Thursday, October 28, 2010

Avalanche 6 - Flames 5; Sieve Edition

In one of the great goaltending duels of our time, the Avalache came away with what some are calling a steal of a win. I don't consider it a steal myself. It may have been a late goal that won it but it was hard work that made it happen.

What did play nicely into the hands of the Avalanche was the Flames giving Henrik Karlsson the start. I have my doubts that Miikka Kiprusoff would have let in half the goals tonight, most notably the Yip goal.

The same could be said in the other direction as Peter Budaj did not have a solid game. I tried to get on the Budaj bandwagon way back when and I'd love it if I could jump on again. Problem is I can't bring myself to do it.

What can be said about Chris Stewart's hat trick? Kids a beast and has shown himself to be worth the contract extension he earned this summer. I wonder if it's time to give Stewart a shot at being that big right-handed shot from the point on power plays?

Once again, Daniel Winnik proves himself to be the best acquisition of the offseason. He's got more goals than Kovalchuk at approximately 1/100th the price and puts in 100x the effort each shift. I'll take it.

Joe Sacco told Ryan O'Reilly to get more aggressive. Result? This beauty of a forecheck leading to Stewart's second goal of the night. Three assists? Just another day at the office for O'Reilly. The kid's smart, motivated and listens to the coach? Love it.

Jonas Holos recorded his first NHL point tonight which is great. His defensive play had a few blunders stil which is not so great. Hopefully those go away as he could be a great asset to the blueline.

One person who did not record a point tonight was John-Michael Liles. Thwarted at nine in a row. What a great start to the season for Liles and here's to another 9-game streak starting with the next one! The countdown stands at 31. Highlights

Related Links Event Summary
Burgundy Blog Recap
Put it on Ice Recap
MHH Recap

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Anderson Out Indefinitely But No Surgery Required

Terry Frei fed us the news earlier today that Craig Anderson is out indefinitely but will not require surgery. He's headed back to (or likely is back in) Denver while John Grahame has been called in to back up Peter Budaj.

If no surgery is needed then there is no full tear, which is great. Hopefully the Avalanche release full details of the injury (I know, I know) to the fans and media. Better to let the facts out than to have baseless speculation running rampant.

It would seem that now might be time to get restart the "I Believe in Budaj" campaign as he's now the #1 again. Those were good times, weren't they?

It's not like Anderson was playing lights out to this point nor was Budaj playing badly. However Anderson has shown the ability to deliver consistently stellar results while Budaj has shown the opposite.

But I tell ya, there's strength in his new hairdo. I'm not worried.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Avalanche 3 - Canucks 4; Injury Edition

Short thoughts from me to close out the game:

Johnny Liles with the NHL record! 9 straight games with an assist to open the season as a defenseman and he's now in the record books. Time to trade him while his stock is high. EDIT: I really simplified that record first time out, now corrected.

What in the blue hell was Jonas Holos doing driving the puck towards his own net on the game-winning play? I've been loving what Holos has brought to the team but that was a dandy. Oh well, call yourself an idiot, shake it off and don't do it again.

Does Manny Malhotra have a gold tooth?

How about the Duke defying age and his gimpy knee? He's still got silky smooth hands. And he's a pretty good stickhandler too... Too much? Yeah, moving on.

Conversely that Duchene kid hasn't brought anything this year and I'm surprised he hasn't been sent to the AHL yet.

Daniel Winnik continues to be the best free agent signing of the year with his hard working play. He got rewarded with a goal tonight and 18+ minutes of ice time. Well done, sir.

Where's Brandon Yip?

How about those injuries and close calls tonight? Liles gets cranked from behind , Stastny ate an elbow to the face and David Jones did something to his leg/knee/foot. All of them returned to the game but there was a lot of breath being held until they did.

I feel like I'm forgetting something. What was it? Oh that's right...ohmygodIhopeAndydidn'tblowouthiskneeduringwarmup!

Dater posted the injury video (embedded below) and it looked odd. It looked more like a tweak than a blown knee but let's wait until tomorrow before we start speculating, pontificating and prognosticating on how bad it is and what it means to the team. Or freak out now. Dealer's choice, really.

Budaj played a solid game tonight and it looks like he might be needed for a couple more upcoming starts. I think the updated hairdo is providing a solid aura for him so I'm not concerned if he has to fill in for a bit.

