Cleat Geeks

The Burgundy Breakdown

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

The Avalanche looked to make up for their 7-2 home loss to the Dallas Stars, but on Tuesday, the skid continued with another home loss. This time, the Avalanche fell to the Buffalo Sabres, losing 4-2 in a game that saw former longtime Avalanche player Ryan O’Reilly pick up two assists. On Thursday, the Avalanche went on the road, with their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, back after serving his four game suspension. Landeskog wasted no time, scoring his 10th goal of the season within the game’s first two minutes, but the Avs ended up losing 5-2 to the first place Tampa Bay Lightning. The Avs went to Sunrise on Saturday for a meeting with the Panthers, and got back on track with a 7-3 victory. The win came after the Avalanche fell behind 2-1, with the comeback beginning with a pair of 2nd period goals that came 41 seconds apart.

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The Avalanche’s Saturday win put the team back at .500 (13-13-2), but still in the bottom of the stacked Central Division. The goals are still coming in left and right, with the Avs putting up three goals a game despite their skid. Colorado ended up going 1-4 in the five game homestand, and are currently 1-1 in this four game Eastern road swing. The 1-4 tally is also the team’s record this month, so the Avalanche need to pick up wins in bunches in the home stretch of the first half of the season.

A new week begins tonight, as the Avs will head to Pittsburgh to face off against the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Penguins. The team will head to DC to face Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on the next night, and it’s followed by home games against the Panthers (Thursday) and Lightning (Saturday).

That’s the Burgundy Breakdown! Until next week!

Winged Wheel Watch: Quarter-Mark Report

28 games into the 2017-18 Detroit Red Wings season, things are going about how everyone expected.

Starting Hot And Crashing Back To Earth

Following a victory in the inaugural game at the new Little Caesars Arena against the Minnesota Wild, the Red Wings went on to win three of their next four, including handing the Vegas Golden Knights their first loss in franchise history.

But things quickly took a turn for the worse.

Despite hard-fought efforts against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Washington Capitals, the club went on a six-game skid, including a particularly lackluster showing against the Vancouver Canucks that resulted in a team-only meeting. While they’ve managed to win games here and there, they recently found themselves on a seven-game skid, including two particularly bad showings against the Montreal Canadiens, including an unprecedented 10-1 drubbing at the Bell Centre.

Most recently, they are coming off of a 5-1 bounceback victory against a recently hot Winnipeg Jets team.

Positives

For all of the bad that’s come so far this season, there have been positives.

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The return of Andreas Athanasiou headlines the group here. A dark cloud looming over the back half of the off-season and as the season got underway, the 23-year old and the Red Wings agreed to a one-year, $1.387 million deal on October 20. He’s wasted no time making his presence known, contributing 1o points in the 18 games since his return. However, there is the possibility that the Red Wings face more trouble with Athanasiou next off-season, with the looming restricted free agency of both Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, as well as Athanasiou’s eligibility for arbitration rights, which can cause a headache for a recently cap space-starved team.

Production from Larkin and Mantha, and a resurgent Justin Abdelkader has been welcomed by fans despite subpar team performance. The pair, respectively, lead the club with 23 and 22 points. Mantha has been the goal scorer, finding the back of the net 12 times in 28 games, while Larkin has settled into more of a setup role, with his 19 assists leading the team and accounting for the bulk of his scoring. Abdelkader, following an injury-laden 2016-17 season, has found his stride, recording 18 points in 27 games, good for a tie for third on the team. With Mantha and Larkin being viewed as the future of the franchise, as well as the organization’s inexplicable loyalty to Abdelkader, these are things that bode well for three players that will be in the picture for the coming years.

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Performance from two players viewed as trade chips, Mike Green and Jimmy Howard, also works in the Red Wings favor. In the final year of his deal, Green is performing well so far, netting 18 points and an overall -2 plus/minus rating. With the typically hot market that exists for offensive defensemen at the trade deadline, the Red Wings could cash in on Green’s expiring $6 million salary, clearing much needed cap space while netting a return as they look to rebuild quickly. Howard, laden with injury last season, has looked much more serviceable to begin this season. His 2.85 goals against average isn’t great, but it could be much higher, given his lack of defensive support. He’s made big saves and, depending on the needs of other contenders or borderline clubs, could be an enticing piece for a potential buyer.

