensive prospects available in this year’s draft, Zadina impressed in the QMJHL last season with the Halifax Mooseheads, scoring 82 points (44 goals, 38 assists) and recording a +23 +/- rating in 57 games. Zadina’s accurate release on his shot, per EliteProspects.com’s Curtis Joe, is a defining aspect of his offensive game. Joe also notes that, in addition to his scoring and playmaking abilities, Zadina is a strong two-way player, arguably the strongest in the draft, who’s adept at breaking up the passing lanes and creating issues in the defensive zone.

The Red Wings have long needed an elite offensive player, and Filip Zadina fits the bill.

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Photo by; MIHockey

Joseph Veleno, C (round 1, 30th overall)

Age: 18

Height/weight: 6’1″/192 lbs

Shoots: Left

Another pick that fell squarely into their laps, Veleno was projected as a mid-first round pick by most outlets. But there he was for the taking at 30th overall.

Once considered a generational talent, Veleno became the fifth player in the history of the Canadian hockey system to be granted exceptional player status. Though he hasn’t lived up to that label, there is still a lot to like. Across 64 games with Saint Johns and Drummondville of the QMJHL, Veleno recorded 79 points (22 goals, 57 assists). EliteProspects notes Veleno’s speed and his ability to make plays while going at top capacity are among his most desirable assets. They also note his vision of the ice, as well as a refined defensive game that makes him a viable two-way threat.

He’s not as exciting as Zadina, but Veleno holds the potential to slot in well with a future generation of Red Wings centers led by Dylan Larkin and last year’s ninth overall pick Michael Rasmussen.

Other PicksImage result for jonatan berggren

The Red Wings continued with an offensive trend with their first selection of the second round, using their #33 pick on 17-year-old Swedish winger Jonatan Berggren, a player described by Draft Europe as agile, able to control the puck well, and make Image result for jared mcisaacthreading passes.

The Red Wings took their first defenseman in the second round, as they selected Jared McIsaac three picks later at #36. A teammate of Zadina’s in Halifax, McIsaac is a good skater that is primarily an offensive blue liner with a left-handed shot, more than worthy of his position in the draft.

The Red Wings further shored up their blue line as they snagged Alec Regula, a big (6’4″, 205 lbs), 17-year-old, right-handed shooting defenseman, as a sleeper pick at #67. A local product from West Bloomfield, Michigan, Regula is described by Future Considerations as being mobile for his size, with a penchant for making safe decisions in his handling of the puck. He, along with McIsaac, bolsters a crop of young blue liners waiting for their chance at the NHL level.

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The Red Wings further added depth at defense by taking right-handed blue liner Seth Barton (#81), as well as goaltending depth with Swedish prospects Jesper Eliasson (#84) and Victor Brattstrom (#160). They also added a power forward in Ryan O’Reilly (#98).

Overall

It’s hard not to like what Holland and company did with this draft, particularly their first couple of rounds. With some potentially elite offensive talent, as well as appealing defensive pickups, his next chapter is off to about as strong of a start as one could hope for.

However, the task becomes more daunting as free agency looms on the horizon, with key restricted free agents such as Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi, headlining the list.

What did you think of the Red Wings’ draft this year? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

Cancer Survivor, NHL Referee, & Now PGA Golfer

From the rink to the links, Garrett Rank is trading his skates for golf spikes next weekend.
Rank, a survivor of testicular cancer and full-time NHL referee who officiated three postseason and 73 regular-season games this year, qualified for the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock after tying for first at a regional qualifying tournament.

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Photo by; Sports Illustrated

“I’m just really proud of all the hard work and the dedication and time you put into the game. There will be a lot of really proud people back in Elmira (Canada),” said Rank, 30, who was the runner-up in the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur. “I just can’t thank people at home enough. My dad passed away a few years ago, and he’d be really jazzed to be there.”

