Thursday, February 26, 2009

Avalanche Shut Out by Devils, Lose 4-0

Welcome back, Marty. Hope you enjoyed the stay. If you need anything else, let us know. We are but your doormats.

Related Links
Avalanche-Devils Boxscore

Penguins Make Their Move

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired Chris Kunitz from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Ryan Whitney. The Pens also get a prospect, Chris Tangradi.

This will likely put a kybosh on the Milan Hejduk/Ryan Smyth to the Pens rumors.

Save us, Aquaman!

Adrian Dater puts out the word that the Wings are interested in Ian Laperriere as a deadline rental.

Sweet bejeebus, please don't trade him to the Wings. Unless, as jib suggests, we get a savior in return. And even then I'd still be a bit pissed.

AD asks: does that sound, Av-Ahaholics?
F'n terrible is how that sounds.

There's a time to be a cutthroat businessman and a time to cater to the fans. This is one of those times, FG. We got over the Brad May debacle but this would sting for quite some time.

If Stan Kroenke is worried about filling the arena - and he should be - trading away a fan favorite is the exact opposite of what management should be doing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don't forget the other half

I got a bit riled up the other day about the Ryan Smyth trade rumors and today I just want to add one more piece as to why I don't think Smyth is going anywhere.

Read this article from and tell me if you think Smyth wants to subject his family to a third change of address in as many years.

There's a reason players try and negotiate NTCs into their contracts.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Ryan Smyth Rumors Keep on Coming

The Ryan Smyth trade rumors abound and as the trade deadline gets closer, the rumors get farther from reality.

Today it's Bruce "Malkin to the Kings" Garrioch who states in no uncertain terms that the Colorado Avalanche are shopping Smyth.

He starts off with this now-classic refrain:

The Avalanche, buried at the bottom of the Western Conference, want to shed salary.
For all the people that claim the Avs want to shed salary, nobody has explained why. While Kroenke's real estate holdings may have taken a hit, Wal-Mart is still raking in cash so I can't see that Kroenke is caring too much about the ol' pocket book. And given that the Avs still have a relative abundance of cap space - they're losing a bit of dead weight at the end of the season and have no high-profile RFA's or UFA's looking for big raises - I can't see the problem there either.

He follows that up with:
...attendance is plummeting in a market that used to routinely sell out.
And shedding salary and getting rid of your best players will fill the seats? Give me a break.

He then lets us know that even though Smyth has stated that he's happy in Colorado: hindsight [he] probably should have stayed with the Oilers.
Because the Oilers have had nothing but success since Smyth left, right?

But all of the above seems brilliant compared to the gem he pops out of his ass here:
...the fans in Montreal would embrace his hard-charging style and the Avs won't want a lot in return.
The Avs won't want a lot in return? Do I even have to dignify that with a response? What in the blue hell would make Garrioch think that the Avs wouldn't want a lot in return for a player of Smyth's calibre?

It's complete and utter bullshit. The day I hear of Smyth going to the Habs for a 2nd-rounder is the day I head out to Ottawa and shine Garrioch's shoes.

The Avalanche will make some moves by the trade deadline, but Ryan Smyth will be staying in the Mile-High City.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Avalanche Crunch Caps, Win 4-1

Stick it to em, José.

Jose Theodore: Look at me!

AD teased us with an upcoming story where Theodore took the gloves off against his former team, the Colorado Avalanche.

But what came out was barely more dramatic than the bruhaha surrounding the Montreal Canadiens.

Theodore basically says: "I wanted more money so I went to the team that gave it."


"Look at the position I'm in now and where my game has been for the past two months. I think that pretty much speaks for itself," Theodore said.

Ok, I'll look. And since I'm lazy with stats, I'll just cherry pick the numbers that AD put in the article. He's posted a 2.78 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in his last 10 games. Impressive.

I wished Theodore the best when he left - and I still do - but let's be honest about the situation. If Theodore was playing behind this Avalanche squad, he'd be getting lit up like the Macy's Day Parade. Wait. That's held during the day. How about like Las Vegas. At night.

Because as Mike pointed out, if you think goaltending is the only problem with this team then you're on crack. Or something to that effect.

