Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Avalanche Clinch Playoff Spot with Win Over Canucks

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)
Breathe in deep folks. Smell that? That's the smell of playoff hockey. Yes, with a 4-2 come-from-behind victory over the Canucks tonight, the Avalanche will start a new playoff streak this year.

The only question left is which seed will they end up? They could go as high as #3 or as low as #7 so there's still some fun to be had. Unfortunately most of the fun will be had by other teams as the Avalanche are out of action until Sunday when they close out the regular season against the Wild.

And at the current moment, the Wild would be the Avalanche's playoff opponent. Is that better than the Sharks? I'm inclined to say yes though the Avs are 2-4-1 against the Wild this year. But hey, the playoffs are a whole new season so anything can happen!

Rough beginnings
The game got off to a rough start as the Canucks really had some jump in their game in the first couple minutes. I was actually on the edge of my seat in the early goings and was getting concerned that the Avalanche were going to have "one of those games"

Pessimisity turns to optimisity
My pessimism was rewarded as the Canucks built up a 2-0 lead by the 5:50 mark of the second period and things weren't looking good. Fortunately, the Avalanche powerplay miraculously came through to get the Avs within one. Then Milan Hejduk tied it up. Then Wojtek Wolski scored again. That's right, before you could blink the Avalanche had taken the lead. Well, if you didn't blink in the 5 minutes and 19 seconds it took, you might want to get that checked out.

I'm taking my puck and going home
At that point, the Canucks seemed to basically pack it in. The fans lost all their life and the team looked so frustrated I actually felt a little sorry for them. Just a little. The Canucks had a powerplay opportunity 20 seconds after the go-ahead goal and they really sleepskated through it and that pretty much emptied the arena of any atmosphere whatsoever.

Forsberg gets his first
In the third, Peter Forsberg was sprung on a breakaway by Andrew Brunette and he made absolutely no mistake as he roofed it past Luongo's glove. For his first goal of the season, he looked pretty relaxed. He also played over 20 minutes tonight so it's a good thing the Avalanche don't play again until Sunday. All kinds of time for that groin/foot to heal up again. Unless of course he lacerated his liver late in the game.

Theodore shuts the door in third
Jose Theodore put in what is becoming a standard Theodore performance. Look ok in the first, above average in the second and lights out in the third. He made some great in-close saves in the final minutes to preserve the two-goal lead and definitely helped the team get the win.

I didn't see the second goal and was too lazy to rewind but on the first goal, he got a piece of it but it looked like he was screened and/or the puck caught a deflection. I'll never blame a goalie for a screen or deflection goal. But I'll certainly hope like hell that they figure out a way to have that puck still hit them.

Foote takes one in the ear
Adam Foote caught a puck in the ear after Milan Hejduk tipped a Vancouver shoot in. He immediately hit the ice as blood started coming from what appeared to be his ear. It's never good when blood comes from your ear but in this case, it shouldn't be too serious. However Foote didn't return to the game after the incident.

Which way to the golf course?
Tonight was a rough hit to the Canucks playoff chances. Along with their loss to the Avalanche, the Nashville Predators leapfrogged them with their own come-from-behind win over the Blues. The Canucks now need some help from the Predators if they don't want to be hitting the links come April 7th.

Kharmic Aura
I'd like to give a big wave to a couple Canucks fans. I'm not sure what their names are but last year at GM place on April 5th they had some choice words for me after the Avalanche win. Well, karma is a bitch, isn't it? Maybe if you'd kept your mouth shut the Canucks would have got in this year. But you had to open your annoying mouth and cost your team a shot at the Cup. Well done.

Related Links
NHL.com Event Summary
TSN Recap
In the Cheap Seats Game Notes
ColoradoAvalanche.com Recap
Rocky Mountain Recap

Canucks Forfeight Tonight's Game

In an unprecedented move, the Vancouver Canucks have forfeited their game tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. Although citing a multitude of reasons, GM Dave Nonis did point the finger squarely at head coach Alain Vigneault.

"I did nothing at the deadline expecting that Vigneault would ride the Sedins and Luongo into the playoffs and what happens? He splits up the Sedins and lets Luongo run off to take care of his family. It's inexcusable and I've had enough."

But Vigneault was quick to respond to the allegations.

"At the trade deadline I told Mr. No-moves - I mean Nonis - that we needed scoring help. Primary and secondary. Hell, tertiary scoring would have been great. Instead he said his book - NHL GMs for Dummies - told him to build a team around a goaltender. I guess the part about needing goal support is in Chapter 2 and he hasn't got there yet."

So does this mean the Canucks are out of the playoff race? "Absolutely" said longtime captain Markus Naslund. "I think it's apparent from my intensity level that I could really give a shit about this team."

And as for all the Vancouver fans who have patiently waited for this team to win a cup while still maintaining an air of superiority?