With fellow NHL referee Daniel O’Rourke on the bag, Rank shot back-to-back 71s, finishing at two-under par at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek Course. Rank’s card featured two eagles in his first eight holes, guiding him to share medalist honors with Michael Hebert.

“We liked how he carried himself as a referee,” NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom told Bob McKenzie of TSN in 2015, as Rank prepared to make the jump to hockey’s top league. “Some guys are naturally inclined to be refs and Garrett seems to have that quality. You can see he’s accustomed to pressure, how he’s handled it as a golfer. I don’t think missing a hooking call in a hockey game can be as difficult as coming back from missing a three-foot putt in golf for a championship. There’s a real laid-back confidence to Garrett.”

Like many Canadian kids, Rank grew up playing hockey, reaching the Junior B level. Encouraged by his referee father Rich, he received his certification as an official as a teenager in order to earn spending money while he pursued his twin passions — hockey and golf.

Garrett’s talent on the links became apparent early enough to earn him a scholarship to the University of Waterloo. He won back-to-back Ontario University Athletics individual golf titles in 2010 and 2011 and was named Waterloo’s athlete of the year in 2012.

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While he was at university, he continued refereeing. He also joined the varsity hockey team as a walk-on but stopped playing after spending several months recovering from testicular cancer in 2011.

“I thought I had the world in my hands,” he said in 2012. “I was doing well academically and athletically.”

Doctors caught the tumor early and were able to remove it surgically. “I didn’t have to have too many treatments,” Rank added. “I was dead on my back for six to eight weeks.”

Within a few months, he was back to playing golf.

In 2012, he made Golf Canada’s national team and was runner-up at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship — as well as refereeing 50 major junior games in the Ontario Hockey League and a handful of additional lower-level junior games.

After three seasons as an OHL official, Rank was hired into the NHL’s minor league program. He worked his first NHL game at age 27 on January 15, 2015, and finished with three NHL assignments in the 2014-15 season. That grew to 31 games in 2015-16 before he was promoted to full-time status during the summer of 2016.

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As he climbed the officiating ranks, Rank also continued to impress with his golf game. He won the Canadian Mid-Amateur championship twice, represented Canada at the 2015 Pan American Games and played three RBC Canadian Opens. In 2016, he holed an eagle putt on 18 to open with a first-round 69, went on to make the cut and finished in a tie for 77th place.

Golf and hockey have long gone hand in hand. Superstars like Mario Lemieux are known for their prowess on the links and former players Dan Quinn and Grant Fuhr both have profile pages on the PGA website. These days, Wayne Gretzky watches and advises his daughter’s partner and the father of her two children, Dustin Johnson.

As well as possessing the physiological traits that make hockey players good golfers, Rank’s approach to officiating may also help him process high-stress moments on the links. We will soon find out as the 108th U.S. Open takes place from June 14-17 at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Shinnecock Hills, New York as he will be in the field. He has truly gone from the Rink to the Links and beat cancer in the process.

The Burgundy Breakdown (Central Semifinals Game 6)

Welcome to the latest Stanley Cup Playoff edition of The Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps Game 6 of the Colorado Avalanche’s series against the Nashville Predators.

The Avs stayed alive thanks to Andrew Hammond’s stellar goaltending and late goals by Gabriel Landeskog and Sven Andrighetto in Game 5. They were looking to continue the momentum at home in Game 6, but the Avs got off on the wrong foot in the first period. In the first frame, Mattias Ekholm and Austin Watson both scored for the Preds, giving them a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes. It became 3-0 when Filip Forsberg scored yet another unassisted goal within the first minute of the second period. Later on, Nick Bonino, who scored the Preds’ controversial lone goal in Game 5 and assisted on the first period goals, netted one in the second, making it 4-0 and giving Bonino a three-point game. 4-0 was the lead after 40, and Viktor Arvidsson’s goal in the third made it 5-0, which stood as the final score.

