Thursday, March 29, 2007

Post-game vs Phoenix - Mar 29, 2007

Phew. Going into the 3rd period with a 4-0 lead would seem to spell "success". The Avalanche almost turned it into "disaster" as they hung on for a 4-3 lead. If it weren't for a save by the cross bar with about 30 seconds left, this game would have gone to OT. Budaj must have been kissing that post to thank it after the game.

With that win, the Avalanche keep pace with the Flames but are still 7 points back and now there are only 5 games remaining. So hope still exists but it's getting harder and harder to cling to. So much relies on the Flames faltering in their final games but it looks like they're just remembering how to play hockey, both at home and on the road.

The second line picked it up today and broke through on the first 2 goals. They had a brief period where they weren't producing but you wouldn't know it by their play early on. Hejduk got a goal off some good effort behind the net by Stastny and in front of the net by Arnason. Then Brett Mclean raced in and Hejduk fired a perfect pass to Mclean who merely had to keep his stick on the ice to put it in. That line came away with 5 points as Stastny had 2 assists, Hejduk had a goal and an assist and Mclean had a goal. I think it's all because Stastny finally got a hair cut. The extra weight of that hair was slowing him down. Seriously.

Wolski was able break a 7-game scoring drought as he potted one tonight. It was a lucky one that bounced in off a Phoenix D but it counts just the same. It's only his 2nd goal in his last 16 games. Brad Richardson actually ended up spending a fair bit of time on the #1 line in Wolski's place and was rewarded for his efforts as he scored his 13th of the season to make it 4-0. If Wolski keeps playing the way he has been, he might find himself permanently off that #1 line.

Brad Richardson had a solid game in general. He logged 17:09 in ice-time, mostly due to being with Sakic and Brunette. He also managed to kill his own penalty. Ol' Mick McGeough called a holding penalty and promptly put Wolski in the box. The only problem is it was Richardson who was doing the holding. Well, from what I saw it was Richardson being held onto but nonetheless, Richardson ended up out there killing off a penalty when he should have been in the box. Interesting story but not so interesting that I feel I should repeat it 100 times like the Phoenix announcers did.

And speaking of asses...ok, I wasn't but I wanted to segue into talking about this fellow that way...Daniel Carcillo is quite an example of that. I don't see him enough to know if he's one of those "hate to play against him, love to have him on your team" guys but he just bothers me out there. Another one of those "chip on the shoulder" players who has to get in the little cheap shot at every opportunity or rub a glove in a guys face after the whistle just because he feels like it. He did a great job of mugging Richardson late in the 2nd and then had the audacity to shove Richardson after. I guess after you jump somebody, you have to let them know who's boss if they get up again.

Unfortunately, as important as it was to get this win, I'm concerned for the next set of games. The Avalanche won but it wasn't a good looking win. They were outshot 21-8 in the final two periods, they were outhit and outmuscled in a lot of cases and just might have been outchanced as well. They gave up a lot of odd-man rushes, particularly in the first and got some help from the goalposts at a few points. They can't play like that against teams like Vancouver, Nashville, Calgary and Minnesota.

The Good
- 2 points
- good night for 2nd line
- only 2 penalties taken

The Bad
- Lappy injuring his groing and sitting out
- giving up a lot of shots in the final 2 periods
- nearly choking on a 4-goal lead

The Ugly
- seeing Gretzky look so uncomfortable on the bench

Pre-game vs Phoenix - Mar 29, 2007

It's another do-or-die night for the Avalanche as they make their way into Phoenix for one of their remaing six games. Remaing six games of the regular season that is. With a win tonight, and a Flames loss, they're well on their way to catching Calgary again for the final playoff spot in the West. And who would have ever thought that would be possible a month ago?

According to a team spokesman, it will be Peter Budaj in net tonight. I thought it would be fairly obvious as to who would start but some folks still think there are goaltending issues. Budaj got rested for a game b/c Theodore looked like he could handle a start. He did and he did, and that's that. The backup gave the starter a rest and now the final push has begun. Theodore commented that he supports any goaltending decision that the organization makes. Hopefully fans do the same.

Although Phoenix is not fighting for a playoff spot, they are fighting to avoid the moniker of "worst team in the West". Luckily for them, Philadelphia has a stranglehold on "worst team in the NHL". They will have a tough time with what should be a determined Avalanche club who have gone 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. The Avalanche have also had a lot of success against the Coyotes, winning 8 of the last 9 encounters. Hopefully the Avalanche players don't get too cocky hearing that statistic.

Tonight I'm predicting Joe Sakic will get a goal to take sole possession of 9th in all-time scoring and 15th in all-time goal scoring in the NHL. As usual, if I'm wrong I'll amend this post so nobody is ever the wiser.

Brisebois - back, IR
Leopold - wrist, IR (I think mid-March has come and gone)
Turgeon - calf, IR

Jovanovski - abdominal, IR
Ricci - neck, IR
Scatchard - consussion, IR
Fischer - abdominal, IR

Sakic has 13 in 7, Hejduk has 16 in 14, Mclean has 3 in 3.

Joseph is the only hot Coyote.

Stastny has 0 in 5, Klee has 1 in

Roenick, Nolan, Kapanen and Sjostrom have 0 in 3, Michalek has 0 in 7.

Peter Budaj - 27-15-6, 2.73 GAA, .904 save pct
Curtis Joseph - 16-27-2, 3.12 GAA, .896 save pct

Colorado -39-30-7, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Phoenix - 29-42-5, 5th in Pacific, 14 in West

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Post-game vs Vancouver - Mar 27, 2007

The playoff picture grows ever dimmer as the Vancouver Canucks put away the Avalanche tonight by a score of 2-0. With a Flames win over the Wild tonight, that puts the Avalanche 6 points out of the final spot with only 6 games left to play. While not mathematically out, the Avalanche's scenario to make it is essentially 4 Avalanche wins and 6 Flames losses. While not out of the realm of possibility, it's extremely unlikely.

The Avalanche started out well, outplaying and outshooting the Canucks in the first period. Unfortunately getting more shots doesn't mean squat if you can't get any of them into the back of the net. The next 40 minutes were controlled mostly by the Canucks and they converted on a 5-on-3 in a penalty filled 3rd period.

Thanks to issues with Centre Ice Online, which as of this moment officially sucks and essentially stole money from me, I couldn't see the game. If I had known that a service I paid for wouldn't even let me log in, I would have made other arrangements to catch the game. Nonetheless, I doubt anyone is waiting for an in-depth analysis on a night like tonight.

The Avalanche went 0 for 5 on the PP which was likely the deciding factor. If the Avs had scored on their 5-on-3 opportunity, as Vancouver did, it would have most certainly been a different outcome tonight. Well, it would obviously be a different outcome as the Avalanche would have scored a goal...but you know what I mean. Although it's not 100% true, if you don't score on a 5-on-3, it's not often that you're going to win the game. It was proved doubly true tonight.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) that's all I have to say tonight. I wish I had been able to follow the game more closely. Blasted Centre Ice!

