Monday, December 31, 2007

Avs Lose to Last Place Kings, Theodore to Blame?

It was a boring game. There's no debate. All the same, it was a game the Avs should have won. Playing the last place Kings, the Avs got ahead early on a Jordan Leopold goal. Leopold, returning to the lineup (finally) played a very solid game both on offense and defense.

The rest of the game was just boring. With 21 shots through two periods for Colorado, the score was still 1-0.

That lack of finish ended up costing them the game. LA scored once and then they scored twice - in span of 2 minutes, the Avs were suddenly a few minutes away from blowing this game. And blow it they did.

Boring. Awful. Saddening. To play the great Red Wings so well and then to come out two nights later and lose to the Kings? It's these kind of losses that make a difference come April. We all saw how much one point can mean in any given season. This may come back to haunt us.

Where was our scoring line? Stasnty, Hejduk, and Smyth were non-existent throughout the entire game.

On the plus side, Jaroslav Hlinka has stepped into that second line center role and played exceptionally well. He's been an impact player as of later.

On the goalie front, Jose Theodore finally got a start and responded by having an easy first two periods, and then not being able to make two fairly simple saves. Theodore must go people. It'll be almost impossible to find a trade partner, but after this season is over, I'll be happy to see his salary go towards locking up some of our younger guys.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Jordan Leopold (A goal and a great defensive effort in his comeback performance)
2. Jaroslav Hlinka (His passing skills are starting to be noticed and the man is stepping up)
3. Marek Svatos (Showing great effort the last few games and was trying to make things happen all night long)

Next Up
The Avs last game of 2007 will be played against the SECOND worst team in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Coyotes. The Avs are 9-1 in their last 10 games against them. Peter Budaj will be in net tonight.

Against LA, Quenville dressed seven defensemen and made Brad Richardson a healthy scratch. The strategy didn't seem to hurt us too much, but it's an interesting move considering Sakic's injury.

Video Fix

Here's an NHL montage made by your's truly. Enjoy the memories as we head into 2008.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Avs Play Well; Lose to Detroit - Sakic Out For 3 Months

The Avs-Detroit series hasn't been about the violence as much as it has been about the hockey as of late. These are clearly two of the most skilled teams in the NHL and last night they treated fans to a very well-played hockey game.

The Red Wings got off to a quick start in the first period, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. The Wings, a team that controls the puck better than anybody, is almost imposssible to beat if they've gotten the lead on you. But the Avs fought back.

First Goal Alert!

With under a minute to go in the period, Cody McLeod intercepted a pass in Detroit's zone, walked in all alone, and beat the great Dominick Hasek. It was a beautiful goal in which McLeod later commented:

"I'm not even sure if I was looking where I was shooting."

Congratulations to him.

With a 2-1 deficit going into the second, the Avs came out very strong, throwing puck after puck on net. The Red Wings, at 23 shots per game, give up the fewest in the entire league. The Avs had 21 through two periods, but just 3 shots in the third.

On a shot thrown on net by Jeff Finger and Jaroslav Hlinka, Marek Svatos scored one of his infamous "down-low" goals and tied up the game.

The rest of the second was played in Detroit's favor, but Peter Budaj continued his strong play. However, with 11 seconds left, Detroit scored again on a killer shot by Samuelsson to take the lead.

In the third, the Avs continued to press. The defensemen were coming up into the play, including Kyle Cumiskey who almosth had won with under two minutes to go.

After pulling the goaltender, Detroit scored to wrap up a 4-2 victory.

If this game can be considered a measuring stick, then we should be happy with the Avs game right now. They played very well against the best team in the NHL, even while missing some key pieces.

Important Notes

Joe Sakic will undergo hernia surgery which will make him miss 8-12 weeks. A blow to the Avs, this means players such as Wojtek Wolski, Jaroslav Hlinka, Andrew Brunette, and Ryan Smyth will need to continue to step up their games and put the puck in the back of the net. Get well soon, Captain.

The Avs took their first penalty in this game with just nine minutes to go in the third period. Discipline is important and the Avs are very good at keeping out of the box.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Cody McLeod (First NHL goal, provided grit and great defensive work ethic)
2. Marek Svatos (The other goal, drew two penalties)
3. Ryan Smyth (In his return, Smyth probably should have had at least two goals)

Next Up

The Avs will play the Los Angeles Kings, whom they beat 4-2 in their last meeting. This is a crucial time for the Avs, who really need to take advantage of these games and start racking up two points each night.

