Saturday, March 28, 2009

If Only it Were that Easy

Scott Cullen's recent column of Backchecking analyzed team records with and without different players in the lineup.

In it, we learned something we already knew. This team is less awful when Darcy Tucker is out of the lineup:

8-5-1 (.607) when he's sidelined; 23-36-1 (.392) when he plays.
As for the last 5 games? Statistical aberration.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kroenke Uses the "R" Word

Stan Kroenke has used the "R" word folks: rebuild. It's not easy to admit that but I'm glad he did. It shows he is paying attention and he does see the situation as needing more than a band-aid.

Now if only he'd give some indication as to whether the rebuild includes some of the management and coaching positions. Because even though Tony G wants to bring the Avs back to their glory days, I have my doubts on his ability to do so.

Avalanche Sign Stoa, McNicoll

The Colorado Avalanche announced the signing of Ryan Stoa to a two-year, entry level contract today.

I've been intrigued by Stoa but still don't know a whole lot about his game. Watching the highlights package the team put together - which is a nice touch on their part for selling the signing - he looks like big guy with a hard shot who has no qualms about mucking it up in front of the net. My excitement meter is now at green. Whatever that means.

Given that he was picked just ahead of Paul Stastny in '05, there might be some high expectations when he joins the team. Let's bring him up now and see if he can save the season!

The club also signed Cedric McNicoll who I know absolutely nothing about. He put up 104 points in 65 games with Shawinigan of the QMJHL which is not too shabby.

Related Links
Ryan Stoa discusses contract signing
Avs sign Ryan Stoa

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Avs Trounced By Ducks, Lose 7-2

I stopped off at the grocery store on my way home from work to grab some chicken and ended up leaving with milk and a mini watermelon. It was seedless so I was instantly sold. I still get leery of having a watermelon plant growing inside me if I accidentally swallow one. It could happen.

When I got home, the girlfriend was tuned in to American Idol so I unpacked the leftovers from lunch, put away the milk, pretended to give birth to the mini-watermelon (as my way of introducing the gf to the cute little thing) and settled in to the couch to catch some Simon quips. Boy, Adam lit it up tonight! Hopefully Megan is going home tomorrow. She's hot but no superstar in the making.


I sat around and thought about stuff for a while. Do you think free will can exist even if our lives are predetermined? Some folks do but it made my head hurt so I closed all those tabs and burned them in effigy. Then I read about this "recession thing" that's going down. Sounds serious.


I found mold on some bread so I tossed it. Then I got a craving for some toast, necessitating trip #2 to the grocery store. I came back with bread, honey, sliced almonds, butter and two apples. See, while I was there I decided I wanted to make an apple pie. Of course I forgot to get some oats and I just didn't have a third trip in me today. Tomorrow shall be the day.


I checked out the scores of the other games and noticed that the Sharks-Hawks game was not 5-3 Hawks in the 3rd. I smelled a comeback so quickly tuned in. Devon Setoguchi and Joe Thornton scored in the final five minutes to tie it up. How excited must Sharks fans have been! Unfortunately for them, the Hawks won in a shootout. I wonder if Joel Quenneville will switch to Cristobal Huet after uncharacteristically declaring Nikolai Khabibulin as "the man"?

Bethany twitted "I wonder who the Avs will put in for the third?" and that got me thinking of how awesome it would be if the NHL was run like the WWE.

Mike Haynes: This team is getting beaten like a rented mule!
Peter McNab: My goodness, Mike! I'm surprised they're even standing after that thrashing. It's unbelievable the heart this team has against this evil Ducks squad.
Mike Haynes: To pull out a win here, it's going to take a miracle!
Peter McNab: There's only one man who can give them that, Mike.

*cue the music*


Fans rise out of their seats...the music picks up to a crescendo as the chorus kicks in. And then the Avalanche appear led by...Patrick Roy!

Mike Haynes: Stone Cold! Stone Cold! The Rattlesnake! I mean....Patrick Roy! Patrick Roy! He's back! Business is about to pick up!
Peter McNab: I can't believe my eyes! The Anaheim Ducks have turned tail and left the arena!
Mike Haynes: They left quicker than a hiccup!

The fans swarm the ice, hoping for one touch by their saviour...

Of course, the sad truth is that even Patrick Roy couldn't save this team. And if he did, he certainly wouldn't do it to the tune of Huey Lewis.

Sorry I didn't do much for a recap but I figure if the team doesn't give a shit, why should I?


