Avalanche @ Ducks, Game 20 Preview - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Monday, November 24, 2008

Avalanche @ Ducks, Game 20 Preview

We're at approximately the quarter-way point of the season and the Avalanche sit just below .500 with a 9-10-0 record. That's good enough for 18 points, 13th in the Western Conference, 5th in the Northwest division and 10 points back of the division leading Vancouver Canucks. I won't even mention how far back they are of the Conference - and League - leading San Jose Sharks.

Identity schmidentity
So what's going on? Terry Frei thinks - as Tapeleg noted before the season began - that it's an identity crisis:

The word "identity" is overused and often misused in sports. But in this case, I think it applies. This still looks like a team trying to figure out how it wants to and can play, and still trying to forge a collective personality.
I don't think anyone can argue with that statement. When the defense tightens up, so does the offense. When the offense goes full-bore, the defense tails off. When the goaltending is there, the goals aren't. When the goaltending takes a night off, the lamp stays lit at both ends.

What will it take to get all three factions running at top speed? Coaching, that's what.

In that same article, Tony Granato conceded that attention to defensive detail "shouldn't take that much away from our offense."

Amen. Just because you tighten up on D doesn't mean you start hanging five guys back in the neutral zone. It means the players back to backcheck harder when the rush is broken up.

It also means the coach has to let the players know what their responsibilities are. I still get the feeling Granato hasn't done that well enough.

Injury updates
In some good news, the injuries that Adam Foote and Wojtek Wolski sustained in the Kings matchup on Saturday don't appear too serious. At least not as serious as they could have been.

Foote will miss the game tonight while he continues to be evaluated to determine the extent of any neck, back and/or head issues but he sounds fairly optimistic. Daniel Tjarnqvist will get his first taste of action this season in place of Foote.

Wolski's status will be decided after the morning skate. Adrian Dater reported that Wolski was walking and talking just fine after the Kings game. He rode a stationary bike yesterday which is usually a good sign for someone with a possible concussion.

And in the biggest news, Joe Sakic should be in the lineup for tonight's game.

It's time for a line change
Here's where things get a bit odd. Now, I'll give it to Granato that shaking up the lines seems necessary the way the offense is going. I don't feel the line combinations are the root of the problem but nonetheless, they will be changing.

The first change is that Paul Stastny was centering a line with Ryan Smyth and Marek Svatos. If Paul Stastny can come out of his funk and start making some plays, this line could work well. Smyth can create havoc in the crease while Svatos can pounce on rebounds. Of course, that relies on Stastny and the defense getting the puck to the front of the net.

Next, T.J. Hensick was centering a line with Brian Willsie and Darcy Tucker. The chemistry with Tucker and Hensick was undeniable as Hensick seems to find ways to get the puck to the net and Tucker has no problem charging in. But wouldn't it be nice if Hensick was setting up someone who has scored 30+ goals before? Just a thought.

And finally, Joe Sakic was centering a line with Milan Hejduk. Their partner? It will be either David Jones or Cody McCormick. Hmm. Cody McCormick on a line with Joe Sakic? Well, if anything McCormick will play the hardest he's ever played if he gets a chance to go with the big boys.

But if he does, that leaves a fourth line of Ian Laperriere, Cody Mcleod and either David Jones or Tyler Arnason. Jones is a much better fit for that line which would mean Arny would watch from the press box.

But is putting Arny in the press box worth having McCormick on a line with Sakic?

McCormick might put in the game of his career playing with Sakic but don't kid yourself, he's not a full-time first liner.

To be honest with you, I haven't followed the Ducks much this season. They got off to an awful start but have turned it around and are looking like a solid club again.

J.S. Giguere's stats (3.13 GAA, .904 save %) are somewhat underwhelming but I'm not sure if that's due to his play or the team's play.

Losing Francois Beauchemin won't help but when you've got Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermyer as your top two, you can't complain too much.

The key to beating the Ducks seems to be to contain their big three: Ryan Getzlaf, Cory Perry, and Teemu Selanne. Doesn't it sound easy?

I'm not sure if they all play on the same line but they are 1-2-3 in scoring on the team and, looking at the stats, the Ducks don't have much forward scoring depth behind them.

Starting Goaltenders
Peter Budaj is in for the Avalanche and will likely square off against Giguere. (goaliepost.com)

Game time
The puck drops at 10:00 PM ET which is just friggin ridiculous. It's only two games in and I'm already sick of West coast games. No offense, jib.


horbayj said...

its why mountain time is the ideal time zone for all games!! on another note, i am off to the land of satan (detroit) to catch a wings/bj's game, should i wear my avs hat :P

Shane Giroux said...

Preferably with an Avs jersey as well ;)

Here's to hoping the BJ's can pull one off!

Michael said...

horbayj - wear a Sakic sweater. For some reason they don't like seeing a superior 19 in the Joe...

has anyone heard if Zeiler was suspened for his nasty hit on Footer?

horbayj said...

sadly gentleman, all ive got is my avs hat..though maybe if i rock my crosby pens jersey they wont beat me so hard :P

Mike at MHH said...

I'm pretty sure the Selanne, Getzlaf, and Perry are all on the same line, or at least the same PP unit.

Shane Giroux said...

Ouch. Either way, that's a scary line.

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