Upcoming

The Red Wings continue their homestand and will be back in action for a Saturday matinee at Little Caesars Arena as the St. Louis Blues make their only visit to Detroit for the season, followed by a swing to the east coast for tangles with the New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Bruins, and New Jersey Devils. They will round out the 2017 calendar year at home, facing the New York Rangers on the 29th, followed by the traditional Red Wings New Year’s Eve home game, this year against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Find me on Twitter @milz_chris and follow @cleatgeeks for more hockey and sports news.

Top 10 Thursday; NHL Hockey

The NHL season continues to amaze and 8 weeks into the season many teams have impressed but many continue to disappoint. We don’t focus on the disappointments here, we simply give you the top ten. The question is, do you agree or disagree with the rankings?

10. Los Angeles (18-8-3) Previous rank: 6
Last game: Defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-2
Next game: Thursday against the Ottawa Senators
Jonathan Quick is back and helping the Kings to become second in the NHL in team goals-against with 2.28

 

9. Vegas Golden (17-9-1) Previous Rank: 10
​Last game: Defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 in SO
Next game: Friday against the Nashville Predators
William Karlsson has been excellent lately for his new team as he has exceeded expectations by scoring 22 points through 23 games and has two shorthand goals which is tied for second in the league.

 

8. New Jersey (16-7-4) Previous Rank: 7
​Last game: Defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1
Next game: Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets
Nico Hischier has energized the Devils attack with his speed and has 18 points through 24 games.

 

7. New York (16-9-2) Previous Rank: N/A
​Last game: Lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2
Next game: Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins
Josh Bailey is having a career year alongside John Tavares as well as averaging 1.12 points per game.

 

6. Nashville (18-7-3) Previous Rank: 8
​Last game: Defeated the Dallas Stars 5-2
​Next game: Friday against the Las Vegas Golden Knights
Filip Forsberg has helped fuel the Predators during Power Play (25.8%), being accountable for 12 power play points which already surpasses last season when he had 9.

 

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (17-10-1) Previous Rank: 4
​Last game: Lost to the Vancouver Canucks 2-1
Next game: Wednesday night against the Calgary Flames
Morgan Rielly if having an outstanding season from a possession perspective as he continues to shine as the No. 1 defensemen for the leafs

 

4. Columbus Blue Jackets (17-10-1) Previous Rank: 3
Last game: Lost to the New Jersey Devils 4-1
Next game: Friday against the New Jersey Devils
Sergei Bobrovsky has a save percentage of .935 and has helped the Blue Jackets to the top of the Metro Division.

 

3. St. Louis Blues (18-8-2) Previous Rank: 2
​Last game: Defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-3
Next game: Thursday against the Dallas Stars
Tarasenko has been a shot generator for the Blues dominant front line. Tarasenko has 108 shots on goal so far this season.

 

2. Winnipeg Jets (17-7-4) Previous Rank: 5
​Last game: Lost to the Detroit Red Wings 5-1
Next game: Thursday against the Florida Panthers
Connor Hellebuyck finally helped stabilized the Jets’ goaltending situation and helped them to a plus-15 goal differential.

 

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (19-6-2) Previous Rank: 1
Last game: Defeated the New York Islanders 6-2
Next game: Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche
Stamkos has 36 points in 24 games this season and he has been helpful powering the front line. Stamkos is averaging 1.08 assists per game, only two other players have done that in the past decade

The Burgundy Breakdown

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

The Avalanche were reeling for the news that their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, would be suspended for 4 games because of a cross-check during the November 25 game against the Flames. Nevertheless, the team had to march on, and this past Wednesday, the Avalanche hosted the Winnipeg Jets. Regulation ended tied at 2, and it would be Nathan MacKinnon who won the game in OT, just 59 seconds into the extra period. Following the OT win, the Avs hosted the Devils on Friday, losing 2-1 to one of the East’s top teams, and on Sunday, the Avs were soundly beaten, 7-2, by the Dallas Stars. So four games in to the home stand, the Avs are 1-3.

