Sunday, February 25, 2007

Post-game vs Anaheim - Feb 25, 2007

The California roadswing was not good to this team. Following up a tough loss to the Kings, the Avalanche couldn't hold on against the Ducks and lost 5-3. The game was tied until 2 quick goals from the Twin Towers in the final 4 1/2 minutes put the game out of reach. The 4-minute penalty against Hejduk with only 3 minutes left wasn't much help either.

The game overall wasn't a terrible one but the Avalanche still seem to be missing that desire. They didn't come out looking like a team that craved a win. They came out looking like a team in mid-November where wins don't seem to matter as much to teams...for whatever reason. Maybe I've got unreasonable expectations and hope to see some insane play every game whether it be a forward or defense. A mind-boggling dangle to get a scoring chance. A huge backcheck to break up a 2-on-1. A diving shot block on a wide open net. Or maybe I just never see them when they happen.

The unthinkable also happened today. Karlis Skrastins sat out with a knee injury. He's no longer the reigning ironman in the league as that title is passed over to Brendan Morrison for the time being. However, he still is the current reigning all-time ironman amongst defensemen. Some speculated that he was scratched due to a pending trade, others that he was scratched for poor play. I'm thinking that he was scratched because his knee was injured. Call me crazy but I don't see them scratching the ironman for anything but a legit injury that would keep him from performing.

Jose Theodore got the start and was shelled for 5 goals...again. I will give it to him that 41 shots against is a heck of a number to stop and Theodore did make some good saves. However he needs softer equipment so those pucks quit flying off his body. His position did look a lot better today though and he swimmed to be doing less flopping. With the Avalanche essentially eliminated from the playoffs, could now be the time to give Theodore a run to regain form? Or have they given up entirely on him?

Wojtek Wolski was back in the lineup and is looking more and more confident each game. In the early part of the season, he looked like a rookie (Ok, that's obvious...) but lately he carries himself so much better. I'm not sure how to describe it but he seems less trepidatious in almost all situations. He's using his body to protect the puck and get in scoring lanes and he's making some pretty sweet passes lately as well.

Stastny, Hejduk, Sakic and Brunette all kept their point streaks going. Hejduk had a goal and assists, Sakic had a goal and Brunette and Stastny both had assists. It's great to see those players coming out flying like that to keep the offense going. Hopefully this isn't just raising Brunette's asking price on the trade market. Well, I'm sure it is but hopefully Giguere isn't thinking of doing it. We don't have many forwards that are as strong down low as Brunette is. Trying to knock the puck off him behind the boards is like [insert your favorite witty simile].

So with the two losses this weekend, I'd say this puts the Avalanche squarely into the seller's market coming up on Tuesday. I still don't think any sort of blockbuster will be pulled off involving the Avalanche. May, Laperriere, Arnason, Klee and Vaananen are the 5 most likely to go in my eyes. It wouldn't shock me to see Clark or Mclean go either. So keep your eyes peeled and continually refresing for the latest trades and cross your fingers that your favorite player isn't going anywhere! And don't worry yourself about Sakic leaving. He won't. If he does, every Avs fan near and far can come and give me a swift kick in the...

The Good
- decent powerplay
- youngsters continue to improve

The Bad
- 5 goals against
- 41 shots against
- penalty trouble

The Ugly
- Sakic-Selanne collision

Pre-game vs Anaheim - Feb 25, 2007

The Avalanche are coming off a tough shootout loss to the Kings and the Ducks are coming off a 4-1 thumping from the Stars. Should both teams come out hungry for a win? Yep. The better question is: who will come out hungry enough to get a win? The Avalanche seem to be having trouble winning when it really matters and its pretty much to the point where it doesn't matter. That might be enough to light a fire under their butts.

Wojtek Wolski should make his way back into the lineup tonight as he sat out one more game for precautionary reasons. As mentioned in my last pre-game, he'll likely head right back to the top line which will likely bump Richardson down to the #4 slot. However, with Brad May getting limited ice-time last night with Stastny and Hejduk, maybe it's time to try Richardson out on the second line. At this point, it couldn't hurt.

I'm going to check out with a pretty weak pre-game but hopefully I can do a good post-game tonight. Note, I'm taking a guess at Theodore and Giguere starting, I don't know for certain.

Brisebois - back, LTI
Leopold - wrist, mid-March
Wolski - concussion, day-to-day
Turgeon - calf, IR

Marchant - ab strain, IR

Sakic has 11 in 6, Brunette has 5 in 2, Stastny has 7 in 3, Hejduk has 11 in 8, Svatos has 3 in 3.