Paul Maurice Tightened up 'Canes Defensively

In a chat Puck Daddy recently had with Cam Ward, Ward revealed that the biggest improvement Paul Maurice brought to the team when he took over was in the defensive end:

It's been an improvement in our own zone. The guys have made my job a lot easier. We've been kind of known as a run and gun team in these last couple of years. We scored a lot of goals but we also gave up a lot of goals. Since Paul stepped in, we've really tightened up defensively and, in my eyes, we have a very underrated defensive lineup.

But don't worry, the Avs didn't interview Maurice. Because really, how can you trust someone outside the organization? They might want to "shake things up" or bring "systems" to the table.

Stastny Breaks Another Bone

Paul Stastny could miss the rest of this train wreck season with a broken bone in his foot. Can somebody outfit this guy with Kevlar for next season? Or convince him to get the hell out of the way of any shots?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

He's Back!...Almost

After taking to the ice before practice a couple times, Joe Sakic has rejoined the team during practices albeit with a no-contact jersey.

While there's no timetable set, I think practicing at this point would indicate he should be available for the final week of the season.

Related Links
Avalanche hoping for Stastny's return

Denver bound!

It's finally coming true! The flights are booked, the hotel reservations are made and soon, game tickets for the final two Avalanche games for the season will be mine.

I'll be in town from Thursday, April 9th until Monday, April 13th. The Saturday and Sunday will be centered around hockey for the two afternoon games but I'm looking for a place to grab a bite and watch the game on Thursday as well as some advice on the sights to explore on Friday as well as Saturday and Sunday morning.

And if any of you are going to be at either of those games, I'd love to meet you. I'll post up my seats once I get a hold of the tickets and am always available via Twitter where we can plan to meet up somewhere.

As some of you may recall, in December of '07 I was scheduled to be in town for the Penguins game but had to cancel for health reasons. This year, nothing will keep me away. Nuclear holocaust? I'm there. The sun goes supernova? I'm there. I stub my toe? Totally there.

Avalanche-Sharks Afterthoughts

The Avalanche lost to the Sharks but they did it the right way. They tried. As simple as that sounds, it's something the team has not done all too often this year.

On Sunday, they faced the (now) top team in the league and showed flashes of what this team could have been this season. Not a contender, but a team that can hold their own every night.

And though I'm a bit late to the party, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the game.

Just like the economy
This team collapses all too readily. I know I'm harping on it but I think it's one of the key problems in the defensive "system" that the team employs.

Far too often the wingers are finding themselves caught heading deep into the zone as they follow the puck rather than covering an open man. I'll grant that on a rush, things can get a bit harried as the opposition breaks into the zone. And it doesn't help if the center on your line has decided to forgo backchecking.

But that doesn't absolve them of their responsibility once the rush has slowed and everybody is back in the zone. Now's the time to cover your d-man and help on the breakout. Don't just take it from me, take it from Milan Hejduk who on more than one occasion was directing T.J. Galiardi to cover the Sharks left defenseman rather than heading deep.

Just like OJ
This team has trouble breaking out. However there were a couple notable instances where they shed the "flying I" and went for "triangle of danger" (patent pending)

In this scenario, the left-side defenseman comes from behind the net and carries the puck up the ice. Near the Avs blueline, they fire a pass to a streaking right winger who is close to the opponents blueline. While this is happening, the center is racing up the middle of the ice and the left-wing starts to angle in as well (thus forming a triangle...get it? get it?)

The right-wing can either carry the puck into the zone or feed to the center or left-wing. But the key thing to happen at this point is that all forwards maintain speed in heading towards the net. This will pressure the defenders, possibly causing them to collapse too deep. At this point, it's a judgement call. The puck carrier can either fire a shot on net or drop it back to a trailing defenseman who one-times one towards the net.

Either way, what happens here is a quick transition which puts pressure on the opponents as well as generating not just a shot, but a chance at a tip or rebound opportunity since all the forwards were driving the net.

Of course this won't be possible on every breakout but when the opportunity arises (ie. the opponents peel off for a line change after a dump-in), the Avs need to strike and strike fast.

They showed they have the skills to pull this off. They just need it to be part of the gameplan.

Walk tall and carry...
A big stick. I don't want this to come off all creepy but does Evgeni Nabokov not use a ridiculously long stick?

