Thursday, January 31, 2008

Forsberg Nearing Return but Likely Not With the Avalanche

In the ongoing Peter Forsberg saga, it appears that he is closer than ever to making his return to the NHL. TSN is reporting that a Swedish newspaper is reporting that Peter Forsberg is reporting that he won't sign with Modo in hopes of making an NHL return this season.

If all the rumours are to be believed then the main teams in the running are Ottawa, Philadelphia, Detroit and Colorado. Forsberg in a Wings jersey? I shudder at the thought. I hope he does too.

If Forsberg were to come back, he's not looking to be a fill-in on in injury-ridden club. He's looking to raise that silver cup over his head one more time. Adrian Dater thinks that makes Forsberg a bit Roger Clemens-ish.

If I was in Forsberg's shoes, I would be very torn between playing for a contender and my original franchise. And given the possibility of any team being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs combined with my loyal-to-a-fault attitude, I'd be signing with Colorado. But I'm not in his shoes and wouldn't blame him for going somewhere else. Even Detroit as much as it would pain me to watch.

We're nearing the trade deadline - just 26 days away - and you would think that any team vying for Forsberg's services would want things settled before the deadline is up. How brutal would it be to miss out on a needed trade for a cup run because you were holding your breath waiting for Peter the Great to give you his final answer?

My bold prediction: Forsberg signs with the Flyers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Avalanche Commit to Pounding Blackhawks

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
The Avs absolutely hammered the Chicago Blackhawks tonight in a 6-3 thrashing at the Pepsi Center. Did anyone see that one coming? Heck, I barely even saw it as it was happening.

I was busy shopping assuming the game was being recorded however the feed never kicked in on Shaw's end. So I ended up watching from the midway point via an online feed. I gotta tell ya, it's just not the same as watching on the ol' tube.

Jose Theodore got his 11th straight start, let in one goal and then sat out the third period with reported back spasms. Otherwise known as "We just got word the deal is almost done so sit him to avoid injury." Just joking. Seriously, I'm not a "source" so don't use this on your anonymous blog.

Peter Budaj came in for the third period sporting a killer new mask and held down the fort. He gave up two late goals to Yanic Perrault but by then it was far too late to truly matter.

As for the injury to Theodore, I'm not concerned at the moment. Players get back spasms, they sit out a few shifts. A goalie gets back spasms and it's a bit more noticeable. Hell, I get back spasms. But I just ask my in-office masseuse for a massage and it's all good. Man that'd be sweet. It could be as simple as some mild dehydration, it could be as complex as a sprained back.

I'm sure at some point, the Avalanche will tell us...well they'll tell us something. Whether it's true or not, we'll have to wait and see.

Marek Svatos led the way tonight with 2 goals and one of those ever elusive assist thingies. I only caught his second goal and it was a case of being in the right place at the right time.

Tyler Arnason made a beauty move down low and tossed the puck towards Svatos who had a wide open net to shoot at. The Versus announcers remarked "My what a shot" but my thought was "Damn, he almost missed that".

Tyler Arnason collected a goal of his own as well as adding two assists as he had his best offensive output of the season. Milan Hejduk had a goal and an assist and Wojtek Wolski had two assists.

Brad Richardson, fresh from a long stint with the Lake Erie Monsters, scored his second goal of the season. Keep it up, Richo. We're all rooting for you.

Commit to the what now?
The Blackhawks are no powerhouse team but you'd think they would have been a bit fired up after Denis Savard's rant about "committing to the Indian". I'm still surprised some human rights group hasn't latched on to that one yet. But we all know that nobody watches hockey so no worries.

Related Links Event Summary
In the Cheap Seats Game Notes Recap

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wild Slip by Avalanche

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
I held out hope that the Avalanche could pull this one off and head into the All-Star break in first place. Alas it wasn't meant to be as the Wild came away with a 3-2 victory.

I was fast-forwarding a lot as I didn't start watching the game until fairly late in the evening. I did have the pleasure of catching the first goal in all its glory though. Not only should Theodore have stopped that, but Liles should have been able to cut off the pass to Fedoruk.

And of course that goal was the difference in terms of the Avalanche possibly getting a point out of this contest. The team now has a long break to heal up - I'm looking at you Stastny -and start the real stretch drive for the playoffs. Thanks to the new "parity" in the league, it's going to be a tight race.

Theodore stopped 34 of 37 shots in his 10th straight start but it was that one soft goal that really messed up the game.

He is still giving up some long rebounds which leads to some hurried clears out of the zone...or game-winning goals of course.

I'm intrigued to see if he gets the start against Chicago after the All-Star break.

Nik Backstrom came up with some big saves tonight including a lightning fast glove save early on Cody McCormick to keep the game at 1-0.

The offense did have some moments where they were pressing the action but are still lacking finish.

However Wojtek Wolski's finish on a pass from Marek Svatos was a thing of beauty. Short, quick pass and it spent maybe a nanosecond on Wolski's stick before it was in the net.

Given that I was fast-forwarding a lot, I don't have a lot say about the defense. 37 shots on goal might say enough.

None. What's going on here? The correlation between first period fights and getting points in the standings was fairly strong so why mess with it?

- Lappy laid out Skoula big-time hit in the 2nd
- Fedoruk came to chat but neither looked interested in fighting
- what was with the ref calling a penalty on "#40 - Denver"?
- Brett Clark turned his ankle into a shot block (bad idea) and left straight to the locker room. he was back out not long after (Saskatchewan FTW!)
- the no-goal was not reviewable because it was deemed a high stick occurred to knock the puck down before the puck was subsequently put into the net (can we say "Lame"?)

Related Links Event Summary Recap
In the Cheap Seats Recap
Denver Post Recap

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gameday: Avalanche vs Wild

First place in the Northwest is on the line tonight as the Avalanche play host to the Minnesota Wild. If the Avalanche were to win, they would then pull even with Vancouver for points and would leapfrog them on the first tie-breaker (points percentage)

But what if it's an overtime win for the Avalanche? Well then things start to get hairy. That would put Colorado, Vancouver and Minnesota in a three-way tie atop the division.

However, once again the Avalanche would come out on top. They'd still use the first tie-breaker against the Canucks and would then whip out tie-breaker #3 against Minnesota which is the head-to-head record between the teams which would be 3-2 in favor of Colorado.

Confused? Good. And hopefully I did the tie breakers right and haven't given anyone false hope of going into another break with the Avalanche flag planted at the top of the NW mountain.