"We don't do this for the fans." said Brendan Morrison. "I made over $3 million working for less than half a year. Screw the ticket payers, I'm rich, bitch."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Avalanche Thump Canucks

Ben Guite congratulates Jose Theodore after the Colorado Avalanche defeat the Vancouver Canucks 6-3
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Well that was the biggest win of the season by far. Tonight the Avalanche thumped the Canucks 6-3 - including 5 goals on Roberto Luongo - to jump into 7th in the West. The Avalanche are now 4 up on Nashville and 5 up on Edmonton in the playoff race. With a mere 4 or 5 games remaining between the teams gunning for the final spots, the Avalanche are all but assured a spot if they just keep the pedal pressed down.

Goaltending anti-duel
Roberto Luongo let in 5 goals which is the first time he's done that since February 9th against...the Colorado Avalanche. For a guy with a GAA below the 2.3 mark the Avalanche sure haven't had trouble scoring on him. Hey Gary, can you make an exception and let the Avs play the Canucks in the playoffs? Pretty please?

At the other end, Jose Theodore got the better of Luongo but still had some stumbling points. The first goal was a great goal by the Canucks and the 2nd goal was pure dumb luck. The third goal, however, could have turned the tide of the game in the Canucks favor. Sami Salo blasted a shot from the point and it beat Theodore cleanly on the short side. That's a puck that needed to be stopped as they were just 10 seconds away from taking a 3 goal lead into the third.

Forsberg and Hejduk together again
In what you could say is a brilliant coaching move, Joel Quenneville bumped Ryan Smyth from the RPM line and created the PPM line. And PPM stood for Point Per Minute for that trio tonight. Once those three were together they accounted for 3 goals and 9 points. Paul Stastny had a goal and two assists, Hejduk had two goals and one assist and Forsberg had three assist.

I think everyone well remembers the dynamite duo that Forsberg and Hejduk were back in day and Quenneville decided to give the duo a shot again. It payed off extremely well and I can't see why he'd bother breaking them up at this point. Of course next game they could come out flat for 5 minutes and Forsberg would find himself playing with Ben Guite.

Timeout while up?
In what I'd call another excellent coaching move, Quenneville called a timeout shortly after the Avs went up 5-2 after an icing call. Not only did it give the players a chance to catch a breather before a tough draw but it also settled the team down. They really started running around and loosening up a bit much so the timeout served to settle them back into their groove.

Smyth drops 'em?
In what I'd call a not so brilliant coaching move, after the Canucks had scored the late 2nd period goal Alain Vigneault put out a line including uber-pest Alex Burrows. Q, with last change, put out a line including Ryan Smyth rather than the grind line. What happened was Alex Burrows lined up next to Smyth and knocked his stick out of his hands off the draw. This apparently enraged Smyth and he chased after Burrows and the two dropped the gloves and fell to the ice (as Burrows was backpedaling faster than Dion Phaneuf)

Now, I think Smyth should have kept his cool and let it go but in his defense, he did get bumped down to the third line again so he may have been frustrated. But he never should have been out there at that point anyways. A 10 second shift to end the period after a momentum changing goal calls for the grind line of Guite, Lappy and McLeod.

"I really think Vancouver can come back"
In the only reference I'll make to McGuire - who wasn't that bad tonight I thought - he stated before the third period began that he really felt the Canucks could come back and take this game to OT. 23 seconds later Milan Hejduk made it 6-3 and we never heard mention of that comment again.

- Wolski had a great steal down low to lead to the 5th goal
- the Avs had 23 shots in their 4-goal second period
- Leopold left the game in the third with what appears to be another injury
- McLeod's goal was his first in 23 games and he keeps doing it against superstar goaltenders
- the fans were really into this game and it was great to hear the excitement
- that's the first 3-game losing streak for the Canucks this season
- Andrew Brunette continues to quietly rack up points with 2 assists tonight
- the Avs won the faceoff game (!!!) with 60%

Related Links
NHL.com Event Summary
In the Cheap Seats Recap
Denver Post Recap
ColoradoAvalanche.com Recap
How Luongo getting laid could help the Avs
Doing the dirty work, game in and game out

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tighter than a...

Can the Northwest be any closer? I know it's been talked about every year for the past 3 years but it's been no truer than tonight. Three teams, the Avalanche, Wild and Flames, are tied for the division lead with 84 points while the Canucks are just 2 points behind. And the "lowly" Oilers? They just beat the Sharks and are 7 points behind the division leaders. There is no other division where the bottom team isn't trailing the division leader by double digits.

So what does this mean for the playoffs? Well, right now I'd put the odds on four Northwest teams making it to the show. Nashville is close but if you look at Mirtle's playoff push numbers, they've got some streaking to do if they want to get in. Sure, it may not be terribly scientific, but it gets more accurate as the games wear on. In fact, by the time all games are done, it will perfectly predict the playoff seedings!

Yes, I was being facetious there. ;)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Avalanche Topple Canucks in Forsberg's Return

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Avalanche moved up to 3rd place in the Northwest division following their 2-1 win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks. But more importantly in a lot of people's minds was the return of Peter Forsberg.

Since signing with the Avalanche the day before the trade deadline, fans have been eagerly anticipating seeing Foppa in an Avalanche jersey. And no, practice jersey's don't count.