Byngin it home
Patrick Marleau took what was his ninth minor penalty of the season as he clipped Cody Mcleod while trying to jump past him. Given where Martin St. Louis and Pavel Datsyuk are in the points race combined with their 10 and 20 PIMs respectively, I don't see Marleau walking away with the Byng. But he should be in the picture.

Steaming along
The Cheechoo train found itself derailed (groan) early in the game as he caught Lawrence Nycholat from behind, injuring Nycholat and gaining Cheechoo a 5-minute major and game misconduct. I think it was an unfairly assessed game misconduct but I'm also a big proponent of eliminating any hit from behind so I guess I have to stick to my guns on this one.

Down goes Staubitz!
Brad Staubitz delivered a head shot to Ryan Smyth and John-Michael Liles took exception. The diminuitive Liles immediately grabbed Staubitz and ended up tossing him to the ice.

"Big deal", you say. Well, given that Staubitz is 6'1, 210lbs and recently destroyed Jordin Tootoo, you've got to admire Liles for having no qualms about sticking up for his teammates. That's the kind of play that brings a team together.

I'll take "penalty" for $1000, Alex
The Avalanche pulled Raycroft down 2-1 with about 1:30 left in the game. And then they got a huge break from the referees.

The Sharks fired the puck out of their zone but it was well wide of the net and prime for an icing call. Until you say that the race was between Scott "Minister of Defense" Hannan and Marleau. I would wager that Marleau is in the top-10 in the league for speed and Hannan is...well...not so much. And given how much time Hannan has spent with Marleau, you know he knew that too.

So he did what anyone would do. He grabbed Marleau's arm and held on for dear life. They arrived at the boards at the same time but both whiffed on the puck, leaving the trailing Avalanche player to touch up for the icing.

And when Marleau turned to the refs and said "That's holding!", I couldn't help but agree. It wasn't even a missed call, it was simply a no-call. If the Avs had scored to tie the game, the Sharks and their fans would be justifiable in their anger.

I would have been ecstatic. But there would have been a twinge of guilt, I swear.

Related Links
MHH Recap
The Greatest - Aaron resurface to end the Roy vs Brodeur debate
Frei: Is it time to toast Sakic - the RMN is done, no need to keep fishing for hits
Jib meets AD and the world didn't asplode! Jib's account here, AD's here

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Softer Side of Ian Laperriere

Rick Sadowski is back folks. After the unfortunate demise of the Rocky Mountain News, Sadowski is now an correspondent. I'm not sure if it's a full-time gig or just freelance but it's good to see Rick continuing his hockey writing.

His first article is on the softer side of Ian Laperriere. The article drives home why the Avalanche organization needs to get this guy signed and not let him walk away in the offseason.

Thanks to Kukla's Korner for the link.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

T.J. Galiardi Called Up; Joe Sakic Skates Before Practice

With Paul Stastny out due to another shot-blocking injury, the Avalanche have recalled T.J. Galiardi as they work diligently to complete the transformation to the Colorado Monsters.

I'm quite excited to see what Galiardi can do. So excited that I've cancelled my weekly trip to Vegas just to watch the game tonight. Ok, that would be plain silly if I did that but nonetheless, I'll be watching with intrigue.

Galiardi spent a year with Dartmouth before moving up to the WHL, amassing 70 points in 72 games with the Calgary Hitmen during the regular season. Then the playoffs began and Galiardi stepped it up, tallying 24 points in 16 games - though only notching five goals - to lead all playoff scorers as the Hitmen bowed out in the Eastern Conference finals.

And then it was off to Lake Erie where his play hasn't been quite as spectacular. I have yet to watch a Monsters game, but scoring doesn't seem to be their strong suit. So it's a bit early to start judging the heights to which Galiardi might climb with the big boys.

Oh, and in an unrelated, inconsequential tidbit, Joe Sakic skated this morning before the team practiced.

Related Links
The T.J. Galiardi Era begins - geez, AD, lay off the hype-pipe ;)
T.J. Galiardi Profile on Hockeys Future
Galiardi's Turn
Galiardi Recalled
Avs Sakic back on ice

Monday, March 16, 2009

Avalanche Downed by Canucks, Lose 4-2

When your team goes down 3-0 by the end of the first period, what is there to say? "They were tired"? "Vancouver was rested"? "It was a late game"? I don't buy any of that.

The Avalanche just weren't prepared to play in the first 20 minutes. When you play the night before, you actually need more of a warmup the next day to get your body ready to fight. Instead, it appeared that the Avalanche woke from a nap that ended about 5 minutes before puck drop, just in time to toss on the pads and skates and see who their opponent was.

