Avalanche vs Leafs, Game Preview - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Avalanche vs Leafs, Game Preview

The Colorado Avalanche (3-1-1) head to the ACC for part three of their seven part road trip to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (0-4-1) tonight at 7:30pm ET.

This season has been going better than most Avalanche fans expected and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting a win out of this game. I generally subscribe to the "the more things stay the same, the more likely they are to change" philosophy but I can't see the Leafs pulling it together after a blowout yesterday against the Rangers.

The opposition

The Leafs have yet to get one in the W column this season and I can't tell you how funny I find that. After Brian Burke was once again fellated by the media - or was that just TSN? - for his off-season signings and "toughening up" of the team, it appears the "Genius at work" sign outside Burke's office might need to be taken down.

It's all well and good to build a team that's tough to play against, but there's tough to play against and there's annoying to play against. The Leafs are simply an annoyance at the moment. The only credible threat they display is violence and it's frankly not all that credible.

They're like the bully who picks on people because they suck at everything else in life. It's not scary, it's just sad.

Backup duel?

Most people are expecting to see Peter Budaj's first appearance for the 09/10 season tonight and it would make sense. Back-to-back games heading into a weaker opponent is generally the equation for when to bring a backup in. But given how early it is in the season, Anderson getting the nod wouldn't be terribly shocking or anything to stir significant analysis.

On the Leafs side, they'll be starting Joey Macdonald after prize signing, Jonas Gustavsson, headed onto the IR and prized whipping boy, Vesa Toskala, taking the "do what he does" advice from goaltending coach Francoise Allaire to heart, ended up injuring himself as well.

But don't get too cocky as Joey Mac is the guy that helped hold the Islanders together after Rick Dipietro hurt himself...again. His stats belie the performances he put in with that squad last year.

David Jones returns, and it was good

David Jones made his return yesterday afternoon against the Bruins and Chris Stewart was the odd man out. It was a good, albeit obvious call, by coach Joe Sacco. Jones rewarded the move with a shorthanded goal plus an assist. That should easily put him on a pace to eclipse that 30-goal mark, eh?

Chris Stewart struggles

I'm not sure what is causing Stewart's early struggles but Sacco has a good comment in the latest DP column:
"We're OK; we'll work with him. He's a young player, and he kind of needs to find his niche again on our team. He'll be fine. We'll get him back in the lineup soon."

That's exactly the sort of comment a young player needs to hear. It's not heaped all on him to get better, the coaching staff is taking on the challenge as well. Who knew you couldn't just say "He needs to find his game" and hope it would magically get better?

Is tonight the night?

I think it's time for Matt Duchene to get his first goal and I think tonight is the night. The conditions are ripe for the picking and hopefully Duchene can get that monkey off his back. Hopefully I don't pull something when it happens.


I can't see the lineup changing from last game. With Jones' display and the need for David Koci in the lineup, it would be hard to find a slot for Hensick or Stewart to slide in. Another big body like Stewart would be nice but his less-than-inspired play leaves me thinking he would subtract more than he would add.

And if anyone suggests pulling Marek Svatos out, well it's pretty tough to do that when he's scoring goals. He's not gelling with Matt Duchene well and that's unfortunate - as is thinking Darcy Tucker would work better on his LW - but there are other options to deal with that issue.

Ryan Wilson was called up due to Ruslan Salei being placed on the IR but I'm not holding my breath to see him in action. If he were to slot in for anyone, it would most likely be Brett Clark, though that would leave an under-experienced 3rd pairing of Kyle Cumiskey and Wilson, or the unnecessary shifting of Foote or Liles "down" to the 3rd line.

Game time

The puck drops at 7:38pm ET and there is a bit of confusion on where to watch the game. It's listed as being on RIS and Leafs TV but there is no mention of an Altitude feed. "Center Ice to the rescue!", right? Apparently not as nobody can find it in their listings. I see it in ExpressVu's listings down here on the farm but if anybody figures out what's happening on the US side, I'd be interested to hear it.

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