Thursday, October 3, 2013

The New Era of Avalanche Hockey


Welcome back, Patty.

6-1 Avalanche win tonight. Doesn't get much better.

Some quotes via Mike Chambers:

Duchene: 
I was like a kid, sitting on the bench kind of re-living the Vernon fight and the Osgood fight. It’s kind of similar, pretty cool. I’m giddy right now. It’s so fun to win like that and such a difference from the last few years. (Roy) is leading the charge here and we’re ready for it … Maybe it was a little much at the end there, but that’s alright we sent a message.
Bordy threw a head fake on the guy and it kind of went from there and it turned into an old-fashioned donnybrook. It was old-time hockey. Hopefully we’re sold out after next game after that. I don’t think the fans could ask for anything more than we gave them tonight.
Bordeleau:
Patty (Roy) said nothing crazy at the end. They for sure rushed at us. I didn’t even hit the guy in front of the bench. They rushed at us, like three guys, so me and McLeod dropped the gloves to get ‘er going.
Roy: 
When it’s 6-0 I don’t think this game needs this type of cheap shot. But after that obviously there was some talk from coaches, I guess, but at the same time what should I do? He put his fourth line on the ice and I’m not going to go with my first line, and I went with my fourth line and that’s it. I’ve been matching (lines) all night long by the way.
The knee-on-knee by Lovejoy:




And of course:

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thoughts on a New Season [2013-14)


Hey everybody. It's been awhile. Seven months to the day, in fact. In the months that I have been gone,, Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic took over the organization, Alex Tanguay returned, the Avalanche drafted Nathan Mackinnon first overall, and yesterday, the NHL adopted hybrid icing for the 2013-14 season.

I also took the LSAT, got into law school, and I am currently enjoying my senior year at Cornell.

I'm sure some other stuff has happened, too - but we're going to pretty much start clean and ignore everything. There are a ton of great Avalanche blogs out there, and I make daily trips to Mile High Hockey and the Denver Post to make sure that I know everything going on with the Avs. I guess there's that Twitter thing, as well.

Anyway - the NHL season is set to begin tonight, although the Avalanche won't play their first game until tomorrow. It's a tradition on this blog to record some random thoughts before each year's first game.

Without further ado...

-The Avalanche get off to an 8-3 start under new coach Patrick Roy. The Avs lead the league on the power play at 30% in the early going, but struggle on the penalty kill, managing to only fend off the man advantage 83% of the time.

-It takes me the entire year to figure out who is in what division. Seriously, who is the favorite in the Atlantic this year? The Penguins? Wait, the Penguins aren't in the Atlantic? Where then? So who is in the Atlantic? The Canadian teams? And Tampa Bay and Florida?

Thanks a lot, Detroit.

-Erik Johnson will finally have the year that Avalanche fans want him to have. EJ will reach double digit goals for the second time in his career and also put up a career high in points.

-Alex Tanguay scores 20 goals and helps rejuvenate Paul Stastny. Per usual, however, Stastny has to deal with an insane amount of rumors before the trade deadline. It's a contract year, though, which means Stastny may find himself as the odd center out before the year is done.

-The news won't be so bright for Steve Downie. The injury-plagued agitator will miss big chunks of the season.

-Downie's loss is Cody McLeod's gain, as the fiery ginger tallies 26 points - a career high.

-Ryan O'Reilly will be on the team at the end of the year. Under the old regime? Not a chance. But this is a new day. Keeping O'Reilly is best for the team, and he'll earn his big paycheck playing alongside Matt Duchene.

-My birthday present this year was a Duchene blueberry jersey. Can't wait to wear it to some games this season.

-Tyson Barrie finally becomes a stable force on the back end. Not so sure about Stefan Elliot, unfortunately.

-Personally rooting for Brad Malone to get some NHL time. Enjoyed watching him in college. I think he can really contribute on the fourth line for the Avs, and he should get the opportunity at some point this year.

-Under the guidance of Roy and new goalie coach Francois Allaire, Semyon Varlamov rebounds from a lackluster season and has a 30-win year for the first time in his career.