John-Michael Liles in particular was looking quite dreadful to start the game. After Alexander Edler ran Chris Stewart face first into the boards, the Avs had what the announcers called a "power play." It was anything but.

Liles had the puck at the point and tried to make a pass with Alexandre Burrows stick a mere inch away from his own. Shockingly, Burrows intercepted the pass, streaking in on surprise starter, Andrew Raycroft with about ten steps on Liles. Lucikly, Burrows got denied by the post but not to worry, the fun wasn't done.

Liles picked up the puck, carrying it along the left boards where he was then rubbed out by Ryan Kesler. Kesler then broke into the Avs zone but was knocked off the puck by Milan Hejduk. The puck ended up in Liles skates and in classic comedic style, he couldn't get a handle on it. Kesler centered it to Burrows who was initially denied by Raycroft but thanks to Wojtek Wolski forgetting he was playing defense, he was able to grab his own rebound and put it into an empty net.

That put the Canucks up 2-0 on the backs of a powerplay goal and a shortie. Taylor Pyatt then completed the trifecta with an even strength goal while Avs fans everywhere picked up the "Tavares or Hedman?" debate.

Luckily, Vancouver came out looking a bit listless - overconfident perhaps? - in the second period and the Avalanche were able to put one past Bobba Lou, on the powerplay no less! And then thanks to a miscue by Lou to start the third period, Darcy Tucker was able to bang home his eighth goal of the season. It was an interesting goal as Tucker shot it from behind the net while Luongo was racing back in. The puck ended up sticking to Luongo's outside skate and as he rotated to find it, he swung it into the net. And we had a one-goal game and renewed hope!

Alas, it was not to be. A phantom hi-sticking call on Ben Guite put the Canucks on the powerplay with a little over two minutes left in the game. In other words, the Avs needed to score a shortie or they were done. And done they were as Alexander Edler nabbed his ninth of the year to make it a two-goal game.

I think the best part of the phantom call to seal the game came this morning from Tony Gallagher (via Kukla) who complained that the referees kept Colorado in the game by parading the Canucks to the penalty box after they went up 3-0. Yeah, that seven second 5-on-3 was a bitch, wasn't it? And Henrik Sedin getting called for a pretty obvious trip at the tail end of a Canucks powerplay was a horribly biased call. And when Edler put the puck over the glass? What kind of crap call was that? Bad referees. Bad, bad, bad.

Random thoughts
Wingers still go deep in our zone, leaving the points open to keep the cycle going. I'm not even a friggin' coach, let alone a defensive coach, and I can see that as a problem.

Marek Svatos hasn't looked too hot playing with Stastny the last couple games. He's been pretty soft on the puck and has actually been trying to carry it too much. He's not a stickhandler, he's a sniper.

AD mentioned that Peter Budaj would get the start but I guess Tony G was trying to trick the Canucks as he went with Andrew Raycroft instead. Interesting strategy. If only the name "Andrew Raycroft" struck fear in opponents hearts rather than inducing laughter.

After last night, I now believe that Scott Hannan is incapable of scoring. He simply can't do it. He had two chances tonight, the second being a wide open cage and he couldn't put it home. Don't feel bad, Scott. We don't expect you to score. Even if it's an empty net. But it would be nice.

From the Announcers
I had the Canucks feed tonight and had the announcers tuned out about five minutes in. But I did catch a couple notables.

Darcy Tucker is 34 but the way he's playing this year, could be 44
Sad but true. Though he has looked much better playing on a grind line rather than a scoring line.

...taken away by Stastny who was in perfect position
Just say "taken away by Stastny", the rest is redundant.

Related Links
MHH Canucks-Avalanche Game Recap
Early errors cost Avs in road loss (Denver Post)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Avalanche @ Vancouver Game Preview

Ok, I got all cranky in my game recap from last night's 3-2 OT win against the Oilers so I'll try and stay positive here. And the one thing that was me slightly upbeat is that the Canucks are on an 8-game winning streak on home ice. And what does that mean, folks? That's right, "Shane logic" will save the day. Because the more things stay the same, the more likely they are to change.

Peter Budaj will man the pipes again after a solid outing last night. He'll face off against Robert Luongo and as scary as that initially sounds, the Avalanche have actually had Luongo's number in recent years. They've only faced him once this year - a 2-1 OT win - but in 07/08, the Avs put 25 goals past Bobba Lou in eight games included putting five past him twice. I predict the Avs will light him up for at least three tonight. That's a ballsy prediction considering they couldn't score on Atlanta but you gotta take a leap every now and again, right? Hmm, I wonder how close Davey Jones is to scoring 30 goals...