Related Links Event Summary

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Battle Was Over By The Time I Showed Up

I missed the great hashtag battle of "ought-10"! I also missed out on another petty use of Twitter blocking by Dater but we'll skip past that.

The L.A. Kings fans won the battle and I can't help but think that had I been around Saturday night, this whole thing would have turned out differently.

Alas, I was not. However I would still like to add my contribution to the mix.

Generally, I tweet maybe once or twice during a game. But with the stakes on the line Saturday night, I'm surmising I would have put up closer to 100 tweets.

So what I'm going to do is donate the $100 I would have raised Saturday night to charity. I don't know the specifics of where the Avalanche directed their money but if anyone does know how I could funnel it there, please let me know.

If nobody knows, I'll pick another cancer-related charity. With Movember looming, possibly something to do with prostate cancer. If anyone has other suggestions, feel free to share.

Hopefully the Avalanche - and every other team in every other pro sports league - does this again. And again and again and again and...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Avalanche 3 - Rangers 1 - Prologue Edition

I am staring at my giant new 24" Samsung monitor, typing on my new Microsoft Arc keyboard, caressing my new Microsoft Arc mouse and, more importantly, sitting at my newly reconstituted desk. I'm also dreading my next credit card bill but that's besides the point.

Back in 2002, the first thing I did when I was hired out of university was to purchase a gorgeous L-shaped desk for my command center. I spent most at that desk writing programs, writing poetry and writing content. I also ate there, read there, watched TV there and at times I literally slept at my desk. It grew into an extension of myself.

Skip to two years ago and my girlfriend and I were moving back into an apartment for reasons I won't elaborate on but some of you may be aware of. Coming from a townhouse we had too many things to fit in the apartment and some things had to go. The final choice we had to make was between setting up my desk or having a kitchen table. The kitchen table won and I put the desk in storage.

Fast forward to last Friday and I was dying. Figuratively. I felt creatively dead - I had for a long time - and I had no idea what was wrong. So I started running through all the reasons this could have happened.

Had my recent health issues changed me on a more fundamental level than just physical health? Was I so burnt out from what I went through that there was simply no energy left for free thought outside of work? Was my brain already digitally re-wired and I was just a consumption machine? Was I simply past my creative prime?

None of those felt true and then it hit me - it was my desk. A cradle of creativity where I could sit, free of suffocation. No laptop buring my lap. A structure open yet contained. Inviting, comforting, secure. It's my zen garden.

So on Saturday we ditched the kitchen table and I set up my desk again. The last time I changed any hardware (monitor, mouse, keyboard, computer, lamp, etc) was back in 2003 and I felt it was time to refresh for 2010. I already had the new computer so the rest was academic.

Today, I sit here a contented man. The creativity? It's coming back.

Does this mean I will be posting more often and with more insight than the twitter-style commentary I've done recently? I hope so. But if not, we'll always have this story.

For tonight, I think I've held up your time long enough so I'll again share a few twitter-style comments on the Avalanche's 3-1 win over the Rangers and call it a blog post.

(You know, like a short form of "Twit-thoughts"...wait, I just said it out loud and that's not good...)

Johnny Liles is now 32 points away from 40. The question now isn't will he hit 40, it's will he hit 40 in 40?

Chris Stewart's expression after scoring goals is priceless. And we got to see it twice today.

Both those goals were on the powerplay. Weird.

How badly does Kyle Quincey want to forget his performance tonight?

Does the Rangers not having Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury or Vinny Propsal take anything away from tonight's victory? Hell no.

I love ice-level sounds and caught the following conversation snippet during a whistle: "...for the last 20 f'n years, bud. You won't last." I can only presume it was Adam Foote talking...but to whom? Stepan, maybe?

Have you all watched Tweet It?

Related Links
NHL Boxscore
AP Story
DP Recap
MHH Recap
Put It On Ice Recap
Burgundy Blog Recap
Aaron @ HockeyBuzz Recap

Story of the day - The Stewart-Konopka Fight

Jeff Marek unearthed the full scoop behind the Chris Stewart vs Zenon Konopka fight and it's pure gold.

Dig in and enjoy the exact type of reporting that we need more of in sports.