-Biggest Avalanche question: Can they avoid the injury bug? It's the one thing that will stop the offense from succeeding. Good thing Colorado has a million centers ready to go.

-Division Winners: Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, and Vancouver.

-Other playoff teams in the East? include: Boston, Ottawa, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Columbus, and the Islanders.

-In the West?: San Jose, Phoenix, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Nashville, andddddddddd...Colorado.

-Seriously, though, I have no idea how the playoff picture is going to look this year. The new format is bizarre, and I honestly think it's pretty wide open in the West.

-Some trophy predictions: (not getting too fancy)

Hart: Jonathan Toews
Art Ross: Evgeni Malkin
Rocket Richard: Steven Stamkos
Vezina: Mike Smith
Norris: Alex Pietrangelo
Calder: Nathan Mackinnon
Adams: Peter DeBoer
Selke: Pavel Datsyuk

-Nathan Mackinnon will win the Calder by leading all rookies in scoring. Doesn't mean he necessarily will deserve it, but hey, it worked for Landeskog.

-Not seeing any Adams love for Patrick Roy. If the Avs make the playoffs, he'll obviously get serious consideration. Following in Joe Sacco's footsteps, perhaps?

-Sidney Crosby is going to be great, but Evgeni Malkin will be extraordinary.

-Woe is the Flyers' goaltending. Steve Mason and Ray Emery. Really?

Really!?

-Assuming I have understood the format correctly, I'll take Detroit and Pittsburgh in the East and Chicago and St. Louis in the West.

-A terrifying Detroit-St. Louis Final ends with, thankfully, the BLUES hoisting Lord Stanley.

-How hard is it going to be seeing Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk hoist the Cup? In your face, Mr. Sherman.

-And of course, last but not least...

Calgary will be awful.



Happy Hockey Season, everyone. 

Go Avs.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Happy or Not: The Return of Ryan O'Reilly


The Ryan O'Reilly saga is over. After what turned out to be a humiliating negotiation period (for both sides, in my opinion), a ridiculous impasse, and finally a contentious offer sheet by the Calgary Flames, Mr. O'Reilly is once again a member of the Avalanche. And oh baby, look at that pretty check he's set to receive.

Harrison Mooney writes,
It's a two-year deal, according to TSN. O'Reilly will earn $1 million in salary this year with a $2.5 million signing bonus. In year two, he'll earn a cool $6.5 million. It's $10 million total, averaging out to a $5 million cap hit.
That means, in terms of cap hit, O'Reilly is on par with the likes of Ryan Kesler, Mike Ribeiro, Patrice Bergeron James Neal, Bobby Ryan, Evander Kane, Jeff Carter, and Marian Hossa.

When it comes to that absurd $6.5 million that O'Reilly will make next season, that means that the second/third line center will be paid more than Cam Ward, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller, Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and about 700 or so other players - not to mention the billions in the world who don't play a sport.

On the Avalanche, O'Reilly's cap hit will be slightly more than Matt Duchene's and Gabriel Landeskog's...combined.

His salary will be more than double that of Semyon Varlamov's. O'Reilly also doubles up on defensemen Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda.

O'Reilly gets all of this for his stupendous defensive play, as well as for being the leading scorer on a team that wasn't very good last season.

The 22-year-old was able to sign this deal by coming out of an extended offseason, in which Matt Duchene took a modest bridge deal (in order to prove he had the necessary resume for a bigger, longer-term deal), and holding out for a ridiculous, inflated contract. When the Avalanche refused to budge, O'Reilly signed an offer sheet with a division rival so that the team's hand would be forced.

Has Paul Stastny taught you nothing, sir?

