After another summer off, the Colorado Avalanche finally got back to playing a full season of hockey with a clean slate Wednesday night. The excitement in Denver and the hunger for the return of the Avalanche after the whirlwind of changes in the off season would finally be sated.
The Avs quickly got back to work under Coach Patrick Roy giving him his first NHL coaching victory with a 6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Ryan O’Reilly posted the first goal of the season in the first period by picking a Duck pass at their blue line and scoring on Viktor Fasth with a quick breakaway wrister.
It is almost easier to figure out who didn’t put up a point as just about everyone got in on the scoring fiesta that went down at Pepsi Center. Steve Downie got his, John Mitchell put one in, Jamie McGinn had two goals, Matt Duchene got over, Nathan MacKinnon picked up a pair of beautiful assists. The returning Alex Tanguay assisted on three goals as well to pick up where he left off.
MacKinnon came in as advertised: speed and great puck handling. He played a great game and even dropped the gloves with Anaheim’s Ben Lovejoy but was pulled apart quickly before anything could go down.
Semyon Varlamov played lights out and almost threw a shutout against the Ducks if it wasn’t for a goal with 0.9 left in the third. He earned his first star of the game with 35 saves. Hopefully he can play that way every night with a defense in front of him that will still require testing before telling evaluations can be made. The defense didn’t screw themselves as in years past and looked improved from their last season.
There were goals, assists, hits, saves, a Gordie Howe hat trick, and even Coach Roy was back to his old self. At the end of the game he and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau started shouting at each other over a penalty that wasn’t called on the Ducks, then Roy began shoving the partition glass between the benches, almost toppling the glass before the Avalanche assistant coaches got Roy to walk away.
After the game, Coach Boudreau commented on Roy’s first game as a coach, “(He’s) going to be in for a long year, if he’s going to yell at every player and yell at the refs at every stoppage of play. It’s not the way the game is played.”
Doesn’t matter, Bruce. Like the Jack Nicholson’s Joker said in the original Batman movie “This town needs an enema.” The NHL needs one as well to clear out all the buttoned up stuffiness. Gary Bettman will surely fine Roy for what happened at the end of the game, but the league needs more personality and Roy has plenty of it to offer.
The Avs came out and smashed the Ducks in the beak … err, mouth, and got over on them in the home opener. 6-1 is an impressive victory. Hey guys, save some for later! There are still 81 more games to play.