Forsberg's Return
The anticipation was thick in the air as the game began and almost all cameras were zeroed in on Peter as he sat on the bench to start the game. The fans didn't have to wait long to see him on the ice as 28 seconds in the game, Peter "Foppa" Forsberg set his skates on the Avalanche ice surface in a game for the Colorado Avalanche for the first time since the lockout.

The second he stood up to hop over the bench, the fans were rising to their feet in appreciation and adulation. It was the sort of display that many opposing teams fans will snicker at but had 99.9% of Avalanche fans with ear-to-ear smiles on their faces. I know I did.

So how did Peter fare in the game? Well he certainly injected some energy into both Sakic and Hejduk, his linemates tonight. Both seemed to have an extra spring in their stride throughout most of the game and I'm sure Hejduk remembers better than anyone who his linemate was during his 50-goal season. Seeing that trio flying 3-wide across the blueline, it appears they all remember each other just fine.

I was a bit nervous at times, particularly when Forsberg was controlling the puck along the boards with his skate. The Canucks took that as a good opportunity to jab away at Forsberg's foot - and who can blame them. However he held his ground like the Forsberg of old and showed that he is still one of the strongest players on the puck in the NHL.

He also got into some physical battles and showed he still has that fire inside to compete and win. So it should be an interesting stretch run for this team, even absent Ryan Smyth and Marek Svatos.

Now hang on for a second while I clean up after slobbering over Forsberg for the last minute here...

Everything else
As for the rest of the game, well I have to hit the sack and I'm not sure if I'll be able to update this until later on in the afternoon so here's some quick notes:

- Liles finally netted another goal and on the PP no less
- Wojtek Wolski started the game strong but seemed to fade away midway through
- Tyler Arnason appeared to not care less that a hockey game was happening around him
- what a lame call on Jose Theodore for delay of game (there were Canucks all over him!)
- John Garret gave a stat of the Canucks being winless without a point from a Sedin but at that point Henrik had already assisted on the Canucks lone goal
- Theodore took a knee to the head from Matt Pettinger but stayed in the game
- Theodore played strong overall but kicked out some big rebounds off his chest
- Scott Parker has no idea what to do with the puck
- or the puck is so scared of Parker that it actively tries to escape him

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Avalanche Rally Late; Beat Canucks in Shootout

Scott Parker gets ready for a tilt against the Vancouver Canucks
(Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Phew! I'm going to be at an event most of the day tomorrow and it's late now but I had to get something up. Even if it's just to say "Wooo!!!!"

Ok, I'll say a bit more. After the Canucks went up by one late in the third on a reviewed goal that barely crossed the line, the Avalanche then tied the game at 2 with just 15 seconds left in the third period. Ruslan Salei displayed superb composure keeping the puck in the zone then fired it at the net where Joe Sakic banged home the rebound.

OT solved nothing and it was off to a shootout where both Joe Sakic and Marek Svatos, not the Avalanche's best SO performers, beat Roberto Luongo and Jose Theodore went 2-2 to bring home a huge W.

And given that Nashville got clobbered 8-4 by Buffalo, that means the Avalanche are back in a playoff spot as they now hold down the 8th seed in the Western conference. Who'd a thunk it?

So in conclusion, Adam Foote = warrior, Jose Theodore = superb, Scott Parker = scary, Darwin Head = millionaire and Joe Sakic = Joe Sakic (ie. god)

Gameday: Avalanche @ Canucks

Ryan Smyth, Joe Sakic and Wojtek Wolski celebrate Paul Stastny's OT winnter
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)
After a much-needed win against the Flames last night, the Avalanche have to turn around and concentrate on another familiar foe in the Vancouver Canucks. And how big of a game is this one? Well if the Avalanche can win in regulation then they'll pull even with the Canucks, albeit with a couple extra games played, in the cramped Northwest division.

The Canucks are currently on a 4-game winning streak and you know what they - I - say, the more things stay the same, the more likely they are to change. This is the Canucks longest winning streak of the season and definitely has to end at some point. The Avalanche are 2-1-1 against the Canucks in the season series. and if I were to put money on it, I'd say tonight is the night the Canuck streak ends.

Fatigue factor?
The Avalanche are going to be a mildly fatigued group but I think the squad has really been invigorated by their recent acquisitions and can feed off of that energy. As soon as Foote made his way to the bench last night, you could see players eyes light up and smile like it was Christmas day and they were 10 years old all over again.

Foote effect
If anyone had any doubts on what Adam Foote could bring to this squad, I hope they started being erased last night. No, he didn't flatten anybody in front of the net or lay anybody out along the glass, but he stepped onto the ice and immediately began directing traffic.

There wasn't one time where the camera was on him and he wasn't intensely watching the play and directing someone where to go. That's the kind of leadership the back end was lacking and I can't stress how happy I am to see it. I mean, the guy bled in his first game with the team. What more can you ask for?

Ruslan Salei should be a part of the team tonight unless he has requested extra time to pack up and make the move. I highly doubt it so I fully expect to see him in the lineup and tossing some bodies around. Which would of course mean that there will be one healthy scratch and that man will be Cumiskey. I won't even quantify if with "probably" or "highly likely", I'm calling it a done deal.

