Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Red Wings Sign Hossa

(Marian Hossa in his former job as a bus boy)
The Detroit Red Wings have won the Marian Hossa sweepstakes signing the winger to a one-year contract worth $7.4M. So much for not paying anyone more than Nik Lidstrom, eh? I think that line of reasoning is a bit specious anyways. EDIT: Can't function this morning apparently. Lidstrom is getting 7.45 but I thought he was getting 7.25.

I actually had a brief email back and forth with a TSN personality last night in a similar vein. He - or she - said that Huet making more money than Martin Brodeur was ludicrous; as if that's the main reason that contract is insane. In terms of capabilities, yes it's crazy. But in terms of a market place, it's not a true comparison. Brodeur signed an extension 2 1/2 years ago and a lot has changed in the NHL market since then. That's why long-term contracts, while more or less guaranteeing job security, won't always guarantee that you get paid what you're worth based on the market.

Anyways, I'm getting a bit off track so back to Hossa signing with the Red Wings. Yesterday, the Wings picked up Ty Conklin for $750,000 to backup Chris Osgood. Most people expected Conklin to sign for at least $1M based on his run with the Penguins. Instead, he was cajoled onto the Cup winning team for a bargain price. Well done Detroit.

Then Marian Hossa, who I'm sure had about 8 kajillion different offers to look over yesterday, decides to head to the Cup winning team as well. If you're the kind of guy who wants to chase after a Stanley Cup, it makes sense for both sides. The Wings need to sign Zetterberg next year and he won't be cheap. This does nothing to change their cap hit for next year. For Hossa, he goes to a team that is virtually unchanged from the one that steamrolled their way to the Championship this spring.

And I guess if the Wings don't win the Cup next year - and God willing they won't - Hossa will bolt to the next team he feels is a contender.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Top 10 Reasons to Hate the Detroit Red Wings

In case anyone is bored on a Sunday and is dreading seeing the Wings hoist the Cup over their heads in a few days - sorry Pens fan - here's a Top 10 list for you from Simply Drew:
Top 10 Reasons to Hate the Detroit Red Wings.

But don't worry Wings fans, Uncle Joey still loves you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Avalanche to Poach Coach from Red Wings?

Could the Avalanche be trying to poach from the enemy? Terry Frei thinks it's a possibility and that Todd McLellan, the Red Wings assistant coach, could be a solid fit for the vacant head coaching position for the Avalanche.

McLellan was snagged by Frei after the Wings morning skate Monday and asked if he would be interested in the Avalanche head coaching position. The response? "I would be very interested."

And the match made in heaven didn't stop there as he followed up with these romantic words: "So I'd like to coach a high-tempo, fast, puck-possession type team."

Now I'm very interested. McLellan is in charge of the Wings forwards including their powerplay so how could you not be intrigued?

Read the whole piece from Frei as it really delved deep into McLellan's past including a stint in the WHL where he set foot on the ice against our very own Joe Sakic.

EDIT: I'd love to hear from the folks who feel Tony Granato would be the best option. I'm not a big fan of Granato stepping into the head coach role - heck, he's struggled at times as an assistant - but I'm open to hearing why I might be wrong.

Related Links
Wings assistant coach could be the Avalanche's next coach
The men behind Mike Babcock

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Avalanche Swept by Red Wings

The game wasn't even half over and I was already writing a "recap" post. The Wings torched the Avalanche 8-2 to end Colorado's season. But not Joe Sakic's career. He will be back next season.

How is it possible that up to this point, TJ Hensick and David Jones had the least ice-time of the Avalanche forwards? Just ridiculous. Those two were the only players left that had any jump to their step and their asses are planted on the bench. Inexcusable.

Theodore made big saves against the Wild. He did not make any saves against the Wings. Blame the defence as much as you want but Theodore was not good enough this series.

2-on-1's are tough but it looked like Theodore was flowing through mud on the two that beat him today. And that first goal? There's the backbreaking goal I was talking about the other day. It just came one day later than I thought it would.

Ill-advised pinches, lazy turnovers, non-existent outlet passes. The quality of play was just not there from these guys.

Yes, the Wings are a talented, tenacious team but the defence should have been able to do better than this.

Who was the idiot that brought the octopus in and tossed it on the ice when the Wings were up 6-1? Not only are you an idiot for carrying an octopus around with you, but you're an idiot for not having a modicum of decency.

I would never flaunt a blowout in another teams building, not even Joe Louis.

This is it for Forsberg. No way he comes back to play next year when his body couldn't even hold out for a dozen games this season. It's unfortunate but you have to admire the man's competitiveness in trying to stage a comeback.

As for Sakic, as I said above, I don't think this is it for him. He still has a season left in the tank.

Offseason game plan
A bit early to discuss that, at least for me. I have thoughts on what needs to change but I'll wait until the loss stings a bit less.

Up next?
For me, the World Championships kick off tomorrow. If the Avs were still in, it would mean double-duty in terms of fandom. As it stands, I'll be able to devote my entire heavy heart to hoping for a World Championship Gold on home ice.

Related Links Event Summary

Playoff Gameday: Avalanche vs Red Wings - Game 4

Could this be it for the Avalanche team and fans this season? Will tonight's game end in the agony of a sweep at the hands of the team's "bitter rivals", the Detroit Red Wings?

I will boldy say "No!"

I was off most of the afternoon giving a talk at the U of S to get high school students interested in the tech world - and believe me there's lots to be interested in - which left me a bit behind on my actual work.