The Good
- got a decent amount of shots
- team still not being down on playoff chances (based on after-game comments)

The Bad
- missed 5-on-3
- scored on during 5-on-3
- being outplayed with your season on the line

The Ugly
- 0 goals

Pre-game vs Vancouver - Mar 27, 2007

It's an important night in the Western conference tonight. Well, for 4 teams in the Western conference anyways. Colorado is looking to inch closer to Calgary for the final playoff spot in the West while Vancouver looks to retake the undisputed division lead over Minnesota. Some of those items are mutually exclusive though as those 4 teams play amongst themselves tonight. So as much as Vancouver fans want Colorado to knock out Calgary (and it seems most do), they find themselves cheering for the Flames tonight as they'd much rather their team win the division. It's kind of like Sophie's Choice.

The Avalanche will try to edge closer to, or at least keep pace with, the Flames with Jose Theodore in net. After all the speculation after Sunday's game, it's finally official that he will be in goal tonight. That in itself is an interesting dilemma. If the Avs lose, it will be due to Theodore being in goal. If they win, it will be in spite of Theodore being in goal (to many fans). So Q can look either like a lucky man or an idiotic man. Here's to hoping he ends up looking like a lucky man! Theodore does have good stats against Vancouver this year so hopefully he can keep that up. He looked ok in relief Sunday and well enough in the shootout. And if Q feels he's good to start, then I'd like to think that he's looked good in practice as well.

Wojtek Wolski will be back in the lineup tonight after being a healthy scratch on Sunday. The last time he was a healthy scratch, we all know what happened. He came out on fire and I hope that happens again. He's looked absolutely lost on the ice lately and maybe watching from the press box helped him analyze his game a bit. He has still had a very good rookie season though and there's no reason to get down on him for the future. It's just the "now" that hasn't been so hot.

The current reigning ironman makes his return to the ice after missing time with a knee injury. Or did Morrison pass him and he's now the reigning defensive ironman? Either way, you all know I'm talking about Karlis Skrastins. To make room for him, Ossi Vaananen finds himself the healthy scratch. I'm ok with it b/c it keeps Finger in and I've liked the fire he brings to the ice. Vaananen hasn't been too hot lately either so this shouldn't be much of an issue. The only question is if it will disrupt a defensive core that has had a fair bit of success lately.

Joe Sakic will obviously be in the lineup tonight and he enters the lineup tied with Ray Borque for 9th all-time in scoring as well as being tied with Dino Ciccarelli for 15th on all-time goal scoring. So if he scores a goal tonight he takes sole possession of each spot and will even further solidify his hall of fame status. I'm not sure how much more it could be solidified but where's there's a Joe, there's a way. And if he were to score that goal on the powerplay, he becomes only the 14th player to score 200 powerplay goals. Well, I guess that's the way to solidify it even more!

Brett Mclean shared the hero status in yesterday's game with Joe Sakic. He scored a softie goal on Luongo (and you don't get many of those!) and got the shootout winner as well. He has been playing fairly well on the 2nd line with Hejduk and Stastny. He certainly isn't a superstar player by any means but he has 3 points in his last 2 games and has 8 in his last 11. I'm happy with numbers like that from a guy simply playing the complimentary position to the Hejduk-Stastny tandem.

Sakic has 11 in 5, Brunette has 11 in 6, Hejduk has 16 in 13, Mclean has 3 in 2, Arnason has 5 in 3.

Sedin #1 has 9 in 5, Sedin #2 has 5 in 3, Linden has 5 in 5, Pyatt has 2 in 2.

Stastny has 0 in 4, Wolski has 1 in 4.

Smolinski has 0 in 3, Cowan has 1 in 5.

Brisebois - back, IR
Leopold - wrist, IR
Turgeon - calf, IR

Kesler - hip, IR
Ohlund - elbow, day-to-day
Salo - groin, day-to-day

Jose Theodore - 12-14-1, 3.35 GAA, .885 save pct
Roberto Luongo - 43-20-6, 2.29 GAA, .921 save pct

Colorado - 39-29-7, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Vancouver - 45-23-7, 1st in NW, 3rd in West

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Post-game vs Edmonton - Mar 23, 2007

I have so much to catch up on but I guess I'll start with the Edmonton post-game and then will have a quick Vancouver post-game up. It'll be quick as I didn't catch a lot of the game but I did catch the end.

So Friday I found myself seated in section 116, row 13, seat 4 and was watching the Avalanche-Oilers game live! It had been a while since being at a live NHL game and I'd forgotten how great it is to see the entire ice surface so you can really watch a game. My girlfriend complained that the game seemed slower than on tv but I loved it. On tv you're forced to watch what the camera crew wants you to watch and it's not always what you want!

On the entrance to Rexall place we got some (joking) barbs from Oilers fans as I had my hat and old-school jersey on and my gf had a hat somewhat hidden in her hands (she didn't want to get beaten up). The folks I sat next to were very nice people and I also ran across a few Oilers fans who wished us luck if we were to make the playoffs. While waiting for the Avalanche bus to leave, I heard an Avs fan complain that they were heckled relentlessly and actually left their seats, which is unfortunate. I'm glad I didn't have to be subject to that.

The game itself was fairly exciting to watch live but was devestating as an Avalanche fan. Things looked so good in the 1st period which the Avalanche dominated save for one defensive lapse that didn't lead to an Oilers goal. But Hemsky had some jump in his game today and made a fool of Peter Budaj on the first goal and that really turned the tide. And after Kurt Sauer bumbled the puck leading to Lupul's tying goal...I did not feel confident about coming out with the W. Until Joe Sakic stepped up in the SO with the game on his stick. Then Roloson decided to turn into playoff-mode Roloson and made another huge save. And when Wolski came out to try and extend the shootout...well I was basically out of my seat knowing the result.

So let's jump right into it with Wojtek Wolski. This kid has been so hot and cold this year but as of late, he's ice cold on offense. His defensive play has somewhat improved but his offensive skills lately are severly lacking. If he were to look more uncomfortable with the puck I might mistake him for Kurt Sauer. He tripped over his own feet on multiple occasions, he coughed up the puck under no pressure many times, and all his attempts to stickhandle across the blueline were met with a pokecheck. He would then hit the brakes full on and completely take himself out of the flow of the game. When Hejduk loses the puck at the blueline, he keeps going and often recovers. That's the difference in a player with confidence and a player without. And it seems like Wolski has none at the moment.

