Friday, June 13, 2008

Two PHWA Members Voted Quenneville as the Top Coach

Joel Quenneville with the Jack Adams trophy
In further proof that being part of a professional writing organization does not mean jack squat, our beloved former-coach Joel Quenneville received two first place votes for the Jack Adams award.

Maybe one of them was the same guy who tried voting Sidney Crosby onto the All-Star a right-winger.

Thanks to Mirtle for keeping us abreast of how the voting went for each of the awards last night.

And thanks to Tapeleg for giving some excellent suggestions on making the awards ceremony better than a preschool awards show.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Avalanche Comeback Falls Short

Let the hand wringing begin. With an Oiler win and Nashville picking up two points, the Avalanche's playoff position is now a bit precarious. And with the way this team has been playing, I don't feel terribly confident at the moment.

The Avalanche came out terribly flat footed in this game, prompting me to write a rare in-game post wondering where the real Avalanche team was. They didn't find themselves in the second period either but they finally realized they were playing a hockey game by the time the third period rolled around.

Of course, that's far too late to realize you're playing a hockey game and despite three goals in 2 1/2 minutes, they came up one goal short in the end. The only joy I got out of this game was seeing 5 goals, including a couple weak ones, scored on Dwayne "Whiny" Roloson. Seriously, does that guy ever not bitch about something?

Blame game
So who was to blame for this game? I would point at nobody in particular though I will say that this team appeared woefully underprepared and uninspired for a game of this magnitude. And that preparation tends to fall at the feed of the coaching staff and the veterans of the team. Somebody needed to step in and wake this team up and it appeared nobody felt comfortable stepping in to that position.

Bust or playoffs?
Adrian Dater put up a post during the game asking if people wanted this team to tank or to limp into the playoffs and be a first-round sweep for the Wings. I'd prefer the latter.

Related Links
Do you want this team in the playoffs?
Sakic Reaches 1,000 Assists (too bad it was in a crap game) Recap

Avalanche Replaced by Junior B Pee-Wee Team

So here I sit watching the Avalanche play the Oilers in an afternoon game on CBC and I can't help but wonder where the real Avalanche team is. It's 3-0 Edmonton with just 3 minutes left in the FIRST period and the Avalanche have played terribly awful. I've played on hockey teams that would put up a better fight against the Oilers than this team of "superstars" has today.

And you know what else? I've had better coaching than this team has received. 50 seconds in the Oil score. Ok, Tough start. Then half way through they go up by 2 on what was a complete defensive breakdown by the team. And what does Q do? That's right...nothing. It was obvious to most people that the Avalanche were scrambling and not thinking so why not call a timeout and wake the team up?

Hell, why not pull Theodore and put Budaj in? Those goals weren't Theodore's fault by any means but obviously the team needed to be scolded and the best way is to punish a teammate. But of course that would imply that Q has any passion left in his coaching repertoire and it's become more and more apparent that he's got nothing left in the tank.

I almost want the Avalanche to miss the playoffs because it should all but guarantee Q's departure. But again, I'm just a chucklehead.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Avalanche Blow Lead Against Oilers

This team continues to amaze me. And not in a good way. Coming out of the first period with a 2-0 lead after dominating the play would seem to indicate that the strategy from that period was sound.

The Avalanche coaching staff felt otherwise. Instead of continuing to press the action, the team tried to sit back and defend the lead. That's right, it wasn't even the third period and the team tried to go defensive. That strategy blows harder than...well you fill in the analogy.

Final score, 3-0 after a 3-shot 2nd period spent trying to play defence and failing miserably.

And this is about all I feel like saying tonight. If I decide that this game wasn't the complete crapshoot I currently feel it was, I'll add some more content. Or if I feel like bitching some more.

Related Links
In the Cheap Seats Recap
Sakic's return not enough
Colorado squanders fast start
Sakic happy to be back, sad about loss
We don't know anything about hockey

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

Blackhawks Outmuscle Avalanche

(Jonathon Daniels/Getty Images)
I woke up early for volleyball, only got in one game since one team cancelled, and I thought "Sweet, I'll be home in time to watch the game live." If only I'd known what was waiting for me on the other side of that television.

The Blackhawks ran circles around the Avalanche and just for good measure, they pushed them around like schoolyard bullies too. I found myself more frustrated by the lack of response to the Hawks physicality than I was by the Avalanche's lack of offense. If the freight train that is Dustin Byfuglien steamrolling Milan Hejduk doesn't get the team pissed off and fired up, then what will?

It feels ridiculously ironic that after getting Ryan Smyth back, supposedly signed for grit and offense, the team loses all its grit and a good chunk of its offense. I'll tell you what, I doubt this sort of turnaround would happen with solid coaching.

Coaching Prowess
But once Sakic and Stastny are back and the team continues to underachieve, the media story will either turn completely away from the Avalanche or gloss over the idea that the coaching squad is limiting the capabilities of the team. Whether it comes to the powerplay or to line matching or to the overall strategy of this team, not a lot appears to be working.

Hell, Guite and Lappy were the only two players with any jump yesterday and they only played 11 and 13 minutes respectively. A coach needs to recognize what works and roll with it during a game, not go with the old, tired routine no matter the situation. You have to be flexible and adjust to different teams gameplans and styles.

Dump and chase is a reasonable strategy for a team to employ. But you can't employ a dump and chase while playing a four-man back trapping system. It's just basic mathematics that one person in the corner won't be able to attain or maintain control of the puck against two or three opposing defenders.

The same theory holds true on the powerplay. The Avalanche continuously have one person on each corner, 2 players at the point and another circling in the high slot. And what happens when the puck is down in the corner? The penalty killers collapse on that one player forcing a pass, which is typically short pass to a player who has snuck behind the net and the other forward goes high on the boards to block clears. But if that player never chips in to outnumber the penalty killers down low, the penalty killers will always win. And I won't even get into the audacity the team has to continue putting a forward on the point no matter how many times they get burned by it.

Low end of the stats scale
The Avalanche are 29th on the powerplay, 22nd on the penalty kill, 15th in goals against, 16th in goals scored and 29th in faceoff percentage. Those numbers are going to make their playoff hopes a 50/50 shot at best. And as a matter of fact, they lie just below the 50% line at the moment according to the Sports Clubs Stats playoff picture numbers. The loss yesterday was a huge blow to their chances.

Upcoming Games
The Avalanche have a nasty schedule coming up with 6 games in the next 10 days including contests against the Wings today and the Ducks on Wednesday closing out with games against the Flames, Oilers and Canucks. Oh, and after the Wings game today, the rest of the games are on the road. This team needs to wake up and they better do it yesterday.

Related Links Event Summary
In the Cheap Seats Recap
Denver Post Recap
Confidence Starts at the Top

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Stastny Not Suiting Up

Stop the organs and send the choir back home. The Denver Post is reporting that Paul Stastny is now bothered by a groin injury. Does this team have issues with stretching or something? Do they need to introduce some pilates to their training regiment?

Maybe the team just needs new trainers who can tell the difference between a broken and sprained ankle. Or whether hernia surgery has successfully healed or not. And could help prevent recurrence of groin injuries.

EDIT: I was just looking at the Avs roster page and Cody McCormick is listed as being on the IR. I'm going to assume it's a mistake at the moment as I've seen no news about him being injured. He was in the lineup against Vancouver putting in about 10 minutes of ice-time.