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Over a quarter of the season is done, and the Avalanche are 12-11-2, putting them in the bottom of the Central Division. The Central is so loaded that just one slip could be very hazardous, and the Avalanche have been slipping a bit. Though it is still too early to talk playoffs, here are the deficits the Avs currently face. At 26 points, Colorado is 12 points behind first place Winnipeg, 10 points behind third place St. Louis, but only four points out of the last playoff position, which is held by Vancouver. December has just started, so all teams have plenty of time to establish themselves.

The Avs look to get back on track, as their homestand ends on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. After that, the Avs start a four-game Eastern Conference road trip in Florida, with games against the Lightning (on Thursday) and Panthers (on Saturday).

That’s the Burgundy Breakdown! Until next week!

Top Ten Thursday; NHL Hockey

Week 7 of the NHL season has come to an end and many teams continue to impress while other seem to disappoint.

10. Las Vegas Golden Knights (15-7-1) Previous Rank: 7
Last game: Lost to the Dallas Stars 3-0
Next game: Thursday against the Minnesota Wild
The Golden Knights have impressed us this season and with a quarter of the season almost over I think we can say they are legit as they are 9-1 at home.

 

9. Pittsburgh Penguins (13-10-3) Previous Rank: 5
Last game: Defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in OT
Next game: Friday against the Buffalo Sabres
Sidney Crosby has seven points in the past five games and the Penguins seem to finally be finding their game.

 

 


8. Nashville Predators (15-6-3) Previous Rank: 8
Last game: Defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2
Next game: Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks
General Managers David Poile continues to make the right moves as the Predators seem better offensively than they were last season in the Finals.

 

7. New Jersey Devils (14-6-4) Previous Rank: N/A
Last game: Lost to the Florida Panthers 3-2
Next game: Friday against the Colorado Avalanche
Rookies Butcher (18 pts), Hischier ( 17 pts), and Bratt (14 pts) own three of the top five positions for the Devils scoring stats.

 

6. Los Angeles Kings (14-8-3) Previous Rank: 3
Last game: Defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1
Next game: Thursday against the Washington Capitals
Kopitar is on pace for 85 pts this season which he has only done once back in 2009-10.

 

5. Winnipeg Jets (15-6-3) Previous Rank: 6
Last game: Defeated the Minnesota Wild 7-2
Next game: Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche
The strength for the Jets is their offense but their surprising on defense with 363 blocked shots.

 

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (16-9-1) Previous Rank: 4
Last game: Defeated the Calgary Flames 4-1
Next game: Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers
Consistency continues to affect this young team and they need to figure that out if they was to be successful long term.

 

3. Columbus Blue Jackets (16-8-1) Previous Rank: 9
Last game: Defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in SO
Next game: Friday against the Anaheim Ducks
Bobrovsky has been hot this season allowing 2 or less goals in 13 of his 19 appearances.

 

 

2. St. Louis Blues (17-6-1) Previous Rank: 1
Last game: Defeated the Minnesota Wild 6-3
Next game: Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks
The goal differential is close to Tampa and they have one more regulation loss. St. Louis is beginning to look good early on both ends of the puck.

 

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (17-5-2) Previous Rank: 2
Last game: Defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-0
Next game: Wednesday against the Boston Bruins
All around the Lightning have a solid team offensively, defensively and goal tending.

The Burgundy Breakdown

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

Coming off their overtime win in Detroit, the Avalanche returned home this past Wednesday for yet another meeting with the Dallas Stars. After a scoreless first, the Avs tallied two goals in the second, with the second of those two being a buzzer beater scored by Nail Yakupov. The Avalanche went on to win, 3-0, for their second straight win. Following the home victory, the Avalanche traveled to St. Paul on Black Friday; the team’s first meeting against the Wild. An early Wild goal was counteracted by two Avalanche goals, giving Colorado a 2-1 lead after one. Nino Niederreiter tied it in the 2nd, and that’s how it ended past overtime. The Wild scored two shootout goals, giving the Avalanche a 3-2 loss. The Avs returned home on Saturday against the Calgary Flames, and despite having the extra attacker in the final minute, Colorado fell short and lost 3-2 in regulation.