Season Series
The season series between these two teams has benefited from home ice advantage in each of the four previous games so if I were a betting man, my money just might go on the Avalanche tonight.

Starting Goaltender
Jose Theodore gets his 10th straight start tonight after a subpar outing against Nashville on Tuesday. Thankfully Coach Q has decided to keep rolling with one goaltender after realizing that not every loss can be hung at the starting goaltenders feet.

"I think in the first two periods I was fine," said Theodore, who stopped 20-of-21 shots in the first two periods but just 5-of-8 in the third. "But in the third they found a few holes."

You can say that again.

Lineup Changes
David Jones was sent packing yesterday and Scott Parker will take his spot in the lineup. Will Parker and Boogard go at it tonight? One can only hope.

Game time
Puck drop is at 9:08 ET.

And if anyone was hoping for an exciting hockey game tonight, I'm guessing that you'll be disappointed. These two teams are going to trap it up and grind out until someone makes a mistake that can be capitalized on.

Related Links Preview
Denver Post Preview
Frei on the new Avalanche style
Avalanche Acquire Prospects from Columbus
Russo's Rants (Denver hasn't treated the Wild well)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Avalanche Snubbed at the Oscars

Adrian Dater has informed us that the Colorado Avalanche will not have a representative at the NHL AllStar game in Atlanta this year after Paul Stastny went down to appendicitis. Let me be among those who may be saying "Meh"

I think the idea of having a player from every team on the roster reeks of the whole "Everybody's a winner!" motto that permeates our culture these days. If a team has no bonafide superstars on their roster, why reward a lesser player just to represent the team?

The only person you could make a slight argument for would be Marek Svatos. And man would it be slight. Yes, he's got 20 goals. He's also got 3 assists and just doesn't have the same qualities that players such as Lecavalier and Iginla have.

Lecavalier will turn you inside out then hang the goalies jock up in the rafters before potting a goal. Marek Svatos will pounce on a rebound in the crease. See the difference?

No Avalanche players made it this year and no healthy Avalanche deserves to go either.

Related Links
Avs Get the Shaft

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Predators Devour Avalanche

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Ouch. Double ouch actually since that's the second time this season that the Predators have shut out the Avalanche. And on the day I launch the new look for this site too. Who does Nashville think they are?

If it weren't for some stellar goaltending by Dan Ellis, this game may have had a different tone. He came up big early on and definitely deserved the shutout which included a couple big saves late in the game.

Jose Theodore put in a mediocre performance as he let in 4 goals on 29 shots. Memory is failing me now but at least 3, if not all 4, were blocker side shots including a couple that you'd expect to be stopped.

However I do hope to see Theodore in net next game, if only to show that Q has figured out that one bad game doesn't mean a shakeup is needed in the crease.




Ok, that was a little glib but shutouts always put me in a sour mood. The game wasn't as bad a performance as it looked on paper.

- Wolski is showing that he has the ability to hang onto the puck in the offensive zone and not get pushed off easily
- but he still isn't finishing his checks like earlier in the year
- Svatos had some point blank chances but Ellis shut him down
- Shea Weber > Dion Phaneuf

Related Links Event Summary
In the Cheap Seats Recap Recap

Gameday: Avalanche vs Predators

The Avalanche were shut out early in the year by the Nashville Predators but went on to record two straight wins in a home-and-home series mid-December. Will the injury-decimated Avalanche be able to keep up their winning ways tonight?

First...for a moment
With their win against the Blue Jackets on Sunday the Avalanche claimed first place in the tight Northwest division, if only for a moment. Last night the Wild beat the Canucks and leapfrogged over the Avalanche.

And with Minnesota facing Calgary tonight, the Avalanche could fall to 3rd place if the Flames get a point in their contest and the Avalanche come up empty handed.

Young Guns Creating Energy
The Avalanche were forced to recall quite a few players from Lake Erie this year thanks to injuries to key players. And thankfully the call ups have responded in spades with a gritty, energetic style of play while also contributing on the scoreboard.

Cody McLeod has notched 3 goals and 1 assist while also dropping the mitts 5 times. Sure, he doesn't have any overwhelming victories but I'm sure Lappy views him as a welcome relief in the exclusive Fight Club.

The latest call up, David Jones, grabbed an assist in his first game with the big club and put in a solid outing. I love seeing players finish their checks and Jones has no qualms about doing so.

Theodore Securing the Pipes
Jose Theodore gets his ninth straight start in goal tonight as he's put on the best run he's had since joining the Colorado Avalanche.

Theodore is 5-2-1 in his last 8 with a 1.59 GAA and .941 save percentage. Those are some solid numbers and it's nice to feel some security in goal - at least for the time being.

Defense Stepping Up
It would be remiss to say that Theodore has been the sole reason for the teams recent streak. The defense has also stepped up and put in solid efforts to help Theodore. Whether it's in not turning over the puck in the defensive zone, actually clearing the puck out of the defensive zone or just blocking the right shots, they've been there when necessary and again, it's nice to see.

Jeff Finger has been the most noticeable in terms of stepping up his play. Last game he scored the opening goal, put in 24:51 in ice time and ended the night at +2 leading him to be named the first star of the game.

The Opponent
The Predators are on a streak of their own as they have a 6-2-2 record in their last 10. They opened the season with a bang but trailed off quickly. They appear to have exploded again and are now just 3 points out of a playoff spot.

With the revitalized play of Chris Mason and a streaking offense, the Predators are still a threat on any given night. It's too bad that not enough people in Nashville really seem to care.

Game Time
The puck drops at 9:08 ET.

Related Links Preview
TSN Gameday
Colorado Avalanche Farm Report
Jones Reflects on First NHL Point

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Avalanche Sting Blue Jackets

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Avalanche have claimed 1st place in the Northwest division after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 at the Pepsi Center.

It was a solid game from start to finish, even though the finish was quite boring. At about the 15 minute mark in the third, I started fast-forwarding towards the end as it seemed pre-destined to be a 3-1 contest.

Jose Theodore got his 8th straight start in goal and allowed just the one goal while posting 26 saves including a HUGE glove save on Rick Nash in the second period to maintain the two-goal lead

Theodore is now 4-0-1 in his last five games while allowing just 9 goals, including one shutout. Those are some respectable numbers and you can certainly see the difference in Theodore's game. He's less jittery when their is a lot of action around him and he appears much more calm, composed and confident in net.

Who knew that giving a goaltender a run in net and sticking with him, even if he gives up more than 2 goals in a game, would be a formula for success.