Defensive puck movement, on a whole, on Friday was sub-par. Brett Clark, much to my chagrin, was looking too calm with the puck and it cost him on a couple occasions. Ales Hemsky nearly pick-pocketed him in the 1st which led to me making that note initially. From then on, I saw more of the same from him and was very disappointed, particularly since I had recently praised his composure with the puck. Composure is one thing but if you carry the puck at 1/4 speed out of your zone, you're asking for trouble. The forwards never seemed terribly tied up so it wasn't the lack of an outlet, I think he was just too busy looking for the perfect outlet.

Ken Klee and Ossi Vaananen can both join that club as well. When either gets the puck on their stick and are under pressure, they make a mistake. With Klee, it even led to a penalty as he flipped the puck over the glass while under mild pressure. I'm surprised with that sort of play coming from a guy who's been around as long as Klee has. As for Ossi, I never expected much from his play with the puck but I do hope for him to clear the zone from time to time. It would be nice.

And to keep this entire post going on the negative front, a huge thumbs down to Kurt Sauer who completely misplayed the puck at the absolute worst time. The worst part wasn't a difficult puck to control. It was just sitting there and he whiffed on it. Lupul grabbed it, Clark screened Budaj and that was that. If you saw an Avalanche fan with a blue yeti foot hat on and his head down in embarrasment while watching the game on Sportsnet...that was me. It lasted all of 1/2 a second from what I could see on the jumbotron after I saw the camera near me but it's now my claim to fame.

I actually thought I'd have more to say but frankly I was too busy enjoying the live experience to write down enough notes. And when I did write a note, it was because of some terrible play that I had to vent on. For instance, my last note of the game was "Sauer sucks". Terrible to say I know but emotions run high when you're live at the game!

Those emotions kept going after the game was over and led to us being inches from getting into the Oilers lockerroom. It's not the one we wanted to be in but bear with me. After the game was over, we asked a Sportsnet camera man how to get backstage. He said he had no idea but after some cajoling he told us the general direction to head but warned us that 10 policeman and security guards would be nearby and have tackled fans for less. Well, there was only 1 security guard who didn't give us a second glance as we headed backstage. After making it by the camer crew, who were too busy packing to care, we caught the tail end of Quenneville's post-game. Yep, we were just behind the throng of reporters. As he was just ending, and I didn't care much about his autographs...or getting punched by him which seemed a very real possibility, we kept walking. People hustled by but none gave us a second glance. As long as you look like you know where you're going, people don't bother you.

That is until you reach the locker room. It was at that point that a security guard emerged and asked if we had a pass. After a microsecond contemplation of saying "Yes", I decided "No" was the better answer as he'd likely to ask to see it. And I didn't have it. Therefore making me lie to the guard. Which I bet they don't like. So he asked how we got there and we played the "I don't know, I'm from out of town" card and he led us back towards where we came from. Along the way he asked various people if they knew how we got in but I guess we were ninjas b/c nobody saw us. Or nobody admitted to seeing us b/c they knew they'd be in some shit for letting the "common folk" back there. You know, the ones who help pay players salaries. But I won't get into that rant now :)

It obviously wasn't the locker room we wanted to be in anyways so no skin off our back. We ended up waiting at the side of Rexall place hoping to catch a glimpse of the Avalanche bus as it took off. We did get that glimpse and boy what a glimpse it was. Quenneville seated at the front looking scary as usual. The rest of the Avs with their heads hung as the half-dozen of us tried to catch their attention to no avail. And if a hot girl in an Avalanche hat yelling "Sakic!" as she briefly chased the bus didn't get their attention, I figured nothing will. I also figured my girlfriend wouldn't do it when I told her to but she proved me wrong!

I will be working on getting my videos and pics up today and tomorrow and hope to have them linked from this post by Tuesday. I'm sure work will get in the way somehow but where there's a will, there's a way!

The Good
- watching it live
- Svatos getting a dirty goal
- 3rd line going hard

The Bad
- giving up the lead so late in the game
- D was terrible with the puck
- Hemsky being back in the lineup

The Ugly
- not getting a chance for autographs

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pre-game vs Edmonton - Mar 23, 2007

On Wednesday I was in the middle of buying a new townhouse and selling my condo so I couldn't do any posts. Today, I am headed out the door to see the game in Edmonton so I only have 5 minutes to write a quick post.

I hope to find an Internet connection at some point once the game is over to do a good recap but I can't give any guarantees. By Sunday night I should be able to at least have some of my photos and videos up.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Post-game vs San Jose - Mar 18, 2007

The Avalanche got a huge win tonight at the Pepsi Center as they put the San Jose Sharks away in OT by a score of 4-3. This was the game in hand the Avalanche had on Calgary and they needed to win it. It was looking dicey going into the 3rd at a 3-2 disadvantage. However, Andrew Brunette came up clutch and tied the game at 3 halfway through the third. Then an ill-timed penalty by Jonathan Cheechoo put the Avs on the PP going into OT. And Milan Hejduk made them pay. He flew down the wing and buried a classic Hejduk goal as he went top shelf on the short side and make it look as easy as putting his pants on.

JM Liles found his scoring touch in this game as he scored a critical goal to pull the Avs within one before the 2nd period ended. He ended up with 4 shots on the night, was +1 and had 17 minutes of ice-time. He's starting to look comfortable again out on the ice which is a relief after watching his knee bend awkwardly in last nights game. Hopefully his foot is close to being 100+ which I really don't think it was when he came back from his injury. He wasn't out enough games to be looking that rusty unless something was wrong.

Andrew Brunette had a great game today. He's always solid on the ice and today he continued that with some sound plays, a clutch goal to tie it, and an assist on Liles' goal that got them within one. On the Liles goal, he rubbed out his man along the board to go streaking into the zone and get the puck on net. And what do we know happens when you get the puck on net? Good things! In this case, Liles pinched at the right time and buried it. Then again Brunette was using his big frame in front of the net and working hard to get the tying goal. I'm very glad they signed Brunette to a contract extension and am glad that he got a significant raise as he very much deserved it.

And of course how can any post that any Avalanche blogger make tonight not include something about Joe Sakic? He was the first start of the night, assisted on all 4 Avalanche goals, was +1, had 6 shots and won 73% of his faceoffs. How's that for setting an example for the rest of the team and showing them that there's no quit. He did take an untimely penalty but it managed to fuel the team as they successfully killed it off. Did Joe mean to take that penalty to spark his team? Only he knows the answer.

And speaking of team sparks, the softie that Budaj let in for the second goal actually served to anger the team it seems. After that goal was scored, the team spend the next 5 or 6 minutes in the Sharks zone trying to generate some chances. It didn't work out so well for them but it was good to see that kind of response to a bad goal. Unfortunately Budaj has given up a couple in his last two games, but fortunately it hasn't phased him and he's been able to pull out the wins for the team to keep this streak going.

