Avs need to overcome more than just bad officiating

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MrAnderson.jpgIt’s amazing how the storylines can change during a playoff series.
At the end of game three, after the San Jose Sharks dominated the
Avalanche for three periods only to lose 1-0 in overtime, there was talk
about blowing the team up and a curse that is hanging over the
franchise.

Yet now here we sit, two convincing wins later and
there’s no doubt who the better team in this series is. The Sharks have
taken a 3-2 series lead after a dominant 5-0 victory last night, and now
there’s some consternation building in Denver.

Some of it doesn’t even
have to do with the Avalanche and their effort.

Adrian Dater, beat writer for the Avalanche for the Denver Post,
is not happy, and he has not been pleased all series long with one
particular aspect: the officiating. He
spells it out on his All Things Avs blog:

Debate
the Galiardi call all you want, but let’s examine what happened
toward the end of the second period tonight. Cody McLeod cross-checked
San Jose’s Douglas Murray from behind, and into his own goalie and the
right post of the net. That should have been a penalty, granted. But
here’s what the refs did: they gave NO penalty to McLeod. They DID
give a four-minute minor to Scott Hannan, who, for all I saw, was just
trying to act as a peacemaker, trying to grab someone and calm them
down. Happens all the time in NHL scrums. Meanwhile, San Jose’s Travis
McGinn started to PUNCH Avs rookie Matt Duchene, not just once but a few
times.

Dater notes that the Sharks have had 21 power
plays in the series, while the Avs have had just 10. He also makes sure
to point out that he doesn’t believe there is any conspiracy against
the Avalanche, just a series full of poor officiating. If you’ve been
watching all of the games so far in the playoffs, it’s tough to argue
with that sentiment; the officiating has been inconsistent and downright
bad at times.

This is a tough series for Colorado, who are trying
their best to match up with San Jose without two of their top offensive
forwards in the game. Peter Mueller was acquired via trade to add some
offensive firepower to the Avs and to take pressure off Matt Duchene and
Paul Statsny; with Mueller and Milan Hejduk out, Colorado has struggled
to mount any sort of counterattack to what the Sharks are throwing in
their direction.

Bad officiating or not, Craig Anderson can only
do so much with goal support from his teammates.

Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again

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If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”

There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.

Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.

One team climbing, the other stumbling

With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.

During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.

Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.

Canadiens are facing some turbulence (and mostly passing the test)

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 6: Patrik Berglund #21 of the St. Louis Blues checks Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens at the Scottrade Center on December 6, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images)
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The Montreal Canadiens aren’t in crisis mode, but as far as this so-far outstanding 2016-17 season goes, they are finally facing some adversity.

Alex Galchenyuk, one of their most promising young players, is out indefinitely. There are murmurs that captain Max Pacioretty isn’t getting along with head coach Michel Therrien.* Tuesday presented a body blow or two to boot.

For one thing, the Canadiens gave up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Jaden Schwartz grabbed an assist and scored the game’s last two goals, including the OT-winner:

Losing to a contender like the Blues, especially while still grabbing a “charity point,” isn’t that big of a deal. A possible David Desharnais injury makes things a little dicey, however:

Really, though, it’s not all that bad for Montreal. They managed a 2-2-1 mark during a five-game road trip heavy on quality opponents.

Also: six of their next seven games come at home, where they’re 12-1-1. So things will look brighter soon enough.

Still, with some injuries and a big road trip to end 2016 and start 2017, there may be some moments where Montreal looks vulnerable.

Ultimately, fighting through stretches like these could very well benefit the Habs later on.

* – Ah, the old standby: “Player X isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Therrien.”

From the Blues’ side:

Ristolainen, Kane, O’Reilly push Sabres past McDavid and the Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16:  Rasmus Ristolainen #55, Matt Moulson #26, Sam Reinhart #23, Kyle Okposo #21 and Ryan OÕReilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers on October 16, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.

In particular, high-scoring defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, power forward Evander Kane and two-way center Ryan O'Reilly made the difference in Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime win.

Ristolainen’s first goal of 2016-17 was a big one, as it clinched the contest in OT:

Evander Kane scored two goals of his own, including one in the dying seconds of regulation to allow Buffalo to get a standings point (and then a second) in the first place.

Kane finished with two goals, O’Reilly generated two assists and Ristolainen managed a one-goal, two-assist performance.

It would be wrong to say that the marquee names didn’t show up at all. McDavid generated two assists and Eichel also nabbed a helper.

You’d be correct in saying that other young players stole the show, though, and the Sabres were the biggest beneficiaries.

Video: Brent Seabrook shaken up after awkward fall

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It wasn’t nearly as scary as the falls suffered by Travis Zajac or Philip Larsen, but the Chicago Blackhawks are still holding their breath when it comes to defenseman Brent Seabrook.

As you can see from the video above, Seabrook was tripped up by Jordan Martinook of the Arizona Coyotes during a simple puck battle. Seabrook was shaken up after falling awkwardly on that play.

At the moment, it’s unclear if this will be an ongoing issue or if the Blackhawks avoided a costly injury.

Martinook was not penalized.

CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes that Seabrook wasn’t out to begin the third period. So far, not so good.

The Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0, so the silver lining for Chicago is that they won.