Comment of the day - Oct 18, 2010

A comment from Dater's latest blog post included the following gem:
"Scratch Duchene. He's already been demoted to the third line center. He's a prima donna. "

You sir, are a genius.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Avalanche 5 - Red Wings 4 - Suck It Edition

The Avalanche marched into Joe Louise Arena tonight on the second night of back-to-back games and walked away with a 5-4 shootout win. Don't try and say that didn't sting, Wings fans.

In a back-and-forth game, the Avalanche got timely goals from Ryan O'Reilly and Daniel Winnick, book-ended by David Jones tallies to get this game into a shootout. From there, Peter Budaj locked it down and Brandon Yip drove in the winning goal to spoil the Red Wings season opener.

Long Thoughts
During last night's "recap" I said that if the Avalanche turned the puck over against the Wings the way they did against the Flyers, they'd be walking away with their asses in a bag. You know, after it was handed to them. Turns out they only needed to marginally improve their turnover rate (because the Flyers are clearly a superior team to the Red Wings) to still get the W.

The Avalance are still making small, silly plays that are really hampering the flow of their game. They are still having trouble chipping the puck out of the zone, a lot of passes seem to be getting intercepted and there's just a lot of running around. One thing that really struck me tonight was how little the Wings appeared to be moving while defending. They were just in the right position. On the other hand, the Avalanche were often racing across the ice to get in a lane or cover their man. The coaching staff needs to get them to settle down and do a better job at reading where the puck will go.

It looks like I spoke too soon in believing Joe Sacco wouldn't stray far from his "ride the Andy" strategy in goal. If this was last season, Anderson would have been in net for both back-to-back games. Instead, he put Peter Budaj in who more than held his own against the Red Wings attack. It's a good sign to get Budaj in early and show the team that it's not all about the Anderson this year.

Short Thoughts
J.M. Liles is just 35 points away from 40 on the season.

David Jones is now just 28 goals away from 30 on the season.

Did anybody else pee their pants - just a bit - every time Datsyuk and Zetterberg were on the ice?

Why were both two-goal scorers in this game on the bench during the first round of the shootout?

Why did David Jones not take a new stick before his shootout attempt?

Two games in a row with a short-handed goal against is something that needs to be addressed right away.

How about Daniel Winnik with not only a crucial goal, but a hard-working *and* skilled goal? Just for that goal alone, I'm counting his signing as the best of the offseason. For any team.

Philippe Dupuis won 100% (4-for-4) of his faceoffs tonight.

Ryan O'Reilly blasted off 7 shots tonight. Three missed, three were on net and one was in the net.

Speaking of shots, brace yourself: the Avalanche outshot their opponent 38 to 28 tonight.

Suck it, Wings fans.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Avalanche 2 - Flyers 4, Quick Thoughts Edition

After defeating the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks, the Avalanche turned their attention tonight to the Stanley Cup losing Philadelphia Flyers. Unfortunately the Avs walked away with their first loss of the season thanks in large part to an abysmally atrocious first period which included two shorthanded goals against. Two.

EDIT: As Tapeleg points out, technically the second goal wasn't a shortie. I still count it in my mind [since the giveaway which kickstarted the play occured while still on the PP] . I'd be open to settling on one-and-a-half.

The Avalanche started the game as a turnover machine and it burned them. You can't turn over the puck as many times as they did and expect to win a hockey game. It was an unbelievably frustrating thing to watch and I can only assume Joe Sacco tore them a new one during the intermission.

As per standard fare, the Avs turned it on in the second period and got within one. In fact, they nearly pulled even but Sergei Bobrovsky made a great save with about 0.01 seconds left on the board to preserve the lead.

Sidebar - Try to say "Vladimir Bobrovsky" fast. I had a heck of a time not bumbling that one. You might wonder why I was calling him Vladimir when his name is Sergei. I'll leave that for you to chew on for a while.

The third period was an exciting, wide open hockey game that had me on the edge of my seat. I subsequently fell off the edge of my seat just as Jeff Carter's game winning goal crossed the goal line, which was awesome.

What a rough way to end a game for Craig Anderson who played great in turning aside 35 shots. I understand the instinct to sweep your legs closed like that but every time I see a goal go in that way, I have to wonder why these guys aren't able to supress that urge.

Quick thoughts
John-Michael Liles had two assists on the night leaving him with just 36 points to go to hit 40 on the season.