Video Fix

Here are all of the highlights from the Wings-Avs game. McLeod's goal can be seen starting at 1:27 on the video.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Avs Beat Nucks, Improve to 15-3 at Home

Some games are just fun to watch. This was one of them. It was nice to FINALLY see some things in this game that the Avs have lacked for awhile.

It was a 3-1 win in favor of Colorado, but look at some of these notes:

Cody McLeod may as well be credited with Colorado's first goal. His check in Vancouver's zone set the play up so Marek Svatos could put the puck behind Luongo.

With the game tied 1-1, Cody McCormick laid a huge hit on Ryan Kessler. He followed this up with the GWG a few minutes later on a beautiful shot that got past Luongo on the stick side. McCormick was physical all night long and this kid may have finally cracked the lineup for good.

Andrew Brunette's insurance goal in the third period was a thing of beauty. Planting himself in front of the net, Brunette used "Gordan Bombay's" triple deke to beat Luongo. It was, perhaps, one of his finest goals that he has ever scored.

Peter Budaj is now the #1 goalie again. His sixth straight start resulted in another win. With 21 saves, Budaj has been playing some great hockey.

Ben Guite, Ian Laperriere, and Cody McCormick make up the best fourth line this team has seen in awhile. Not only did they start the game for the Avs, they also finished it. They were consistently put out against the Sedins and contribute energy, grit, and great defensive hockey.

John-Michael Liles's 21+ minutes of ice time tonight was well-deserved. He has played his two best defensive games the past two games and consistently jumped up into the play tonight, taking calculated risks each time.

Special teams were a huge factor against Vancouver. The penalty killing (6/6) and power play (1-6) came through at the biggest of times.

This win helped move the Avs into FIRST PLACE in the Northwest Division before the Christmas break. They are doing all of this without their stars - Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth and are playing some of their best hockey right now.

The Avs have gone in and beaten two of the best goaltenders in the game (Luongo and King Henrik) and have tons of momentum going into their next game.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Cody McCormick (Talk about a hardworker. That goal was the biggest he's ever scored)
2. John-Michael Liles (An assist, tons of ice time, and starting to show some leadership)
3. Peter Budaj (21 saves, outdeuled Luongo)

Next Up

Hold on to your seats folks! The Detroit Red Wings are next up for the Avs as Colorado tries to keep busting out the wins. Detroit has been far and away the best team in the league this year, but Colorado is playing very good hockey right now. Look for Budaj to get his seventh straight start.

The game will be on Thursday, Colorado's first after the Christmas freeze.

Another great night in Avalanche Country!

Video Fix

A new feature on the blog! In future editions, you'll see more current action, but lets just start out with an old favorite!

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2-Game Recap: 12 Shots/1 Point vs Ducks, Big Win vs Rangers

Anaheim

In one of the worst offensive performances in Avs history, Peter Budaj saved the day and stopped 35+ shots in a 2-1 loss. However, the Avs did get a point in OT.

Cody McCormick scored the lone goal and to be fair, Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic were still out of the lineup. It was more of a game where the Avs were just trying to hold on and grab a point.

And to give credit where credit is due, the Avs managed to get one point in the very close Northwest Division.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Peter Budaj (Huge saves and the entire game was played in Colorado's zone)
2. Cody McCormick (Continued to be impressed by him)
3. None

Notes

Cody McLeod played in his first ever NHL game and managed to bring some grit to the lineup.

New York

What a great effort by Colorado in this one! Despite missing Sakic and Smyth, the Avs played a very strong offensive game. Down 1-0 in the second, Milan Hejduk came through on the power play to tie the game up. Four minutes later, Hejduk scored again to make it 2-1. That success was short lived when Rozisval came down the ice to tie the game. One minute later, the Rangers took the lead back and made it 3-2.

The third period turned out to be a fun one when Marek Svatos scored with 12 mintues to go to tie the game up.

In OT, just one minute in, the Avs had a 2-on-1, had it broken up, and Jeff Finger came through the slot, put the puck on net, and Wojtek Wolski was there to knock it in.

To quote Mike Haynes, Wojtek Wolski! Wojtek Wolski!

A big two points for the Avs and another big game for Budaj. (Especially in the third period)

Notes

Due to the Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic injuries, the Avs called up David Jones from the Monsters. He had two golden chances to score his first NHL goal, but just missed on both of them. Look out for this kid in the future.

TJ Hensick notched an assist for his second NHL point.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Milan Hejduk (Yeah! Two more goals as he ties Stastny for the team lead!
2. Wojtek Wolski (The OT winner and he received some penalty kill time)
3. Peter Budaj (20 saves, including some huge ones in the third. 3/4 on PK)

Next Up

The Avs played the hated Vancouver Canucks TONIGHT at the Pepsi Center. The Avs are looking for their 5th straight home win and this should be a fun one.