So I don't think I'll be saying much other than:
Stastny - out
Smyth - out
Wolski - out
Forsberg - out
Svatos - out
Clark - out

Is there anyone left to suit up?

And finally, I will not allow myself to believe this is Joe Sakic's final year.

So this isn't much in terms of a preview from me. Fortunately the Avalanche fan base are blessed with a great group of bloggers who have put out some amazing posts today which should keep you reading until game time. And not only amazing posts, but some pretty clever titles.

So I'll encourage everyone to check out their words and make sure to clear a 3-hour timeslot from 9:30 ET to 12:30 EDT. The game doesn't start until 10:00 EDT but use the first 30 minutes to align the beer and chips on the coffee table, put the kids to bed (if applicable) and settle into a nice ass-groove in your favorite chair/couch.

From that point on, cheer like hell and help will this team to a victory tonight. Because nothing hurts worse than getting swept.

Related Links Preview
TSN Preview
19 Reasons to watch tonight
The wheels on the bus fall down and down
O Captain! My Captain
On effort
Peter Forsberg out for Game 4'
Theodore's goal: Playing for pride
MHH Gameday Open Thread
On the Wings Preview

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Red Wings Take 3-0 Series Lead Against Avalanche

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Well that's the season folks. The only question remaining is whether the Avalanche will go out with a bang or a whimper.

For now, I'm going to go whimper into my pillow and will recap in the morning.

UPDATE: I whimpered too long and woke up late. So here's a few quick notes and hopefully I'll find time for a recap at lunch.

UPDATE 2: It looks like I won't get time today to do a full recap so following the notes below, I've put up my raw game notes, swearing and all.

Edited Notes
- Hlinka was out, Forsberg was in
- Forsberg was almost out again after the first period but gutted it out
- caught the first 10 minutes on French is non-existent these days
- once Dallas was over, I was treated to ol' Pierre McGuire
- Foote and Sauer were broken up with Foote-Leo and Salei-Sauer
- Sauer doesn't shift from backwards to forward quickly enough and that's why he tends to get victimized by forwards on the outside
- Hensick drew in and played a whale of a game
- David Jones was on fire but still couldn't finish
- Chelios had a brutal game
- Theodore is now 2-16 with 14 straight losses in the second round
- On Datsyuk's 2nd goal, he didn't deflect it or get a rebound...he actually knocked the puck out of the air before it got to Theodore and put it in

Raw Notes
forsberg, sakic, jones
hejduk, stastny, brunette
mcleod arnason hensick
mccormick, guite, laperriere

Hannan, Liles
foote, leopold
salei, sauer

Watching in French

Switch up at D with Foote and sauer broken up
Hensick draws in

Wings fly in fast!

Lappy crunches someone

Hensick gets one!
pnealty was coming, arnason hangs, hensick fires and mcleod tipes it in!

this is how I wanted them to come out!
osgood looking a bit shaky
tossing rebounds, not gobbling up close pucks
mccormick tossing his body around

detroit gets first powerplay
sauer and foote together for kill

oh joy, it's pierre
"all due respect to dallas, all due respect to pittsburgh, all due respect ot montreal" - STFU (1st Det goal)

datsyuk ties it on a nice play

Franzen gets em up by wide open behind Leopold

forsberg gone from bench midway through

Forsberg back
Stastny not coming back

Kronvall still hates Jones

Chelios getting picked apart

Sauer doesn't turn from back to front fast enough - hesitates like he's thinking about whether he should do it or not - or is just clumsy

Hensick playing great! Energizes crowd single-handedly

Datsyuk scores
I don't think Theodore ever stopped it. I think Datsyuk did and potted it.

McCarty penalty for holding - free hand
Bruno! Great pass from Hej and Liles blasts it to front and Bruno with awesome tip-in

energy line has good shift after goal
hensick lines comes out after
detroit ices it
forsberg, hejduk, sakic out right away with no word from Q
Forsberg tries his spin shot but it's blocked
Forsberg takes a penalty! Fuck! Just reckless. double-minor. pussy dive by Samuelson
Beauty PP goal

Forsberg sakic hejduk together since start

That is a brutal idiocy for calling Forsberg on goaltender interference
Even-up call on Zetterberg after

too many men on Colorado - yeesh
Wings then had too many but no call

Lappy with a break but hesitates too long

penalties on Forsberg - no good in the box!

Quenneville 3-10 all-time vs Red Wings
Theo 2-15, 13 straight losses in 2nd round

Osgood settling in now

Detroit too many m en
nothing for Avs PP
Detroit too many again
Need to capitalize on this mistake!
Bruno in front off Sakic, step and shot!

Forsberg demolishes Kronvall
Foote crunches Zetterberg out of crease

Definite hi-stick on Wings on Leopold
Franzen hauls Forsberg down but no penalty - didn't touch puck!

Hudler clangs iron

Theo out but can't gain zone

And...that's the season

Related Links Event Summary
Detroit exposes Avs fatal flaw
Where'd I put that shaving kit
Brutal officiating
On the Wings Recap
CBC Blog Recap

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Red Wings Hammer Avalanche in Game 2

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Ouch. Double ouch. Triple ouch. Hell, it was a quadruple ouch. It was a virtual carbon copy of Thursday's game as Detroit shelled Jose Theodore for 4 goals and chased him from the net in a 5-1 win this afternoon.