The Avalanche again had an early scrap in the game as Cody McLeod took on Ole-Kristian Tollefson. These early fights have been a recipe for success lately so there's no reason to stop now.

It's certainly not goonish play on the part of the Avalanche but it is their way of saying they won't be pushed around and it's always a good way to get the team adrenaline flowing.

The offense obviously came through this game and they used the gamut of styles to get it done.

The first goal was a big blast from the point by Jeff Finger which got a helpful redirect off of Mike Peca in front. It was good to see Finger get a goal like that as he put up one heck of a game tonight.

The second was the result of some hard work by recent call up David Jones and finished off by a fearless Ben Guite. Jones drove hard to the net, made a nice move to get some space for a shot and then Ben Guite directed the rebound underneath Pascal Leclaire who actually knocked the puck into the net with the knob of his stick.

And finally, the Wolski-Arnason-Svatos line came through with a nice passing play to top it off. John Liles led the breakout, fed Svatos on the right-wing who put it to Wolski as he cut to the middle. Wolski then fed Tyler Arnason who had nothing but net as Leclaire bit on Wolski's shot fake. Just a classic goal.

Jeff Finger led the team in ice-time with 24:51, scored a goal and was +2 on the night leading Terry Frei to name him as the first star of the night.

I loved Finger as soon as he was called up last year and he has rarely disappointed since. He's the most physical defenseman on the team and has really upped his defensive awareness and composure this year.

Scott Hannan was also a +2 as he has continued to play some solid defensive hockey. He's been silently rubbing people out on the wall as they try to set up in the zone and has been making better breakout decisions lately. The puck is no longer the ticking grenade he thought it was.

Johnny Boychuk was dressed as the 6th defenseman but but only saw 8:27 in ice-time. When the game first started I don't think I saw him for at least 5 minutes while noting that it appeared Jeff Finger had yet to leave the ice.


In a bid to appease DD from In the Cheap Seats, Q starts with Brunette on left wing on the 1st line. And then in what appears to be a shameless attempt to gain brownie points, he also keeps the two Cody's on the same line.

TJ Hensick found himself sandwiched between the Cody's as he obviously impressed Q with his speed last game. His speed was still there tonight but he seemed less of a threat.

Davey Jones found himself on a line with Ben Guite and Ian Laperriere and didn't look out of place at all. He laid out some solid hits, got himself an assist and ended up +1 with just under 10 minutes of ice time.

- Rick Nash was effectively neutralized most of the night
- Hlinka continues to perform well on 1st line duties\
- Ben Guite won 10 of his 12 faceoffs as he's doing a good job scrambling on the draw
- Q had a solid suit on tonight though I'm not a fan of that shade of grey
- who knew the Giants would beat the Packers!

Related Links Event Summary Recap
In the Cheap Seats Game Notes

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Blackhawks Defeat Avalanche 2-1 in SO

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Well what can you say about last night. When 3 of your top offensive threats are out, you've got to get it done with goaltending and defensive play and hope the offense can bang home a couple goals.

The team played well defensively, limiting the Blackhawks to just 23 shots, and Theodore made the stops he needed to but the offense just didn't have enough spark to get more than one goal against Patrick Lalime.

I feel a bit complacent about this loss as it's easy to chalk up to injuries but I hope the Avalanche don't have the same attitude I do about tonight.

Marek "Wrecking Machine" Svatos
I'm going to jump right into notes after this one but I couldn't leave this one as just a sidenote.

Late in the third Marek Svatos was waiting on the wing to start a breakout but the puck went past him and he was subsequently leveled by by Tuomo Ruutu. Typically, this is the point where a player would get angry and slash at someone or try to rough them up. However I've seen that look in Svatos' eyes before and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it.

Sure enough Craig Adams - 6'0", 200lbs - found himself with the puck circling low on the wing heading right for Svatos. Marek took 2 short strides and lowered his shoulder directly into Adam's chest, sending him flying to the ice and sending fans leaping to their feet.

This is at least the third time I've seen Svatos rock someone after taking a big hit and I love it.
He did the same thing to Getzlaf last year and it shocks me everytime. The guy is all of 5'10" and 170 lbs but can dish out some punishment when he's in the mood.

Upping the Energy
Ok, I had one more which is related to the Svatos hit. Peter McNab was stationed in the Avalanche bench for "All Access Night" tonight and after the hit, Haynes asked him what that hit did for both benches.

McNab went on to mention how both benches were on the feet trying to see what happened and after the Avalanche bench caught on, every guy on that bench was fired up and energized.

They then cut to a shot of the bench where every single player was leaning on the boards with one arm looking like they were watching paint dry.

- Lappy fought Adam Burrish early in the 1st to continue the Avalanche's fighting streak
- Brett Clark played nearly 30 minutes tonight (28:08)
- Hensick seems to be getting his legs and building some confidence
- Wolski and Svatos were showing some good chemistry together, particularly during OT
- Liles 2 great defensive plays, once diving to knock the puck from a streaking Hawk and then later hustling back to overcome a 3-on-1 and force a wide shot
- and what a shot by Patrick Kane on the Hawks goal

Related Links Recap
In the Cheap Seats Recap Event Summary Pre-game with Q and post-game with Theodore
Marek Svatos Hit on Craig Adams

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gameday: Avalanche vs Blackhawks

After a successful 5-game roadtrip, the Avalanche are now back in the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center to kick off a 5-game homestand starting with the Chicago Blackhawks. With a 16-6-0 home record, that's nothing but good news for a team fighting for a playoff spot.

The bad news? Well, in case you hadn't heard, Paul Stastny has joined Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic on the injured reserve list for at least 2 weeks after undergoing an appendectomy yesterday afternoon.

The Lineup
So both top-line centers are down and out meaning somebody is going to have step in to fill the void. That someone will most likely be Jaroslav Hlinka. Although he has spent time down on the fourth line the last couple games, it's not due to lack of talent.

He was lighting it up on the second line before Tyler Arnason came back from wrist surgery so the ability is definitely there. And given that our other centers are Tyler "What Defense?" Arnason, T.J. "Up and Down" Hensick and Ben "Banger" Guite, Hlinka gets the nod almost by default.

As for how things fill in around Hlinka, it likely won't change too much. Wolski-Arnason-Svatos have played well together so Hlinka may just slide in with Brunette and Hejduk and Hensick will then take Hlinka's place on the fourth line.

To me that seems easiest but you never know. The game could open up with Hlinka centering a line with Scott Parker and Johnny Boychuk.