Evgeni Nabokov, on the other hand, was brilliant tonight. He flat out robbed the Avalanche on many occasions, including a spectacular glove save on Liles during the 5-on-3. I know the Sharks like rotating their goaltenders but it's close to playoff time and they need to pick one. I hope Nabokov is it. I'm not sure why but I like the guy and the way he plays. He's a very smart goaltender, as evidenced by his nifty pokecheck to deny a scoring chance in close. Why wait for the guy to roof it when you can just poke it away? It's not every goaltender that makes that play but it's a very smart play.

So a big win by the Avs and now they get some rest as they don't play again until Wednesday when they clash with the slumping Oilers. They play the Oilers again on Friday night and I will be at the game live and in person to see the streak continue! So that could mean I don't get a chance to do a pre-game and my post-game will likely be later on the weekend. But I should have tons of pictures and hopefully some videos as well!

The Good
- won a huge game
- overcame deficit in 3rd
- Arnason finally got on the board
- decent powerplay

The Bad
- Stastny's streak finally ended
- went into the 3rd down by 1

The Ugly
- Guerin's baseball swing to Wolski's face

Pre-game vs San Jose - Mar 18, 2007

The march to the playoffs continues for the Avalanche as they welcome the San Jose Sharks to the Pepsi Center. The Avs are coming off a bit 6-3 win over Phoenix which moves them within 6 points of Calgary for the final playoff spot. A win tonight against San Jose will move them within 4, with a game still in hand. It's not going to be easy as the Sharks are on a 4-game winning streak which has seen each of their goaltenders record a shutout and allowing a grand total of 2 goals in those 4 games.

If they are going to get past the Sharks, they are going to again have to look to Joe Sakic to keep the game under control while allowing players such as Stastny, Hejduk and Brunette to work their magic and keep the offense rolling. And it wouldn't be a bad idea to try and shut down players such as Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, possibly the most potent 1-2 punch at center in the NHL. If Thornton's 8 points in 3 games doesn't speak of domination, I don't know what does. Possibly Michalek's 5 in 2?

They'll also need to look to Peter Budaj to continue his solid play. He gave up a weaker goal in the first period against Phoenix but decided to shut the door in the third period to give his team a chance to pot the final two goals to ensure the win was in the bag. If he can keep coming up clutch when the game is on the line, this team will get the chance to win every night. His GAA in the last 7 games is under 2.00 so he has been a very large part of this recent winning streak.

Brisebois - back, IR
Turgeon - calf, IR
Leopold - wrist, mid-March
Skrastins - knee, day-to-day

Smith - groin, day-to-day

Stastny has 19 in 12, Hejduk has 13 in 9, Sakic has 5 in 2, Brunette has 4 in 2.

Thornton has 8 in 3, Michalek has 5 in 2, Cheechoo has 4 in 2, Guerin has 5 in 3, Carle has 10 in 11.

Arnason has 0 in 5, Liles has 1 in 5.

Brown and Bernier have 0 in 3.

Peter Budaj - 25-15-5, 2.71 GAA, .906 save pct
Evgeni Nabokov - 19-16-2, 2.22 GAA, .914 save pct

Colorado - 36-29-6, 4th in NW, 9th in West
San Jose - 44-25-3, 2nd in Pacific, 5th in West

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Post-game vs Phoenix - Mar 17, 2007

The Avalanche put themselves even deeper into the playoff hunt as they pull off a 6-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. This was a very big win as it came on the same night as the Calgary Flames gave up a rare home loss to the Minnesota Wild. Now, with one game in hand, the Avalanche are just 6 points back of Calgary with 2 more games to come against Calgary.

The game started out very well for the Avalanche as they dominated early. Paul Stastny quickly extended his point streak with the first goal of the game halfway through the 1st. Not too long after, Sakic decided to give the team a 2-0 lead and it looked like the Avalanche were on a roll.

Phoenix had other ideas as they managed to score 3 unanswered goals to take the lead midway through the second. But you had to know that Joe Sakic wouldn't stand for that. 25 seconds later he took a beautiful feed from Brunette and tied the game up and stemmed the tide.

Heading into the third it was a nervous time for Avalanche fans but one could hope the team would be buoyed by hearing about the Flames loss. It certainly sparked Ben Guite! He snagged the puck, flew down the left side and buried a high glove shot on Joseph to give the the Avs the lead again. Brad Richardson then decided that he would streak in on the same side and go high blocker on Joseph. Shortly after, Paul Stastny got his second of the game just to put the final exclamation mark on the win.

With all the loving that the Avalanche D were getting, they seemed to take a step back today. If it weren't for the Coyotes not knowing how to hit the net, and for Budaj making some big stops in the 3rd, this game could very well have been 6-3 for the Coyotes. The Coyotes were able to fly into the zone near uncosted on more occasions than I would like to see. The forwards were still backchecking well but didn't seem to be pinching in down low as much as they had in previous games and it led to some in tight chances for Phoenix.

The two defensemen playing the most consistent game were Clark and Finger. Finger continues to bring a physical presence and doesn't shy away from trouble at all. When Sjostrom took a shot well after the whistle went, he was the first guy there giving Sjostrom a face full of leather. And Clark is the best defenseman the Avalanche have at carrying the puck out of the zone. That is a skill that is still lacking for the team so Clark's ability sticks out like a sore thumb compared to players such as Vaananen.

As mentioned, Paul Stastny continued his point streak as he scored 2 goals tonight. He now looks to be on pace for a 30 goal season. He'd join Joe Sakic, and likely Milan Hejduk, in the 30-goal club for the Avalanche. Sakic scored his 29th and 30th tonight to give him 9 30-goal seasons in his ever-impressive career. And another man who could possibly join the 30-goal club, Andrew Brunette, was pivotal in the game-tying goal by Sakic. Night in and night out, those 4 have made each Avalanche game exciting to watch.

Wojtek Wolski had an average game today. He wasn't really a presence out there, but wasn't much of a liability either. He was one of those forwards who weren't contributing enough down low in the defensive zone. He likes to hug the side board waiting for the outlet pass. It's likely the main reason that Ben Guite was bumped up to the first line towards the end of the 3rd period. It was a smart move by Quenneville as they needed Guite's defensive abilities more than Wolski's offensive abilities. Man, I'm so hard on Wolski!

Peter Budaj started off with an average game as well but really turned it up in the 3rd period. I both like and dislike how he does that from time to time. I don't like him having to rebound from a bad goal or two, but I like how he has been able to do it. The first goal was a bit of a weak one, the second was a great shot, and the third was just bloody weird. But after those 3 were in, Budaj decided that was enough and made some key saves during a rough spot in the middle of the 3rd when the Avalanche were getting badly outplayed.