The only difference is that this time, the 4 goals didn't all come in until midway through the second period and Theodore managed to stop 16 shots as opposed to 12. Everything else from the first 30 minutes Thursday carried forward for a full 60 minutes today. The Wings never let up on the gas and the Avalanche only managed a few solid shifts with sustained pressure and looked resigned to losing the game.

Goaltending controversy
Now we have a true goaltending controversy no matter what Quenneville says in the post-game press conference. Two games straight Jose Theodore has been nailed for 4 goals and yanked with Budaj stepping in and letting in only 1 goal on 40 shots.

The team could have helped out more but Theodore looked less-than-average on most of the goals and did not look like the dominating force from the Wild series.

Personally, I would go with Budaj. Sure, Theodore got the team this far but you can't play him just because you feel you owe him anything. You play the goaltender who looks like they can do something for you. And if Theodore plays on Tuesday and lets in the first goal, the team is going to be supremely demoralized.

Injuries abound
We all knew Peter Forsberg was going to be out. We all knew Wojetk Wolski was going to be out. We did not except Scott "Dave" Hannan to sit out. Remember when he took that puck to the inside of the boot last game? Well, I guess it stung more than he let on Thursday.

He really should have just kept his skate on so his foot didn't have a chance to swell and any broken bones would be held in place. It wouldn't be too awkward, right?

Oh, and the "Dave" nickname there? Well, ol' Doc informed us that Dave Hannan was not in the lineup tonight and it was a big blow to the Avalanche. Good job NBC crew. Milbury, McGuire and Emerick. The only redeeming part of that crew is Ed Olcyzk because he actually calls McGuire on some of the crap spewing from his mouth.

The Mule
Johan Franzen has become a media sensation to the point that I'm a bit sick of hearing how nobody has heard of him before. I guess since the "Blood Feud" has healed itself up there really isn't much else to talk about in the this series.

That's not to say that Franzen hasn't been worthy of the praise though. He had a hat trick tonight as he continues to be unstoppable in front of the net. Of course, he is stoppable but don't tell that to the Avalanche defence. It might hurt their feelings.

Defensive doldrums
Was it just me or did the defense look to be standing still today? I know the Wings have some speed but they're not filled with Gaborik's and Lombardi's. Adam Foote and Kurt Sauer were caught on multiple occasions softly leaning on players or getting cement feet as they tried to decide what to do.

On the Wings first goal, Foote was halfway between Franzen and Samuelson and couldn't seem to decide whether he wanted to block the shot or get position on Samuelson.

On Franzen's second goal, he circled around the net with Sauer chasing him, ended up with time and space and roofed it on Theodore. Now Franzen is certainly not fast so Sauer should have been able to keep up with him. And ideally, as soon as Franzen stepped around the corner he would have been plastered by Foote who was just standing in front of the net with nobody else around.

I won't even continue to expand on the gaffs those two made lest it look like I'm picking on them. But I will mention that the fourth goal by Henrik Zetterberg was Sauer's fault for a bad pinch.

Hlinka in the lineup
Jaroslav Hlinka drew in, spent some time on a line with Sakic and looked pretty much like a player who shouldn't be playing in this series.

Of course, that goes for a lot of Avalanche players at this point so I won't hold it against him.

There's no fighting in the playoffs
There usually isn't much fighting in the playoffs but tonight we finally had one. Once the score was at 4-0, Cody McCormick asked Darren McCarty if he wanted to go and the two hesitantly dropped gloves. McCormick swung some Wild punches, McCarty tried to bring the fight in close and the two ended up on the with McCormick on top. About as minor a victory as it gets but it's something.

McGuire's Monsters
Pierre McGuire can't get off the nuts of any coach who...oh I don't know...plays his best players as often as possible. Late in the season he was declaring Joel Quenneville a Jack Adams finalist - please - and slobbered all over him in a game on TSN because he did things like play Joe Sakic often. Or put out his #1 D pair against the opposing teams top line. I'm surprised he didn't commend him for having the appropriate amount of players on the bench.

He did the same thing today with Babcock as he praised him on any line change he made which involved putting Zetterberg or Datsyuk on the ice. Hell, if I was a coach I'd have them on as often as possible too.

And Pierre, we know the Avalanche don't have a big point shot. They haven't for a couple years now. It's a non-story so quit bringing it up even when the teams are playing at even strength, let alone on the powerplay.

Back to the Can
The teams have a two day layoff as they head back to Denver to get ready for game 3. I hope in those two days that the Avalanche can look deep into their minds and muster up some cajones.

Yes, the Red Wings are a talented team but they're not this much more talented than the Avalanche. I'm not sure what kind of mental block this team has against the Wings but it has grown more than old. It's older than the moldy leftovers in the back of my fridge that I fear touching lest I catch some bizarre superbug.

So wake the hell up Avalanche. Give us something to cheer about.

- Liles put in 23 minutes and looked half decent amongst his defensive bretheren
- Filpulla crunched Foote from behind in a nasty hit but both refs were apparently watching out for flying octopi and didn't make a call
- Brett Lebda was -1 for the day
- Lappy scored a goal but we didn't get a classic Lappy celebration as the game was 4-1 at the time

Related Links Event Summary Recap
Denver Post Recap
On the Wings Recap

Playoff Gameday: Avalanche vs Red Wings - Game 2

This is going to be a brief preview and then I'm going to jump on a soapbox so buckle up.