The Goaltending
Jose Theodore gets his 7th straight start tonight as Joel Quenneville has shown no signs of wavering lately. And with a goaltender coming off a 30+ save shutout with a couple days rest in between it would seem a no-brainer that he'd get the start again.

Patrick Lalime will be manning the pipes at the other end as Chicago is having some troubles from their mutli-million dollar goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin. On a 0-6-1 run, it's a situation that I'm sure all Avalanche fans can sympathize with.

The Opponent
The Blackhawks are on a terrible downward spiral going 2-6-2 in their last 10, falling to 14th in the Western Conference.

They recently picked up Craig Adams from the Carolina Hurricanes to inject some veteran presence into a young squad. They also signed Patrick Sharp, their leading goal scorer, to a 4-year extension as he's having a banner season with 22 goals in 44 games. That's 2 more than the career high 20 he put up last season.

And speaking of youth, 19-year old Patrick Kane leads the team in points with 43 as he defies critics who thought he was too small to play at the pro level. At just 163 pounds, it's not hard to see why that was the consensus. I'm curious to see what his second season will be like once teams really start keying in on him.

Related Links Preview
Injured Sauer Receives Some Good News
Theodore piping hot at good time
Hensick in Avs Spotlight
Jose left as Avs peter out (anybody else find this to be a weird title?)
Third Man In Preview (Hawks blog)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Paul Stastny Out 2-3 Weeks

Sweet mother of pearl, what have the Avalanche done to deserve this?

With Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth already out with injuries, Paul Stastny has joined them after having his appendix removed this afternoon.

I'm a bit shell-shocked at the moment and don't have much more to say other than "Son of a *!*&#"

Related Links Report

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Avalanche Bottle Up Lightning

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
The Avalanche their first shutout of the season in a game that almost put me to sleep. I thought this game would possibly have some high-flying action from both sides but scoring chances were few and far between tonight.

Both teams put up a decent amount of shots, particularly Tampa in the final period, but there was no real zip to this game. No punch. No pizzazz. No "Je ne sais quoi." They just couldn't pull me in and get me excited.

The game got off to a bang as Cody McLeod tangled with Kyle Wanvig followed up seconds later with Ian Laperriere facing off against Shane O'Brien. After the wrestling match where O'Brien landed one punch, he did the ol' gunslinger bit made famous by Tie Domi.

Psst, Mr. O'Brien, you landed one punch against a middleweight fighter. You didn't exactly take down Bob Probert or anything.

Paint Drying
The next note I wrote down was "BORING" followed by "Why did they change lines to get Arnason on vs Lecavalier?" Yes, it was that exciting.

The Avalanche broke through in the second with a couple power play goals. In a shocking twist, running counter to all known laws of the universe, both goals were the results of shots from the point. I'm mind is boggled. First Jeff Finger blasts one right past Ramo and then Stastny banged home a rebound off a Brett Clark shot.

I wonder if they should maybe take shots from the point more often? I mean, I know it seems crazy but it appears to work for some bizarre reason so they might as well stick with it.

Milan Hejduk sealed it with an empty netter late in the third and then the most exciting part of the game started.

"Will he get the shutout?" became the name of the game. You could see it in the way the Avalanche players defended their own zone. Very tentative to make sure they didn't make a mistake, no trying to rush out of the zone risking giving up an odd-man rush.

It all worked out in the end as, even with the Lightning peppering him for 22 shots in the final frame, Jose Theodore got the Avalanche their first shutout of the season and his first since February of 2004. That's a long time to go without a goose egg!


Not much different this game other than Brunette starting on the top line rather than ending the game on it. Hlinka was again stuck on the 4th line with Parker and McLeod but he had shifts with other linemates throughout the game.

- Cody McLeod had Jan Hlavac lined up for a punishing hit but Hlavac fell and McLeod let up (were you watching Mr. Clark?)
- Tortorrella burned his timeout late in the 1st as he was obviously unimpressed with Tampa's efforts
- was it just me or did it seem like nobody - players and fans alike - cared about this game?
- the Flames and Canucks lost tonight with Edmonton likely to go down to the Kings
- and the Wings got smoked 5-1 by Atlanta
- in Detroit

Related Links Recap
Denver Post Recap
In the Cheap Seats Recap
Jibblescribbits Recap
Bolts Blog Recap

Gameday: Avalanche @ Lightning

It's another clash of elemental forces as the Avalanche slide into Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. This will conclude the Avalanche's 5-game road trip which included 4 games against Southeast division opponents.

The Avalanche are sitting at .500 on this trip and a win tonight would vault this into their most successful road campaign of the season. It would also be their first 3-game winning streak on the road. Dare we dream?

Starting Goaltender
Jose Theodore gets the start in net tonight coming off a couple less than stellar performances against the Hurricanes and Panthers. Is he starting to solidify himself as the starter in Colorado?

Adrian Dater thinks that's the case but does mention Q's proclivities at changing goaltenders on a whim. There is also the possibility that his recent rash of starts is to showcase him for a possible trade.

It doesn't necessarily mean that a trade is in place, but it could be a precursor to trying to ship him out rather than just letting him walk at the end of the season.

Theodore's Contract
And speaking of letting Theodore walk, in Dater's recent All Things Avs post, he raised the question of whether Jose Theodore should be re-signed at the end of the season.

Well, unless it's a 1-year contract for less than $1M, then I hope not. I wish Theodore all the best but he's brought nothing to the Avalanche in his tenure here and it's time to move on.
EDIT: Of course if he were to lead the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup, I'd consider going as high as $1.5M.

Of course, the Avalanche would then need to secure another goaltender to compliment - or even supplant - Peter Budaj. But that's for another day. Tonight, there's hockey to be played!

The puck drops at 7:38 ET and it should be a fun game to watch. Vinny L is always a treat and the freshly awakened Avalanche offense should be able to blast the Lightning for at least 3 goals.

Related Links
Theodore starting to put stamp on net
Forsberg to attempt return in February?
Healthy Svatos a goal-scoring machine

Monday, January 14, 2008

Coach Q Doesn't like Parker Penalty

Adrian Dater has an article up where Joel Quenneville commented on the bad timing of Scott Parker's penalty against Florida last night. There was only 10:27 left in the game and the Avalanche were up by 1. Of course Olli Jokinen scored to the tie the game and send it - eventually - to a shootout which the Avalanche thankfully won.

Now, granted that it was a tough time to take a penalty, the question that stands out in my mind is "Why was Parker even on the ice?" The guy plays 5 minutes or less per game and it should be at the outset to set a physical tone and then a bit more midway through to ensure the other team remembers he's still there waiting...watching...

