Opening its Twenty fifth-anniversary season at dwelling with a brand new uniform ensemble didn’t go effectively for the Avalanche on Wednesday.
These Stanley Cup expectations might need gone to Colorado’s collective heads.
“We simply acquired outworked,” Avs coach Jared Bednar mentioned.
The St. Louis Blues, these proud 2019 Stanley Cup champions, dominated the primary interval and scored twice within the third to skate away with a comparatively straightforward 4-1 victory at Ball Area.
“We simply didn’t have sufficient guys compete tonight,” Bednar mentioned. “Proper from the beginning, not able to go. Lazy habits, hoping it was going to be simpler than what it was. It confirmed.”
The Avs struggled at each ends of the ice, and goalie Philipp Grubauer — who missed the primary three days of coaching camp due to COVID protocol — was not on his sport along with his catching glove, the place he was crushed twice.
The Blues, main 2-1 early within the third interval, noticed fourth-line grinder Kyle Clifford beat Grubauer with a wrist shot earlier than the goalie raised his glove, and Colorado’s tried comeback became panic mode. St. Louis’ third objective was simply the 62nd of Clifford’s penalty-filled 677-game NHL profession, and Clifford completed with a team-low 8:10 of ice time.
Eight minutes after Clifford struck, Oskar Sundqvist added his second of the evening and the rout was on.
Avs celebrity heart Nathan MacKinnon, in the meantime, was held pointless and his line didn’t rating at even-strength.
“The primary interval, we didn’t have our legs,” mentioned Mikko Rantanen, who’s MacKinnon’s proper winger and produced a team-high 5 photographs. “We weren’t ok within the battles, simply shedding too many battles and giving up too many probabilities and an excessive amount of D-zone time for us. After that we discovered our legs, creating some probabilities, however nonetheless some sloppiness within the second and third durations.”
With solely relations of Avalanche gamers in attendance, the crew honored former common supervisor Pierre Lacroix, who died Dec. 13 of COVID-related points, with a video tribute and second of silence. After which he Avalanche scored first however in any other case had a poor first interval.
St. Louis produced 18 of the 23 photographs within the body and acquired objectives from Sundqvist at 9:29 and Jordan Kyrou at 13:15 to take the lead it will by no means relinquish.
The Avs, nonetheless, got here out a distinct crew within the second interval, producing 15 of the primary 18 photographs and getting loads of high quality probabilities on St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington. However no pucks acquired behind the goalie, regardless of two Avalanche energy performs, and it stood 2-1 getting into the third.
However the Avs couldn’t get a lot going offensively within the remaining body and have been outshot 9-7.
Winger Andre Burakovsky acquired the sport’s first objective on the Avs’ second energy play, capping a damaged play with a giant slap shot from the proper circle 4:55 into the sport. J.T. Compher acquired the first help, however his meant one-touch cross to Nazem Kadri went by Kadri’s legs and slid to the proper circle the place Burakovsky slammed it in.
That summed up Colorado’s evening. The one objective it may muster got here on a damaged play.
Bednar feared his crew would play prefer it did.
“Everybody requested me what the important thing to the sport was going to be … the most important key I mentioned was, ‘Are we able to compete — compete towards a reside opponent, somebody sporting a distinct jersey?’” he mentioned. “As laborious as you compete in camp, and as a lot I appreciated our camp, it’s a totally totally different stage if you’re enjoying towards one other crew.
He added: “Simply acquired outworked all around the ice … (The Blues) need to win the sport, no query. Hopefully, that’s a giant wake-up name for our crew.”
This was the primary of eight video games towards the Blues, as all eight West Division opponents play one another eight instances within the 56-game common season. Sport 2 towards St. Louis is Friday when the groups full a two-game sequence in Denver.
Tempers are sure to aptitude because the Avs and Blues have already got a rivalry. Earlier than COVID suspended play in March final season, the Avalanche stood second within the Central Division and the Western Convention with 92 factors — two behind the Blues, who had performed one further sport than the Avs.
Footnotes. St. Louis blocked 19 photographs to Colorado’s 11. The Avs had seven giveaways to the Blues’ two. … The Avs fell to 4-1 in season openers underneath Bednar. Colorado is 16-6-3 in dwelling openers, together with 14-4-2 at Ball Area. … Former Avs heart Ryan O’Reilly made his debut because the Blues’ captain. He replaces defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who signed with the Vegas Golden Knights. … Former College of Denver and Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery made his debut as a St. Louis assistant.