Lineup, injuries and game time
Peter Forsberg is questionable, Wojtek Wolski is out for the series, and Jose Theodore will likely start.

Jaroslav Hlinka should find himself in the lineup regardless if Forsberg is in or not. If Forsberg stays out, Q will likely keep McCormick in.

The game starts at 2:30pm ET and this is a game the Avalanche need to win. If they can split the series at Joe Lemon arena, they take home ice advantage in the series and get to come back home to a raucous Pepsi Center where we'll find out what real fans are made of.

True fans
I spent a good deal of time yesterday over at A2Y "conversing" with the Red Wings fans who frequent that site. Mostly because it was a cold, dreary Friday but I guess I also felt like killing a brain cell or two.

Anyways, through the course of the discussions I was accused of not being a "true fan" because I stated that I would continue to watch hockey even if the Avalanche were eliminated from contention. I wouldn't, as their fearful leader stated, go on sabbatical and refrain from even talking about hockey. You know, the sport that enables me to actually have a favorite team.

This set off one fellow who said I made him "sick to his stomach" and blah blah blah. He then went on how Wings fans have a genetic hatred for the Avalanche which, as Jib pointed out, makes no sense given the time frame for the Avalanche hockey team. That the true Wings fans were indoctrinated since birth. They came flying out the slide wearing a Wings jersey. They know what it means to follow the team through ups and downs and to suffer heartbreak at many first and second round defeats after winning the meaningless President's Trophy. Ok, I added that last one.

Well what do you think Avalanche fans right now are doing? After a season in which we all felt confident that the Stanley Cup was coming back home, our star-studded team ended up bowing out in the second round, putting an end to a chance at a third cup over nine seasons. We had to watch a rookie coach make endless mistakes including benching an "underachieving" star in Teem Selanne when it turns out he was injured all season.

Our team was then gutted after the lockout thanks to some ill advised low ball moves by our former GM. We lost Adam Foote, we lost Peter Forsberg, we lost Rob Blake, we had David Aebischer as our #1 as Patrick Roy had recently retired and the cupboards were bare in terms of goaltending prospects.

The team we love and cherish dearly struggled to make the postseason that first year back but managed to get our hopes up with a first round win over the Dallas Stars. They then got their asses handed to them by the Anaheim Ducks. Yes, the friggin' Walt Disney team sent them packing.

The next season they didn't even qualify for the show. With their fate out of their hands, they had to sit idly by and watch the Calgary Flames get in to the 8th slot by one lousy point. We were forced to watch the team that we love play a meaningless final 30 minutes in their last game all the while wondering "What happens next?"

Well you know what we all did next? We got up, dusted ourselves off and prepared for the next season. We didn't hang our heads, piss and moan like two-year-olds and swear off hockey. We begrudgingly followed along and started scouting out what changes the team should make. What they needed to do to bring us back what is rightfully ours. The Stanley fucking Cup.

Yes, I don't swear very often - on this blog anyways - but I must admit that being told Avalanche fans were not true fans really pissed me off. Sure, there may be some suits at Avalanche games who really should be drinking sherry and talking about the election instead of taking in a hockey game. But there are thousands upon thousands of true fans out there who care passionately about this team. Who want nothing but success and don't define failure as an option.

But if failure does come, we have the balls to learn from it, move on, and continue to cheer for a team that we have dedicated countless hours to whether it be watching, listening, reading, writing, commenting, cheering, booing or praying.

I follow along on Joe's open threads at Mile High Hockey when I have my laptop with me and can say without equivocation that the fans who spend there time there have more respect and class than Red Wings fans will ever hope to have. They also have more hockey knowledge, passion and caring than the immature "A2Y 19" could ever hope to achieve. The community that has sprouted up there is exactly what I expect from true fans. Cheers, heartbreak, a bit of name calling and an overall modicum of respectability.

I read all the Avalanche blogs that are out there and every one of them brings some amazing insights into each game. There is no need for any of us to degrade the opposing teams to show our passion. It's there in the hours of writing spent on the team every week. The ups and downs are expressed in the frustrations we all vent over things like Tyler Arnason only scoring against Edmonton or Karlis Skrastins trying to join the swim team with his spectacular ice stroke manoeuvre. And we do it all because we truly care for this team.

I'm proud to be an Avalanche fans and I'm proud of what our fanbase is, even if we have a few black sheep straying around. I'm proud that I can hold my head high on the heels of 2 Stanley Cups in the past 11 seasons. After a string of 11 straight playoff appearances. After 5 Conference Final appearances in 11 years. And finally, even while enduring a rough patch in the teams already storied history.

So Wings fans, feel free to poke fun at the team we cheer for - it's what you do in sports - but never question the loyalty of our true fan base.

Related Links
Game 2 Anticipation
MHH Open Thread
Colorado Avalanche Injury and Roster Updates Game Preview

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Playoff Gameday: Avalanche @ Red Wings

UPDATE: Peter Forsberg is out. Ouch. I don't even have to expand on how much that hurts.

I'll just a do a quick link roundup for now. I haven't even read through everything let alone set aside time to write anything!

