Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Post-game vs Boston - Mar 6, 2007

Another night on national television (as national as VS is) and another win in the books for the Avalanche. They came out with a 2-0 win in a big goaltending battle between Peter Budaj and Tim Thomas. They answered save for save until one finally snuck by Thomas at the start of the third. Milan Hejduk then sealed it with an empty netter and Avs fans breathed a sigh of relief as we witnessed the teams first 4-game winning streak of the season.

Although the shots don't entirely reflect a goaltending battle - 30-21 in favor of the Avs - the game certainly saw its share of excellent saves. Thomas is nothing if not a battler while in the crease. He's not the best of goaltenders, particularly with giving up rebounds, but he fights like no other to keep that puck out of the crease. Peter Budaj, while flashing the leather impressively, had a huge pad stack save to preserve his shutout. You don't see pad stacks often enough these days, unless you're a Devils fan. And nobody would ever admit to that.

The bigger story is that Paul Stastny saw his point streak extended to 16 games as he tied his father Peter for the franchise record. Initially, it looked like the streak would be broken but the first goal was changed to be a straight in shot from Brett Clark rather than a redirection from Brett Mclean. With that, Paul is one game away from tying the NHL rookie point streak record which was held by Teemu Selanne. Yes, I said "was held" not "is held". It'll make grammatical sense tomorrow night after the game. That's right, another prediction. I'm on a roll lately.

The penalty kill was looking very good tonight. It starts with players such as Stasnty and Rycroft making it tough for the Bruins to get into the zone and filters down to players such as Finger and Sauer who held tough in the zone and didn't scramble down low. It's a good improvement from a team that is 25th in the league on the PK.

Wojtek Wolski is looking a bit lost on the ice right now. He's not strong enough on the puck and he appears scared to take a hit. That's a bad combination for a 6'3 winger that needs to start scoring more. You can't score if the puck ain't on your stick and you can't get the puck on your stick if you're not willing to take some bumps.

Ossi Vaananen and Kurt Sauer look to be playing the body more lately. Which is good b/c those two obviously aren't going to out-race or out-finess anyone out there. Combine them with Jeff Finger, who seems happy to throw the body around, and you have a good 4-5-6 combination on the backend.

Brett Mclean seems to be fitting in well with Hejduk and Stastny. He may not be a natural fit but he looks to be working hard. He made some good plays in the defensive zone and was decent in the offensive zone. That seems to be about all those 2 need on their line is someone to play decently and contribute from time-to-time. Though he contributed no points tonight, that line still chipped in for 3 out of the 4 Avalanche points tonight.

The Good
- shutout win
- good PK
- great goaltending
- good team composure
- Sakic going 80% in the faceoff circle

The Bad
- powerplay looked disjointed
- not cashing in chances

The Ugly
- Brian Engblom's haircut

Pre-game vs Boston - Mar 6, 2007

After a short sabbatical, I'm back at the pre- and post-game reviews. I'm sure you were all on the edge of your seats wondering where I had gone. I just needed some R&R; from things before I broke down into a heap in the corner. And that short sabbatical happened right around the time that the Avalanche decided to head on a 3-game winning streak. Let's hope I don't screw up their shot at the first 4-game wining streak of the season by writing this post.

Even with a 3-game winning streak, the Avalanche still find themselves 10 points out a playoff spot. No matter how fast they dig, the other Northwest teams dig just as hard, if not harder. And it doesn't hurt that all inter-divisional games seem to go to OT lately. However the Avs aren't letting that get them down as they still see themselves as being a part of the playoff hunt. It doesn't hurt when Joe Sakic himself comes out and publicly says as much. I'm sure it bolstered the team a bit to see him say publicly what he has likely been saying privately for some time now.

Another thing that could be bolstering the team is the outstanding play from Peter Stastny lately. He's on a 15-game point streak and can tie a franchise record with a point tonight. That franchise record is held by none other than his father of course. I wonder if I had changed my last name to Stastny at an early age, if I could have excelled in the NHL. Because obviously it's just the last name that's carrying them all: Peter, Paul, Mary..I mean Marion, and Anton all had steller careers. Shane Stastny has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? By the way, I know it's Paul but I just thought I'd see if it riled anyone up that I used the wrong name in ther first sentence.

There was a good article in the RMN today about Milan Hejduk's latest run. He should easily hit a 30-goal season and could possibly rack up 70 points in total. That's a large improvement from last seasons less-than-stellar numbers. Of course, it's no 50-goal season but he looks to be on track for a very large turnaround next year. I'm going to predict a 40-goal season from him next year. And again, if I'm wrong, I'll edit this post and pretend I never said it. The Internet makes us all 100% accurate. Because if it's not on the Internet...it never happened.

Brisebois - back, LTI
Leopold - wrist, IR
Turgeon - calf, IR
Svatos - groin, day-to-day
Skrastins - knee, day-to-day

Kobasew - elbow, IR

Stastny has 12 in 7, Hejduk has 7 in 4, Guite has 4 in 4, Rycroft has 4 in 5, Finger has 3 in 3.

Kessel has 4 in 2, Bochenski has 3 in 2, Savard has 13 in 9, Sturm has 7 in 6.

Clark has 0 in 4

Chistov has 1 in 5, Ference has 0 in 11.

Peter Budaj - 21-15-4, 2.81 GAA, .905 save pct
Tim Thomas - 28-20-4, 3.06 GAA, .908 save pct

Colorado - 32-29-5, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Boston - 32-28-5, 5th in Northeast, 12th in East