Hey, there's Brandon Yip! Scoring a goal and taking a penalty that likely prevented a goal. I wonder what changed tonight that really lifted his spirits...

David Jones still doesn't have the explosive speed he had in seasons past. Let's hope it's not a permanent loss, just a part of his final sprint of rehab.

What the hell was Kyle Quincey doing on his shorthanded breakaway? What looked to be poetic justice turned into something more resembly a poetry recitation.

How about that Giroux kid, eh?

Ladies and gentlemen, your ice-time leader for the Avalanche tonight - Kyle Cumiskey with 22:22! Next up? T.J. Galiardi with 22:05.

Next up - the Detroit Red Wings tomorrow night. Please step it, boys. You know why.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Avalanche 4 - Blackhawks 3, Late Review Edition

It was a good start to the season last night and you can already get a glimpse at some promising -and some troubling - developments. I'm going to reel off some thoughts and forgo a more eloquent recap. But to make it seem like I did put thought into this, I'll group things into the "promising" and "troubling" categories.

The Avs strategy without the puck still seems to be "chase the puck". It didn't work well last year and it doesn't look like it will do any better this year. Time to fix it.

Slow start, great middle, terrible end - this apparently hasn't changed from last year. It makes for nail-biting finishes but it's super stressful. Quit giving up the lead!

You remember during the MHH roundtable how a lot of us talked about how this team had toughness but nobody knew about it? Where the hell was that last night? They may not be the biggest team but they've got at least show they've got a pair. Anderson shouldn't have to defend himself, guys shouldn't be allowed to get close enough to bother him. And what was with Scott shoving Duchene around and getting away with it? I know he's a big guy but you can't let that precedent be set.

Where was Brandon Yip last night? Vacation? Did he stay at a Holiday Inn Express at least?

Johnny Liles is just 38 points away from hitting 40 on the season.

Paul Stastny owned that game~ He's always been the quiet guy who just GSD (got $#!^ done) but last night he was extremely noticeable. It looks like he's about to take a step forward in his development and possible become a dominant force.

Chris Stewart is a beast. A beast with silky soft hands. He is going to be so fun to watch this season.

Milan Hejduk is aging extremely well. If his knee can hold up, he should have a good year. It doesn't seem like he's lost much in terms of speed and he still has some of the best hands in the NHL.

Ryan O'Reilly is looking sharp early on. Can he have as good a start to this season as last season?

How about Matty Duchene taking control and setting up the game winning goal? Hell yeah!

Oh and how about the enthusiasm he showed after the goal? He was celebrating all the way to the locker room. That's going to be infectious for the team and it's clearly a good thing.

Final thought
Starting the season with a win on home ice is always nice. Against the defending champs makes it that much sweeter. Let's hope they can ride that momentum into...Monday?! Monday? Damn, that's a long wait.

To my Canadian friends, enjoy Thanksgiving weekend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Season Opener Thoughts

As I'm sure you're all aware, tonight opens the NHL season and our beloved Avalanche are facing the defending champs, the Chicago Blackhawks. Here's my version of "30 thoughts" on the night

1. Isn't it odd to pair Chicago against Colorado to start the season? There's not a ton of history there for a defending, original six Cup champion. Shouldn't they open their season with a bang?

2. Will anybody not feel a couple "man tears" as Jaye from PKLC puts it during the opening ceremony featuring the '96 cup team?

3. Will any male not feel a little conflicted about their sexuality when they see Peter Forsberg's piercing gaze on camera?

4. Will anybody ever get tired of seeing Joe Sakic on the ice, even if he's in a suit? I know I won't.

5. T.J. Galiardi will score the Avs first goal of the season. Bank it.

6. How wrong is it that I'm still contemplating going to a Crash Test Dummies acoustic set at 8:00 tonight, meaning I'll record the game and watch once it's over?

7. Are there other teams playing tonight? I'm not sure. I also don't care.

8. Can all the "Quit living in the past people" calm down and enjoy the awesomeness that it was? It would sure be nice to do some work on selling the "now", but we can still enjoy the "then".

9. To those people: how would you kick off the season?

10. Is 10 the new 30?

I might have more later but this damn day job keeps breaking my blogging mojo.

Enjoy the season opener! And remember just like the preseason is just the preseason, the season opener is just one game.