Avalanche Links
Denver Post Avalanche-Red Wings Matchup
Jose Theodore through the years
Good in goal, great goaltending runs (psst, Roy was a rookie in '86)
Goal standard for Avs goalie
Uphill battle for Avs
5 questions with Adam Foote
RMN Avalanche Report
Avalanche goalie adamant he shouldn't be likened to Patrick Roy

Red Wings Links
Wings-Colorado rivalry is back
Blood feud is getting a renewal
On the Wings Blog Series Preview
Oh, there will be blood (and maybe a hug from a lovable kitten?)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Semi-finals Series Preview: Avalanche vs Red Wings

The cover of Blood Feud, Adrian Dater's book on the Colorado Avalanche - Detroit Red Wings rivalry
Break out your copy of Tomb Raider, slip on the Doc Martens and crank up the Pearl Jam. That's right, it's retro time!

The Colorado Avalanche are set to face the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semi-finals in the NHL playoffs. And predictably we've been subjected to many lame quips - such as the one above - due to the history between these two clubs.

And if you don't know the history, you might want to pick up Adrian Dater's book Blood Feud. And I'd also hope that you're a new fan to the game otherwise I'd ask what rock you've been under for the last few years.

History is just that...or is it?
However those days are long past and I much prefer to look to the future than to look to the past. I mean really, what does the series history between these teams mean to this series? Not a hell of a lot in my eyes.

Joe Sakic, however, begs to differ:
“I know the guys who were around for that time, we’re definitely excited. We can feel it. You know the buzz around the whole city is there,” said Sakic.
There are 12 players - 4 for the Avalanche and 8 for the Red Wings - still with a bittersweet taste left in their mouths from the rivalry. Well, Draper certainly still has the taste of something in his mouth still.

So it is entirely possible that the previous feud will ignite a passion in some of the older players that may not have been there if the Avalanche had ended up facing the Sharks and the Wings had to duke it out with the Stars.

Regular season routing
During the regular season, the Red Wings put a beating on the Lake Erie Monsters. The Wings shut them out on three separate occasions and also posted a 4-2 win late in December.

Avalanche fans can take solace in the fact that the squads iced by the Avalanche during those games were far different than the current squad.

Adam Foote, Ruslan Salei and Peter Forsberg were obviously not in an Avalanche uniform for those games, Joe Sakic has not played a game against the Red Wings this season, Paul Stastny and Ryan Smyth have only been in the lineup twice and Karlis Skrastins was in the lineup for all 4 games.

That's a pretty significant boost. The team is stronger, tougher and more experienced than they were a couple months ago.

But how do they match up against a strong Red Wings team?

Offensive Output
The Avalanche need to fend off the first wave from Datsyuk and Zetterberg while keeping an eye out for the second wave from Hudler and Franzen.

Combine that with Lidstrom and Rafalski on the back end - and Tomas Holmstrom's back end - and there is plenty of offensive firepower to keep an eye on.

On the flip side, Osgood will need to be wary of crash-and-bang players like Ben Guite, David Jones and Ryan Smyth.

Jordan Leopold and Ruslan Salei have stepped up on the back end for the Avalanche and have provided some much needed points from the point.

Defensive destruction
Deadline day acquisitions Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei have been dynamite for the Avalanche. Foote shut down Gaborik and anchored down a shaky defensive squad. Ruslan Salei plays on the PP and PK and has stepped it up physically. I don't think I could ask for more from either of those players.

Scott Hannan has become invisible which is exactly the way I like him. If I'm not noticing him that much, then he's not making mistakes. I invariably expect a defenceman to do his job so when he does, I tend not to make mention of it.

Frankly it's because I spent so much time being defensively responsible during my hockey playing days that I simply expect it. If I could do it, I think an NHLer should be able to do it.

The Red Wings squad is led by Nik Lidstrom, supported by Brian Rafalski

Goaltending gonads
Yes, I used the word gonads. Mainly because I drew a blank while trying to think of a "G" word to go with goaltending.

Jose Theodore was brilliant down the stretch and turned it up a notch in the playoffs, as he has done in the past.

At the other end, Chris Osgood has taken over the reigns after Hasek let in one too many long shots for coach Mike Babcock's lightning.

So you've got a resurging young goaltender battling it out with a resurging veteran. Can youth trump experience? I like to think so.

And make no bones about it, if the Avalanche are to win this series, they are going to require Jose Theodore to be no less than bloody brilliant in every game.

Coaching quarrel
Mike Babcock is an excellent coach. Joel Quenneville has been an above average coach thus far in the playoffs.

If Q wants to outcoach Babcock, he's got to stay simple. Don't screw with the lines after a loss and have your players know their roles.

During the Minnesota series, as soon as Gaborik set foot on the ice, Foote was already up and ready to hop over the boards without being told.

Having your players think on their feet certainly keeps the game interesting, but if they can settle into a routine, that helps them concentrate on their matchup much more effectively.

Oh, and don't pull a Keenan and yank Theodore while down 4-2 in a game 7. Just don't.

Stats breakdown
This will be quick and dirty as stats aren't my forte.

Team GP W L OT P P% G/G GA/G 5-5 F/A PP% PK% S/G SA/G
DET 6 4 2
0 0 .667 2.83 2.00 1.22 11.5 91.3 40.3 24.0
COL 6 4 2
0 0 .667 2.83 2.00 1.29 20.0 85.7 30.2 33.3

So after one round of playoff action, the basic stats are a draw for these two teams. The special teams game and shots for/against per game show something to keep an eye on.

The Wings are firing off 40 shots per game and the Avalanche are allowing 33. I don't expect the Wings to be able to get off 40 per game against the Avalanche like they did with Nashville but even 30-35 shots from this team is a lot of rubber for Theodore to be handling every night.