Scott Parker was out and Marek Svatos was in his place on the fourth line. I think that was a mistake because, as was pointed out by, the last time these two played, the Coyotes took some liberties. They didn't take as many tonight but there were a few times where I thought "No way they'd do that if Parked was in the lineup". However, kudos to Svatos for putting a good hit on a Yotes player towards the end of the third, getting smothered in a pileup, then getting up and delivering another hit on the very next play. If he keeps playing with that kind of spark, he could work his way back into Q's good books.

With Parker out, Rycroft was the man left to dish out some justice when necessary. It became necessary when the Coyotes overreacted to Svatos hit. He and Carcillo dropped the gloves after a brief scrum and both decided to toss some haymakers NBA style. Ok, it wasn't that bad but those were some wild punches they were throwing. But good for Rycroft for not backing down and showing that this team still has plenty of fight left in it. But in the future, it should be Parker doing that.

The Good
- fought back to win
- held onto lead in 3rd

The Bad
- gave up 2 goal lead
- got outplayed for long stretches of time

The Ugly
- Liles' deep knee bend (ouch!)

The Action

Sakic Ties it Up

Liles Bends His Knee Awkwardly
Guite Fires Home the Winner
Guite Shows Some Intensity
Richardson Reciprocates
Two Snipers Share Their Secrets
Stastny For Calder!
Theo and Budaj

Pre-game vs Phoenix - Mar 17, 2007

It's the first of 2 games against Pacific division opponents. The Avs start off with what should be a very winnable game against the Phoenix Coyotes. They're 3-7-0 in their last 10 with latest wins coming against teams such as Philadelphia and the post-Ryan Smyth Oilers. However, don't let that fool you. The Avalanche have been known as a team that plays down to its opponents over the last couple of seasons. With some solid defensive hockey though, I'm considering this game well in hand. Particularly since no Phoenix goaltender has a GAA under 3.00.

Marek Svatos is set to return to action tonight after missing 6 games with a groin injury. The big question is who will sit tonight in favor of Svatos. Scott Parker, although only playing 3-4 minutes each game, seems to bring an element of "Don't F with us" to the ice which the Avs have sorely been lacking. Mark Rycroft seems to be bringing some more grit to his game lately. And those are the only two I could really see being the options to be scratched tonight. I suppose the other option is to sit Svatos for the game and not mess with what appears to be some team chemistry.

Karlis Skrastins is still listed as day-to-day with a knee injury and won't be in the lineup tonight. And that suits me just fine with the way Kurt Sauer and Ossi Vaananen have stepped up their play lately. Sauer in particular has really stepped it up and has been logging a lot of ice-time lately. He's up around 24-25 minutes on average for the past half-dozen games. Previously, if he was lucky enough to be in the lineup, he would get 10-12 minutes. The only thing the Avs miss is the shot-blocking Skrastins did. However, if the team plays well enough defensively, there is less of a need for shot blocks.

Paul Stastny is in line to continue his record-setting point-streak tonight. He has broken the NHL rookie point-streak record and has tied himself with his father for the 2nd longest point-streak in franchise history. TSN has a poll on who should win the Calder, Malkin or Crosby. At the time of writing, it was 55%-45% in favor of Malkin. If this was before the Christmas break, or even before the AllStart break, it would be 75%-25% in favor of Malkin. Stastny is making a great run at the end of the season and I would be extremely happy to see him win the Calder. More happy to see the Avalanche make the playoffs of course but you take what you can get.

The playoff star JAM line has been separated for a while now but all three players are continuing to produce. Sakic is on pace for 92 points and Hejduk has put himself on pace for a 34 goal season. That's about $100,000 per goal for those keeping track. Not as much is asked of from Andrew Brunette and his $800,000 contract but he's quietly put himself on pace for career highs on all offensive categories. After a brief slump, he's now got 3 points in his last 2 games and is easily the best post-lockout signing Lacroix made. If the Avs want to keep their playoff hopes alive, those 3 need to continue producing and leading the team on - and off- the ice.

With the advent of NHL Centre Ice Online, the NHL has taken another step towards allowing more people to view their product. I just purchases this recently and will be watching the Avs game tonight and most any other night that they play. This will keep me from having to bother my boss to go watch games at his place! It's only available for US and Canadian residents which is unfortunate. They didn't provide a reason as to why it's done this way but it must have something to do with broadcasting rights. Which I think are, for the most part, a load of crap. But that's for another day.

Brisebois - back, IR
Turgeon - calf, IR
Leopold - wrist, mid-March
Skrastins - knee, day-to-day

Jovanovski - abdominal, IR
Bell - knee, day-to-day
Fischer - abdominal, IR
Ricci - neck, IR
Scatchard - concussion, IR

Sakic has 16 in 14, Stastny has 17 in 11, Hejduk has 13 in 8, Wolski has 4 in 5, Brunette has 3 in 2.

Nolan and Tjarnqvist have 3 in 3, Kapanen has 4 in 3, Thomas has 3 in 2.

Arnason and Liles have 0 in 4, Laperriere has 1 in 4, Klee has 0 in 5.

Sjostrom has 0 in 3, Boynton has 0 in 9, Ballard has 1 in 4.

Peter Budaj - 24-15-5, 2.71 GAA, .906 save pct
Curtis Joseph - 15-25-1, 3.12 GAA, .897 save pct

Colorado - 35-29-6, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Phoenix - 28-39-3, 5th in Pacific, 15th in West

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Post-game vs Calgary - Mar 14, 2007

The Avs have won their most important game of the year! And they did it in regulation time which keeps them in the hunt for the final spot. They're hanging on by a thread but they're not about to let go without a fight. That sort of team mentality has me extremely happy. Pierre McGuire, and far be it from me to give him kudos, pointed out a couple times during the game how energetic the Avs bench is and how they really feel they have a chance. None of those giving in and tanking the season stuff. *cough*Edmonton*cough*Oilers*cough.

The win puts the Avalanche 8 points behind Calgary with two more games to come against the Flames. Those two games are later in the season though so they need to concentrate on taking care of the Wild, Canucks and Oilers in the meantime. That trio forms 5 of the next 8 games for the Avalanche and are obviously all crucial games.

On a brief side note, I shall be at the Avs-Oilers game on the 23rd as my company has generously provided me with tickets and lodging for the night. It was supposed to be a surprise presented that day but I managed to accidently wriggle it out of them by requesting the day off this Thursday to watch the Wild-Oiler game as I could have accepted some freebie tickets for that game. But I'll be at work tomorrow anxiously awaiting next Friday!

Paul Stastny waited until the third period to do it but he scored the game winning goal to keep his point streak alive. He's at 19 and counting which ties the franchise point-streak record, held by his father Peter Stastny of course. I am not aware what the NHL point-streak record is so if somebody could enlighten us, that would be great. Has Stastny got a shot at it?