Adrian Dater does a nice job laying out how this deal is going to seriously affect the Avalanche's payroll in the coming years:

With O’Reilly set to essentially make at least $6.5 million after next season and probably the following two (because he still has this season and three more to go before being eligible for UFA), do you think Duchene and Landeskog are going to want any less? Stastny could become UFA after next season, how much difference in salary will he accept by then from the $6.6 million he’s been making for a few years now and will continue to make next year?
What the Flames did today, essentially, was potentially blow out the Avs’ salary structure in the next couple years. The Avs let the Flames set the market for O’Reilly’s value – and they had to swallow their pride and accept it because gambling that they’d get a lottery pick with the Flames’ first-round pick this year was too poor a prospect. How awful would it have been for this team if they’d not only let O’Reilly go to Calgary, but then gotten a worse draft pick maybe thanks to his helping them out the rest of the year in the standings? It would have been a humiliating blow.
 So the Avs have essentially shot themselves in the foot. They're going to have to pony up for Landeskog and Duchene and Varlamov, and they're not going to be able to significantly improve themselves through free agency.

They have to wait a year to trade O'Reilly, by which time his trade value may be a fraction of what it was yesterday.

O'Reilly basically went from being held hostage to becoming the hostage taker. The Avalanche ship now sails at his command. If he plays well (and I mean EXTRAORDINARILY well), then perhaps some of this mess can be forgiven - at least long enough for the Avalanche to get rid of him.

But if O'Reilly turns into another Stastny - a good player who is making way too much for what he brings on a night-in, night-out basis, then the Avs are going to sink under the weight of this deal. O'Reilly is going to sink.

A year ago, I was waiting to buy a Ryan O'Reilly jersey long enough so that I could get a "C" put on the front.

Now - not so much.

I'll root for his success on the ice as long as he's an Av, but part of me wants this to be the last big contract he ever gets in the NHL.

I'll save those wishes for Matt Duchene:
Paychecks are great. You want to get as much money as you can in this game, but for me, I love this game so much, I love this team and this franchise and this city, there's no way I could have held out
At the end of the day, O'Reilly got the money. But at 22, was it worth the sacrifice of being completely beloved by your fan base? Part of me believes that hockey players aren't purely in it for the money. I think a lot of hockey fans like to believe that. Some of the players are for sure. But others, I think, just want to play. 

It doesn't seem that O'Reilly falls into that latter category, anymore.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Thoughts on an Unlocked Season

I just really enjoy this picture.
I was at the point of complete apathy. Three weeks ago, I didn't give one iota if the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a new CBA or not.

Thanks to my season tickets for the Cornell Big Red hockey team, as well as the occasional Binghamton Senators affair, hockey lived on during the final months of 2012.

The lockout pissed me off - just like it pissed pretty much every other hockey fan off. Yet, similar to pretty much every other hockey fan, I can. not. wait. for the season to start.

It took viewings of this:


and this:


and this:


 Hook, line, and sinker.

Hockey is back. Drop the puck. I make these predictions every season. Last year was somewhat of an embarrassment. It's time for redemption.

This season...

-Ryan O'Reilly returns before the fourth game of the season. He'll sign a one year deal, lead the Avalanche in scoring, and be a key part on the team's top 10 penalty kill. And now that he has your attention, he's going to win the Selke, too.

-Paul Stastny, refusing to be weighed down by trade rumors or buyouts, will have a career year (relatively speaking) playing alongside Jamie McGinn. 

-Nobody calls for Joe Sacco to be fired. 

-Tyson Barrie becomes a regular on the blueline. 

-Milan Hejduk scores 15 goals (82 game equivalent of 25) and decides to return for one more season.

-David Jones, however, struggles to get his name on the scoresheet. Doghouse time. 

-Captain Gabriel Landeskog flourishes along P.A. Parenteau and Matt Duchene. Finally, the Avalanche have a legitimate first line. 

-The Avs go 24-18-6. Good enough for 54 points and a tie with the Minnesota Wild for the eighth and final seed. The Avs win the tiebreaker and make the postseason

-Other Western Conference playoff teams: Blues, Predators, Blackhawks, Canucks, Kings, Coyotes, Sharks. Screw the Wings

-Ryan Suter struggles without Shea Weber. Shea Weber doesn't struggle at all. Every "expert" in the world is predicting the opposite. Oh well. I'll take the annual Norris contender over the guy who has a crazy amount of spotlight on him in hockey-crazed Minnesota. 

-The Edmonton Oilers don't get off to that hot a start. If Lake Erie can handle Edmonton's core, so can the rest of the West. Oilers don't pick first, but they don't make the playoffs, either. 