And in a shocking turn of events, the Avalanche powerplay is nearly doubling the output of the Red Wings powerplay. That will even out a bit as the series wears on. You can see that the Wings are killing penalties with over 90% efficiency so don't expect a 20% effective Avalanche powerplay.

With Tomas Holmstrom in one crease and Ryan Smyth in the other, it should be an interesting special teams battle. Hopefully the ride the Avalanche's PP squad is on won't end any time soon.

Final words
I don't do series predictions but if I had to go with my gut, I would say Wings in 6. If I go with my heart, I would say Avs in 5. You know, one token win so Wings fans don't feel too bad.

Now go ahead and prove me wrong, Avalanche.

Final final words
To good not to put up, I came across this image on Google Image search. The site shown in the image hasn't been updated in a while but nonetheless:

Related Links
Avs Blogger Previews Rounded up by Tapeleg Series Preview
Denver Post Series Preview
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Avalanche to Renew Rivalry with Red Wings

Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche fights with Mike Vernon of the Detroit Red Wings
The San Jose Sharks polished off the Calgary Flames setting the stage for the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Detroit (1) vs Colorado (6)
San Jose (2) vs Dallas (5)

I'll follow up with a series preview later in the week.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Crying Game

Paul Kukla (a non-obnoxious Wings fan) linked to Dater's article on Phaneuf being a punk and Wings fans crawled out of the woodwork with whines of "but..but..but...Claude Lemieux!?!"

I'm sure their day is now ruined and they'll be registering their disgust across the Internet for the remainder of it. Look, grow up, dry your tears and get on with your life.

And yes, Phaneuf fights with his shield on so shut up about that too.

Related Links
Why Dion Phaneuf is a whiny bitch-ass coward
Pests, Punks and Phadouchery

Monday, February 18, 2008

Red Wings Destroy Avalanche 4-0

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
It truly pains me to have put up that headline. Destroys is a tough word to use against your favorite team and I don't use it lightly.

If the Avalanche were to lose to the Wings, which they've a lot of experience with these days, then ok. They're a great team, albeit in a bit of a slump at the moment, while the Avalanche have been barely above mediocre all season. But to get destroyed by them is just too much.

Right foot
The game started off all right as the Avalanche looked to have some jump in their step after a tough loss yesterday. They managed to find some open ice, keep their feet moving, make some decent passes and even got a couple shots off. Then Lappy took out Nik Lidstrom and the game started changing.

Wrong foot
Next thing you know the Avalanche are falling back to their ways of not forechecking, not outmanning the other team, failing to clear the puck and being complete and utter failures on special teams. Oh, and they still aren't winning faceoffs. But that's the least of their concerns.

Honestly, how can you get only two shots off in the second period when you were down by two goals to start the frame? Maybe the team took the coaching staff too literally when they undoubtedly pulled this line out during intermission: "Two shots, two goals. That's all we need boys!"

Cody McLeod and Tony Granato Making Me Un-proud
Early in the third Lappy and Downey looked to square off a second time. Unfortunately Lappy's 10 foot run at Downey wasn't enough as Lappy bounced off him hard. And if that wasn't enough embarrassment, Cody McLeod started punching at Wings players on the bench. He then proceeded to jaw all the way off the ice after the refs decided to eject him rather than just a 10-minute unsportsmanlike.

There are two kinds of intensity in sports - the good kind and the idiotic kind. McLeod needs to learn the difference and learn it fast.

Oh and Granato, did you really start yelling at Babcock over that play? Lappy took the run at Downey and they both got the sticks up and you flip out? Geez, I never thought I'd be embarrassed watching an Avs game from the comfort of my own home but I was proved wrong tonight. The coaching staff is more upset over an altercation like that than by the awful play of their team. Unbelievable.

Because I know it's happening now and was probably happening after the second goal, I'll just say this: anyone who puts this loss at the feet of Jose Theodore has their head firmly embedded in their ass.

Super stat
The Avalanche have now gone just over 214 minutes without scoring a goal against the Wings. I believe that stat alone officially ends the "rivalry", don't you?

Fixing the team
This team can be fixed but it's very apparent that this coaching staff is not going to get it down. The team is heading towards the beginning of a non-playoff streak and as Jibble noted in his blog today, everything starts at the top.

The offseason game plan has to start with a shakeup in the coaching staff and I'm very anxious to see if Francois Giguere agrees with that line of thinking. Or if Pierre Lacroix or even Stan Kroenke take it up a notch and scrap Giguere - which I highly doubt.

Caption contest
I guess I should try and caption that Babcock picture. How about something like "Mike Babcock tries to figure out why Joel Quenneville is still coaching in the NHL" Ah, I was never great with cheeky captions.

Related Links Event Summary
In the Cheap Seats Game Notes

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Red Wings Shut Out Avalanche

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
This was a hard game to watch. Not only was the blood pressure up watching the Wings dominate the Avalanche but it was further boosted by the hope that maybe, just maybe, the Avs could pull out one point by taking the game to OT on the back of Peter Budaj.

Those hopes were dashed with only a couple minutes left to play as Henrik Zetterberg finally got one past Budaj. Kris Draper then iced it with an empty-netter for the 2-0 final.

I didn't find out about those two goals in the normal sequence of things though. I began watching my recording of the game after about half of the live game was over. I was slowly catching up to the live action as I fast-forwarded through Pierre's awesome between-whistle insights though. At about the 10 minute of the third period I figured the game had likely been decided but I was so into the hope for OT that I didn't want to spoil myself and zoom ahead to the end.