Selanne has 9 in 5, Penner has 4 in 5, Kunitz has 4 in 5.

Arnason, Mclean and Laperriere have 2 in 7.

Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Beauchemin have 0 in 8.

Jose Theodore - 11-13-1, 3.35 GAA, .889 save pct
J.S. Giguere - 28-8-7, 2.26 GAA, .919 save pct

Colorado - 29-28-5, 5th in NW, 10th in West
Anaheim -

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Post-game vs Anaheim - Feb 13, 2007

The Avalanche continue their winning ways against the Ducks but this time they didn't need no stinkin' shootout! They were able to take care of this one in regulation time as they came away with a 2-0 victory. It was an important win as Edmonton lost tonight so the Avs were able to make up some ground on them and idle Minnesota. It's not over yet...nor is it in the bag yet! This must be what it feels like to be a Leafs fan. *shudder*

It's not easy to shut out the Ducks and I think credit has to go to both Peter Budaj and the defense around him for giving them the goose egg. Budaj's night started off as any other night but it really picked up towards the end of the second and in the third and he made a few big saves to keep the team going.

Hejduk had a two point night with a goal and an assist. He continues to fly out on the ice and it's finally converting to points. It has certainly helped to have Paul Stastny crashing the net to gobble up any juicy rebounds off a Hejduk wrister. These two are really flying along nicely which really makes me wonder why Brad May is on their line.

I couldn't watch the game and was only half listening while I worked so I have to assume that May is out there to create some space for those two. I really don't think May can keep up with that high-flying duo though. Richardson was on the ice with those two for the second goal. Coincidence?

Karlis Skrastins put in some real iron man minutes tonight with 24:24 spent out there including 5:38 on the powerplay. He was again a shot-blocking machine with 7 on the night. Combine that with Clark's 5 and they blocked more shots than the entire Anaheim team did tonight.

Even with the shot blocks, the Ducks still managed to fire off 39 shots. And Peter Budaj was still able to chalk up a shutout! Peter Budaj put in some big saves, got some lucky bounces, and most importantly, got help from the defense tonight. Take note folks, when the defense does their part, the goalie does his and vice-versa. It's some sort of weird circle of life.

The Good
- shutout!
- 100% PK

The Bad
- took 5 penalties against the #3 PK team
- lots of shots against

The Ugly
- two hooks on Arnason in one period

Pre-game vs Anaheim - Feb 13, 2007

The season is teetering on the brink right now and Avs fans are distraught. Thankfully, the players still seem to have some hope left. Hopefully transfer that hope into energy as they head to the Pond at Anaheim. The Avs have pulled off two 3-2 overtime wins against the Ducks this season so it's not improbable to give them a fightnig chance tonight. Both teams are on a bit of a downturn right now. It's somewhat inconsequential for the Ducks though as they remain atop the Pacific division. Maybe they'll give the Avs a mercy win tonight?

Two different milestones are possible tonight. Joe Sakic is 2 goals away from 600 in his career and Andrew Brunette needs one more goal to post back-to-back 20 goal seasons for the first time in his career. To think our second leading scorer is making only $800,000 is almost laughable. I remember rubbing my eyes after reading the news of his contract extension to ensure that yes, that is what the Avalanche offered and, more importantly, what Brunette accepted.

Peter Budaj gets the start in goal tonight and he will need to be at his best to thwart the high-powered Ducks offense. They are 5th in the league in goals for and they get a lot of help from the defensive tandem of Pronger and Niedermayer. With those 2 manning the point, it's not hard to see why the Ducks have one of the top powerplay units in the league. And of course, let's not forget the penalty kill as well. Then add in the fact that the Ducks are one of the more physical teams in the league and it could lead to some defensive breakdowns. Those seem to come fairly easily for the Avalanche at the best of times!

Brisebois - back, LTI

Sakic has 6 in 3, Stastny has 5 in 3, Wolsk has 8 in 8, Hejduk has 3 in 2, Laperriere has 3 in 3.

Svatos has 0 in 4, Leopold has 1 in 4.

Perry has 0 in 8, Selanne has 1 in 4.

Peter Budaj - 16-13-3, 2.76 GAA, .905 save pct
J.S. Giguere - 26-6-5, 2.15 GAA, .924 save pct

Colorado -26-25-4, 5th in NW, 10th in West
Anaheim - 33-15-8, 1st in Pacific, 2nd in West