I'm not going to start debating whether Parker is necessary for this team but he's certainly not necessary when nursing a one goal lead midway through the third period.

Related Links
Parker Penalty Doesn't Quite Please Coach Q

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Avalanche Earn Second Straight Road Win

It was the 2nd game in less than 24 hours for both the Panthers and Avalanche but you wouldn't know it by the energy these teams brought this afternoon.

The Avalanche came away with a 4-3 shootout win after leading on 3 separate occasions in the game to gather their second straight road win in as many days.

It felt a bit like Carolina except in reverse. The Avalanche got ahead and though the Panthers were able to draw even each time, they were never able to leap ahead. Milan Hejduk's wrister in the shootout was then all that was needed to grab the extra point.

Marek Svatos continued his goal scoring ways as his 11th goal over the last 14 games tonight. It was another rebound he pounced on in the low slot. It should go to show everyone out there that good things happen when you go to the net. Of course the quick hands are beneficial as well.

Andrew Brunette may not have those quick hands but he certainly understands the concept of driving the net. He got his 7th and 8th of the season tonight and both were the result of some good hard work. On his first he basically outmuscled the Panthers D on a wraparound and then buried his own rebound. He then cleaned up some garbage in front of the net in a very Svatos-like way.

Yes, Svatos is my new man crush at the moment. What of it?

Along with all the goals tonight, there was a flurry of fights to go with them. They all happened in the first 13 minutes of the first period. I guess since nobody got their afternoon nap they were all a bit extra surly.

Cody McLeod started things off with Nathan Horton - yes Nathan Horton - in a contest that I'd give to Horton. Not too long after Ian Laperriere and Steve Montador then went at it in a wrestling contest with no real winner. And to round out the fight card, Brett Clark went at it with Olli Jokinen. Yes, Clark vs Jokinen. I think they were as surprised as we were.

Theodore was the surprise start as was Tomas Vokoun at the other end. Both had started the night before and everyone expected to see Budaj vs Anderson. The coaches decided to screw with everyone's mind and we had another right-hand catching showdown.

This was no showdown ala the Theo-DiPietro one though. Theodore gave up 3 goals, all of which I'd really like to see him stop. The Jokinen goal on the PP was another well-placed shot low-blocker but Theodore wasn't out challenging enough. The David Booth goal was another that went in under his armpit. Gotta tighten things up in that butterfly.

Will we see Theodore get his fifth straight start when the Avalanche visit the Lightning on Tuesday? I guarantee that at this point, not even Q knows that answer to that one.


Nothing too crazy here though the 3rd and 4th lines were shuffled around a bit as the game went on. Hlinka had some shifts centering McCormick and Laperriere while Stastny was sometimes double-shifted with Hlinka and Brunette.

I had a hard time following the lines too closely as I had to fend for myself this weekend and cooking is very time consuming. Especially when you burn things by say...paying attention to a hockey game instead of the food.

Related Links Recap
In the Cheap Seats Game Notes

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Avalanche Snowball Canes in Third Period

(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
Well I'm not going to lie to you. I wrote the Avalanche off as dead in the water after the second period tonight.

I had started fast-forwarding through the third period when all of a sudden the Avalanche got a goal. Then another. And another!

By the time the dust cleared the Avalanche had come back from a 4-2 deficit to win 5-4 on the back of two big goals by Marek Svatos.

Fire then Ice
The game started off with some spunk as both Scott Parker and Cody McCormick dropped the gloves. Parker fought Tim Conboy in what was apparently Conboy's first NHL shift. Welcome to the big leagues Mr. Conboy. Then McCormick and Commodore squared off and ended up just wrestling each other into the boards.

However after dominating play early, the Avalanche gave up the first two goals. Erik Cole started it off by blowing past Liles and Theodore with what was apparently deceptive speed. I could see how fast he was going. Then Keith Aucoin stepped into one and blew it right through Theodore's glove. At least it seemed to go through his glove and Theo gave it a long look after so I'm going to blame it on equipment.

Early in the 2nd the teams traded goals as Milan Hejduk broke out of his slump and then Chad LaRose answered right back as he banged home a rebound off a shot that Theodore really should have stopped.

Hopes were then buoyed again as Paul Stastny was able to get past his slump as well as he banged home a rebound off a shot from Jaroslav Hlinka. But in what seemed like a vicious, never-ending circle, the Canes regained their two goal lead as Cory Stillman flew down the wing and blasted a shot home. I'd like Theodore to stop that but it was a really well placed shot on the low blocker side.

The Comeback Trail
The Avalanche then started their comeback just after the 10 minute mark of the third period. Cody McLeod started things off as he got Ward to look one way and then wrapped the puck around on the other side. McLeod has definitely been an unexpected spark for this team.

Then the Avalanche's new Mr. Clutch went to work. Marek Svatos tied the game as grabbed a loose puck in the slot and ripped it past Ward who was excellent all night long. And it was at that point that I said "Please at least get one point." The thought of them winning in regulation didn't cross my mind. Losing? Yes, that crossed my mind.

Then Svatos made me wake up the the neighbours as he got his second of the night and 5th game-winner of the season. Arnason, Wolski and Svatos broke in three wide, Wolski fed it to Arnason who got a shot off and then Svatos did what he does best as he cleaned up the garbage left in front by Cam Ward.

This was unarguably the biggest win of the season for the Avalanche and hopefully they can really pick things up from here. Unfortunately they play an afternoon game tomorrow against Florida who also played tonight so it could be a snoozefest.

So in the end, it was a good night. We went 2-o in volleyball, the Avalanche posted a 5-4 come from behind win and the Thrashers beat the Penguins in a shootout. I usually don't care about the Pens but riding a winning streak like they were, I decided to bet that streak would end at some point. With my huge haul I'll be upgrading from a medium Tim Horton's to a large one tomorrow. Score!


A little shake up again as Cody McLeod gets bumped all the way to the top line. The thinking likely being that he'll create some space and energy for that line. If that was the thinking then I think Q can tag a Misson Accomplished banner to it.

Tyler Arnason found himself centering the second line as Jaroslav Hlinka got demoted to the fourth. At first I was a bit upset as Hlinka has played so well with Marek Svatos. However Arnason shut me up as he put in a solid effort and came away with assists on the final two goals.

Scott Parker was in the lineup tonight as Q decided to actually have forwards play forward and defensemen play defense. It's a bold strategy but I think it worked out.