Apologies

Look for longer posts from now on and no more "2-Day Recaps"

Enjoy the game.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Three Stars Standings

Three Stars of the Game - Standings (Through 33 Games)


1. Paul Stastny: 25
2. Milan Hejduk: 17
3. Ryan Smyth: 13
3. Peter Budaj: 13
3. Ian Lapperiere: 13
6. Jose Theodore: 11
7. Joe Sakic: 10
8. Marek Svatos: 9
9. Wojtek Wolski: 7
9. Brett Clark: 7
11. Ben Guite: 6
11. Andrew Brunette: 6
11. Tyler Arnason: 6
13. Wyatt Smith: 5
13. Jaroslav Hlinka: 5
15. Jeff Finger: 3
15. Scott Parker: 3
15. TJ Hensick: 3
18. John-Michael Liles: 2
18. Scott Hannan: 2
20. Kyle Cumiskey: 1
20. Karlis Skrastins: 1
20. Kurt Sauer: 1
20. Tyler Weinman: 1
*First=3 Points
*Second=2 Points
*Third=1 Point

Analysis

The highest d-man on the list, Brett Clark, is tied for 9th, and this is probably accurate in how the defense has been playing this season. Very up-and-down, with Clark being our best guy.

Out of the top three, there aren't many surprises, except for Ian Laperriere and Peter Budaj being tied for that spot. As shown by the Avs losing streak, Lappy does make a difference. When it comes to goaltenders, they clearly have an advantage when they win a game at getting a first or second star vote.

Joe Sakic behind Jose Theodore? Blame the nine games Sakic has missed in the last month.

Most points since the 10-game update? Try Paul Stastny's 16-point jump. It's one point more than Milan Hejduk's 15-point jump.

Fewest points since the 10-game update? Tyler Weinman earned the third star (1 point) in an early season game. He hasn't seen any action since. (0 points)

Most Likely to Ovetake Stastny: Milan Hejduk
Most Likely to Rise: Joe Sakic
Most Likely to Fall: Ian Laperierre

Hope you enjoyed the update!

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2-Game Recap: Another Win vs Nashville, Third Straight vs LA

Short Ones:

Nashville

A huge 60-minute effort resulted in a beautiful 3-1 win against Nashville on Saturday night. After getting outshot 17-5 in a scoreless first period, the Avs score two goals unanswered, including one by Marek Svatos, which would go on to be the winner. In the third, with a 2-1 lead, Jordan Leopold showed Colorado fans a flash of what he can bring, by scoring his first goal of the season.

Ryan Smyth had a two point night, while Peter Budaj registered an assist.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Peter Budaj (30+ saves and finally won the Avs the game)
2. Jordan Leopold (Got on the score sheet and played a solid game overall)
3. Ben Guite (Has stepped up and is now starting to shoot the puck more)

Los Angeles

The Avs came out fast and furious, scoring THREE first period goals (Smyth, Hlinka, and Stastny) while allowing ZERO through the first two periods. In the third, the Avs slipped up a little bit, and their lead was cut to TWO before five minutes have gone by in the third. From that point on, the defense played very well, and the Avs outshot the Kings 40 to 21 in a 4-2 victory.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Brett Clark (2 assists, 28 minutes of ice time, +2, and four shots)
2. Paul Stastny (2 more points for the amazing sophomore)
3. Ryan Smyth (Another goal and continues to average 20+ minutes of ice time)

Next Up

@Anaheim
Wednesday - 10 PM EST

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Two Very Different Games - Loss vs Columbus, Win vs Nashville

The first game, on Wendesday, was a disaster. Losing 4-1 to Colubmus may be bad, but when you realize it's the second loss within the last 30 days? Disgusting. The lone goal was scored by Ben Guite, but besides that, Theodore was awful. In the second period, the Avalanche defense let just one shot get by - for a goal. Offense was almost impossible to generate and it was a miracle Pascal Leclaire didn't get ANOTHER shut out. Not a fun one.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Ben Guite (One goal, increased minutes)
2. Ice Girl
3. Ice Girl #2

The second game was completely different. For the third out of fourth time in back-to-back games, the Avs pulled out an impressive victory. In a 2-1 victory (in which Nashville scored their only goal with 20 seconds left to play) the defense was stellar. Ian Laperriere and Jordan Leopold were both back in the lineup and Lappy even had the GWG. Tyler Arnason was out for the game, as was Joe Sakic. This lead to a BIG increase in Ben Guite's ice time. On a night with a short bench, Ryan Smyth was double shifted and added a goal to reward his efforts. Peter Budaj played very well, securing the start for the next game. Great job, boys!