GM negotiating tactics
The only thing that worries me from this story is the way the negotiations went. I don't want to just blanket-trust Theodore's comments on how they went down but it sounds like Giguere is a pretty cold dude when it comes to discussions.

Discussions are a part of the business and Giguere needs to make sure he's not letting quality players walk simply due to treating them as numbers, not as players.

Game day
I'm not sure if I'll get to a game preview today but this was far too non-juicy to pass up.

One of the accounts & marketing folks from our company will be at the game and I asked him to pick me up some game schwag. Apparently Ovechkin's stick from the Caps SO win over the Habs went for $1125. I asked for a puck. They probably cost more.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Will Ryan Smyth be Traded by Colorado?


That is all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

John-Michael Liles Out Indefinitely

Frickity frack.

John Liles hurt his hand against the Red Wings and is now out indefinitely.

Foote comes back, Stastny slated to return, fans getting hopes up and then *BOOM*, we lose our supermodel and top defenseman.

At least it wasn't another snowblowing debacle.

And hey, at least Darcy Tucker won't be in the lineup tonight.


Tony Granato expects Liles back at the end of the upcoming six-game roadtrip. So we'll see him on the ice sometimes in December.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finally! Paul Stastny has come the Avalanche

Paul Stastny will join the Avalanche on their upcoming six-game road trip. And there'd be no reason to bring him along unless he was going to play in at least one of those games.

He skated for a full practice today and centered a line with Ryan Smyth on the left and T.J. Hensick on the right.

So The Duke will likely stick with Wolski and I wouldn't be surprised to see Chris Stewart on that line.

These line changes won't matter for tomorrow's game against the Ottawa Senators as Granato said Stastny is not scheduled to suit up.

But it will sure be nice to see Stastny back on the ice forming a 1-2 punch up the middle with Wolski.

Time to check out the future, folks.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Avalanche Take Season Series Against Red Wings, Win 6-5

Damn, that felt good!

The Avalanche took down the Winged Wheel by a score of 6-5 in a game that needed 5 shootout rounds to decide the winner.

For those counting, that's 3-0 against the Evil Empire this season. Yep, the team sitting last in the Western Conference was able to take down one of the best teams in the league three out of three times and has officially taken the season series regardless of what goes down on March 4th.

Ain't that just a kick in the pants?

Ian Laperriere scored just 16 seconds into the first period and Wings and Avs fans alike were shocked. If anyone would score first, you'd think it would be the Wings loaded offense against a 3.00+ GAA goaltender in Andrew Raycroft.

The remainder of the first period was fairly sloppy. Nearly as sloppy as Chris Osgood's puck handling abilities. The Avalanche killed off the first of their three 5-on-3 situations - conspiracy my ass, Wings fans - and headed in to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.

The second period opened with the Lappy line and once again, they didn't disappoint. They pushed the puck deep into the Wings zone and then Laperriere got in front of Osgood to help create havoc in front of him, allowing a Ruslan Salei point shot to find the twine.

2-0 and the feelings of "Is this real life?" were starting to kick in.

The question was quickly answered with four penalties, two 5-on-3 sequences and two Red Wings PP goals in the span of 2 1/2 minutes. Tack on a beauty Marian Hossa goal at 8:58 and real life was rearing its ugly head with a 3-2 Wings lead.

Then the third period started and everyone was thinking "It can't happen again." But happen it did. Andreas Lilja took a penalty just nine seconds into the period which ended at the 1:01 mark when Marek Svatos got a stick on a Wojtek Wolski shot to even things up at 3-3.

Marian Hossa put the Wings up 4-3, Ben Guite tied it up. Jiri Hudler put the Wings up 5-4, Milan Hejduk tied it up. Who would have thought the Avs would have the gumption to keep battling back against the Wings?

The Avalanche held off a late onslaught from the Wings to take it to OT. An OT which proved fairly uneventful so it was off to a shootout.

I won't detail all the shooters since it went five rounds, but suffice to say that Wolski is still money and when Leopold scored to end it, I leaped out of my chair with more joy than should be afforded to simply cheering for the winning team in a sporting event.

Tonight, I'm going to revel in the honeymoon phase of this win. Because when I wake up tomorrow, it will be to a bleak, uncertain future.



