Matt Duchene plays savior for Avalanche

Duchene.jpgHow perfect is it that Matt Duchene was the one to put the finishing
touches on a remarkable turnaround for the Colorado Avalanche”?

Duchene has been looked to by many to be the savior for the
Avalanche, an injection of energy and incredible scoring ability into a
team that had been lost without Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. He also
grew up a Avs fan and is now playing for the team he loves; scoring the
biggest goal of his life — for now — in the shootout to save his
team’s season. Adrian Dater
of the Denver Post has these thoughts from Duchene:

“As soon as I saw the puck drop down
(into the net), it was just the best feeling in the world,” Duchene
said. “That was our goal all year, to make the playoffs and silence a
lot of the critics who said we’d finish 14th or 15th in the West. To
make it feels amazing.”

It was almost another late-game collapse for the Avs, however, as they
gave up yet another third period lead before securing the win in the
shootout.Yet after Duchene’s goal, I’m sure the hand wringing over the
Avalanche’s inability to close out games will be held off another day.

For now, the Avalanche have three games remaining to try and leap
frog the Red Wings to get one spot higher in the standings, with could
be the difference in playing Chicago versus playing San Jose in the
first round.

If I were the Avs, I’d feel just fine with facing either.

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    NHL schedules hearings for Stars’ Oleksiak, Sens’ Borowiecki after separate incidents

    CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 10: Jamie Oleksiak #5 of the Dallas Stars in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 10, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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    Two NHL players will have disciplinary hearings Sunday with the league’s Department of Player Safety for separate incidents that occurred Saturday.

    The league announced Saturday evening that Jamie Oleksiak of the Dallas Stars will have a hearing for an illegal hit to the head of Philly’s Chris VandeVelde during the third period of the Flyers’ win.

    There was no penalty called on the play.

    The league also announced that Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki will have a hearing Sunday for a boarding penalty he took against Kings forward Tyler Toffoli.

    The incident occurred early in the first period. Borowiecki received a major penalty, but remained in the game. Toffoli left the game to undergo concussion protocol, but he did eventually return.

    The Avalanche ‘got our ass whooped tonight’ versus the Habs

    MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 10:  Artturi Lehkonen #62 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his first period goal during the NHL game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Bell Centre on December 10, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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    Yikes! Well, at least it’s over now.

    The Montreal Canadiens, led by four goals from Max Pacioretty, destroyed the Colorado Avalanche by a final score of 10-1 on Saturday, this result coming just over a month after the Habs allowed 10 goals against Columbus.

    The Habs led 5-0 before the midway point of the first period. They had six goals before the end of the first period. Hitting double digits seemed like an inevitability, as the Canadiens skated their opponents into the ice, making the Avalanche look foolish in their own end.

    Frustrations boiled over late in the game when Alexei Emelin threw a massive hip check on Joe Colborne, adding further insult for the Avalanche.

    The last time Montreal scored 10 or more goals in a game? Feb. 24, 1990, per the NHL.

    Lots of fun for the Habs and their fans. But that was a completely miserable display from the Avalanche, which can fall to last place in the league’s overall standings, depending on the outcome of the Arizona-Nashville game tonight.

    This was a game you would think the Avalanche would get an additional boost for. Jarome Iginla was playing in his 1,500th career game. Gabriel Landeskog returned from injury.

    Nope. Didn’t happen. The Avalanche manufactured a lousy 16 shots on net. Goalies Calvin Pickard and Semyon Varlamov were both pulled in this one.

    “It was embarrassing and we got our ass whooped tonight,” said Landeskog, per Mike Chambers of the Denver Post.

    This is the third time in two weeks that an Avalanche core player or coach has ripped the effort or performance of the team. This is a core group that is no stranger to criticism for poor performances over the last few years, going back to Patrick Roy’s tenure.

    After this, what is left to say?

    “I’m going to take the blame for that one because we weren’t prepared to start the game,” coach Jared Bednar told the Denver Post.

    “They’re the best team in the league with the best record at home and we’re all the way down in the standings and we weren’t prepared to play. So that one’s on me.”

    Bill Dineen, former NHL player and coach, passes away at age 84

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    TORONTO (AP) Bill Dineen, the hockey icon who played with and later coached Gordie Howe, has died. He was 84.

    The American Hockey League confirmed in a statement that Dineen died Saturday at his home in Lake George, New York.

    Dineen, born in Arvida, Quebec, played 324 games in the National Hockey League with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, winning two Stanley Cup championships in Detroit alongside Howe. Dineen made more of an impact as a player in the AHL, where he was a four-time 20-goal scorer over six seasons with Buffalo, Cleveland, Rochester and Quebec.

    “Bill Dineen devoted his career to our sport, winning two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, shaping the lives of numerous players during decades of coaching and crafting a hockey legacy that carries on today through his sons,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “The National Hockey League sends heartfelt condolences to the Dineen family on the passing of this distinguished and greatly respected individual.”

    Dineen went into coaching after retiring as a player, taking the reins of the WHA’s Houston Aeros for six years starting in the 1972-73 season. He helped the Aeros win Avco Cup titles in 1974 and 1975 with teams featuring Howe and sons Mark and Marty.

    Dineen was named the WHA’s coach of the year in 1977 and 1978. He spent a final WHA season as coach of the New England Whalers but was fired after 71 games with the Whalers in fourth place.

    Dineen later coached the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers for the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons, giving him a chance to coach son Kevin.

    He also spent six years as coach of the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings, leading them to league titles in 1986 and 1989. Dineen was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2014.

    Dineen’s sons Shawn, Peter, Gord, Kevin and Jerry all went on to professional hockey careers. Kevin Dineen, a veteran of 1,188 NHL games, is a former head coach of the Florida Panthers and is currently an associate coach with the Blackhawks. Gord Dineen played 529 games in the NHL and is an associate coach of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

    Report: Sens protesting Kings goal after clock issue

    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10:  Trevor Lewis #22 of the Los Angeles Kings scores a goal on Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators to take a 3-2 lead as Marc Methot #3 and Anze Kopitar #11 react during the second period at Staples Center on December 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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    There was more than one controversial moment during Saturday’s game between the L.A. Kings and Ottawa Senators.

    Sens defenseman Mark Borowiecki was given a major penalty for slamming Tyler Toffoli from behind into the boards, causing the Kings forward to undergo the league’s concussion protocol before he eventually returned to the game.

    Later in the evening, there was a report from Darren Dreger of TSN that the Senators are protesting the Kings’ third goal of the game, which came with two seconds left in the second period. It was a pivotal moment in the game, as L.A. took a two-goal lead into the third period, before eventually winning 4-1.

    Senators coach Guy Boucher didn’t place blame on a clock issue, but instead he put the onus on his team to not get scored on in that situation late in the period.

    From LA Kings Insider:

    “I’ll be honest with you, at that point for us we’ve just got to shut it down. We keep it at 1, it wasn’t about getting a goal there it was about getting off the ice. We had done the job in the second period, we had looked very good, we had the momentum, we needed to get into the third period with a one-goal lead. We’ve done it so many times this year coming back so I was confident we could come back, so no. I’m not looking at clocks, I’m not looking at penalties, I’m looking at ourselves just doing better.

    The Kings now begin a stretch of nine games away from home. They play seven of those games before the holiday break, before resuming the trip on Dec. 28 versus the Canucks. The trip ends the following night in Edmonton.