Related Links Event Summary Recap
Lord Stanley's Blog Recap

Gameday: Avalanche @ Hurricanes

It's a meeting of elemental forces tonight as the Avalanche crash into the eye of the storm in Carolina. Too cheesy? Sorry.

The Avalanche and Hurricanes are alike in more ways than their names imply. Both teams have been decimated by injuries and are icing lineups without some key players.

The Avalanche of course are missing Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth up front and, to a lesser extent, are missing Kurt Sauer on the back end. Tyler Arnason finally made his return to much indifference against the Capitals so the IR list is shrinking.

The Hurricanes are missing some top scorers of their own in Ray Whitney, Justin Williams and Matt Cullen. Brett Hedican and David Tanabe are absent on the backend as well.

After 3 straight solid performances from Jose Theodore, Joel Quenneville has decided to stick with him as Theodore gets his fourth straight start.

The team nows they're squandering good performances from Jose and Andrew Brunette feels it's only a matter of time before the offense breaks out of their dry spell.

From the Rocky Mountain News:
"He's played great for three games and the last two, we got nothing," forward Andrew Brunette said. "We're just not scoring. If you don't score, you're not going to win. We're all responsible for being better offensively. We're just hitting a dry spell here."

And what of the offense? Well, the only offense to speak of has come from Marek Svatos who has 4 goals in his last 4 games and now leads the team with 17 goals and is on pace for a 30 goal season.

Who knew he'd start scoring once he was playing with some teammates who can feed him the puck? Not too delve too much into Svatos issues but he's certainly been stifled by the depth of offensive talent the Avalanche had for the last two seasons. It's good to see him break free from that even though it's at the expense of some key players.

Puck Drop
The puck drops at 7:08 ET and at about that time, I'll be stuffing some sucker in our first volleyball game of the new year.

So a recap may not be up until tomorrow morning as I won't be back home until around 10:30 ET.

Related Links
Rocky Mountain News Avalanche Report
Canes Country Preview
TSN Gameday
Svatos Sparking Avalanche

Friday, January 11, 2008

Calgary Flames Announcers Hit New Low

I've never been a big fan of Roger Millions and Charlie Simmer as announcers. Not because I'm an Avalanche fan but because I find them to be terribly biased and annoying.

However all announcers are biased towards their home teams to a degree and most are annoying as well so I try to just shrug them off.

Tonight though, I felt more like flipping them off. The Flames were hosting the Islanders and tied at 4 with a few minutes left, I decided to tune in. What I ended up seeing was ridiculous.

Midway through a 4-minute powerplay, the Flames called a timeout and the folks in the booth decided to show the Bumper to Bumper "Bump of the Night". Now of course I'm expecting to see a hit from Phaneuf so everybody can swoon over big bad Dion.

Not this time. It turns out that the bump of the night had Cory Sarich boarding Mike Comrie head first into the boards. Comrie was slow to get up and it was obvious that it should have been a penalty.

Now, to their credit the announcers weren't too amped up about the hit and one of them even grudgingly admitted that "They might have had a penalty call on that". Of course, he finished that sentence with "But there wasn't" just to drive home that no penalty = no foul.

Then, as I was waiting for my lame video capture to be uploaded to YouTube for the world to see, I watched the rest of the game including the post-game show. And do you know who they called arrogant? Rick DiPietro.

I couldn't believe my ears. Now I haven't seen every single interview Rick's ever given but in any interview I've seen he's about as down to earth and humble as it gets. Every post-game he's thanking the fans for making it such a great game and just seems like an all around decent guy.

Considering he's a handsome multi-millionaire living in New York City, I think he could be a lot worse.

Guess Who's Going to the All-Star Game

Back in my home town there was a big sign with a photo of a gap-toothed hockey player with a caption below it which said "Guess who ain't going to the Stanley Cup?"

It was a sign for the local beer league hockey team, the Benos, and I always felt like that sign defined our little hockey rink for whatever reason.

Why does that matter whatsoever to the Colorado Avalanche? Well, this team has their own gap-toothed leader and if they put a picture of him up at the rink, the caption below him would read "Guess who is going to the All-Star game!"

That's right, despite entering a brutal slump over the last dozen games, Paul Stastny will be skating alongside the league's best in Atlanta on January 27th.

Names such as Joe Thornton, Niklas Lidstrom and Sergei Zubov will be Paul Stastny's teammates for one night. It's even a possibility that he could skate on a line with a couple arch-rival *cough, cough* Red Wings in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk at some point.

So after being snubbed in the YoungStars game last year, he's getting his due this year and it's well deserved.

Despite only having 5 points in his last 14 games, he's still averaging a point per game as he puts in over 20 minutes of ice-time each night including time on both the powerplay and penalty kill.

He may be stretched thin with the absence of Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth but it's amazing how complete a player he is at such a young age.

Related Links
Stastny Follows in Father's Skates
Western Conference All-Star Roster
Eastern Conference All-Star Roster
T.J. Hensick Earns AHL All-Star Nod

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Avalanche Wake Up Too Late Against Capitals

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
That is if they even woke up at all. This was obviously a tired team playing back-to-back games on the road. No matter how conditioned these athletes are, they're still human.

Of course, that's never an excuse for a poor showing but it does help ease the blow of nearly getting shutout for a second straight game.

And boy was it close. Just 3:21 left before Marek Svatos scored a beauty off a 2-on-1 with Wojtek Wolski to break the shutout bid.

Unfortunately, just 38 seconds before that the Caps had got their second of the night on a 2-on-1 of their own. David Steckel got credit for the goal but it was actually Kyle Cumiskey - the man who created the 2-on-1 - who deflected the goal into his own net past a sliding Theodore.

Sluggish Skaters
The Avalanche looked very sluggish and it obviously got more noticeable as the game went on. The first goal was scored mere seconds after Glen Healey showed a clip of Marek Svatos dogging it on an offensive rush. Sure, there were a few players still giving hell every shift - both named Cody - but for the most part everyone felt a step slow. Cuthbert kept saying the Avalanche were in a "defensive shell" but they just didn't have the energy for offense it seemed.

Theo and the D
The defense and Theodore did a commendable job for the second straight game as they were able to shut down the trio of Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom. Jordan Leopold played particularly well on D. He did a good job of getting body position and separating players from the puck along the wall.

Theodore made just 21 saves but there were quite a few quality saves to keep the Avalanche in it. In fact I just caught one on the SportsCenter Honour Roll. He's looking more comfortable in net than I can recall in a while.

That confidence might end quickly though if Q decides to switch back to Budaj for the next game. After all, it's been one loss more than he usually waits to swap 'tenders.