Three Stars of the Game

1. Ian Laperriere (GWG and is finally back!)
2. Ryan Smyth (On back-to-back nights, he was being double shifted and he added a goal.)
3. Ben Guite (Talk about a guy taking some extra responsibility)

Next Up

The Avs complete a home-and-home series with the Predators TONIGHT in Colorado. Look for Budaj to get the start.

Go Avs!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Avs Beat Blues In Blowout - Hejduk: 6 Points, 1,000th Franchise Win

It was one of those nights where you love to be a hockey fan. Tons of scoring and even better, an Avalanche victory. A lead that was 6-2 going into the third, was cut to 6-4 just two minutes in, and every Avs fan was ready to turn off their TV. But they responded and ended up winning 9-5. Here are some highlights:

First off, this was win # 1,000 in franchise history. They are one of the fastest teams to EVER reach this terrific milestone. Congratulations!

Not only did Milan Hejduk have three goals, but he had three assists as well. A six point night is something special and Hejduk has been working hard and deserved it. He was also named the NHL's First Star that night.

Paul Stastny had a "pretty good" game as well. A five point night for the kid would have been terrific if Hejduk hadn't one upped him!

Wojtek Wolski had a solid two goals in the game. Even more impressive is his 17 minutes of ice time and his improved defensive work.

Brett Clark had a goal and an assist. Also in on the scoring was Ryan Smyth (two goals, one assist), John-Michael Liles (two assists), Jaroslav Hlinka (one assist), Scott Hannan (two assists), Andrew Brunette (two assists), and TJ Hensick (one assist).

Yeah, we were that good.

On the goalie front, Theodore made 24 saves on 28 shots, not counting the penalty shot goal scored against him.

Most of the goals were good ones. But no complaints.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Milan Hejduk (A hat trick is rare, six points is just extraordinary)
2. Paul Stastny (Five point night, keeping pace in scoring race)
3. Brett Clark (Very solid defensively AND he jumped into the play more)

Next Up

The Avs hope to build on their two game winning streak TONIGHT against the Columbus Blue Jackets. We all remember what happened last time these two teams met, so hopefully the Avs get some revenge.

Q is officially off the immediate chopping block if they can win this game impressively.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Avs Beat Flyers!!!! WOOHOO!

Yeah, baby, yeah! My hometown Flyers were defeated and I couldn't be happier. The Avs played a fantastic game and their 60-minute effort paid off tremendously.

A high energy, scorless first period saw some great chances for both teams. The Avs were without Joe Sakic for the fourth straight game and Ian Laperierre had been placed on IR earlier in the day. This being said, the lines of Stastny-Hejduk-Smyth and Arnason-Hlinka-Brunette were the two big ones of the night.

In the second period, the Avs went on the power play pretty early when a bad cross ice pass was made. Mike Richards, who has been Philly's MVP this season flew in on a breakaway and was STONED by Jose Theodore, who played remarkably well. Four minutes later, the Avs carried the momentum from that save and Jaroslav Hlinka remained hot, scoring his second goal this season. However, a bit of a defensive breakdown lead to a Daniel Briere goal a few mintues later.

Then, with under a minute left in the period, the Avs received a second power play. And with that power play, Milan Hejduk continued his hot streak with a big time goal with just over 2 seconds to play.

That goal held up to be the last, as the Avs continued to play a great defensive game all the way into the 3rd as they held on for the win, 2-1.

Big Time Players

Scott Hannan has been torn apart in this blog, but he played extremely well. He was physical all game long and helped control the front of the net. He made ZERO turnovers at the blueline and looks like the man from San Jose who Colorado thought/knew they were getting.

John-Michael Liles played a great game as well. Using his stick effectively, Liles broke up numerous plays. He also helped create countless scoring chances by jumping up into the play and starting odd man rushes.

Paul Stastny not only continues to show up on the score chart, but also is playing well in his own zone. He played two way hockey tonight and showed us why he is the future of this franchise.

Jose Theodore earned this win and should be rewarded with another shot. His save on Richards's breakaway was one of his biggest this season.

Ben Guite's line played with high energy and helped get the Avs moving. Props to Cody McCormick as well.

More Positives:

The penalty kill pressured the Flyer's fowards each and every time and were rewarded with a very solid game.

The power play also looked good, getting a lot of shots and chances each time.