It's a late game being in Vancouver but thanks to good ol' DST, a 10:00 ET start is now an 8:00 FUST start. FUST of course standing for F'd Up Saskatchewan Time.

Avalanche Slide Past Oilers, Win 3-2

I got back from volleyball last night in time to catch all of the first period and haphazard moments of the final 2.2 periods. And what I saw to start the game had me yelling at the TV.

Take the first goal. Peter Budaj kicks out a rebound, Brett Clark falls down and, while sliding, kicks the puck in to the net. Just what in the hell was Clark planning on doing there? I'm assuming he wanted to kick it away from the Oiler forechecker but he could have stayed on his feet and done that. And failing staying on your feet, at least try and aim towards the corner of the rink.

But the main thing that had me shaking my head was Budaj's second effort. To hell with trying to make a picture perfect side-push over, just scramble to stop the f'n puck. Pull a Tim Thomas, I don't care how ugly you think it looks. Keeping the puck out of the goal looks pretty no matter how you do it. I 100% believe that was a stoppable "shot" if Budaj had simply abandoned the fundamentals and remembered that he just need to keep the puck out of the net, not pass a test while doing so.

Transition? To what?
Who is in charge of the Avalanche's transition "strategy"? Because they should be fired immediately with no severance. Plus a kick in the ass on the way out. Early on in the season I bemoaned their "flying I" strategy where they all crowd together in a straight line and try to carry the puck up the ice. It. Doesn't. Work.

It's the same story time and time again. The center gets the puck, crowds over to the right side, the left wing slides over to the right side of center and they make 2-inch passes to each others skates before finally dumping it in. They will then try to forecheck or, if you're Darcy Tucker, peel off at the blueline and look angry at the world.

I was watching the Red Wings play a couple nights ago and they went from the left side of their blueline to the right side of the opposition blueline in one pass. And then they scored. I don't think I've seen the Avalanche do that once this season.

I think the lack of transition is the most frustrating aspect of watching this team. You can tell it pisses off some players too. By the end of the night, John-Michael Liles was just carrying the puck up the ice every time rather than giving it to the forwards so they could screw it up.

In-zone coverage? We're supposed to do that?
Marc Crawford was mentioning - seemingly with glee - that the Avalanche have a "fire drill" defense deep in their own zone. And unfortunately he's 100% accurate.

The biggest reason everybody gets confused is because nobody is simply paying attention to their own assignment and are instead worrying that somebody else is forgetting theirs. Remember kids, the other player's assignments are their responsibility, not yours. Hockey is a team game and it's done by being selfish and worrying about what you're doing, not what your teammates are doing.

Once again, I'm watching a Red Wings game - because I have money on them beating Columbus this afternoon - and their wingers rarely, if ever, go lower than the top of the circle in their own zone. Why? Because they're covering the opposing defensemen - as they should be - and waiting to help break out of the zone. You can't do either if you're past the hashmarks, getting in the way of your own defensemen while trying to "help out"

The urge to do more than you're responsible for is hard to resist, especially when your team is playing sub-par, but you have to fight it. When you start trying to do too much, everybody gets confused. When you concentrate on doing your job right, things often start to fall in to place.

Geez, Nancy. Lighten up on the negativity
At the end of the day, a win's a win and I was happy when Liles put the game winner past Dwayne "Don't touch me!" Roloson but the frustration of being in last place in the West should have these guys playing from the opening bell, not waking up midway through the game.

It's just poor preparation and it has sunk this team.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Avalanche Down Wild in SO, Win 2-1

Cody McCormick = steel. As in balls. Steel balls. Because that's what you would need to take on Godzilla on skates. But that's exactly what McCormick did tonight as he lined up with John Scott just two minutes into the third period.

At first I thought "Who the hell is John Scott?" Then the announcers gave us the guys numbers. 6'8", 260lbs. And I thought "Sweet jeebus, I hope he doesn't kill Cody." But in the end, it was McCormick that got a hold of Scott and gave him a Rock Bottom to the ice. The Avs should get boosted to the top of the standings based on that performance.

But the Avalanche did walk away with two points tonight on the heels of a shootout dominated by Wojtek Wolski and Milan Hejduk. Wolski scored first on a classic Wolski move with a twist. Then Hejduk one-upped him. You had to run the replay in slow-motion just to see Hejduk's stickhandling prowess but it was beautiful. If ninjas could stickhandle, that's what it would look like.

