Thursday, March 13, 2008

Avalanche Atop the Northwest Division

With a 5-1 victory over the Oilers, the Avalanche moved atop the Northwest division tonight. Of course the Thrashers defeating the Flames after being down 3-0 helped. Oh, and New Jersey beat Minnesota in a shootout. And just for kicks, it looks like Phoenix is going to crunch the Canucks.

Seriously, the Avalanche have recently pleased the hockey gods as last night and tonight could not have gone any better for this team.

Is anyone missing a goat?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Steve Ott Suspended for Three Games

This is indirectly related to the Avalanche and it bothers me a bit so before I go to bed...Steve Ott just got suspended for 3 games for a hit in which he left his feet slightly. The hit violated the letter of the rulebook and caused a player to sit out with a head injury. So fair enough, you need to teach the players to be accountable, especially when it comes to head hits. But what about all the other game where a player leaves his feet to finish a check or drives an elbow into an opponents grill? I've seen worse hits this year that ended up being the highlight of the night rather than a suspendable offense.

I'm all for cracking down on head hits. Intentional or unintentional, they need to be severely limited. If unintentional high-sticks are called, why not unintentional concussion-makers? The whole "He's 6'7 while he's 5'9" arguments are about all most people can come up with when defending the idea of not implementing new rules to protect players brains. And that's what any new rule targeting head hits would do. It would protect players brains. Is there really need to debate whether a rule preventing people's brains from being scrambled is a good idea?

But of course there's the macho-tough guy-warrior mentality that pervades all sports - and which I have a partial subscription to. I've played plenty of sports with various injuries ranging from torn tendons to twisted ribs and probably a hangnail or two. But if I ever took a wallop to the head, I made damn sure to give my brain ample time to recover. Surgeons can fix almost anything but if you scramble your brain, it's very tough to fix the signal.

So I'm fine with suspending Ott although 3 games for a first-timer is a bit excessive. But why can't the NHL implement consistent standards on disciplinary action? It can't be as hard as they make it seem. Is each incident viewed in a vacuum and not as part of a grander picture? Does Campbell really have a rotating dartboard that he blindly tosses darts at to determine suspension length?

Avalanche Steamroll Thrashers

(AP Photo/Gregory Smith)
You've got to beat the teams you're supposed to beat and the Avalanche did just that tonight with a 5-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers. The win moves the Avalanche into 2nd place in the Northwest and 6th in the Western Conference with just under a dozen games left to play.

Thar be the goals
Adrian Dater posted in his blog that it was about time David Jones started scoring if he wanted to solidify his spot. Well Jones had the same idea as tonight he was the #1 star with 1 goal and 2 assists. His goal was a pretty play as he circled the net and left the puck for Joe Sakic who then fed it back to Jones who had cut to the front of the net. He also had the lone assist on the first two Avalanche goals and had just one heck of a game.

Wolski Out, Parker In...then out
Wojtek Wolski was a healthy scratch tonight as he apparently continues to not get the message Q is trying to send him. He wasn't great in the Dallas game but nobody was so I'm not sure why Wolski warranted the benching in favor of Scott Parker.

Parker left the game in the first period with what looked to be a leg injury. I guess his first name starts with S so it shouldn't be entirely unexpected. Once the curse ran out of last names to target, it jumped up to the first names. So walk on eggshells, Hannan.

Foote In...then out
Adam Foote only played for the first half of the first period and then never set foot on the ice. Not really sure what happened as I had the Thrashers feed and they didn't seem to mention it. Hopefully he didn't rush back in and bugger his hip up again.

And speaking of injuries, Jordan Leopold and Ruslan Salei sat out this game after their respective injuries in the Dallas game. Both received good news as Salei doesn't have a broken orbital bone and Leopold's head appears to be fine. It appears Leopold will undergo another test before being inserted into the lineup. Fine by me. Head injuries are not something to be trifled with no matter how tough people want to appear.

Oh, and Forsberg didn't play either which means he wasn't just tired, he's actually injured. Yeesh.

- I swear I heard the announcers claim Cumiskey was 6'4, 220 at one point
- I know I heard Iron Man playing during a stoppage and I gotta say...not much of a hockey song (as pertinent as the lyrics/theme may be)
- Cody McLeod appears to have reigned in his temper a bit lately
- Sakic finally fired home a wrister after what seemed like an eternity
- the PA announcer appears to clarify minor stoppages in play to the fans by announcing the reason for the stoppage (I caught this with high stick calls but didn't hear it on things like gloved passes)
- Carey Price got a 38 save shutout against the Devils including 20 saves in the first period alone (what? That's not pertinent information?)