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The goals are still coming in for the Avalanche this season. Five players have at least seven goals, with Gabriel Landeskog leading the pack with nine. Nathan MacKinnon leads with 26 points (7 G, 19 A), and his linemates, Mikko Rantanen and the aforementioned Landeskog are right behind him with 20 (7 G, 13 A) and 17 (9 G, 8 A). Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier have proven to be a one-two punch at net, and now that the month of December is closing in, the Avalanche need to go on a tear to compete in the ever dangerous Central Division.

The Avalanche’s new week starts with the continuation of the homestand, with games against the Jets (on Wednesday), Devils (on Friday) , and Stars (on Sunday). Until next week!

Duelly Noted: The Blues Just Keep On Marching In

If you told any Blues fan that their team would be 16-5-1 at this point in the 2017-2018 season before it started, it would be hard for anyone to believe The fact is the Blues are at the top of the Central Division and the entire league after a successful road trip and an 8-3 rout of a struggling Edmonton Oilers team at Scottrade Center on Tuesday. These Blues are on a whole other level when compared to past years and they have a ton of momentum. If kept up, the Blues will have their best season yet.

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When talking about how well this team is doing, it is sacrilege to not bring up the performances of Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko. These guys are on fire. Schenn has an eight game point streak after the game against the Oilers. Since the Blues acquired him from the Philadelphia Flyers, he is becoming a tremendous asset to this team. He has 10 goals and 20 assists on the year and his star is rising fast. Meanwhile, Tarasenko is scoring and showing his team that he can stand up for them when needed by getting into a fight on Tuesday that got the crowd going wild. Tarasenko has 12 goals and 14 assists on the year. These guys are producing big and their team is winning big because of it.

The 2017-2018 Blues are far more offensive than previous incarnations of the team and this new mindset is working like a charm. The whole team is getting in on the scoring from Jaden Schwartz to Joel Edmundson and it is hard to argue with the results. That’s a credit to not only the Blues but head coach, Mike Yeo. He does not mess around with anything that is already working and that is easy to get behind when a team is on a roll like the Blues are.

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The only problem the Blues have is giving up goals right after they get them. Fortunately Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have done very well between the pipes. Allen has a .909 save average compared to Hutton’s .943 mainly due to Allen getting to play in more games. Due to the Blues’ new and improved offense both of these goalies benefit from not having to keep their team in games all the time for wins but they have to keep their eyes on the puck even when the Blues score. That is a difference maker in  many close games.

The Blues have plenty to celebrate all around as they begin heading towards the middle of the season at the top of their game. This is the kind of start the Blues and their fans craved to have. They did it without Robby Fabbri and Jay Bowmeester around which speaks volumes for how good the Blues have been. It is an amazing year and there’s plenty of time left to make it truly memorable.

The Burgundy Breakdown

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

After a long trip to Scandinavia, the Avalanche returned to American soil this past Thursday, facing off against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at home. The Avs were on the Caps from the start, with captain Gabriel Landeskog scoring 17 seconds into the game, followed by a Nathan MacKinnon goal at the end of the first. The Avalanche won, 6-2, with Landeskog picking up his first career hat trick, scoring a penalty shot goal in the third and another goal late in the period. Colorado went on the road on Saturday, falling 5-2 against the Nashville Predators. The Avs’ two goals were scored late in the third to prevent being shut out.

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The Avalanche went to Detroit to face the Red Wings; the first Avs/Wings game to take place in Little Caesars Arena, the Wings’ new venue after playing at the Joe for so many years. After a 1-1 first period, the Avs fell behind 3-1 with Detroit goals in the second and third. That was the deficit when the Avalanche went on the power play with six minutes and change left, but Nail Yakupov’s goal cut it to one, while also ending a power play drought. On the final minute in regulation, Nathan MacKinnon’s shot deflected off Carl Soderberg and in past Jimmy Howard to tie the game and force overtime, and it was in the extra period that MacKinnon scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway to give the Avalanche a 4-3 victory.

The Avalanche are continuing to show improvement from last year, especially with key wins against the East. The Avs’ 10 wins is nearly half of the team’s win total from last year, and they are continuing to score goals left and right. It is an absolute team effort, but it has been led by the Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen line, which scored five goals in the past week’s worth of games. Regarding this week, the Avs face off against the Dallas Stars at home on Wednesday, followed by an early Black Friday road game against the Minnesota Wild. The Avalanche return home the next day against the Calgary Flames.