Honestly though, it's a tough call as Theodore is playing great hockey but he's not getting any wins. The W is the most important stat and it seems like the team has trouble getting it with Theodore in the net even when he's not giving up softies.

With a 2-day break before the next game, the odds are likely 75% in favor of Theodore starting. I'm taking bets if anyone wants in on it.


The lines were shifted up a bit today as Quenneville tried to spark the slumping Stastny and Hejduk. The duo was split up and Svatos moved up to skate with Stastny and Brunette while Hejduk moved down to play with Hlinka and Wolski.

Brunette looked completely out of place on the top line and Stastny and Svatos never really got any chemistry going. When Wolski and Svatos were on the ice together though, they tended to work well together.

Tyler Arnason skated on the fourth line with Cody McCormick and Kyle Cumiskey and I won't even dignify that line with any comments.

All-Star Game Shootout Contest
I caught this game on TSN - no Mcguire though thank goodness - and they broke the news that the All-Star game will feature a shootout contest. Which of course is exactly where the shootout belongs as Darren Dreger said. However Dreger had some rather dour news that he heard if players don't take this seriously (ie. no lacrosse style goals) the goaltenders union (there's a goaltenders union?) will complain.

Complain about what? It's the All-Star game you prima donna asses! The players absolutely should pull out moves that wouldn't be done during a regular game. This is for fun. It's for the fans. Hell, it's for the kids.

Those goals aren't going to count against your career stats so as I always say: relax, take a deep breath, down a Molson and chill the f' out.

- Wolski continues to be strong on the puck but he's not been as strong on the body as he was in the beginning of the season
- Jeff Finger broke up a sure goal on the first Caps PP as he continues to improve his play
- Bradley fought Finger after Finger "bailed on a play" by "moving out of the way of a player trying to hit him" (what, you're not allowed to move anymore?)
- Q was going with 2 D men on the point during the PP proving that he visits In the Cheap Seats
- Cody McCormick creates so much space on the ice due to his physical play
- Theo made a glove save at one point
- the Avs D got away with 3 notable no-calls (2 on Clark and one on Skrastins)
- the Capitals are much more physical than I expected
- could TSN be more enamored with Mike Green (yes, he's playing unreal but I don't need to be reminded each time he touches the puck)

Related Links Event Summary Recap
In the Cheap Seats Recap
Japer's Rink Recap
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Avalanche Lay a Goose Egg Against Wings

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
I tell ya, nothing hurts like a shutout. Ok, maybe a blowout but we'll pretend those never happen. The Avalanche put in a valiant effort tonight but just couldn't do enough against the defence and puck possession of the Detroit Red Wings.

And though the Avalanche-Wings rivalry is non-existent - no matter how hard some people try to keep it going - this was an extremely entertaining hockey game. It was fast-paced and hard hitting all night long and the only thing it lacked was a lot of scoring opportunities. Well, that and a few Avalanche goals I suppose.

The first period had a real good pace to it and the Wings got a few decent scoring chances but Theodore was up to the challenge. This period also set the tone for a few hostilities. Cody McCormick had a sequence where he gave Lidstrom a cross-check and then poked at Hasek after the whistle leading to about a dozen Wings players mobbing him. Of course Chelios was the one who mobbed him from behind and took a stupid penalty for his troubles.

The Wings had the best chance of the game in the second period. Theodore was down and out after over committing on the first shot - which he seems to do a lot - but Holmstrom must not have realized how out Theodore was as he fed a pass back that was easily broken up.

Cody McLeod and Kirk Maltby then had some words during a faceoff. Those two seemed to have a little animosity between them all night long.

The Wings got the first powerplay of the game and Versus took this as an opportunity to show us a special teams comparison. Of course they showed the Avs PP numbers and the Wings PK numbers. Thumbs up, guys!

This was also the PP that led to the game winning goal. With Theodore down after 2 separate blocked shots put him out of position, Tomas Holmstrom shoveled the puck to Pavel Datsyuk and he had nothing to look at but empty net.

The third period was a bit less exciting and unfortunately the Avalanche couldn't get in close enough to get anything past Hasek. Sure they fired off a whole 7 shots but half of them were light wristers from the perimeter.

But hey, there's no shame in being beaten by the best and the Avalanche still put up a valiant effort tonight. It's not a win but I feel it was a decent start to the roadtrip.

Oh, and the Versus feed was absolutely terrible tonight. All night long there was skips and freezes in the audio and video. Maybe it was just my provider having issues but even if that was the case, the quality of the video was still horrendous. They must be using cameras from 1965 over there.

All-Star Studs
The All-Star balloting is over and the results are in. The Wings had 3 players voted in to the All-Star games starting lineup and it's pretty obvious why. Lidstrom was a rock on the blue line again and Zetterberg and Datsyuk are dangerous at both ends of the ice. It amazes me how effortless those 3 make their respective positions look. The announcers mentioned how hard Datsyuk works in practice but it's hard to believe as he looks so natural out there.

The full results won't be announced until Thursday for reasons unknown so we won't know if any Avalanche players got voted in. Stastny better be in or there might be a riot.

Quick Hits
- Svatos laid out Cleary early in the 1st and then got flattened himself in the 2nd
- Wolski is using his body so much more effectively this year
- apparently Sakic is with the team on the roadtrip
- during the 4-on-4, the Avs looked so confused that they had all 4 players stacked on one side of the ice during a "rush"
- Hensick had a solid game tonight
- what's with all the wraparound attempts?
- Q fixed the tie dilemma but had a mismatched suit jacket (I watch a lot of What Not To Wear with the girlfriend)


Related Links Event Summary Recap
In the Cheap Seats Recap
Hensick Eagerly Awaiting Wings

Monday, January 7, 2008

Theodore to Start vs Wings

In the Monday Rink Report, it was announced that Jose Theodore gets the go-ahead vs the Wings tomorrow. Cause nothing says consistency like treating one goaltender like your #1 with 7 straight starts, then shelving him because the backup had one good game.

If I were a betting man, I might be placing a wager on the Wings as Theodore's back-to-back start stats are underwhelming to say the least.

But hey, he could prove us all wrong. Right?

UPDATE: Coach Q has stated that his plan for the rest of the trip — even for Wednesday night's game at Washington — is "up in the air."

Nothing like giving your goaltenders a heads up to get ready for a game, eh? We wouldn't want to have any sort of consistency to the most important role on the team, right? Jelly bean cinnamon bun air warmer, huh?

Yeah, that last sentence is about as silly as the way the goaltenders are handled on this team.