Peter Forsberg is more doubtful I believe. Some reports are indicating that he is a possibility for the game but during Forsberg's press conference, he seemed to indicate that he wanted a bit more time before getting into the lineup.

UPDATE: In Dater's recap he notes that Forsberg will join the team in Vancouver but will not play tonight.

Starting Goaltender
It will be Jose Theodore vs Roberto Luongo tonight.

Related Links
TSN Preview

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Avalanche Beat Down Canucks

The Canucks have to be hurting tonight after the Avalanche laid the smack down on them in a 6-2 drubbing to cap off Hockey Day in Canada. With the win, the Avalanche stay just one point back of the Northwest division leading Wild. Who would have thought that with Sakic, Smyth and Stastny gone, this team would be contending for the Northwest division crown?

We'll start this one off on a bad note. Paul Stastny did not make his triumphant return to the lineup tonight as he remains on the IR list. So what exactly does that mean? Yes, it's yet another misdiagnosis. I know I'm kind of beating a dead horse but honestly guys, no news is better than fake news. Or you could just give us the truth.

How about that second line of Wolski, Arnason and Svatos? That line had a combined 9 points on the night including 3 hard working goals.

Marek Svatos continues his rise as he put in two typical Marek Svatos goals to bring his total on the season to 24. He is on pace to break his rookie goal scoring mark of 32 and is well on his way to signing a longer-term contract this summer. As long as he never forgets that he's an opportunistic goal-scorer and not Alexander Ovechkin, I'm all for it.

Tyler Arnason, sporting a visor tonight, racked up 3 more points (1g, 2a) and he now has 12 points in his last 7 games. It's about time he started picking it up as he did virtually nothing for the first half of the season after being re-signed to a two-year contract over the summer.

And to everyone's hopes, Milan Hejduk's two goals tonight could be the start of him breaking out of his goal-scoring funk. Of course we all think that every time he scores a goal in any game but dreams never hurt anybody. Unless you live on Elm Street.

And any day you chase Luongo from the net has to count as a good offensive day.

Jose Theodore put in another solid performance as he stopped 23 of 25 shots to get his 15th win of the season. He now sports a GAA of 2.43 and a save percentage of .908. That means he's more likely to let in 2 goals in a game than 3. When was the last time we could say that?

Kelly Hrudey did a brief "rise and fall and rise again" on Theodore during his Behind the Mask segment. Some of you may recall that last year Hrudey said that Theodore may have become the worst goaltender in the NHL. He also clarified that it gave him no joy to say this. Well last night it gave him joy to say that Theodore is no longer the worst goaltender in the NHL - Welcome back Dan Cloutier! - and that he is starting his rise back to the top.

Whether he'll ever reach the top again is impossible to say but for now, he's making the saves he should make, a few that he shouldn't and he's putting up big fat "W"s in the standings.

There were plenty of these tonight as the Canucks were obviously a frustrated team. Ian Lapperiere had the first fight as he met Nathan McIver coming out of the penalty box and nicely told him to not mess with Marek Svatos. McIver had roughed up Svatos in front of the net after he scored the 3-0 goal and I guess Lappy thought was it was a classless move that needed to be rectified.

Then early in the third period Cody McCormick and Luc Bourdon went at it after McCormick laid a fairly innocent hit on Bourdon. Bourdon won the fight but took away the "Doucheback of the night award", typically reserved for Dion Phaneuf, as he continued to wail away on McCormick after McCormick was down. McCormick got back up and threw a few shots while the linesmen were in there which earned him a 10-minute misconduct.

And finally Nathan McIver again got into it only this time it was with our other Cody. I'm not even sure what caused this one other than Vancouver being all "Vancouverish" about being blown out.

Also, Alex Burrows should have got a beating after he ran Scott Hannan at the end of the game. I mean come on, 6-2 and the games almost done. Just let it be over, don't stat running people.

And in the same vein but for an unrelated game, what was with the Senators being pricks in their 6-1 win over Montreal? Is it really necessary to deliver big hits in the final 5 minutes when you're up by five goals?


No surprises here as there isn't really anything else Quenneville could do with this lineup. TJ Hensick continues to center the fourth line but also plays on the #1 PP line which he has helped spark as of late.

Vigneault did his best to line match but it actually ended up backfiring as the Sedin line was on the ice for the first two goals against.

- what does the elephant and #33 on the back of Theo's mask mean? Is he a Republican who cheered for Patrick Roy?
- Mick McGeough (I think that's all that needs to be said)
- while some may not like Hrudey's analysis, there's no doubting that he's an all-around nice guy
- Jim Hughson called Theodore "wrong-handed" which could be taken as offensive to all the lefties in the world
- Ian Lapperiere was still blocking shots with a 6-2 cushion
- Byron Ritchie is annoying

Related Links
NHL.com Event Summary
ColoradoAvalanche.com Recap
Denver Post Recap

Friday, February 8, 2008

Gameday: Avalanche @ Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks host our beloved Avalanche tonight in game #3 of CBC's Hockey Day in Canada. That's right, an entire day dedicated to the glorious sport of hockey. Given that it's -31°C here - without the windchill - I just might cozy up on the couch and watch every minute of it.