Darren Dreger, in the span of a microsecond, made me like him even less. When asked who he thought the #2 candidate for the Calder is (and this is shortly after Duthie et. al. were espousing Stastny), he immediately went with Jordan Staal. Now, I've got nothing against Staal as he's a real gem for the Pens this year but to put him above Stastny without so much as an afterthought? Ridiculous. But kudos to McKenzie for going with Vlasic (and for calling the entire panel idiots).

The Sakic-Brunette-Wolski line was looking better today as they accounted for the first goal of the night. Sakic and Brunette are solid as always but Wolski still confuses me. One play, he'll be dogging the forecheck to avoid a hit...then the next play he'll lay someone on their back. Then he'll make a weak play to avoid a hit...then go finish his check on the next play. He needs to quit that streaky playing style, take a few solid checks from time to time, and get his nose dirty and start getting more points.

How fast is Matthew Lombardi? I know we don't have the most nimble D in the world but he makes them look like pylons. He's got some sort of afterburner contraption in his skates I think. Luckily the post didn't like his style tonight and denied him - as it did to many! And for all the talk of Phaneuf's point shot, I'm more scared of Hamrlik's. He's got a rocket of a shot and has used it many times against the Avalanche this year.

And I could be biased because of my general distaste for Dion Phaneuf. I'd take him on my team in a heartbeat, but he just annoys me with his attitude. The worst thing is the shots he throws after every whistle if an opposing player is anywhere near the crease. It's unnecessary unless said player is bothering the goaltender. Otherwise, it just makes you look like an ass.

Oh and speaking of looking like asses, or whiny babies, good job Tanguay on getting the last minute penalty call by whining to the ref. I suppose I'd take it if I was cheering for the Flames, but with a grain of salt because I hate whining. So I shall now stop whining!

The Good
- regulation win
- Statsny streak soaring on
- Hejduk still going
- Brunette getting 2 assists

The Bad
- 2 PK goals against (in the final seconds no less)
- Parker and Godard not going

The Ugly
- Phaneuf's attitude

Pre-game vs Calgary - Mar 14, 2007

A five-game winning streak was snapped in an OT loss against Minnesota on Sunday. During that 6-game run, the Avs took 11 of a possible 12 points. And yet they remain 10 points out of a playoff spot. It's frustrating to watch but it appears that the Avalanche locker room is no worse for wear right now. The typical "most important game of the year" and "take it one game at a time" cliches are being bandied about, but it truly seems like this team still feels they can make it. I suppose bouyed by an ever-calm leader in Joe Sakic as well as not having the team gutted by the GM at the deadline went a ways to keeping spirits up.

The kings of overtime, the Minnesota Wild, managed to get a game to OT after being down going into the third. This gave the Wild 2 points, and the Canucks 1 point in another NW overtime battle. I suppose I don't watch the other divisions closely enough to really make this call but...doesn't it seem like every NW matchup goes to OT lately? It's terribly frustrating to watch every team gain points in every single game. If this keeps up, it looks like the magic number to hit the playoffs could approach the 100 points plateau. And that's just ridiculous.

But as it stands, the drive for 95 continues on as the Avalanche welcome the Calgary Flames in this weeks Wednesday night game on TSN. I can't wait for the soothing sounds that come out Pierre McGuire's...mouth. Cliches well in check, this is a huge game for the Avalanche. With 3 games left to play against the Flames, they have a chance at cutting their playoff deficit in half if they can win all 3 games. It's a tall order but it's the only option on the menu for the Avalanche.

And speaking of TSN, they messed up the Paul/Peter Stastny thing countless times (4) in today's game preview. I never knew Paul scored so many times with the Nordiques and that Peter has been on a tear as of late! Nonetheless, Paul has a chance tonight to move into a tie with his father Peter for the second-longest streak in franchise history if he can get a point tonight.

The person most likely to help him achieve that mark tonight is Milan Hejduk. He has continued to have the hot hand lately as he has scored in eight consecutive games for the Avalanche, a vast majority of those being hookups with Paul Stastny. The development of those two as a potent combo has me very excited lately. Every time they're on the ice you feel they have the potential to do something amazing.

Karlis Skrastins and Marek Svatos will be out again today as they continue to rest their respective injuries. I guess it's good in a way that Karlis went down a with a legitimate injury and not some weak injury that only made him sit out one game. Hopefully people see what I mean by that. As for Svatos, it seemed he was starting to find his touch again and now he has to set up in the press box while he recovers. It's unfortunate as he has obviously had a very rough season. Fortunate for the Avs as they'll save a bundle when re-signing him, if they do. If they don't, they can still save a bundle by switching to Geico.

Brisebois - back, out for season
Leopold - wrist, mid-March
Turgeon - calf, IR
Skrastins - knee, day-to-day
Svaots - groing, day-to-day

Conroy - upper body, day-to-day
Richie Regehr - consussion, IR
McCarty - hip, IR

Stastny has 16 in 10, Hejduk has 7 in 4, Clark has 2 in 3.

Iginla has 20 in 13, Langkow has 12 in 14, Huselius has 4 in 2.

Sakic has 1 in 4, Arnason has 0 in 4, Guite has 1 in 4.

Amonte has 0 in 6, Lombardi has 1 in 5, Stuart has

Peter Budaj - 23-15-5, 2.72 GAA, .906 save pct
Miikka Kiprusoff - 34-19-9, 2.46 GAA, .916 save pct

Colorado - 34-29-6, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Calgary - 37-22-10, 3rd in NW, 8th in West

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pre-game vs Minnesota - Mar 11, 2007

This is going to be a quick one as I just got back from a wedding 5 hours away and have to duck out again for the afternoon. So I likely won't get a chance to see the game until later tonight, if at all. But I'll have a post-game up regardless just to keep the flow going.

With 14 games left, the Avalanche play divisional opponents 10 more times. Mathematically, that is enough to swing themselves into the playoffs. But it all has to start with a win this afternoon against the Minnesota Wild. And after a 3 day layoff, the Avs better come out with some energy because the Wild are a high-flying team.

This is also a big game for Paul Stastny although he has been humble enough in interviews to not make a bit fuss of it. If he gets a point tonight, he will break the NHL rookie point-streak record with 18 straight games. He tied the record in style on Thursday with 2 assists in the Avalanche win over Buffalo. If he and Hedjuk continue their chemistry, I see no reason why he won't break the record today.

That's all I've got in me as I'm being heckled to get ready. Enjoy the game and give some extra cheers for me.

Brisebois - back, LTI
Leopold - wrist, IR
Turgeon - calf, IR
Svatos - groin, day-to-day
Skrastins - knee, day-to-day

Boogard - back, day-to-day
Walz - upper body, day-to-day

Stastny has 15 in 9, Hejduk has 6 in 3, Wolski has 3 in 3, Mclean has 3 in 4.

Bouchard has 3 in 2, Rolston, White, Skoula, Burns and Moore all have 2 in 2.