Then my mom called. I answer "Hello" and she says "Yeah, I know it's not a good time since your team is losing 2-0..." D'oh! I told her she didn't ruin it for me as the team was obviously going to ruin it for me anyways but in the future, the first words should be "Are you watching the game?"

And that goes for anybody. If you've got a die-hard Giants fan in your office, then come Monday morning do not give them a high-five or, more likely, a conciliatory pat on the back. First ask "Did you see the game?" Maybe the poor soul was called in to work and had to record the game, delaying the inevitable disappointment.

But let's get back on track.

Peter Budaj? Rusty? Those two words do not belong in the same sentence. Peter Budaj shook off whatever rust he might have accumulated on the bench and turned in an absolutely stellar performance last night. He made some flat out amazing saves and ended up turning aside 34 of 35 shots which earned him "Monster of the Game" from Pierre McGuire. No wait, he gave that to Nik Lidstrom who he was polishing off all night long.

There were some folks who thought that Budaj would get shellacked since he "doesn't have enough experience" and "couldn't handle Detroit". Well, how does the crow taste this morning folks?

On the other end, Dominik Hasek put in his usual performance. He made the easy saves he needed to make, flopped when he needed to flop and pulled out a 15 save shutout. I guess my poke at him being a flopper in my pre-game was a harbinger of things to come. Not that it was an "off the wall" prediction.

I will say this, the team certainly paid attention to defense. Unfortunately it wasn't controlled and relaxed. It was more like "Oh crap, Zetterberg has it, I gotta get him...Oh wait, he dished it to Datsyuk...Wait, where'd Datsyuk go? Oh, the front of the....wait, he passed it back to Lidstrom..."

The Wings moved the puck around so well that the Avalanche were continually scrambling to cover their assignments in the defensive zone. Then when they got the puck away, they dished it out to center ice, changed lines, rinsed, lathered and repeated.

Wait, you're supposed to play offense PLUS play defense? Ridiculous.

I won't really touch on the waved off goal other than to cough out *bullpucky* under my breath.

Pierre McGuire
Yep, he gets his own category. I'll preface this by saying that I don't doubt the man's hockey knowledge. It's more about the ass-kissing and WWE promo style that he uses while dishing it out.

First, there was the issue of his "Monster of the Game". From about the second period on, McGuire and Miller (who I don't mind) had pounced on Nik Lidstrom and all but declared him the next President of the U.S. of A and possibly the second coming of Jesus. They showed the same stretch pass on at least 3 occasions and used to show how aware and smart and handsome he is. But that same play gets made in almost every game on any given night.

Next, his berating of the Avalanche for not winning faceoffs. Look, we all know the Avalanche are not the best faceoff team in the league. We also know that Detroit is one of the best. So combine those together and let me know what logic would dictate. But instead of saying "Wow, Detroit is just outworking the Avalanche in the faceoff department", he starts ranting that "The Avalanche HAVE to win those faceoffs and that's something the coaching department NEEDS to work on." all the while gesticulating wildly from his tiny little box between the benches.

Yeah, because the Avalanche didn't have bigger issues than faceoffs in the game. Hell, even if they did win the faceoffs, Detroit would have just taken the puck away anyways. It's no wonder he doesn't coach anymore. There's no way I'd listen to the man if he yelled at me for not winning a crucial faceoff when the odds are nearly 50-50 on the best of occasions.

Andhere are some quotes from the man himself:
"There'll be physical play. The Avs are young and don't know any better." - Um...what? That would imply that they are doing something wrong by playing physical. In fact, they were doing something very much right but don't let that stand in the way of trying to make some sort of moot point.

"There's not an empty seat here unless they've gone to the men room, ladies room or concession stand" - What a bizarre statement. He couldn't have just left it at "There's not an empty seat in the house!" Why clarify some of the reasons that a seat may be empty? Just to show how smart he is that he can figure out the reasons someone may not be at their seat? Well guess what hotshot, what if someone went out for a smoke? Or had to take a phone call? Or started having contractions and had to go give birth to their baby?

I could have had more quotes but I try to enjoy hockey games and not have them ruined by inane commentary that never, ever ends. Seriously. Miller can't do play-by-play for more than 20 seconds without McGuire interjecting with some "facts" and "opinions".

Upcoming Game
The Avs finish up their back-to-back road swing with a game in St. Louis tonight. Puck drop is at 8:38 ET.

- Pavel Datsyuk has a tendency to be too fancy at times
- Henrik Zetterberg has a tendency to be too awesome at times
- what was with Holmstrom whacking Budaj in the junk but getting away with it in the second?
- Brett Clark knocked Aaron Downey on his keester even though Downey had a half-sheet of ice run at him (Saskatchewan FTW!)
- Q said that the 5-on-3 was "A big moment to dodge" Dodge? Dude, GMC FTW!

Related Links Event Summary
In the Cheap Seats Game Notes
Mike @ MHH Gives an Inside the Locker Room Scenario
Denver Post Recap
TSN Recap

Friday, February 1, 2008

Gameday: Avalanche @ Red Wings

The Avalanche head into Detroit tonight as they open up a brief, back-to-back road swing. The last time these two teams met was just before the new year and the Wings came away with a 4-2 road win.

