Sunday, January 28, 2007

Post-game vs Detroit - Jan 28, 2007

I'm actually not looking forward to these NBC games anymore. Every time they happen, the Avs get dominated by the Wings and it makes me sad. Well actually most times the Avs play the Wings they got dominated so I can't blame NBC. It would just be too easy to point to one thing and blame this season on it. It's a comedy of errors that has the team in the hole they're in.

I thought Theodore had a very good game. I didn't catch the first period so can't comment much there, however he seemed to really settle down in the third. He came up with some big saves, including some good glove saves which is great to see. His glove has always been a trouble spot and he flashed it out a few times. He still needs to work on sucking the puck into his body and dumping rebounds to the corners. Other than that, I'd say he was the best Avalanche on the ice tonight.

I would put Paul Stastny as a close second. He really had some legs tonight and was doing some good forechecking. A hard forecheck is something the Avalanche sorely need so it's good to see Stastny step up there and show some folks how it's done. He's very calm and poised out there and has a great work ethic. I'm looking forward to seeing him in an Avs uniform for a long time.

No matter what those two did though, it couldn't make up for a terrible showing by the team. When you get outshot 41-11, that's just plain embarrasing. That doesn't include the 20 blocked shots the Avalanche had. To come away with a 3-1 win is damn near a moral victory in light of the shellacking they received in every other category. They were simply outhustled in total. The Wings beat them to every puck and just put a licking on them in the Avalanche end. It felt like a perpetual powerplay for the Wings.

Milan Hejduk had a very off game tonight. He was coughing the puck up a lot and just couldn't do anything right. It wasn't for lack of trying as he was flying out there, he just had one of those nights. And to go with the wheels of Hejduk was Marek Svatos. He really had some jump out there and made a few nice moves. He's just not strong enough to finish on those in tight plays. He's far too easy to knock off the puck.

Ben Guite had another solid game. He ended up with 17:47 in ice-time and that's really all that needs to be said. You don't end up with near top-line minutes if you're not out there working hard, finishing checks, and being a pest. He was good on the faceoff again and just looks extremely confident out there. He created a few rushes while on the PK and, although he came away with a -1 rating, is deserving of some credit.

On the worse side of the +/- was Brett Clark and Karlis Skrastins. This pair is really hit and miss at times. Some games they are hot, other games they are lukewarm. And sometimes it fluctuates during the game. They were shot-blocking machines out there but I really think they're showing signs of carrying the defensive load the last while. These aren't #1 d-men and can't handle those type of minutes without having some brain cramps. Witness the play Clark made on the PP that led to a huge shorthanded chance by the Wings. Theodore bailed him out, but not before Clark had taken a hooking penalty, negating the Avs chances at a momentum swing (if the chance really existed).

The Good
- good game by Theodore
- umm....

The Bad
- badly outshot
- badly outhit (if you take away Lappy's play)
- badly outchanced
- badly outplayed
- embarassed by Detroit again

The Ugly
- Lidstrom taking a puck to the ear (just beat out Chelios' mug)

Pre-game vs Detroit - Jan 28, 2007

It's an afternoon game today as the Red Wings play host to the Avalanche. The game is televised on TSN but I will unfortunately miss the first period while I play some volleyball. Or I could go down with an "injury" and be back in time. Who knows!

After the gut-wrenching loss to the Coyotes last night, I can only hope that the entire team comes out firing. We've shown that we can steal a point or two from the Wings this season but still haven't shown to be in their league as far as overall play is concerned. Thankfully the Wings appear to be on a bit of a downturn. Or that could work in their favor!

It's a pretty big story for Avalanche fans as Jose Theodore gets his first start since he played against Dallas way back in December. Yep, a month of riding the pine and het gets tossed in against one of the most potent offenses in the West. Seems like an odd time to put him in but either way, I hope for nothing but the best from him.

He's been working hard in practice and has been an extremely good backup to Budaj so how could you not hope that he does well. Oh, and don't forget that if he does well, then the team might pick up a point or two. And hopefully that's what really matters to people.

It's a short entry today as I have to run but being able to see the game will give me a long post-game writeup.

Liles - foot, IR
Brisebois - back, IR
May - shoulder, IR

Samuelsson - foot, IR
Schneider - knee, IR
Draper - flu, day-to-day
Lang - flu, day-to-day

Laperriere and Clark have 3 in 2, Sakic has 8 in 6, Stastny has 16 in 15, Brunette has 4 in 3.

Franzen has 3 in 3.

Svatos has 0 in 5, Wolski has 1 in 4.

Maltby has 0 in 14, Williams has 0 in 5, Datsyuk and Zet

Jose Theodore - 9-10-1, 3.13 GAA, .897 save pct
Dominik Hasek - 25-8-3, 2.03 GAA, .911 save pct

Colorado - 24-20-4, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Detroit - 30-14-6, 2nd in Central, 5th in West

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Post-game vs Detroit - Jan 20, 2007

The drought is over! The Avalanche beat the Red Wings tonight by a final count of 3-1, ending a 7-game winless drought against the Wings. I'm not about to look it up, but that may well have been a club record in terms of a losing streak against one team. Andrew Brunette potted the eventual winner halfway through the third and Joe Sakic added the insurance goal as he swept a backhand into the empty net with under a minute to play.

