The Colorado Avalanche suffered a 2-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, rounding off their Eastern road trip to give them a 1-2 record from the three games they played. The trip started well, with a win against the Islanders before a disappointing loss to the Devils, followed by last night’s defeat to the Hurricanes.
Despite the loss, this was perhaps the best we have seen from the Avalanche during this road trip, against a team right up there as one of the best in the NHL. The game was played at a high pace, with plenty of quality on display and some very good scoring chances.
If we do get a seven-game series from these two teams to determine the Stanley Cup winner later this year, fans are in for a treat based on Thursday night. Here are some takeaways from the game.
Darcy Kuemper Performs Well in Goalie Battle
There has been a lot of talk about the netminding situation in Colorado, and whether Darcy Kuemper is the right man to lead this team to a Stanley Cup. Based on this game, he may very well be, given how well he played.
Kuemper was excellent all night, in particular during the first period of the game when the Avalanche were a little slow to get going. This was a battle between two goalies in great form, unfortunately for the Avalanche, they eventually lost the game, but that was nothing to do with Kuemper.
He put up a playoff-style performance, in what was a playoff-type game, against one of the few teams in this league who are capable of standing up to the Avalanche. We’ve not seen the best from Kuemper recently as last weekend he was pulled in a loss to the Calgary Flames. Though this was much better, despite the loss.
Weakened Avalanche’s Defensive Group Performs Well
In a close 2-0 loss, the Avalanche defensive group deserves praise for their performance, given the current situation with injuries. Going into the game, news emerged that Samuel Girard was injured and would not play in the game, as he was sent home to Denver for further tests to evaluate his problem.
On top of this, the Avalanche continue to be without Bowen Byram. These two form the second defensive pairing on the team, which is currently missing in its entirety. This leaves two players coming in who are not part of the regular six, and bigger roles for players who are usually in a smaller role on the team.
Yes, the team lost; yes, they conceded two goals and Kuemper played great, but don’t let that take anything away from this defensive performance. Given the personnel on the ice and the roles that some players were pushed into, it turned out as good as can be expected.
The Avalanche Show Emotion by Complaining About Officiating
After the Hurricanes scored their opening goal, and after the game had ended, we saw plenty of emotion from members of the Avalanche team. This was great to see, as it has been something the team has lacked in recent years.
Video of Gabriel Landeskog’s comments: pic.twitter.com/z6dJDvgzgE— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) March 11, 2022
The Avalanche were unhappy about a call that wasn’t made, which would have resulted in play being stopped for a penalty, just before Carolina broke out of their own zone and scored. Nazem Kadri was visibly upset, as was Gabriel Landeskog and he clearly went a step too far in the eyes of the officials, receiving a 10-minute misconduct shortly after.
Then we saw more from Landeskog after the game, essentially making a statement during the press conference to say how unhappy he was with the lack of consistency from the officials on the ice. When was the last time we have seen the Avalanche so visibly upset as a team, and then coming out and saying it in the press?
The Avs were hurt by the officials, hurt by the loss, and ended up making their feelings known. As long as they keep their cool on the ice, this was great to see from them, they are hungry, and want to win. We’ve seen many other teams do this in the past, and I for one am glad they are finally showing some emotion.
What’s Next For the Avalanche?
After three games on the road, the Avalanche return home on Sunday, but the games don’t get any easier, with the Calgary Flames coming to Denver for what should be another high-quality hockey game.
Craig Jones is a freelance NHL writer from the UK, covering the Colorado Avalanche. Watching the NHL from afar, Craig has followed the Avs for more than two decades, and wrote about them for almost one. To get the UK perspective of the NHL and everything Colorado, follow Craig on Twitter @craigjones29.