Related Links Event Summary

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Avalanche Comeback Fizzles Stars

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
I got back from an all-day shinny tournament - B-side champions thank you very much - and sat right down and started watching the game. Who needs to shower, right? Actually, I planned on watching the first period then grabbing a shower but after I sat down...I really didn't have the energy to get up again.

Thankfully the Avalanche found their energy midway through the game and were able to come away with a 3-1 comeback win against the Dallas Stars. Make no bones about it, the Stars are a great hockey team and the Avalanche were able to perform a third period comeback on them. Sure, the second goal came shortly after a missed high-stick from Ruslan Salei on Mike Modano but who's counting?

Keep on truckin'
During the second intermission Jeff Finger was interviewed and said "We're not going to push, we'll just see what happens in the first 10 minutes" Well, two goals happened after just continuing to play their game; albeit with a little line juggling from Q.

Rubber match tomorrow
And you know what? I don't even have the energy to write a whole lot more. So I'll put up a few notes and bid you all adieu until tomorrow when the Avs look to sweep this home-and-home against the Stars.

- 6 in a row!
- Foote missed the game due to a hip injury (it doesn't sound severe at the moment)
- Leopold was in and looked a tad rusty
- McCormick is back from his chest injury
- Liles played his 300th game tonight
- Forbserg played his 700th
- does anyone create more space with the puck than Forsberg?
- Finger crunched Morrow into the bench divider ala the Smyth hit but was playing again a few minutes later
- how about Bruno's quick hands on the game winner
- Forsberg got his first and second points tonight
- Theodore played stellar again and Turco was flat out superb
- now I'm wondering if stellar is better than superb or vice-versa
- I was wondering why Richards wears #91 now and it's because Bill Masterton wore #19 with the North Stars and his jersey has obviously been retired
- I wonder if my uncle is going to read this post (he's a Stars fan)
- if you are reading this, Jim then I've got to say it..."Look at me!" (inside joke)

Related Links Event Summary Recap

Friday, March 7, 2008

Avalanche Shut Out Ducks for 5th Straight Win

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Wins don't come a whole lot more satisfying than the Avalanche's 1-0 shutout of the defending champs, the Anaheim Ducks. I'm not sure why the "defending champs" line has to be repeated every couple sentences but that might just be the chucklehead in me coming out.

The Avalanche played a solid game from start to finish including some superb goaltending from Jose Theodore, some solid defense from the whole squad and a lone goal coming from Wojtek Wolski. The main reason Wolski is back in the lineup is the injuries to Ryan Smyth and Marek Svatos so it's good to see him get a bit of the monkey off his back.

Jeff Finger returned to the lineup last night and Jordan Leopold found himself watching from the press box. Some people were curious why Leopold was out rather than Sauer but Sauer answered that question with solid, phsyical play last night against a big and tough Ducks team.

Davey Jones Locker'
Seriously, his name is David (Davey Jones) and he's actually got a locker. How cool is that? Ok, yeah, it's not that cool. However the play of Davey Jones has been extremely solid of late. He had a couple games where he was playing on a line with Joe Sakic and that really seemed to break him out of his shell.

His first couple games with the club he was a bit tentative and you could tell he was really trying to prove himself. But after playing wing with Sakic, he appears to have settled down and is worrying about the game, not about whether he'll be back in Cleveland tomorrow.

He's solid, he's got wheels and he appears to have some decent hands. He better not be fooling us all because I'm starting to expect big things from him a couple years down the line.

Hyperbole and Hijinx
I don't mind Haynes and McNab as an announcing duo but I do wish they wouldn't sugarcoat everything. Last night Peter McNab declared that Peter Forsberg's return against the Canucks "Could not have been a bigger success." Well...he could have scored a goal. Or two. Or three. That would have been a bigger success. As it was, his return was very good but to claim it couldn't have been better is just blowing smoke up people's you-know-what.

And it appears that the duo wasn't communicating well during breaks last night because it wasn't until the dying minutes of the third period that Haynes finally called #39 on the Ducks as Doug Weight rather than Sami Kapanen. McNab had to have caught that slip up on one of the dozen times Haynes made it so why didn't he give him a quick shout during a tv timeout or intermission?


- Theodore made great point blank saves on both Perry and Getzlaf which I felt was a nice statement after all the hype those two (deservedly) got
- who told Liles that shooting from the point on the PP is ok? (it's about time!)
- the Avs didn't back down from the Ducks physical game and having Finger around certainly helped
- what was with Hejduk going offside so much?
- Jonas Hiller played a great game

Related Links
In the Cheap Seats Recap
Denver Post Recap
RMN Recap
Ducks Run Amok

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Avalanche Topple Canucks in Forsberg's Return

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Avalanche moved up to 3rd place in the Northwest division following their 2-1 win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks. But more importantly in a lot of people's minds was the return of Peter Forsberg.