The story of the night, at least for me, is Lappy finally breaking his drought. Halfway through the first period he opened the scoring for the Avs and I can only imagine the relief. No, his role isn't to score goals but after the season he had last year, it still had to be a huge weight off his shoulders.

Brett Clark had a huge game in terms of ice-time tonight. He was out there for 26:49 which was the 2nd of all skaters, save for the machine himself, Nicklas Lidstrom. That included 6:39 of PP time and 3:03 of PK time. He also managed to block 5 shots and got off 4 shots of his own. It looks like he's labelled himself as the Avs #1 d-man for the time being. He certainly gives it his all every shift and is really showing some leadership in stepping in and helping stabilize the defense.

On the other end of that spectrum, Kurt Sauer and Kyle Cumiskey had the lowest ice-time of all Avs defenders. I'm all for that coaching decision. If the top 4 can step up and handle extra minutes without making fatigued errors, then by all means use them. There's no sense having that tandem out on the ice more than is necessary.

Sauer got significant PK minutes tonight which is a good way to use your biggest defender. He may not be quick but he's a big presence in front of the net to help clear bodies. Since the Avs went 3-3 on the PK, it seems like a sound strategy.

Ben Guite was in the lineup again tonight as Rycroft and Turgeon were the forward scratches. He logged 12 minutes, fired off a couple shots, dished out a couple hits and came away with an abysmal 25% success rate in the faceoff circle. So far it can be considered an anomaly as he's better than average in the circle for the most part.

Speaking of faceoffs, it looks like coach Q is going to Paul Stastny for a majority of the draws. He took 19 of a possible 45 faceoffs which is, if you have a calculator handy to verify, nearly half the draws. That just shows the kind of well-rounded player Stastny is. He scores, he backchecks, he kills penalties and he wins faceoffs. Unfortunately, well-roundedness does not equate to a spot in the YoungStars game as we know. If you have someone who can break up plays, then it'll be a much lower scoring game which would be no fun for the fans!

The Good
- beating the Wings
- 100% PK

The Bad
- 0% PP

The Ugly
- Kronwall taking a skate to the nose

Pre-game vs Detroit - Jan 20, 2007

It's that time of the year again. Time to see if the Avs can manage to not lose to the bloody Detroit Red Wings. The Avs are 4-13 against the Wings in their last 17 regular season tilts dating back to the 01/02 season. That's a dismal record to have against a team that was your arch rival. And if that wasn't enough, the Wings just got shut out by the Jackets last night and will be looking for redemption.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, Leopold will not be making his return tonight which is fine by me. Not that I don't want to see him play but how ridiculous would it be for him to come back and get injured again b/c he wasn't fully healed. The training staff would look like amateurs. Sitting out this game gives him an extra week to rest up and be 100% when he makes his return against the Coyotes on Friday.

Patrice Brisebois will also be out of the lineup as he continues to have back problems. I'm not sure if he's even taken to the ice in practice recently. I recall reading somewhere that coach Q said he was not practicing. That can't be a terribly good sign if he's not even on the ice yet. Once he's ready to come back he'll still need a practice or two to get the legs going again which means it's possible he may not be back for at least 2 more weeks.

By all accounts, Peter Budaj should be getting the start tonight. He had been seeing a lot of rubber lately but there was a 2-day break after the Phoenix game which should be plenty of rest time. The last time Budaj faced Detroit was on Jan 9th where he got the team an undeserved point when he single handedly took the Wings to a shootout. I suppose some credit should be given to Hasek in that game as he looked a bit off, which he has looked for most of January actually.

Mathieu Schneider will be out of the lineup for the Wings as it was determined that he has a sprained MCL. He is one of their top defencemen and can often be found on the power play so it will have an effect on the team. The rest of the Wings are healthy though so unfortunately it's likely not a huge hit.

In a quick edit, Joey Macdonald will be getting the start for the Wings tonight. Osgood is out sick with the flu and Hasek played last night so in steps the backup to the backup. That can be nothing but good news for the Avs.

Tonight I will be in a corporate booth watching the Saskatoon Blades take on the Calgary Hitmen tonight so my post-game might not be up until tomorrow.

Leopold - groin, IR
Liles - foot, IR
Brisebois - back, day-to-day

Schneider - knee, day-to-day

Sakic has 6 in 4, Brunette has 5 in 4, Hejduk, Arnason, and Stastny have 3 in 2.

Datsyuk has 12 in 5, Zetterberg has 10 in 5, Holmstrom has 8 in 5.

Mclean has 0 in 6, Svatos has 0 in 3.

Maltby has 0 in 12, Lang, Draper, Samuelsson, and Williams have 0 in 3, Cleary has 0 in 4.

Peter Budaj - 14-10-2, 2.59 GAA, .909 save pct
Joey Macdonald - 0-2-1, 3.67 GAA, .857 save pct

Colorado - 23-20-3, 5th in NW, 10th in West
Detroit - 30-13-5, 2nd in Central, 4th in West