No freak outs allowed if they lose.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Avalanche Blogger Roundtable - Day One

The Avalanche blogger roundtable has kicked off and this year there are 27 participants. 27! It's like we're all a bunch of small businesses producing similar ideas with one ultimate goal: to get bought out by Google.

I'd be curious to know what the blogger community is like for other teams. Are there this many contributors for the majority of teams? How many single bloggers are there as opposed to team approaches? Are there really this many individual opinions? Do people read every Avalanche blog out there? Will the universe end today?

These are all pressing questions I'd like answered (and we'll find out the answer to at least one of them T 11:59:59pm tonight) but for now, spend your time on more important questions.

You know, ones like Why is attendance down? or Is this team unexpectedly tough?

Only once those questions are answered can we truly understand the mystery of the universe.*

There will be one more question up today and then three more every day until opening night. There's a lot of opinion to read and a lot of opinion yet to give on each question. But I think we can all agree that based on the preseason, the Avs are doomed this year.

Since the schedule is based on Eastern times, 66% of the questions are up before I even start my day. So I miss some of the party but I promise, this season I will come to them more often.

*I have it on good authority that unicorns are involved.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Colorado Avalanche Roster - 2010-2011 Edition

After final cuts, our 2010-2011 Avalanche roster is set for opening night.*

The surprise player making the team is Mark Olver who I know absolutely nothing about other than being the smallest player on the roster at 5'10" and 170lbs. His college stats show he knows how to score which is great but that size doesn't appear conducive to playing on the fourth line. So where does he fit in?

Ryan Stoa continues to disappoint, getting sent down again even with a wing spot opened up with Peter Mueller's concussion. He's heading towards bust territory but still has time to turn that around.

Jonas Holos made the squad as most people were expecting as he apparently had a solid preseason. I'm really looking forward to seeing him in action come Thursday evening.

Other than that, there isn't much of note as to how the roster shaped up. Now we have an exciting four days to wait for opening night. This is our Dec 21st people. Savor the wait!

*As of this writing, they still have Ryan Stoa and Colby Cohen listed on the roster which is not accurate.

Related Links
Avalanche focus shifting to Chicago
Avs make three cuts

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Rip Jobs" and Journalism

Via Dater's blog:
"I’m in the process of writing a bit of a rip job for Sunday’s paper on the state of the Avalanche’s preseason."

I'm in the process of trying to care less.

I'm so tired of hearing about "rip jobs" from Dater. The glee with which he puts them out is frustrating and frankly it's disheartening.

Call me crazy but I expect more than "rip jobs" from a journalist. If I wanted a "rip job", I'd read a blog.*

I don't want to read "rip job" after "rip job" after "rip job" followed by a post pointing out a couple good things and saying "See, I don't always rip on people." If you have to say that, it's a clear sign that you "rip" on people too much.

Also, that we have hugely differing opinions of "rip job" likely doesn't help my frustration. Given that it's going to be in the paper, it's probably going to include a few quotes from players, some stats, a caveat about it only being presason and noting how the team will need to pick it up in the regular season.

That's not a "rip job", that's stating facts and doing standard journalism.

But maybe I should stop ripping on Dater and see the bright side. If he wasn't like this we wouldn't have Fake Dater providing comedy fodder for us.

*See what I did there?

The MSM Badge of Honor

* I started this a while back and thought I should just publish the damn thing and not worry about making it a Hemingway. In doing so, I've left a lot of holes for people to poke which I encourage. Suck me back in to the blogging game, people!

In Bruce Dowbiggin's column on The battle over bloggers, there was one point that really stuck out at me. Well, aside from the $10,000 bond idea which is about the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

When he stated that it was a point of honor for most MSM to show up after a tough column and let the subject have his say in person, it immediately brought to mind the two biggest reasons I believe MSM reporting is weak and repetitive - they're scared and they're too friendly with their subjects.

A great example is when reporters use player's nicknames. It feels completely contrived and they are either trying to fit in with the fans or fit in with the players. And I don't believe either is a function of journalism.

It often seems like journalists are themselves starstruck by the business they're in and they want to hang out with the cool kids.

But journalism is not a popularity contest with the players. It's a popularity contest with the fans and if you provide generic content, you'll get generic fans.

But please don't all simply resort to "rip jobs" to liven things up.