The first game has the unbeloved Wings heading to Toronto for an Original Six matchup followed by a battle of Northeast division rivals as the Montreal Canadiens head to Ottawa. That should be an intense game as Montreal is making a push to take over 1st place in that division.

And finally, the Avalanche are in Vancouver for a game which doesn't start until 10:00PM ET and you know what the means. Yep, lots of Avalanche fans falling asleep before the final buzzer has sounded. Thank goodness for PVRs.

Paul Stastny was tentatively set to return tonight but Adrian Dater provided an update where he thinks the chances of Stastny being in the lineup tonight are pretty slim. So it could be another case of us getting our hopes up only to have them punctured like a cheap bike tire on a gravel road.

Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth are inching closer and closer to returns as well. At least based on the "no news is good news" theory. Dater has a piece up talking about the blasphemous thought of this injury ending Sakic's career. The longer he has to sit out, the more retirement thoughts will pop into his head so I hope he's ready to go soon. The ice sheet is calling you, Joe!

Jose Theodore is back between the pipes after a win against the Sharks on Wednesday. I still find it hard to believe that Q has chosen a #1 this early in the season. And yes, I said "early" even though the season is almost 3/4 over.

A long time ago I went searching for an Avalanche podcast. You know, back when podcasts first started appearing and became the new sliced bread of the Internet. The one I did find was unfortunately a little disappointing and I never went searching for one again.

But a couple days ago, one came calling. A fellow named Jay Vean left a comment on my Remembering a Tragedy post which pointed me over to his site. So I checked it out and I have to tell you, I loved it.

It sounds and feels professionally produced and Mr. Vean has a voice made for radio, that's for sure. I highly encourage you to subscribe to it via iTunes or whatever podcast software you use.

Related Links
Remembering a Tragedy
Avs Hockey Podcast
The Return of Foppa
Dater's Mailbag
Finishing First as Good Guy
TSN Gameday

Friday, November 9, 2007

Avalanche Dominated by Canucks; Come Away with 2-1 OT Loss

(AP Photo/Sam Leung)
It was Jose Theodore vs. Roberto Luongo as the Canucks looked to stay perfect against Northwest division opponents. Or Robert Luogno according to the game description in my program guide.

First Period
Although there were no goals scored, this was a pretty exciting period. Some good end-to-end action, some good scoring chances, lots of pressure - mostly against the Avs - and some goods saves - mostly from Theodore.

Colorado got the first powerplay chance as Daniel Sedin went off for holding. There wasn't much manufactured on this powerplay as the Canucks were very aggressive and never gave the Avs time to set up.

Vancouver then got a powerplay chance of their own as Hejduk went off for interference. The Canucks has a better looking powerplay than the Avalanche did but weren't able to put the puck behind Theodore who was out challenging the shooters at every chance.

At that point, the Vancouver announcers decided to start arguing about Colorado's goaltending situtation. Hughson arguing that Theodore was about to take over the #1 position while John Garret argued that the Avalanche "liked" Peter Budaj too much to let that happen. Uh huh.

Kurt Sauer took a late penalty with just 1:31 left to go and the Canucks almost cashed in. The puck got fired wide, Daniel Sedin then did a nice spin move to bat the puck out of mid-air and in front of the net. Theodore saw it, stuck his glove on it, then Henrik Sedin came in and poked under Theodore's glove to put the puck in the net.

The ref immediately waved it off declaring that he'd blown the play dead. The announcers declared it, correctly, an unreviewable call. So we were all a bit surprised when there appeared to be a brief review. But the call on the ice stood and the Avalanche were lucky walk away with a 0-0 tie in a period they were badly outchanced in.

Second Period
The outchancing (is that a word?) carried over from the first to the second period. It just seemed like the Canucks would set up shop in the Avalanche end and there was nothing Colorado could do about it. And this wasn't just the Sedin line. Kesler and Linden's line were also moving the puck around at will.

It was at this point that I started disliking John Garret, the Canucks color commentator. I like Jim Hughson, I think he's got a great voice and calls the game well...but I think even he got a bit annoyed with this guy. He started by declaring the hit Cooke laid on Langkow last night as "questionable" and the worst part of the hit, according to him, was it was poor timing by Cooke seeing as they were up by 3 goals. No, the concussion wasn't the worst part. It was the poor timing. I mean, come on.

The Canucks were then able to cash one in though not without some controversy. Theodore made the initial save, the puck flew straight up in the air and Henrik batted it in. The ref called it a goal but Sakic and everyone else on the Avs was all over the ref saying it was a high stick. So of course, the call goes out to Toronto for the guys in the "war room" to check it out.

Immediately, without having yet seen a replay in any form, John Garret says "Oh, this one will count". So he's got the quickest eyes in the west apparently to be able to see the puck was conclusively hit below the crossbar. Then, after seeing a replay showing how close it was, there was a pause before Hughson finally said "I don't know..." and then Garret abdicated his position a bit. He still waffled around and then, on the one angle where I thought it looked like the stick hit the puck over the crossbar, he declared it "the best angle in favor of the Canucks". Whatever.