If the Avalanche can come up big tonight and get a W against the top team in the league, it will be their fourth consecutive road victory. If the Avalanche are going to get it done, they're going to have to do it on the back of a goaltender who hasn't started a game in nearly a month.

Peter Budaj gets the call in net as Jose Theodore did not make the trip with the team. He is still undergoing testing but the preliminary results indicate it's nothing serious. I won't believe it until I see him back in the lineup but I digress.

Budaj stepped in for the third period of Wednesday's game against the Blackhawks and didn't fare too well. He gave up 2 goals on 4 shots and almost looked like he had a sinister plan of letting in one more goal so he could get credit for the W. If the thought has crossed his mind, I'm sure he asked himself WWNFD and decided against it.

Tyler Weiman has been recalled to back him up on the night. Heck, Weiman has a 1.00 save percentage so why not start him? It's obvious he'd be a shoo-in to get a shutout, right? Stats don't lie people!

Dominik Hasek will be in net at the other end so have your score cards ready to rate his swan dives. I kid, I kid.

Well, aside from the previously mentioned Theodore, there are no new injuries to account for. In fact, the team has activated Kurt Sauer as he is apparently not getting dizzy while skating these days. Gotta stop turning those tight loops, Kurt.

Game time
The puck drops at 7:38 ET time and here in lovely, frigid Canada it is nationally televised on TSN in glorious HD. Of course, that means I'll be subject to the un-glorious Pierre McGuire. At least James Duthie's antics on the panel help even things out a bit.

Related Links
Terry Frei on Theodore Stepping Up
Tapeleg Isn't Done With the Attendance Coverage Yet Gameday Report
On the Wings Blog Gameday Report

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Forsberg Nearing Return but Likely Not With the Avalanche

In the ongoing Peter Forsberg saga, it appears that he is closer than ever to making his return to the NHL. TSN is reporting that a Swedish newspaper is reporting that Peter Forsberg is reporting that he won't sign with Modo in hopes of making an NHL return this season.

If all the rumours are to be believed then the main teams in the running are Ottawa, Philadelphia, Detroit and Colorado. Forsberg in a Wings jersey? I shudder at the thought. I hope he does too.

If Forsberg were to come back, he's not looking to be a fill-in on in injury-ridden club. He's looking to raise that silver cup over his head one more time. Adrian Dater thinks that makes Forsberg a bit Roger Clemens-ish.

If I was in Forsberg's shoes, I would be very torn between playing for a contender and my original franchise. And given the possibility of any team being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs combined with my loyal-to-a-fault attitude, I'd be signing with Colorado. But I'm not in his shoes and wouldn't blame him for going somewhere else. Even Detroit as much as it would pain me to watch.

We're nearing the trade deadline - just 26 days away - and you would think that any team vying for Forsberg's services would want things settled before the deadline is up. How brutal would it be to miss out on a needed trade for a cup run because you were holding your breath waiting for Peter the Great to give you his final answer?

My bold prediction: Forsberg signs with the Flyers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Avalanche Lay a Goose Egg Against Wings

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
I tell ya, nothing hurts like a shutout. Ok, maybe a blowout but we'll pretend those never happen. The Avalanche put in a valiant effort tonight but just couldn't do enough against the defence and puck possession of the Detroit Red Wings.

And though the Avalanche-Wings rivalry is non-existent - no matter how hard some people try to keep it going - this was an extremely entertaining hockey game. It was fast-paced and hard hitting all night long and the only thing it lacked was a lot of scoring opportunities. Well, that and a few Avalanche goals I suppose.

The first period had a real good pace to it and the Wings got a few decent scoring chances but Theodore was up to the challenge. This period also set the tone for a few hostilities. Cody McCormick had a sequence where he gave Lidstrom a cross-check and then poked at Hasek after the whistle leading to about a dozen Wings players mobbing him. Of course Chelios was the one who mobbed him from behind and took a stupid penalty for his troubles.

The Wings had the best chance of the game in the second period. Theodore was down and out after over committing on the first shot - which he seems to do a lot - but Holmstrom must not have realized how out Theodore was as he fed a pass back that was easily broken up.

Cody McLeod and Kirk Maltby then had some words during a faceoff. Those two seemed to have a little animosity between them all night long.

The Wings got the first powerplay of the game and Versus took this as an opportunity to show us a special teams comparison. Of course they showed the Avs PP numbers and the Wings PK numbers. Thumbs up, guys!

This was also the PP that led to the game winning goal. With Theodore down after 2 separate blocked shots put him out of position, Tomas Holmstrom shoveled the puck to Pavel Datsyuk and he had nothing to look at but empty net.

The third period was a bit less exciting and unfortunately the Avalanche couldn't get in close enough to get anything past Hasek. Sure they fired off a whole 7 shots but half of them were light wristers from the perimeter.

But hey, there's no shame in being beaten by the best and the Avalanche still put up a valiant effort tonight. It's not a win but I feel it was a decent start to the roadtrip.

Oh, and the Versus feed was absolutely terrible tonight. All night long there was skips and freezes in the audio and video. Maybe it was just my provider having issues but even if that was the case, the quality of the video was still horrendous. They must be using cameras from 1965 over there.

All-Star Studs
The All-Star balloting is over and the results are in. The Wings had 3 players voted in to the All-Star games starting lineup and it's pretty obvious why. Lidstrom was a rock on the blue line again and Zetterberg and Datsyuk are dangerous at both ends of the ice. It amazes me how effortless those 3 make their respective posi