Colorado did a much better job of finishing their hits in this game. I could barely believe it when I heard that beautiful sound of bodies hitting boards. Great job all around.


Three Stars of the Game

1. Jose Theodore (28 saves, including a few big ones - he won us this game)
2. Scott Hannan (Played his physical style and was a force down low)
3. Paul Stastny (It was his playmaking and energy that helped make the Avs go)

Next Up

The Avs will play the St. Louis Blues and Manny Legace TONIGHT. Their record against Legace is less than extraordinary, so lets hope they can make it TWO IN A ROW!

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO AVSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fire Q? Loss @ Columbus an utter disaster - Greast game

One word comes to mind after witnessing this game.

Wow.

To think that the Avs were up 3-1 going into the third period, Pascal Leclaire left the game in the third period, and momentum was completely on our side. It seems like such a long time ago.

Despite goals by Finger, Hejduk, and Wolski to give the Avs a 3-1 lead, the Blue Jackets managed to tie the game and eventually take the lead, 4-3, with about 5 minutes to go. They didn't hold onto it for long, as Scott Hannan, who I'll get to later, managed to tie it up. Of course, during these stretches, teams tend to have no luck. Columbus marched right back down the ice and took the lead for the final time. 5-4. We lose. Disgusting.

Wow.

But hey, it was a great game. By hockey standards, it's a game that should be shown to a national audience and used to market its potential.

Anyway...

Scott Hannan

He's a shutdown defenseman. He has one true job - take out the other team's best player. In this case, it's Rick Nash and on his two goals, Hannan didn't do his job. He either went to the puck carrier (or who he thought was the puck carrier) and didn't take care of Nash. Both times, Nash put the puck in the back of the net.

For a guy who was supposed to be a big time player in Colorado, he certainly has exceeded expectations...or even met them. Forget +/-. It's Hannan who consistently turns the puck over at the blueline, a feat which lead to ANOTHER goal in this game.

Cody!

Cody McCormick got into a fight tonight. Yippee. Maybe it means we won't need Parker in the coming weeks.

Fire Q?

I haven't exactly stated my position yet, but I'm coming very close. Blowing games like this - there's no positive for anybody. We'll see how Q gets them to respond against the Flyers, but Q is absolutely killing our goalies right now and Giguere needs to start looking around. A Pat Burns or Larry Robinson wouldn't be a bad place to start.

Hejduk Stays Hot

Two more points for Hejduk tonight. Team MVP thus far.

Peter Budaj

Player very well most of the night. I actually missed two of the goals because the feed on Center Ice went in and out, but on the three goals I did see, there was really nothing that could have been done.

Hard Work

To be fair, the Avs did work hard most of the night. They scored on the powerplay and will hopefully try and rally around this loss and try and go on a run.

Laperriere and Svatos Return

Both players were in the lineup and played pretty well. Svatos had a nice chance in the second period and hasn't appeared to have lost any steps. Lappy wasn't heard from most of the game.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Paul Stastny (Another multipoint night, and it's even more impressive since he's playing as the #1 center right now)
2. Milan Hejduk (He's a regular in the Three Stars right now. A bright spot)
3. Karlis Skrastins (Played well tonight, jumped up into the play, and made key plays which turned out not to matter)

Next Up

The Avs return to home ice to play my second least favorite team, the Philadelphia Flyers. This one has personal meaning to me and I'll have a special post about it on Friday.

Tough night, Avs fans.

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A full 60 minute effort in Avs loss

They didn't play badly. In fact, the Avalanche outshot the Sharks all game, played the majority of the 3rd period in San Jose's zone, and even managed to respond to an early goal by scoring one of their own.

However, the goals by Hejduk and Brunette were not enough to defeat San Jose, who scored three very weak (albeit, bouncing) goals.

For once, it wasn't about the lack of effort. The forecheck looked very good and the penalty kill, 4-4 on the night, put pressure on the puckhandler instead of just staying in the passive box.

Jose Theodore, who let up three goals in which the puck was deflected, was given his second straight start after a strong effort against the Kings

One Positive

Shots! The Avs were finally shooting the puck and on Brunette's second goal, which cut the lead to one with about 3 minutes to go, the puck went in because it was thrown at the net.

Notes

AS of 12/5, Wyatt Smith has been put on waivers. More news to come.

Ian Laperriere has been activated and is expected to play tonight.