In the end, it was a goal and rightly so. The call on the ice was a goal and there is no way any video evidence could be conclusive on such a close play. Garrett then proceeds to say Quenneville was upset about the call because he must have felt there was a "home field advantage". That one nearly put me over the top. The guys in Toronto reviewing the goal could give a flying pigs fart about which team was the home team and Quenneville could have cared less if this game was played in Kuwait or Calcutta. He was upset because he believed it was a high stick and shouldn't count. Simple as that.

Ok, off my soapbox. The Canucks continued dominating this period with Theodore making some nice saves to keep the score close. He's still kicking out rebounds to some odd places but is looking confident while doing so. That's gotta count for something.

Towards the end of the period Colorado decided to show up a bit. They had some sustained pressure of their own which led to a couple chances but Luongo was there for all of them. On one, Ryan Smyth redirected a Jeff Finger shot just wide. The color guy said the reason Smyth didn't get a good redirect was that it was "23 inches off the ice". Yep. 23. He measured. I guess.

The Canucks then had a rush of their own late but it was just offside. On the replay, it was actually tough to see but the color guy said "See, his right skate was in before the puck." Ok. What about the left one? Maybe he should review the rule book on how you actually go offside. Two skates, not one, need to cross that blue line before the puck does.

Oh, and Daniel took another penalty towards the end of the period and the Avalanche did nothing with it.

Third Period
But they did something with the rest of the Sedin penalty to start the third. After being derided for not having a shot from the point - which is true - the Avalanche scored with a weak shot from the point by Liles. It appeared to get redirected by Willie Mitchell's foot and in. I can't see any other way this one would have got past Luongo.

This didn't stop the Canucks or give the Avs that much of a boost. They got a few more chances but it was still all Canucks for most of this period. And again, Theodore made some nice saves to make up for mistakes by the defenders. Most notable were a snazzy glove save after Finger whiffed on a clearing attempt and a good shoulder save on a redirected shot from the point.

The third line combo of Laperriere and Arnason played well for most of the game. This tended to be the line where I was least nervous when they were on the ice. Likely because they weren't playing against the Canucks tough lines. Still, they manufactured a few chances but couldn't get past Luongo.

The Wolski-Stastny-Hejduk line was virtually invisible all night but they broke through late in the third to get a couple chances but again, nothing went in. Wolski, in particular, seemed quite invisible tonight. But that'll happen from time to time so no need to worry.

Mike Weaver took a late hooking penalty as he got a stick around Joe Sakic so the Avalanche had a chance to close this one out. Unfortunately they cycled the puck too much and never really got through for any scoring chances. The Canucks PK was again quite good.

Both goaltenders were playing well and they're the reason this one went to overtime. It was a pretty brief overtime though. Shortly after Finger had nailed Kesler and sent him doubled-over off the ice, the Sedins came on. That's trouble. They cycled the puck down low for about 5 hours, then finally brought it out front where Henrik tossed it on net and Kurt Sauer deflected it past Theodore.

The announcers said it went off Finger, I saw it go off Sauer. Either way, it went off an Avalanche defenseman and in. Tough one. But hey, at least they got one point out of tonight. They really shouldn't have.

Odds & Ends
- Hlinka was back in after sitting two straight
- Finger keeps on putting the body on people
- Brunette played a solid game and was the best Avalanche out there
- Guite played very well and had some key shot blocks
- the Sedins are just frightening (both looks and skill)

Paul Stastny was 9 for 10 in the faceoff circle. Yep, 90%! That's some good faceoff work. Guite and Sakic...not so much. They were 33% and 25% respectively.

Brett Clark was the ice-time leader for the Avalanche with 22:56 followed closely by Scott Hannan with 22:21. Clark was on the ice for a loooong shift at one point as each time he tried to get off, the Canucks regained position so he had to stay on to help out.

Scott Hannan had 6 blocked shots on the night. Jaroslav Hlinka had one but that might have been accidental.

Marek Svatos was dropped to the fourth line and saw limited minutes with just 9:59 in ice-time. Jaroslav Hlinka saw even less with 9:05.

Related Links
In the Cheap Seats Game Notes
ColoradoAvalanche.com Recap
TSN Recap

Friday, April 6, 2007

Post-game vs Vancouver - Apr 5, 2007

Ok, it's been a little while since I updated but let me explain...I ventured into enemy territory and took a trip to Vancouver for the week. Oddly enough, this trip happened to be right around the time that the Avalanche were in town. Weird. So there I was tonight at GM Place in section 120 watching the Avalanche keep their playoff hopes alive. It was a nailbiter of a game, mostly because Luongo was stellar and Budaj less so. Budaj stepped up in the third though and made some key saves and got the win. And since Calgary lost to San Jose tonight, the Avalanche find themselves 3 points back of Calgary with 2 games left to go. Unfortunately, one of the remaining 2 games that the Flames have is against the Oilers. Ouch.

I've got more notes to go with this but I'll hopefully amend it once I'm home on Saturday. For now, I'll do a quick good/bad/ugly and call it a night. I've toured all over Vancouver by foot so I need some beauty sleep. Who knows, one of these days I might wake up beautiful.