Do the 'tenders even know which of them is starting before warmups half the time?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Richardson Reassigned...Again

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, the Avalanche announced that Brad Richardson has been sent back down to Lake Erie.

And unfortunately it's not for a conditioning assignment or it would have been mentioned in the news release. So I guess he was sent down for underperforming.

It makes perfect sense too. The team is currently short on forwards so they send down a center and call up a defenseman.

I suppose since Arnason is about to come back it makes a forward expendable but what about T.J. Hensick? Or am I the only one unimpressed with Hensick's time with the big boys?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Avalanche Defeat the New York Dipietros

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
The first period was ok, the second was good, the third was awesome and OT was the icing on the cake. This game just got better as it went on and, contrary to what Marek Svatos said in his post-game comments, it was not a boring game by any stretch.

Sure it was a low scoring game but there were plenty of chances at both ends and more than enough action to keep fans entertained. Or maybe I'm just in a good mood after Canada pulled out a 4-peat at the WJHC today. Come on, you knew I'd sneak that in at some point.

The only reason it was a low scoring game was thanks to the heroics of Rick Dipietro. He certainly earned his money in this game as he stopped 37 of 39 shots, many of those being prime scoring opportunities. For now, the 15-year contract is looking like a solid investment. For now. Anyone want to do the math on how much money he made for each save tonight?

Jose Theodore had the start at the other end much to my surprise. But after giving up an early goal where he was slightly off the angle, he shut it down for the rest of the night, particularly in the third period. He even pulled off a Statue of Liberty glove save midway through the third to electrify the crowd.

The Avalanche forwards had a very different look today as recent call-up Johnny Boychuk and speed demon Kyle Cumiskey were playing on the wing today. That's right, the team called up a defenseman to play on the wing. Weird. They didn't get much ice-time but when they did they had solid shifts.

Wojtek Wolski was an absolute beast tonight as he seemed to have a magical connection between his stick and the puck. He started off centering a line with Cumiskey and Boychuck - yes, a left wing playing center - but was quickly moved to the top line with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. He not only fired off 4 shots in 20+ minutes of ice-time but his solid play with the puck directly contributed to the game winning goal.

And how about Marek Svatos scoring his team-leading 16th goal of the season. He also tied Wojtek Wolski for the team lead in game-winning goals with 4. Now that's the Marek Svatos we want and again it was an opportunistic goal. He had a dangle chance today and failed. He had an opportunistic chance and cashed in. Keep it simple, Marek. We love your goals no matter how pretty or ugly they look on SportsCentre.


- who bought Quenneville that tie for Christmas? Methinks it's a re-gifter candidate
- when (and why?) did Guite shave the Fu?
- I want Dipietro to go back to his old pads from 2 versions ago
- in Q's pre-game he mentioned that he hopes Theodore takes the goaltending reigns and goes on an extended run...and he didn't seem to be joking
- a disgruntled Isles fan gave Svatos a double-finger salute after scoring the winner

Related Links Recap
In the Cheap Seats Game Notes

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Prognosis "Oh wait, it *is* broken"

Hot on the heels of what is being called the worst loss of the season, the Avalanche received some fun news about Ryan Smyth.

After initially saying Smyth's ankle troubles were merely a bad sprain, the medical team did some more tests, including an MRI, and discovered that his ankle is actually broken.

Thanks for getting our hopes up again guys. Can there not be conclusive testing done before announcing anything? We had the same stuff with Sakic and Sauer already this year.

Or maybe if your last name starts with "S" it's harder to diagnose properly.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Smyth Awaiting Prognosis on Ankle

Holy hannabel! I didn't catch this while watching the game but saw a link from Kukla's Korner while doing my morning duties. Apparently Ryan Smyth injured his ankle and needed assistance from teammates to make it to the dressing room. Early indications are not good at this time.

If this team loses Sakic and Smyth, that's a huge blow as I'm sure everyone is aware. Keep your fingers crossed people.

As Paul points out, if Smyth is out for a length of time, it could force Giguere to make a move

Avalanche Muster Up Lackluster Effort Against Coyotes

(AP Photo/Roy Dabner)
It felt like the L.A. game all over again. Well, the parts of it I was able to watch while getting ready to head out for New Years Eve.

The Avalanche got on the board first after Andrew Brunette set up Wojtek Wolski with a nice pass and Wolski beat Bryzgalov with an even better shot. The first period didn't look too bad for the Avs on a whole and I was pretty comfortable with the game at that point.

Then the second period, the Avs best period this year statistically, reared its ugly head. The Coyotes scored two goals in a span of 11 seconds to take the lead. Radim Vrbata and Steven Reinprecht were the goal scorers as they exacted vengeance on their former club.

Vrbata then added one more on a beauty feed from Peter Mueller. He took a hard pass and, rather than one-timing it, waited for a defenseman to provide a screen and wired it past Budaj for a 3-1 lead.

To their credit though the Avalanche did battle back. Brett Clark made it a 3-2 game before the second period was out as he converted on a super fake shot/slap-pass from Ian Laperriere. Then late in the third, Cody Mcleod got the equalizer off of a Vinny Lecavalier-style move from Ben Guite. Guite got the puck down low, banked it off the back of the net as he spun around the defender then, from his knees, fed a tape-to-tape (and mildly lucky) pass to Mcleod who roofed it.

However overtime settled nothing and it was off to a shootout and I wasn't feeling lucky. Budaj has been underwhelming in shootouts and tonight he got no goal support either as Wolski fanned on his shot and Svatos hit the post. Mueller and Vrbata both converted on their attempts to take the win.

Said Coach Q after the loss:
"We'll take the point," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're coming off two disappointing losses at home [to Detroit, Los Angeles] and down 3-1 in this one, getting the one point isn't too bad."

Good to know the team has lowered their standards so they can be less disappointed with losing to cellar dwelling teams.

As Dario, Jib and I were discussing in the comments of the Kings recao, it should now be interested (read: aggravating) to see who's in net against the Coyotes on Wednesday. Budaj had a mediocre outing tonight and SOP is to swap goalies out as punishment...err...incentive.

However at some point Q is going to have to end the goalie carousel as it proved fruitless last year. Even if Budaj is not as consistent as we'd like, I'd still prefer a 4 wins in a row followed by a loss rather than a win-loss-win-loss rotation.

And a round of thanks to the grinders on this team for being the players who continue to show up and play with passion and drive night after night. Ben, Cody, Ian and Cody, we salute you.

Related Links Event Summary
TSN Recap Recap