Random Thoughts
The Avalanche still get undisciplined when caught for an extended time in their own zone. The wingers leaving their d-men to go "help out" leaves a wide-open cycle game for the opposition.

The Hossa or Franzen question should be answered by now. If it has to be one, it has to be Hossa.

The Wings announcers were bemoaning the "bounces not going their way" early in the first period. I guess it's not just Granato. It's merely a common refrain from the losing team.

But hey, what can you expect from an announcing squad who sound like they're on downers all game long? Here's some gems:

"Probably a hold on Colorado." - Nope, Interference on the Wings.
"It's a 2-2 tie." - Nope, it was 3-2 at that point
"Wings have three games in hand on the Sharks." - Nope, Sharks have three in hand on the Wings.

Please, please, please let me have the Altidudes next game. At least they have energy and factual statements.

The conspiracy theories should be able to be put to bed after Mikael Samuellson jumped on Ben Guite, ground his face into the ice, then popped up scot-free to help create a screen on the 5-4 goal. If that one had stood up to be the winner, I would have been pissed. But I wouldn't have blamed Bettman.

But hey, Ruslan Salei got away with a high stick in the final minutes so...conspiracy back on!

Line of the night
Ian Laperriere, CodyMcCormick and Ben Guite were the line of the night tonight. Granato wisely opened the first two periods with that crew and they rewarded him both times with early goals.

Not content with just scoresheet contributions, they drew a penalty which led to the Avs third goal and were busting their asses all night.

If Giguere wants to trade Lappy, I won't be happy unless a first-rounder comes over to the Avs.

And I would guess Guite didn't appreciate being benched in favor of players like Darcy Tucker and Tyler Arnason. Hopefully he's shown Granato that he should stay in the lineup.

Goaltender of the night
No question here, Andrew Raycroft gets the nod with a 40-save performance. But it's not like Chris Osgood gave him any competition with his own 23-save performance.

I still find Andrew Raycroft overplays a lot of shots but who am I to complain when he gets the job done?

On conspiracies and injuries
You know what, I'll just let the headline speak for itself.

Related Links Event Summary
Avs beat Red Wings, again

Avalanche @ Red Wings Game Preview

So close.

The Avalanche took it to the Canadiens on Friday but with under five minutes remaining, the Avs did what they do best - give up a goal at the most inopportune moment.

The worst part? I knew it was coming. Literally seconds before the go-ahead goal was scored, I said "Colorado is notorious for giving up a late goal." And sure as hell, they make me look like a genius. So sad but it is the story of the season for this squad.

Odds are...
Today, they take on the Detroit Red Wings at a sold out (?!?!) Joe Louis Arena. What are the odds that the Avalanche can again take down their nemesis? The bookmakers have it at greater than 3-to-1 odds that the Avs will lose. Ouch. It's not often you see odds that high.

But can you blame them? There's obviously no way to know the outcome of a game for certain (that's why it's called gambling) but how can anyone truly believe the Avs will beat the Wings today?

Foote back
The Avs did get a spot of good news recently. Not only will Adam Foote be back in the lineup today but Paul Stastny has been spotted on the ice (in the Notes section). Too little, too late but it will still be nice to see Stastny back in the lineup.

Take it to the bank
There are two things to know for certain if the Avalanche come out ahead today: 1) the season is still over; 2) Red Wings fans will blame Gary Bettman.

Game time
The game is a mid-afternoon game, starting at 5:00pm ET, 3:00pm MT. I'll be getting the Altitude feed though since it's an away game, it won't be in hi-def.

Normally I'm ticked at not getting an HD feed but this time, I'm relieved. Why? Because I watched most of the Columbus-Detroit game Friday on the local feed and do you know who's whinier than Wings fans? Wings announcers.

Related Links
Avalanche-Red Wings Game Notes
Avalanche-Red Wings Game Preview

Friday, February 13, 2009

Avalanche vs Canadiens Game Preview

By now, you should all be aware that the season is over. I was under that impression since the beginning of February and the last three losses have really driven it home.