The Good
- key win
- Hejduk with the trick
- Stastny playing some hard-nosed hockey
- beating Luongo 3 times

The Bad
- early jitters by the whole team
- terrible powerplay

The Ugly
- Luongo (at the behest of my better-half I had to put him down)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Post-game vs Vancouver - Mar 27, 2007

The playoff picture grows ever dimmer as the Vancouver Canucks put away the Avalanche tonight by a score of 2-0. With a Flames win over the Wild tonight, that puts the Avalanche 6 points out of the final spot with only 6 games left to play. While not mathematically out, the Avalanche's scenario to make it is essentially 4 Avalanche wins and 6 Flames losses. While not out of the realm of possibility, it's extremely unlikely.

The Avalanche started out well, outplaying and outshooting the Canucks in the first period. Unfortunately getting more shots doesn't mean squat if you can't get any of them into the back of the net. The next 40 minutes were controlled mostly by the Canucks and they converted on a 5-on-3 in a penalty filled 3rd period.

Thanks to issues with Centre Ice Online, which as of this moment officially sucks and essentially stole money from me, I couldn't see the game. If I had known that a service I paid for wouldn't even let me log in, I would have made other arrangements to catch the game. Nonetheless, I doubt anyone is waiting for an in-depth analysis on a night like tonight.

The Avalanche went 0 for 5 on the PP which was likely the deciding factor. If the Avs had scored on their 5-on-3 opportunity, as Vancouver did, it would have most certainly been a different outcome tonight. Well, it would obviously be a different outcome as the Avalanche would have scored a goal...but you know what I mean. Although it's not 100% true, if you don't score on a 5-on-3, it's not often that you're going to win the game. It was proved doubly true tonight.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) that's all I have to say tonight. I wish I had been able to follow the game more closely. Blasted Centre Ice!

The Good
- got a decent amount of shots
- team still not being down on playoff chances (based on after-game comments)

The Bad
- missed 5-on-3
- scored on during 5-on-3
- being outplayed with your season on the line

The Ugly
- 0 goals

Pre-game vs Vancouver - Mar 27, 2007

It's an important night in the Western conference tonight. Well, for 4 teams in the Western conference anyways. Colorado is looking to inch closer to Calgary for the final playoff spot in the West while Vancouver looks to retake the undisputed division lead over Minnesota. Some of those items are mutually exclusive though as those 4 teams play amongst themselves tonight. So as much as Vancouver fans want Colorado to knock out Calgary (and it seems most do), they find themselves cheering for the Flames tonight as they'd much rather their team win the division. It's kind of like Sophie's Choice.

The Avalanche will try to edge closer to, or at least keep pace with, the Flames with Jose Theodore in net. After all the speculation after Sunday's game, it's finally official that he will be in goal tonight. That in itself is an interesting dilemma. If the Avs lose, it will be due to Theodore being in goal. If they win, it will be in spite of Theodore being in goal (to many fans). So Q can look either like a lucky man or an idiotic man. Here's to hoping he ends up looking like a lucky man! Theodore does have good stats against Vancouver this year so hopefully he can keep that up. He looked ok in relief Sunday and well enough in the shootout. And if Q feels he's good to start, then I'd like to think that he's looked good in practice as well.

Wojtek Wolski will be back in the lineup tonight after being a healthy scratch on Sunday. The last time he was a healthy scratch, we all know what happened. He came out on fire and I hope that happens again. He's looked absolutely lost on the ice lately and maybe watching from the press box helped him analyze his game a bit. He has still had a very good rookie season though and there's no reason to get down on him for the future. It's just the "now" that hasn't been so hot.

The current reigning ironman makes his return to the ice after missing time with a knee injury. Or did Morrison pass him and he's now the reigning defensive ironman? Either way, you all know I'm talking about Karlis Skrastins. To make room for him, Ossi Vaananen finds himself the healthy scratch. I'm ok with it b/c it keeps Finger in and I've liked the fire he brings to the ice. Vaananen hasn't been too hot lately either so this shouldn't be much of an issue. The only question is if it will disrupt a defensive core that has had a fair bit of success lately.

Joe Sakic will obviously be in the lineup tonight and he enters the lineup tied with Ray Borque for 9th all-time in scoring as well as being tied with Dino Ciccarelli for 15th on all-time goal scoring. So if he scores a goal tonight he takes sole possession of each spot and will even further solidify his hall of fame status. I'm not sure how much more it could be solidified but where's there's a Joe, there's a way. And if he were to score that goal on the powerplay, he becomes only the 14th player to score 200 powerplay goals. Well, I guess that's the way to solidify it even more!

Brett Mclean shared the hero status in yesterday's game with Joe Sakic. He scored a softie goal on Luongo (and you don't get many of those!) and got the shootout winner as well. He has been playing fairly well on the 2nd line with Hejduk and Stastny. He certainly isn't a superstar player by any means but he has 3 points in his last 2 games and has 8 in his last 11. I'm happy with numbers like that from a guy simply playing the complimentary position to the Hejduk-Stastny tandem.