Brunette has 1 in 4.

Hall has 0 in 7.

Peter Budaj - 23-15-4, 2.72 GAA, .906 save pct
Niklas Backstrom - 14-8-5, 2.23 GAA, .924 save pect

Colorado - 34-29-5, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Minnesota - 38-24-7, 2nd in NW, 7th in West

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Post-game vs Buffalo - Mar 7, 2007

The streak continues as the Avalanche have now won 5 in a row after a 3-2 win over Buffalo. The game started off on a bad note as the Sabres got on the board only 2 minutes in. That only lasted until the halfway point of the 1st when Hejduk was fed a great pass by Stastny during a shorthanded opportunity. Then after trading goals in the 2nd, Wojtek Wolski buried one after Sakic turned on the jets to feed the puck out front.

Paul Stastny continued his streak with a 2 assist performance which puts him only 4 points shy of Evgeni Malkin. He and Hejduk are really clicking right now. I'd compare the duo to Hejduk and Forsberg although Foppa fans everywhere would probably draw and quarter me. I know it's a bit premature to make that comparison but I'm looking forward to seeing what this duo does for the rest of the season. If it keeps up, Stastny should get some serious consideration for the Calder and Hejduk should get some serious apologies from his detractors.

This was an extremely physical game and not just from the opposing team! The Avalanche were dishing out some good hits today as well. Sauer, Finger and Vaananen were the most physical while folks such as Guite and Stastny certainly did not shy away from the rough stuff.
And of course Scott Parker flattened Jochan Hecht after he gave a pseudo-challenge to Ben Guite for giving Briere a blindside hit. It's that kind of physicality that the Avs were very much lacking. It's the first time I've seen an Avalanche player absolutely level another player during a scrum and I loved it.

The Avalanche again limited their opponent to a mere 21 shots on goal. If this keeps up, the Avalanche should certainly be able to extend their winning streak even farther. I really don't know why the Avalanche decided to tighten up their defense just recently as opposed to earlier in the season. If all it took to make Sauer more physical was for the coaching team to say "Play more physical.", then why didn't they just say it earlier?

Kurt Sauer put in 29 minutes tonight. I'll say it again. Kurt Sauer put in 29 minutes tonight. If I had said that earlier in the season, people would have said the stats were wrong. But with the way he's playing lately, it's much easier to believe. He's playing the body, he's not fishing for the puck, and he's not trying to do anything offensively.

Brad Richardson managed to steal himself 17:23 in ice-time tonight. Most of his time was on the 3rd line with Laperriere and Arnason. That line had a few opportunities, the best one coming from Arnason, and put in a good 3rd line performance. Well, save for Laperriere's goof in the first which helped lead to the first goal. Nothing like dropping your gloves and not having a partner reciprocate.

The Good
- beating the #1 team in the east
- Stastny continuing his streak
- Hejduk staying on fire
- good defensive coverage
- holding on for a 1-goal win

The Bad
- waking up this late in the season

The Ugly
- not knowing the game was on NHL Network until the midway point

Pre-game vs Buffalo - Mar 7, 2007

The romp through the Northeast continues tonight as the Avalanche are welcomed to HSBC arena. Both teams are on a nice roll at the moment, Buffalo with 3 in a row and the Avs with 4 in a row. They've both done this despite having an unfortunate set of injuries plaguing them. Buffalo has the worst of it but their AHL fill-ins have done a commendable job of solving that problem. I'm sure Buffalo is hoping that this streak of injuries is over and everyone will be healed up by playoff time.

It just wouldn't be right to have a post lately that doesn't mention Paul Stastny's point-scoring streak. He sits at 16 games right now which tied his father's franchise record and puts him one game shy of tying Teemu Selanne's NHL rookie record. His latest run has him a mere 6 points shy of Evgeni Malkin in the rookie scoring race. Not too shabby for a kid who didn't have any hype surrounding him other than being the son of Peter Stastny. Actually, I still think that's what most people in the media talk about when bringing him up.

I'd expect Peter Budaj to get the start tonight. Although he made some great saves last night, he wasn't terribly busy so he should be good to go. He was the third star for the week and is on a 4-game winning streak at the moment. During that streak, he has a .946 save pct and a GAA of about 1.5. That's about all you can ask from a goaltender I think!

From the Buffalo side, it looks like the Avalanche will face Miller and Conklin will be in against the Wild. And it appears that Chris Drury will be in the lineup tonight after suffering from a concussion for the past 4 games. So that's 3 pieces of unlucky news for the Avalanche right there but this is still a winnable game.

*deep breath*

Brisebois - back, LTI
Leopold - wrist, IR
Turgeon - calf, IR
Svatos - groin, day-to-day
Skrastins - knee, day-to-day

Afinogenov - wrist, IR
Connolly - concussion, IR
Drury - concussion, day-to-day
Gaustad - ankle, IR
Kotalik - knee, IR
Paille - finger, IR
Peters - upper body, day-to-day
Spacek - hand, IR

Stastny has 13 in 8, Hejduk has 4 in 2, Richardson and Laperriere have 4 in 3, Liles has 5 in 6.

Hecht has 7 in 3, Roy has 6 in 3, Briere and Pomminville have 9 in 6, Stafford and Vanek have 8 in 5.

Brunette has 0 in 3.

Peter Budaj - 22-15-4, 2.74 GAA, .906 save pct
Ryan Miller - 32-12-4, 2.67 GAA, .913 save pct

Colorado - 33-29-5, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Buffalo - 44-16-5, 1st in NE, 1st in East

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Post-game vs Boston - Mar 6, 2007

Another night on national television (as national as VS is) and another win in the books for the Avalanche. They came out with a 2-0 win in a big goaltending battle between Peter Budaj and Tim Thomas. They answered save for save until one finally snuck by Thomas at the start of the third. Milan Hejduk then sealed it with an empty netter and Avs fans breathed a sigh of relief as we witnessed the teams first 4-game winning streak of the season.

Although the shots don't entirely reflect a goaltending battle - 30-21 in favor of the Avs - the game certainly saw its share of excellent saves. Thomas is nothing if not a battler while in the crease. He's not the best of goaltenders, particularly with giving up rebounds, but he fights like no other to keep that puck out of the crease. Peter Budaj, while flashing the leather impressively, had a huge pad stack save to preserve his shutout. You don't see pad stacks often enough these days, unless you're a Devils fan. And nobody would ever admit to that.

The bigger story is that Paul Stastny saw his point streak extended to 16 games as he tied his father Peter for the franchise record. Initially, it looked like the streak would be broken but the first goal was changed to be a straight in shot from Brett Clark rather than a redirection from Brett Mclean. With that, Paul is one game away from tying the NHL rookie point streak record which was held by Teemu Selanne. Yes, I said "was held" not "is held". It'll make grammatical sense tomorrow night after the game. That's right, another prediction. I'm on a roll lately.