Joe Sakic will miss his second straight game tonight with a groin injury.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Milan Hejduk (100% effort on every shift...responded to San Jose's goal right away)
2. Andrew Brunette (Despite being sick and receiving limited ice time, he finally scored)
3. Francois Giguere (At least he's trying to put together a real team)

Next Up

The Avs take a 1-day road trip to Columbus, tonight, to try and solve the mystery that is Pascal Leclaire. Peter Budaj will start in net.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Hensick Gets First Goal In Win

The first 18 minutes were pretty awful. The stinking Kings took it to the Avs and managed to ttake two goals from Jose Theodore in the first 18 minutes of the game. The Avs looked basically dead in the water until Paul Stastny got another point on the road to cut the lead to one.

In the second and third, it was all Avs. 11 minutes into the second, TJ Hensick took a pass at the red line, put on a burst of speed, and score on a breakaway to net his first career NHL goal in just his second game. May it be the first of many!

Heading into the third, with the game knotted at 2, it took Ryan Smyth just 11 seconds to give the Avs the lead, and they never looked back, with Smyth getting the insurance goal and Hlinka providing the fifth one, the Avs beat the Kings 5-2.

Big Positives

-A win on the road!

-Hensick's first career goal

-A 42 minute effort instead of the usual 20

-3 for 3 on the penalty kill

Notes/Injuries

Joe Sakic is listed as day-to-day with a groin injury. No news on tonight's game.

Kurt Sauer was placed on IR on Sunday - No defenseman has been called up

Brad Richardson was called up soon after Sauer got injured. No clue as to why

Marek Svatos is still game-to-game with a groin injury

Ian Laperriere is scheduled to come back soon, hopefully for the Flyers game.

Andrew Brunette was given just four minutes of ice time. Scott Parker actually played 46 more seconds in the game.

Three Stars of the Game

1. TJ Hensick (CONGRATULATIONS to him on his first NHL goal, especially since it changed the momentum)
2. Ryan Smyth (Three point night for Smyth, also accidentally injured LaBarbera in the third)
3. Paul Stastny (He's starting to score on the road and he had not only the first goal, but the assist on the fourth goal)

Next Up

The Avs will play the San Jose Sharks for the second time in three nights in San Jose. The Avs are looking to rebound from their loss on Friday night. Look for Jose Theodore to get the start, considering Peter Budaj's last performance against San Jose. Go Avs!

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Avs Lose - Road Struggles Continue

It wasn't a really good start. That's actually an understatement. Taking a penalty and allowing San Jose's best player, Joe Thornton, to be wide open in front of the net and put away the goal is a REALLY bad start. To make it somewhat worse, the Avs failed to score on a 90 second 5-on-3 and failed to score on the regular PP that followed. However, the game was still close, 1-0, going into the second period.

In the second, the Avs quickly saw their deficit increase to two on Joe Thornton's second PPG. Another powerplay by the Sharks a few minutes later looked to be on the brink of converting until Milan Hejduk picked up a loose puck and scored a rare shorthanded goal. Assisted by Scott Hannan and Paul Stastny, the goal put some life into the Avs. That life was short lived, when two mintues later, Mike Grier, who played a very physical game, got the goal back to make it 3-1. The Avs refused to quit, however, as Andrew Brunette scored the fourth goal of the period, assisted by Stastny and Sakic. It was 3-2 at intermission.

Despite several chances in the third, that is how the game ended. A 3-2 loss for Peter Budaj.

Key Event: The Sharks were physical all game long, but when you piss off Joe Sakic, you know you did something wrong. In the third period, Sakic got very upset at Vlastic, who proceeded to stick his fist into Sakic's face. Had it not been for the refs, Sakic might have tried to instigate his second career fight. A scruffle ensued, but it was all under control. (No Lappy or Parker)

Debut: TJ Hensick made his NHL debut and was rewarded with over 16 minutes of ice time.

Despite the loss, the Avs managed to show a bit of energy in the game and hopefully, they can carry that energy over into tonight's game.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Peter Budaj (He was BIG at times in this game. Despite allowing one soft goal, he couldn't have done anything about the other two and the score probably should have been higher)
2. Paul Stastny (Two primary assists and he finally scored on the road!)
3. Kyle Cumiskey (Becoming extremely reliable and cool under pressure)

Next Up

The Avs have no time off as they make a pit stop in LA tonight. The Kings are dead last in the Pacific Division with just 21 points on the season. The Avs are one of the worst teams on the road this season with a 3-8-1 season. Something has to give.

I'm almost 99% sure that Jose Theodore will be in net tonight. Lets hope that we can enjoy the game!

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Friday, November 30, 2007

News and Notes: Sakic Injured? Hensick Recalled, Richardson Sent Down

According to the Rocky Mountain News and Yahoo, Joe Sakic left Wednesday night's game with five minutes to go with a minor groin injury.
Certainly not good news to lose Sakic, especially now that there is no Forsberg or Tanguay to fill the void. However, in a more recent report, Sakic is expected to play tonight.

