Saturday, March 15, 2008

Avalanche Succumb to Devils

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
The ride atop the Northwest division hit a speed bump today as the Avalanche were defeated 4-2 by the New Jersey Devils. With Vancouver, Minnesota and Edmonton all in action tonight, there could be some tightening up in the divisional race and Colorado could find themselves bumped down to 2nd in the NW and 6th in the West.

The Devils opened the scoring late in the first as Dainus Zubrus poked him a puck that was sitting just underneath Jose Theodore. Theodore had just made a nice save on a redirection and thought he had it frozen but Zubrus spotted it and poked it home.

The Avalanche drew even before the first half of the second as Paul Stastny crept in and took a great behind-the-net feed from Andrew Brunette to beat Martin Brodeur up high. Brodeur was on top of his game tonight and was certainly a deciding factor in the outcome.

The Devils came back less then two minutes later to take the lead again as Jay Pandolfo broke down the left wing and fired a wrister past Theodore. Theodore may have been screened a bit but that was not a laser beam of a shot. It was a fairly standard wrist shot that should be stopped.

Jamie Langenbrunner and John Madden then broke open a 3 goal Devils lead by the midway point of the second. With the way Brodeur was playing, the game was very much over by that point. I was already planning out the rest of my day and contemplating whether I wanted to watch the rest of the game.

Luckily (or stupidly) I stayed tuned so I got to see the Avs pull within 2 with 7 1/2 minutes remaining. It was an odd goal that went in off Andrew Brunette's shoulder, much to the amazement of the Devils announcing crew. Apparently a goal like that is "uncharted territory" and "tough to call" what with the whole "you can't kick the puck in" rule. Have they honestly never witnessed a goal bounce off a player and in? No, you can't kick a puck in but it can go off any other part of your body. Unless of course it goes off your hand in a throwing motion, which is the real reason the goal was reviewed at all by the officials.

But that was all she wrote for the Avalanche who didn't play a bad game at all. The Devils goaltender was just better than theirs this afternoon.

Roster Changes
Wyatt Smith was recalled so he could watch this game from the press box. Cody McCormick also sat out this game after a brief return from a chest contusion. If one more Avalanche player returns too soon from an injury and ends up missing even more time, I'm going to head down to Denver myself and bar any injured players from hitting the ice again for at least one game past when they say they're ready to go.

Leopold, Foote and Forsberg all missed this game with their respective injuries. There's been no real update on when these 3 will be ready to return. Initially Leopold was just fine but he's missed 3 straight games now. Forsberg was fine in practice on Tuesday but has still not seen any recent action. And of course Foote is still nursing his hip injury. Things aren't dire at the moment so I hope they just rest up and not worry about rushing back to help the team.

Theo Back In
Jose Theodore was back in net after Peter Budaj got his first start since back on Feb 20 against the Ducks. Lets just say it wasn't the Theodore we've been expecting lately. He was tossing out some interesting rebound and had two goals sneak through under his armpit. That was an area he had issues with earlier this season and those issues came back to haunt him this game.

Bout of baldness
In case you were wondering why some Avalanche players seemed to suddenly hit a phase of premature balding, it was all for a great cause. Several Avalanche players, including John-Michael Liles, Peter Budaj and Wojtek Wolski, volunteered to have their heads shaved as part of a St. Baldrick's Day event.

St. Baldrick's day is a fund raising event to show support for children undergoing chemotherapy. There is a Donate Now link on the homepage of the site if you're feeling charitable. The event was organized by Scott Parker who continues to show that you can't judge a book by the amount of tattoos it has.

The Carolina Hurricane's are another team that has participated in one of the fundraisers and have some video available.

The 'Lanche
Seriously, why do some announcers insist on calling them the 'Lanche? When has that ever been considered a short form for the team? I guess the 'Vils announcers don't get too much 'Lanche action so they likely just don't know any better.

Related Links Recap
Yahoo! Sports Recap Scoresheet
St. Baldrick's Day Photos