I know I've been absent for a while and frankly it's because the passion died off a bit. The team didn't help but life kind of kicked my ass for a while. Thankfully I took care of that and am back for the stretch run.

Can they make the playoffs? Hell no. Can they save Granato's job? Maybe. Can they at least try to go out with a bang instead of a whimper? I sure as hell hope so.

Either way, let's try and have a little fun with what's been one of the worst years in franchise history. And they used to be the friggin' Nordiques!

Related Links Boxscore

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Francois Giguere Discusses Trade Deadline

Via Avalanche TV, Francois Giguere holds a press conference to discuss the trade deadline.

Jordan Leopold Traded Back to the Flames

Per TSN, the most logical trade bait for the Avalanche, Jordan Leopold, has been sent back to the team from whence he came.

This morning the Avalanche sent Leopold to the Flames and got back two defencemen - Lawrence Nycholat and Ryan Wilson - along with a 2nd round pick.

I recognize Nycholat's name but only because he played for the Swift Current Broncos in his junior career. He has bounced around a few teams including the Senators, Canucks and Flames but has spent most of the last decade in the AHL. In other words, sounds like a bust.

Ryan Wilson is a young, offensive defenseman who has spent this season with the Quad City Flames, putting up four goals and 16 assists over 60 games.

Hockeys Future has an assessment of Wilson and makes note that while he puts up good numbers for a player of his size, his defensive abilities are currently lacking.

So another undersized offensive defenseman has been added to the cubbard. Because you can never have too many of those.

The 2nd-round pick is presumably for this year's draft though TSN didn't indicate as such. UPDATE: TSN now indicates it is a 2009 2nd-round pick.

They did however, use the best photo of Leopold in existence to go along with their story.

The deal gets my stamp of approval if only because it means the Avalanche have another draft pick and that Kyle Cumiskey may finally get his chance to play full time next season.

Some commenters on Dater's blog are blasting FG for this move, claiming Nycholat as worthless and Wilson as a bust based on what they read online. Apparently the 2nd-round pick means nothing to them. It means the world to me.

The Avalanche likely picked up Nycholat knowing he'd play in Lake Erie full time. Don't forget that the Avalanche have an AHL roster to fill out. As for Wilson, though preliminary reports aren't great and I'm reluctant to cheer another undersized defenseman, what FG has done is what people have asked. Get some picks and prospects and start a minor rebuild.

Related Links
Leopold to Flames

Monday, March 2, 2009

Avalanche Fall to Islanders, Lose 4-2

The New York Islanders, the worst team in the league, outplayed the Colorado Avalanche tonight. And by what I felt was a large margin. So what does that make the Avalanche? Don't answer.

Jon Sim? First three-goal game of his career. Jesse Joensuu? First goal of his career. Shane Giroux? First embolism of his life.

What does this team need for motivation? Heading into this game they had lost four in a row and looked abysmal while doing so. Coach Granato runs the team through a hard practice, Ryan Smyth calls the current situation misery and...nothing. No spark.

The only bright spot is that this could be enough to make Giguere wake up and realize that he can't simply write this season off due to injuries. Joe Sakic is the only regular still riding the pine and the team continues to look utterly confused on the ice.

There were times where Cody Mcleod - playing as a winger - was behind the Avalanche goal chasing an Islanders forward. Now, this might be some newfangled approach to defense that I've never heard of, but when was the last time a defensive coach told his wingers "Yeah, go deep in the zone. Don't worry about covering the point or helping us break out of the zone. Fuck it, we're trying something new!"

My TV is shuddering in a corner after the expletives I treated it too tonight.

But congrats to Ryan Smyth on sticking it to the boo-birds with a two-goal night. Suck it, NY. He's our slightly overpriced forward.

The Kings, Coyotes and Avalanche are the three official "sell! sell! sell!" teams in the West to go along with the Senators, Lightning, Thrashers and Islanders in the East. Seven teams selling, 23 teams buying. I like those odds.

Deals will go down on Wednesday and while I still fully expect Ryan Smyth to stick around, I'm getting nervous about Ian Laperriere. I really hope Lappy is here after the 3:00pm ET bell on Wednesday and I hope Giguere gives him the two years he's looking for quick, fast and in a hurry.

But hey, who needs leadership when you've got competent coaching, right?