As reported on ColoradoAvalanche.com, TJ Hensick, the Avs top prospect has been recalled and is available for tonight's game.
Hensick was nominated for the Hobey Baker in college and one day, he will be a big time center for the Avs. Will he play tonight? It's very possible, especially since...

Brad Richardson has been sent down to Lake Erie. (ColoradoAvalanche.com)
Richardson has been playing very well so this move puzzles me somewhat. If there is any good to come out of it, it will be in the fact that Hensick may have a chance to play.

Enjoy the game!

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Wednesday: Avs Beat Oilers, Stop Skid

It was like a new team was out on the ice. And in some ways, it was a new team. Quenville tinkered with the lines a bit, putting Jaroslav Hlinka on the second line with Stastny and Hejduk and putting Ryan Smyth on the third line - the lowest one he's been on all season.

The Hlinka experiment paid off just four minutes into the game when Hlinka was credited for an assist on Milan Hejduk's goal. That goal was then followed by a Brett Clark shot from the point which trickled in just 25 seconds later. The Avs outshot the Oilers 17-3 in the first.

In the second, the Avs continued to skate and then it happened. A power play. The woes have been awful but as Joe Sakic took the faceoff in the Oilers zone, there was one big difference. As soon as he won the faceoff, he put a shot on net. Tremendous adjustment. Hejduk and Stastny would get their third and second points of the night as Joe Sakic fired a shot from point blank range to FINALLY score an Avalanche PPG. The scoring wasn't over. Six minutes later, Wojtek Wolski contiued his sound play on assists from Sakic and Cumiskey. For those of you keeping score at home, the Avs outshot the Oilers 19-6 in the second.

The third period was pretty low key. The Avs went into a defensive shell and the Oilers did manage to get two goals in the period. Nevertheless, after outshooting the Oilers 43-13 in the game, the Avs (and Peter Budaj) finally took home a victory.

Key Stat: The Avs were 4-4 on the PK and scored their first PPG in five games

Negatives

Even in a victory, there are some negatives.

Early in the first, right after Clark's goal, Scott Hannan turned the puck over in the zone which lead to a 2-on-1 and eventually a wide open net for the Oilers. Luckily, the puck hit the cross bar.

The third period was a nervewrecking one. Defensive shells aren't the way to go, even with a 4-0 lead.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Milan Hejduk (Scored the first goal, got his first of two asssists on the second goal, and made a key play on the third goal)
2. Wojtek Wolski (Outstanding effort rewarded with a goal)
3. Jaroslav Hlinka (Get him going and the team might take off)

Next Up
The Avs play tonight against the San Jose Sharks, one of the best PP and PK units in the league. It should be a real test.

News and Notes Coming Up

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Avs lose on Saturday - Play Oilers tonight

Well, I took a few days off to clear my mind and objectively blog on the situation. The Avs, 0-24 on the PP in their last five games (1-3-1) have been a disgrace to hockey. On Saturday night against the Calgary Flames, the Avs managed just 7 shots through the first two periods and only seemed to show up for the third where they had 16 shots and scored their only goals (Sakic, Richardson) in a 5-2 loss against the Flames.

The loss knocked the Avs out of first place.

Jose Theodore got the start and made 27 saves on 32 shots. A few of the goals were weak, but lets face it, it doesn't even matter. It has nothing to do with putting up just seven shots in two periods. As I mentioned, the power play was pitiful as was the rest of the play in the game.

The highlight of the game was the apparent feud between Dion Phaneuf and Scott Parker. Stemming from a pre-game scruffle between the two teams, it seemed like Phaneuf was getting away with murder against the Avs. After Phaneuf seemingly tripped another Avalanche player, Parker laid into him with a hit to the head (most think that the chest was his intended target.) As Phaneuf fell to the ice, Parker gave him a little job, which the Flames enforcer, Eric Boogard took exception to. A nice, long fight ended with Parker on top as both got game misconducts.

That was about the only highlight for the Avs.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Scott Parker (Thank you for protecting our stars)
2. Joe Sakic (A goal...a sign of things to come?)
3. Jeff Finger (Continues to show his physical nature and had an assist)

Next up...

Tonight at 9:30 EST, the Avs will take on the Oilers in hopes of moving within one point of Minnesota's division lead. (With one game in hand)

Notes

Ian Laperriere did practice today, however, he is not expected to play tonight.

