02 June 2010
So I said I'd get around to doing a Top 10 of '09-10 and here it is, less than a month after the season ended for the Avs. I'll be counting down all 10 of the top 10 Avs moments of the season. I thought about breaking this into 2 posts, but then realized I could easily milk it for 10. Without further adieu, here we go:
A roaring October had vaulted the Avs to the top of the Western Conference early in the season. But the good feelings from that dream October then faded and November was a bit of a nightmare. The Avs went into their last game of the month of November on a miserable 3-7-3 stretch, that included two losses to the Oilers and an 8-2 drubbing at the hands of the Canucks that would end up being their worst defeat of the season. To make matters worse, they were a pitiful 1-6-1 against Northwest foes in the same month. The bleeding needed to be stopped, and the Avs needed to come out with a strong game and get a win going into December.
Standing in their way was one of two teams who were drafted higher than the Avs, taking Victor Hedman at the #2 slot in the previous draft. Matt Duchene, taken by the Avs at #3 (but if you're reading this you probably knew that) probably made Tampa second guess their decision, at least a little bit. This was going to be a benchmark game for Duchene, as it allowed people to compare not only Duchene and Hedman, but also Duchene and Stamkos, a phenom sophomore whose rookie stats mirrored Duchene's up to that point.
Stamkos was the one in the biggest highlight of the game, but probably not the way he really wanted, as Kyle Quincey continued his magnificent early season play with this hit, which was easily the best of the season for the Avs:
More after the jump
This game was a bit of a benchmark for Duchene because not only was it a side-by-side comparison with Hedman, but it also allowed fans to do a side by side comparison of Duchene and sophomore phenom Steven Stamkos. Duchene's rookie stats mirrored Stamkos', and this was the game in which people started to notice that coincidence. Duchene scored aces on both comparisons this evening. In the first period, he gave the Avs the lead as his shot snuck through Antero Nittymaki (on what was honestly a soft goal for Nittymaki). Duchene's second goal of the evening, however, was a gorgeous goal that showed everyone why he was worthy of being the #3 selection in a loaded draft. It was a highlight reel goal:
Duchene's two goals would be all the Avs needed. Craig Anderson's shutout was somehow overshadowed, and the Avs closed out an otherwise forgettable November with a solid 3-0 win.