The penalty kill was looking very good tonight. It starts with players such as Stasnty and Rycroft making it tough for the Bruins to get into the zone and filters down to players such as Finger and Sauer who held tough in the zone and didn't scramble down low. It's a good improvement from a team that is 25th in the league on the PK.

Wojtek Wolski is looking a bit lost on the ice right now. He's not strong enough on the puck and he appears scared to take a hit. That's a bad combination for a 6'3 winger that needs to start scoring more. You can't score if the puck ain't on your stick and you can't get the puck on your stick if you're not willing to take some bumps.

Ossi Vaananen and Kurt Sauer look to be playing the body more lately. Which is good b/c those two obviously aren't going to out-race or out-finess anyone out there. Combine them with Jeff Finger, who seems happy to throw the body around, and you have a good 4-5-6 combination on the backend.

Brett Mclean seems to be fitting in well with Hejduk and Stastny. He may not be a natural fit but he looks to be working hard. He made some good plays in the defensive zone and was decent in the offensive zone. That seems to be about all those 2 need on their line is someone to play decently and contribute from time-to-time. Though he contributed no points tonight, that line still chipped in for 3 out of the 4 Avalanche points tonight.

The Good
- shutout win
- good PK
- great goaltending
- good team composure
- Sakic going 80% in the faceoff circle

The Bad
- powerplay looked disjointed
- not cashing in chances

The Ugly
- Brian Engblom's haircut

Pre-game vs Boston - Mar 6, 2007

After a short sabbatical, I'm back at the pre- and post-game reviews. I'm sure you were all on the edge of your seats wondering where I had gone. I just needed some R&R; from things before I broke down into a heap in the corner. And that short sabbatical happened right around the time that the Avalanche decided to head on a 3-game winning streak. Let's hope I don't screw up their shot at the first 4-game wining streak of the season by writing this post.

Even with a 3-game winning streak, the Avalanche still find themselves 10 points out a playoff spot. No matter how fast they dig, the other Northwest teams dig just as hard, if not harder. And it doesn't hurt that all inter-divisional games seem to go to OT lately. However the Avs aren't letting that get them down as they still see themselves as being a part of the playoff hunt. It doesn't hurt when Joe Sakic himself comes out and publicly says as much. I'm sure it bolstered the team a bit to see him say publicly what he has likely been saying privately for some time now.

Another thing that could be bolstering the team is the outstanding play from Peter Stastny lately. He's on a 15-game point streak and can tie a franchise record with a point tonight. That franchise record is held by none other than his father of course. I wonder if I had changed my last name to Stastny at an early age, if I could have excelled in the NHL. Because obviously it's just the last name that's carrying them all: Peter, Paul, Mary..I mean Marion, and Anton all had steller careers. Shane Stastny has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? By the way, I know it's Paul but I just thought I'd see if it riled anyone up that I used the wrong name in ther first sentence.

There was a good article in the RMN today about Milan Hejduk's latest run. He should easily hit a 30-goal season and could possibly rack up 70 points in total. That's a large improvement from last seasons less-than-stellar numbers. Of course, it's no 50-goal season but he looks to be on track for a very large turnaround next year. I'm going to predict a 40-goal season from him next year. And again, if I'm wrong, I'll edit this post and pretend I never said it. The Internet makes us all 100% accurate. Because if it's not on the never happened.

Brisebois - back, LTI
Leopold - wrist, IR
Turgeon - calf, IR
Svatos - groin, day-to-day
Skrastins - knee, day-to-day

Kobasew - elbow, IR

Stastny has 12 in 7, Hejduk has 7 in 4, Guite has 4 in 4, Rycroft has 4 in 5, Finger has 3 in 3.

Kessel has 4 in 2, Bochenski has 3 in 2, Savard has 13 in 9, Sturm has 7 in 6.

Clark has 0 in 4

Chistov has 1 in 5, Ference has 0 in 11.

Peter Budaj - 21-15-4, 2.81 GAA, .905 save pct
Tim Thomas - 28-20-4, 3.06 GAA, .908 save pct

Colorado - 32-29-5, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Boston - 32-28-5, 5th in Northeast, 12th in East

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Pre-game vs Chicago - Mar 1, 2007

The 5-game roadtrip for Avalanche makes its first stop in the Windy City as they invade the United Center. It's hopefully the start of a 5-game winning streak as well! The Avalanche are coming off a 3-2 win against Columbus which say a 3-0 lead nearly evaporate in the final 2 minutes of play. The Hawks are coming off a loss to Detroit in which leading scorer Martin Havlat did not play. And of course Bryan Smolinski, their #2 point getter, didn't play as he was traded to the Canucks on Monday.

Struggling goaltender Peter Budaj put in a good showing against the Jackets and will get the start in goal tonight. Budaj has seen his GAA drop from 2.41 in early January to his current 2.85. A bit of the mid-season doldrums it appears as he seems to be turning his play around. And if I were to hazard a guess at a starting goaltender for Chicago, I think the safe bet is on Khabibulin being between the pipes. His stats are on par with Budaj's as he's had an up and down season as well.

It sounds like Scott Parker will be in the lineup so look forward to seeing him. For about 2 or 3 minutes. He's coming off an ankle injury and he was never really deserved of playing any more than 5 or 6 minutes a game so he'll likely see limited ice-time, skating on the fourth line ever 3 shifts or so. But I could be wrong and he'll skate on the top line with Sakic and score seven goals. It's possible.

Peter Statsny continues his hot streak tonight according to I don't know how he continues to rack up the points considering that he doesn't play anymore, aside from a backyard rink from time to time. His son Paul continutes to light the lamp as well as he's on a 13 game point streak. That streak is tops in the NHL at the moment. 8 goals and 11 assists during that time have propelled him to #2 in the rookie scoring race.

Brisebois - back, LTI
Leopold - wrist, mid-March
Skrastins - knee, day-to-day
Turgeon - calf, IR

Barker - ankle, day-to-day
Handzus - knee, mid-March
Salmelainen - hip, IR
Vandermeer - ankle, IR

Stastny has 19 in 13, Brunette has 14 in 8, Sakic has 19 in 12, Hejduk has 4 in 2, Rycroft has 3 in 3, Guite has 2 in 2.

Hamilton and Seabrook have 2 in 2.

Both Colorado goaltenders

Lapointe and Arkhipov have 0 in 6, Bourque has 0 in 4, Ruutu has 1 in 6, Sharp has 1 in 5.

Peter Budaj - 19-15-4, 2.85 GAA, .903 save pct
Nikolai Khabibulin - 20-19-5, 2.78 GAA, .902 save pct

Colorado - 30-29-5, 5th in NW, 10th in West
Chicago - 23-31-9, 4th in Central, 13th in West