Since signing with the Avalanche the day before the trade deadline, fans have been eagerly anticipating seeing Foppa in an Avalanche jersey. And no, practice jersey's don't count.

Forsberg's Return
The anticipation was thick in the air as the game began and almost all cameras were zeroed in on Peter as he sat on the bench to start the game. The fans didn't have to wait long to see him on the ice as 28 seconds in the game, Peter "Foppa" Forsberg set his skates on the Avalanche ice surface in a game for the Colorado Avalanche for the first time since the lockout.

The second he stood up to hop over the bench, the fans were rising to their feet in appreciation and adulation. It was the sort of display that many opposing teams fans will snicker at but had 99.9% of Avalanche fans with ear-to-ear smiles on their faces. I know I did.

So how did Peter fare in the game? Well he certainly injected some energy into both Sakic and Hejduk, his linemates tonight. Both seemed to have an extra spring in their stride throughout most of the game and I'm sure Hejduk remembers better than anyone who his linemate was during his 50-goal season. Seeing that trio flying 3-wide across the blueline, it appears they all remember each other just fine.

I was a bit nervous at times, particularly when Forsberg was controlling the puck along the boards with his skate. The Canucks took that as a good opportunity to jab away at Forsberg's foot - and who can blame them. However he held his ground like the Forsberg of old and showed that he is still one of the strongest players on the puck in the NHL.

He also got into some physical battles and showed he still has that fire inside to compete and win. So it should be an interesting stretch run for this team, even absent Ryan Smyth and Marek Svatos.

Now hang on for a second while I clean up after slobbering over Forsberg for the last minute here...

Everything else
As for the rest of the game, well I have to hit the sack and I'm not sure if I'll be able to update this until later on in the afternoon so here's some quick notes:

- Liles finally netted another goal and on the PP no less
- Wojtek Wolski started the game strong but seemed to fade away midway through
- Tyler Arnason appeared to not care less that a hockey game was happening around him
- what a lame call on Jose Theodore for delay of game (there were Canucks all over him!)
- John Garret gave a stat of the Canucks being winless without a point from a Sedin but at that point Henrik had already assisted on the Canucks lone goal
- Theodore took a knee to the head from Matt Pettinger but stayed in the game
- Theodore played strong overall but kicked out some big rebounds off his chest
- Scott Parker has no idea what to do with the puck
- or the puck is so scared of Parker that it actively tries to escape him

Forsberg Will Play Tonight

The moment we've all been waiting for has arrived. Peter Forsberg has announced that he is ready to play against the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

Forsberg has been skating on a line with Sakic and Hejduk during practice and I can't see that changing. Forsberg and Hejduk were a dynamite combo and the trio obviously know each other very well.

I'm sure the injuries to Smyth and Svatos had absolutely nothing to do with this decision. Nothing.

Nonetheless, I'm stoked for the game tonight!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Updated - The S Curse Continues

Not this shit again
Note: This post has been updated after the recent announcement provided by the Avalanche. And kudos to them on doing a good job of doling out the information in appropriate chunks.

The Avalanche have announced that Marek Svatos is out for the rest of the season while Ryan Smyth is out indefinitely. After seeing both injuries, it's not much of a surprise. The Svatos injury was terribly awkward looking and the Smyth injury was just...brutal. I hope his family was not watching the game because that would have been terrible to see happen to your son/husband/etc.

AD had originally provided an analysis of what the "official" news means. To sum it up in one word...shit. He felt it was doubtful that either return for the rest of the season barring a long playoff run. Since then, Svatos' diagnosis is an ACL tear which puts him for the remainder of the season while Smyth can't return to practice until he is free of concussion symptoms. His shoulder is also partially separated but appears, at the moment, to be the least of his concerns.

I pray that Francois Giguere immediately provides some sort of offering to the hockey gods as it's quite apparent the organization has wronged them somehow.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Avalanche Crunch Kings 5-2

Or should I say Jack Johnson crunches Ryan Smyth. Preliminary reports have Smyth coherent and walking around before heading to the hospital for observation. It was a scary looking hit and I can't say I didn't want someone to hand Johnson his ass in a torn paper bag.

The Avalanche also lost Marek Svatos midway through the game as he took a push which sent him skidding awkwardly into the boards. The Avalanche scored on that play so that should help accelerate the healing process.

And that's all I have time to say as I'm off to bed to get some beauty sleep before I play at least 3 straight volleyball games tomorrow morning. If I'm not ridiculously exhausted, I might add to this tomorrow afternoon but don't hold your breath.