-Except for Justin Schultz. He's going to be tremendous. 

-Dany Heatley and Zach Parise show no chemistry whatsoever. The Wild get off to a bad start, finish hot, and just miss the playoffs by virtue of the tiebreaker. 

-Calgary sucks. 

-The Blue Jackets suck worse. A lot worse. 

-Wade Redden, St. Louis Blues defenseman, becomes a force to be reckoned with. 

-Jaromir Jagr is not relevant to anything. Wait..he plays for the Stars now? 

-Eastern Conference playoff teams: Rangers, Penguins, Flyers, Bruins, Sabres, Capitals, Lightning, Hurricanes. 

-Now that Brian Burke has been fired, the Toronto Maple Leafs get off to an absurdly good start but sputter down the stretch. In other words, not much will change. Sorry, Mr. Burke. 

-Claude Giroux, buckling under the pressure of being Philly's captain, has a subpar year. Luckily, Ilya Bryzgalov actually does well in the regular season for the Flyers. 

-Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin light the world on fire. They'll go 1-2 in scoring. Malkin will get his second straight Hart and Art Ross. 

-Tuukka Rask is really good. 

-Alex Ovechkin returns to goal scoring relevance on the right wing. 

-Scott Gomez signs with the Devils and has a pretty good year. Martin Brodeur, on the other hand...

-A team from the Eastern Conference complains about travel, even though the West travels much, much more.  Oh, sorry Winnipeg. 

-Award Predictions: 

Hart: Evgeni Malkin
Vezina: Pekka Rinne
Norris: Alex Pietrangelo 
Calder: Justin Schultz
Lady Byng: Loui Erikson 
Selke: Ryan O'Reilly 
Jack Adams: Adam Oates 
Art Ross: Evgeni Malkin
Richard: Steven Stamkos

-Final Four: Predators, Blues, Bruins, Penguins
-Stanley Cup: Blues, Bruins 
-Champion: Boston Bruins.
-Conn Smythe: Patrice Bergeron  

-Two scenarios for the Cup presentation. Option A: Gary Bettman takes the opportunity to apologize to fans one last time for the joke that was the lockout. OR Option B: Gary Bettman DOES NOT present the Cup at all. Instead, he hands the duty to Brendan Shanahan, who immediately suspends operations until further review. 

Let's play hockey. 

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Claude Lemieux Reflects on Sakic's Career


On the day that Super Joe is to be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Claude Lemieux sat down with Jeff Marek and Greg Wyshynski to reflect on Sakic's career. It's a great interview and worthy of your time.

Take a listen.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Captain Landeskog


I no longer have to wait to get my Ryan O'Reilly jersey. I can now confidently say that it won't have the captain's "C," at least not during any part of the foreseeable future. This is because the Avalanche has named its 19-year-old sophomore, Gabriel Landeskog, the franchise's fourth ever captain.
According to available research, at 19 years, 286 days, Landeskog is the youngest captain in NHL history. He is 11 days younger than Sidney Crosby, who was 19 years, 297 days when he was named captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 31, 2007. 
Landeskog becomes just the fourth captain in Colorado Avalanche history, joining Joe Sakic, Adam Foote and Hejduk. The Stockholm, Sweden native is the 11th captain in the history of the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise and only the third European-born, following Hejduk and Peter Stastny.
There has been unending talk since Landeskog entered the league that he had the leadership ability to be an NHL captain one day soon. Still, many Avalanche fans (including myself) thought that O'Reilly might be given the job due to his noted work ethic on and off the ice.

But Landeskog is a much flashier choice, and I won't pretend to know what goes on behind closed doors. But according to the Avalanche's release, Landeskog was appointed to the role by Coach Sacco after Milan Hejduk voluntarily stepped down.

O'Reilly has yet to sign a contract with the Avalanche for next season, and I have to wonder if this decision has anything to do with those negotiations.

Hopefully Landeskog can step up to the plate when (or if) hockey ever gets going again.

Go Avs.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One More Celebration For Sakic

Hall of Fame baby.


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