Sakic has 11 in 5, Brunette has 11 in 6, Hejduk has 16 in 13, Mclean has 3 in 2, Arnason has 5 in 3.

Sedin #1 has 9 in 5, Sedin #2 has 5 in 3, Linden has 5 in 5, Pyatt has 2 in 2.

Stastny has 0 in 4, Wolski has 1 in 4.

Smolinski has 0 in 3, Cowan has 1 in 5.

Brisebois - back, IR
Leopold - wrist, IR
Turgeon - calf, IR

Kesler - hip, IR
Ohlund - elbow, day-to-day
Salo - groin, day-to-day

Jose Theodore - 12-14-1, 3.35 GAA, .885 save pct
Roberto Luongo - 43-20-6, 2.29 GAA, .921 save pct

Colorado - 39-29-7, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Vancouver - 45-23-7, 1st in NW, 3rd in West

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Post-game vs Vancouver - Feb 18, 2007

Another nail got hammered into the Avs coffin tonight. There are still a few nails left to go in but that lid is sealed fairly tight right now. The game was going all right and was even tied up at 2 heading into the third. That was very short lived. Klee and Theodore had a miscommunication which ended up with one of the Bobbsy twins getting a gift. Then with Tyler Arnason in the box for a hook, Morrison sealed the deal. Oh sure, the Avs came back and made it a 1 goal game but you knew how this one would end after the early third period goal.

Although the Avs called up Jeff Finger, he was resigned to making his debut up in the press box as Q decided to go with 6 defensemen. A dubious choice as 7 D was working fairly well for the team it seemed. I'm not sure why you call up someone to make them sit in the press box. It would seem obvious that he was called up when Leopold was injured again but maybe he was called up because Leopold was injured *and* a deal was almost done for one or our defensemen. Let the speculation begin!

With Wolski being out, it paved the way for Brad Richardson to play on the first line and for Marek Svatos to be re-inserted into the lineup. Richardson made an impact tonight as he scored another shorthanded goal, fired off 4 shots, blocked 2 and was +1 on the night. Marek Svatos managed one shot, took a roughing penalty, and was on the ice for just 9 minutes. Two promising youngsters but it's really tough to see Svatos hit such a rough patch. After a 32 goal performance in an injury shortened season, he looks set to follow that up with a 15 goal performance in a healthy scratch shortened season.

Well, there is a GM meeting tomorrow so who knows what could come of that. Giguere was likely reluctant to make a move when there was still a chance to claw back in. Now, the chance is pretty slim and he just might pull out a deal or two before the deadline. I don't expect any blockbusters but some of our UFAs could be on the way out (Arnason? Klee?) in return for picks or some non-UFA depth players.

The Good
- 4 goals for

The Bad
- 5 goals against

The Ugly
- losing to the Canucks

Pre-game vs Vancouver - Feb 18, 2007

Another day, another game against a divisional rival. This time the Avs are rolling into Vancouver to see if they can solve the riddle that is Roberto Luongo. They haven't had much trouble solving him in the past but lately he's playing like a man possessed. If not for him, and the Sedins, Vancouver would likely be battling with Colorado and Edmonton to not end up last in the division.

Jose Theodore should get the start in goal tonight. Not because Peter Budaj was shaky against Calgary, which he was a bit, but because it's a back-to-back game and Theodore has a good record against Vancouver. Budaj didn't get pulled last night and if Theodore manages that feat tonight, then my dream of two straight games with no goalie being pulled will become reality. Isn't it sad that that is my hope this late into the season? Maybe it's just me.

Wojtek Wolski is not going to play tonight after getting rattled by Craig Conroy late in Saturday's game. He'll be evaluated once he's in Denver and I'd say they'll tell him "You got clocked in the head" or something along those lines. If it's his first time getting his bell rung, it likely looked worse than it was. Hopefully he's not out for a signifant amount of time.

Jordan Leopold, our anti-ironman, is out with a wrist injury and is day-to-day. It appears he took an awkward fall into the boards on Thursday. If he was anything like a certain ironman, he'd strap a cast on and get his ass back on the ice. Jeff Finger will be in the lineup tonight so there should be enough d-men, but it's about quality, not quantity. We'll see how the blue line holds up, especially if Vaananen ends up with a suspension. If it hasn't happened by now though, I don't see it happening.

Brisebois - back, LTI
Leopold - wrist, day-to-day
Wolski - head, day-to-day
Turgeon - calf, IR

Kesler - hip

Sakic has 6 in 2, Hejduk has 8 in 4, Brunette has 4 in 2, Stastny has 8 in 6.

Naslund has 10 in 9, Morrison has 4 in 3, Salo has 3 in 2, Cooke has 3 in 3.

Laperriere, Arnason, Mclean, and Wolsi have 0 in 3.

The Sedins have 1 in 4, Bieksa has 0 in 8.

Jose Theodore - 11-12-1, 3.28 GAA, .892 save pct
Roberto Luongo - 33-18-3, 2.32 GAA, .922 save pct

Colorado - 28-26-4, 5th in NW, 10th in West
Vancouver - 33-21-4, 1st in NW, 3rd in West