Regardless of that, the fact remains that there is a game tonight. And though a full-blown implosion would certainly drive the point home to the higher ups, I want the players to keep busting their asses to try and win hockey games. The ones that do will prove that they've got the balls to play in this league. The rest can go home.

Tonight the Avalanche face another slumping team in the Montreal Canadiens. And you know what's really awful about seeing the Canadiens in the dumps like this? They're just waiting to play against the right team who will let them turn things around. The Avalanche can be that team.

I'll be watching with very conflicting emotions tonight. I've got money on the Canadiens, will have a Habs fan sitting on my couch and will have an old school Avalanche jersey in the corner reminding me of my pride for the team. "Remember when we were a contender? Those were the days..." it says to me every time I look at it.

In fact, it got me thinking just now. The team has been mediocre at best since the arrival of their new jersey design. And though I'm not crazy enough to blame the jerseys for their woes, I don't like how I associate losing with those bloody sweaters. And now I just pissed off a whole lot of people by interchanging jersey and sweater.

Honestly though, when I look at my old jersey, I see "winner". Because that's what the team did while wearing them. I see no such thing when looking at the current jerseys. Thankfully they haven't tarnished the logo or yeti foot. Those will always be dear to my heart.

So to any Avalanche personnel reading this: once you figure out a strategy to revamp the team into a contender, let's also see a better jersey design come out to accompany that squad.

Because they'll deserve better.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Avalanche Shut Out by Blue Jackets, Lose 3-0

Season. Over.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Avalanche Schooled by Blues, Lose 4-1; Hejduk Fine

Is there still any debate on what the Avalanche should do at the deadline?

After a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, anybody who still thinks the Stanley Cup is a possibility is deluding themselves.

And if a Cup run is not on the table, then what the hell are the Avs aiming for?

Yes, Paul Stastny will be back soon. Yes, Joe Sakic will (hopefully) be back in a little over a month. Yes, Adam Foote should return.

But all the players in the world won't solve the lack of identity this squad has displayed night in and night out this season. If only Avs management had heeded Tapeleg's warning (scroll way, way down).

A "Cinderella run" is not in the cards for the Avalanche. I'd stake my house on that.

Hejduk in
The only good news to come out of that debacle is that Milan Hejduk did not break his jaw. He practiced today and will be back in the lineup for Tuesday's game against Columbus.

Foote out
Adam Foote won't be in the lineup which will piss off all the Columbus fans, no doubt. I understand the anger to a point and wish Foote would just play - or at least take the warmup skate - so the fans can boo themselves out and get it over with.

Mason out
Steve Mason was placed on the IR with mononucleosis and though I feel for Mason, I'm happy the Avs won't have to face him.

I remember my doubt two years ago when Team Canada went with Steve Mason over Jonathon Bernier in the gold medal game of the World Juniors. I remember the controversy after Bernier's remarks - which actually cemented my acceptance of the decision - and the fan debate leading up the game.

The debate ended after Canada won and though Mason didn't have to play exceptional, he got it done.

In his short NHL career, he's played exceptionally and I hope he's able to keep it up.

But dude, don't try and play goal with mono!

Who needs a wing man?
In the most important news of the day, Wojtek Wolski has been named as one of Denver's top singles.

But what about John-Michael Liles? How is he going to take this snub?

Rumor is that Wolski and Liles will have a dance-off to determine who the real top model is on this team.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

THN Top Ten Little Guys Snubs Marek Svatos

It's another The Hockey News snub of an Avalanche player.

This time, The Hockey News put out a list of the Top 10 Little Guys (players 5'9" and under) and Marek Svatos is absent from the list.

If anyone thinks Nigel Dawes has shown himself to be a better player than Svatos, raise your hand.

Didn't think so.

It can only be forgiven if Svatos is listed as taller than 5'9" in the 2009 NHL Official Guide & Record Book, which the author used as the definitive source for measurements.

UPDATE: Alanah pointed me to's listing of Marek Svatos which puts him at 5'10".

I assume that the data at is the same as what's in the Official Guide & Record Book so it appears THN is off the hook.

Once I get down to Denver, we'll have to go back-to-back and see if he really is 5'10".

Related Links
THN Top 10 Czech Players Snubs Milan Hejduk

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Trade deadline - What should the Avalanche do?