That’s the Burgundy Breakdown for this week! Until next week!

Top Ten Thursday; NHL Hockey

Week 6 of the NHL season continued to excite and teams continue to amaze and improve.

10. Ottawa Senators (8-3-5) Previous rank: N/A
Last game: defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-3
Next game: tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins
Duchene is still trying to fit in but with him and Karlsson the power play should improve greatly.

 

9. Columbus Blue Jackets (11-7-1) Previous rank: 4
​Last game: Defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 in OT
Next game: Friday against the New York Rangers
​Bobrovsky is playing well in net so far this season but they need to fix their power play performance.

 

8. Nashville Predators (10-5-2) Previous rank: N/A
​Last game: Defeated the Washington Capitals 6-3
Next game: Tonight against the Minnesota Wild
The defense continues to be the teams strong suit as Subban, Josi, and Ekholm are all averaging 25 minutes.

 

7. Las Vegas Golden Knights (10-6-1) Previous rank: 6
Last game: Lost to the Edmonton Oilers 8-2
Next game: Tonight against the Vancouver Canucks
The goalie position continues to hurt this team but on a good note this may be David Perron’s best season since 2013-1014 when he scored 28 goals.

 

6. Winnipeg Jets (10-4-3) Previous rank: 9
Last game: Defeated the Arizona Coyotes 4-1
Next game: Tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers
This team is legit behind Mark Scheifele who is sixth in goals, Blake Wheeler who is third in points, and Patrick Laine is a sniper.

 

5. Pittsburgh Penguins (10-7-3) Previous rank: 8
Last game: Defeated the Buffalo Sabers in OT
Next game: Tonight against the Ottawa Senators
Matt Muray continues to improve but the team needs Bryan Rust and Carl Hagelin to improve regardless of the team finding ways to win.

 

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (12-7-0) Previous rank: 7
Last game: Defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1
Next game: Tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils
They can continue to improve with the help from Tyler Boazk, Mitch Marner, and Leo Komarov.

 

3. Los Angeles Kings (11-4-2) Previous rank: 2
Last game: Lost to the Canucks 3-2
Next game: Tonight against the Boston Bruins
Jonathan Quick is finally healthy as he is averaging 2.27 goals against and his having his best season since 2011-2012 when he won the Smythe trophy.

 

2. Tampa Bay Lightning (14-2-2) Previous rank: 1
Last game: Defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1
Next game: Tonight against the Dallas Stars
Stamkos and Kucherov are still a high scoring duo. Brayden Point has quietly scored 17 points this season which is fourth on the team.

 

1. St. Louis Blues (13-5-1) Previous rank: 3
Last game: Lost to the Calgary Flames 7-4
Next game: Tonight against the Edmonton Oilers
Jake Allen has found his way in net and Schwartz is an early favorite for the Hart trophy. Brayden Schenn has yet to make an impact on power play this season after scoring 17 last season on a man-advantage.

The Burgundy Breakdown

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

It was a short week for the Avs, as they spent most of it traveling to Stockholm, Sweden for back-to-back games against the Ottawa Senators as part of the NHL Global Series. It also marked Matt Duchene’s first two games against his longtime former team; Duchene was traded to the Senators on November 5 as part of a three team deal that also included the Nashville Predators. Duchene was shown with a different number–95–as he took the ice for the Sens for the first time this season.

The first game took place this past Friday, and it was a back and forth game that ended tied at 3 after 60 minutes. In OT, Mark Stone scored early in the extra period to give the Senators the victory, with his OT winner being one of two goals he scored in the game. Saturday’s game was also back and forth, with Blake Comeau striking first for the Avalanche with a shorthanded goal. In the end, the Avs came up short again by the same score, 4-3, but this time, no overtime was needed.

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Still, not a bad start to November for the Avalanche; 2-2-1 so far this month, but three straight losses following the two wins. The Avalanche are 8-7-1 this season, and their new week begins on Thursday with a home game against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Following that game, the Avs will go on the road for back-to-back games against the Predators (on Saturday) and Red Wings (on Sunday).

That’s the Burgundy Breakdown for this week! Until next week!

 

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