So with that loss, the Avalanche were eliminated, and Nashville advanced to the Central Division Final against the Winnipeg Jets. For the Avs, though, this was a spectacular turnaround for the team. Going from 48 points last season to 95 and a playoff spot this season has to be one of the biggest turnarounds in NHL history. It drew comparisons to MLB’s Minnesota Twins, who lost 100 games in 2016 and reached the postseason in 2017. Even in a series loss, the Avalanche defied odds, as many had them being swept by the defending Western Conference Champions and the current holders of the Presidents’ Trophy. However, the Avalanche didn’t make things easy for Nashville. They scored 15 goals in the six games played. They scored first in three of the six games played. They won Game 5 after being behind in the final five minutes of regulation; the first time any team won a playoff game in such a situation since the Chicago Blackhawks did so in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2013.

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Photo by; Sports Beast

Regarding personal stats, Nathan MacKinnon’s six points (3 G & 3 A) in the series gives him 16 career playoff points (5 G & 11 A). Gabriel Landeskog scored four of the team’s 15 goals in the series, including two on the power play, and Mikko Rantanen had four helpers, but no goals as of yet. This writer believes that Rantanen will have plenty of chances to score his first career playoff goal, as the Avalanche could become a perennial playoff team once again.

And that is the Burgundy Breakdown! It was a fun and terrific season; here’s to 2018-19!

The Burgundy Breakdown (Central Semifinals Game 5)

Welcome to the latest Stanley Cup Playoff edition of The Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps Game 5 of the Colorado Avalanche’s series against the Nashville Predators.

The Avalanche looked to even their Central Division Semifinal series at home, but despite a third period comeback, the Avs came up short in Game 4 and only picked up a split, leaving the team facing elimination on the road. Colorado looked to Andrew Hammond to keep the team alive, and he was spectacular in the first period of Game 5 in Nashville. Nineteen shots were recorded, with 11 of them belonging to the Preds, but Hammond shut the door and the first 20 minutes ended scoreless. The second period saw more chances from both teams and close calls from end to end. Hammond continued to stay strong in the face of pressure, including a golden chance by defenseman Roman Josi, but even after 40 minutes, it was still scoreless. The entire series had at least one goal in the previous 12 periods; the first two of Game 5 were the first to not have any goals.

All of the action happened in the second half of the third period, beginning with a highly controversial goal scored by Nick Bonino. Despite the video replay showing a clear distinct kicking motion, the officials reversed their original “no goal” call and awarded the goal to Bonino, putting the Avalanche down 1-0. The pressure was now clearly on the Avs, as that goal further put them on the brink of elimination. However, the Avalanche would take over the final five minutes of regulation, beginning with captain Gabriel Landeskog tying the game after a clever move by Nathan MacKinnon to fake out Pekka Rinne. With time winding down, it looked like overtime was on the horizon, but a two-on-one breakaway resulted in JT Compher’s shot being stopped, but Sven Andrighetto got the puck and put it past Rinne, giving the Avalanche a 2-1 lead with 88 seconds left. The Predators pulled Rinne on the face-off, but their attempts to tie the game late were all stopped by Hammond, resulting in the Avalanche holding on and winning 2-1.

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Photo by; SportSpyder

Regarding the past four games, I have had an answer regarding what went right or wrong for the Avalanche, but as for Game 5, I honestly have to say that it was just one of those games. No goals in the first two periods, followed by Nashville scoring a controversial goal, and with time winding down on the Avalanche’s season, Colorado came back with two quick goals. I can say this, though: Andrew Hammond saved the Avalanche in Game 5, racking up 44 saves in Colorado’s victory. Landeskog’s goal was his fourth of the playoffs, while MacKinnon recorded his 16th career playoff point with the assist. Andrighetto’s goal was his first career playoff goal, and his first career playoff GWG. Now the Avalanche have earned a trip back to Denver, and an opportunity to put the Predators’ backs to the proverbial wall.

Game 6 is Sunday night in Denver.

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