I wrote the following piece for Illegal Curve but the folks there generously agreed to let me cross-post it here at Avs Talk.

Once it's up at Illegal Curve, I'll add a link to their Trade Deadline feature so you can read thoughts on all the other teams trade deadline dilemmas.

The Avalanche are currently out of the playoff picture and they have slim to little hope of making it at this point.

And even if they were to make the playoffs, all it would bring is a little more cash to the team's bottom line, not a Stanley Cup.

It's simply not worth it for the franchise to be buyer's at the trade deadline.

Francois Giguere needs to look past a first-round playoff loss and set his sights on selling some assets.

So what do the Avalanche have to offer?

Marek Svatos
The Svats machine has languished on the third and fourth lines for the most part this season and that's simply not his game.

He is an opportunistic goal scorer and does best when gobbling up rebounds in the slot created by his linemates.

He's an extremely sneaky player, has a nose for open spots and knows how to finish.

For a squad looking to add extra offense for a playoff push, Svatos could be their man.

Ruslan Salei
I was torn over whether to list Brett Clark or Ruslan Salei in this slot.

In the end, I chose Ruslan Salei.

Though I'd prefer to see Clark go at this point, I think Salei is more marketable.

He has Cup final experience, can put up some points and possesses a mean streak which has been stifled by the defensive system of the Avalanche.

Currently on pace for 25 points, he would add defensive depth to any team.

Ian Laperriere
I can hear the collective cries of Avalanche fans everywhere.

To be clear, in no way do I want to see Ian Laperriere traded. But it's hard to argue that he isn't one of Colorado's top pieces of trade bait.

He is the epitome of a hockey warrior. He can fight, he can score, he can kill penalties and for my money, he's the best character guy in the league.

If Giguere does make the tough decision to trade Laperriere, he needs to get enough in return that he won't alienate an already jittery fan base.

But what do the Avalanche need in return?

Draft Picks
This is a deep draft and having a top-10 pick would be great.

The Avs are already headed down that road but adding one more to the repertoire wouldn't hurt.

And when you have a stock of draft picks, teams will come calling on draft day.

It's win-win.

No, it's not a cure-all, but it certainly is a cure-many.

I was on board the Peter Budaj train when the season started but I got off around mid-December.

I never boarded the Andrew Raycroft train, regardless of his win-loss record.

But if the Avalanche truly want a return to former glories, they need a solid number one goaltender. Not spectacular, just solid. But spectacular would be fine.

Manny Fernandez will not be that guy. Pascal Leclaire will not be that guy.

You either find a young up-and-coming goaltender to develop him into a number one, or you go out and acquire a proven number one.

Either way, action needs to be taken as I don't believe the Avalanche have any aces in the hole with their current prospects.

Role Players
Many people - from blogger to beat writer to beat boxer - were disappointed that Francois Giguere ignored a player like Stephane Yelle during the offseason.

And for good reason.

Stephane Yelle is the definition of a role player.

He never takes a shift off, he blocks shots, he wins faceoffs, he kills penalties and he can even sub in as a defenseman if the situation calls for it.

He signed with the Bruins for $750,000 this season.

I don't want to say he's the reason the Bruins are atop the league but he's one of the reasons the Bruins are atop the league.

If the Avalanche continue to sign players like Darcy Tucker for $2.5M as opposed to players like Stephane Yelle for $750,000, they can have all the skilled forwards they want, but they won't grind out a Cup win.

Final Thoughts
None of this will matter if the Avalanche don't make the biggest change necessary and re-tool their coaching staff to remove the "Old Boys Club" mentality that permeates the front office.

Just because Tony Granato is a good guy doesn't mean he's suitable for the head coaching position.

Just because Jacques Cloutier has been with the team since 1996 doesn’t mean he’s still cut out to run the defense.

Just because Francois Giguere is a number-crunching wizard doesn't mean he's cut out to assemble a Cup winning roster.

If this organization wants to win - and win consistently - they need to go out and get the best people for those respective positions.

Not the people who are closest to Stan Kroenke or Pierre Lacroix.

Related Links
Krieger: Avs' tough call: buy or sell
Buyers and sellers?