According to TSN, Joel Quennville laid into the Avs at practice today, working them extremely hard and giving them a big pep talk. Lets see if it pays off. If not, Q may be out the door.

On a somber note...

RIP to Washington Redskins' safety Sean Taylor. As you may already know, Taylor was shot in his home early Monday morning and died in the hospital on Tuesday. My prayers go out to his family and friends.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Avs Break Streak - Power Play Disgusting

In the world of sports, any win is a good win. No matter how you get it, if you have more goals than the other team, the two points will be taken.

With that being said, the Avs put together a very solid effort on Thanksgiving Night. Effort was shown all the way around by both the offense and defense.

Things got started just seven mintues in when Karlis Skrastins (who I ripped two days ago) scored on a slapshot from the point. That goal would hold up until the Oilers scored on the power play ten minutes later. Going into the first intermission, the score was tied 1-1.

In the second, Milan Hejduk continued his solid play with an even strength goal, but once again, Ales Hemsky got his second point of the night when he scored just one minute later. Then, three minutes after Hemsky's goal, Marek Svatos tied Paul Stastny for the team lead in goals as he scored his ninth of the season. Svatos has regained his scoring touch this season and it's great to see.

Into the third, the Avs kept pressing and continued to play well on defense on their way to beating the Oilers.

Goaltenders:

Peter Budaj: 14 saves on 16 shots
Budaj let in two weak goals but made some game saving saves.

Matheiu Garon: 28 saves on 31 shots
A good effort by the Avs to put up 30+ shots


BIG Negative

Instead of focusing on a bunch of negatives, I'll continue to cut into the power play. 0-8!!!!!!!!!!! That's AWFUL. I mean, I thought it was bad before. But 0-8? The Avs had three chances in the second period alone! Even more discouraging, the Avs only had eight shots...COMBINED.

Need I say more?

Warrior

Ryan Smyth's hit in Calgary looked back, but he came back just a period later. Smyth was also in the lineup for Thursday's game. After recording one assist, Smyth revealed that he was playing with a broken nose. That is the true definition of a warrior.

Laughable

Whomever was responsible for picking the three stars last night should be fired. All three were Oilers...in a losing effort.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Marek Svatos (Another GWG for Svatty)
2. John-Michael Liles (The effort was extraordinary. Benching him did some good)
3. Milan Hejduk (Most effort on the team thus far)

Next Up

The Avs return to the Pepsi Center to play the Calgary Flames (again?!) for the umpteenth time this season. They'll be hoping to avenge their 4-1 loss a few nights ago.

First Place

With this win, the Avs regained first place in the Northwest Division

Northwest Division Standings

Team: Points (Record)

1. Colorado: 25 Points (12-8-1)
2. Vancouver: 24 Points (11-8-2)
3. Minnesota: 24 Points (11-8-2)
4. Calgary: 21 Points (9-10-3)
5. Edmonton: 17 Points (8-13-1)

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Two Rants, Maybe Three - PP/Liles Scratched

I'm mad. In fact, I would go so far as to say that ALL Avalanche fans are now right now. We've been outscored 14-3 in the last three and it only took a four day break to kill any chemistry we had going. With that being said...

Power Play

With a group of fowards as talented as Sakic, Brunette, Wolski, Stastny, Smyth, Hejduk, Arnason, Hlinka, and Svatos, how in the world is this power play not working? While recent at home (around 20%) the Avs have scored just three goals on the road. (around 8%) It's so bad, they actually get more shots when they're killing penalties!

The Avs were 0-5 in their last game against Calgary.

Last year, when the power play was in the top ten, Sakic was always in the right slot. This year, they have Sakic back where he was when Foppa was with the team - at the point. This isn't the right place for him UNLESS HE IS GOING TO SHOOT. The power play has become a game of hot potato for the Avs. None of them shoot and all of them are looking for the perfect play. The problem is, the perfect play on the power play is sometimes just to put the puck on net.

And why aren't they putting the puck on net? They have two of the best players in the game (Smyth and Brunette) at hovering around the net and either getting tips or putting away the rebound.

But that's just the first unit. On the second unit, they actually moved STASTNY to the point. Why! When Staz is on the point, he can't move around and make plays. The only one who is making plays is Hejduk and he can't do it alone all season.

The worst part is, the adjustments haven't been made. That's a relfection on coaching. If the power play can't work with these fowards, then something is horribly wrong. But remember, it's not just the fowards, which leads me to...

Scratching John-Michael Liles

With the return of Karlis Skrastins, one guy had to take a seat. For some reason, that man was John-Michael Liles. I can understand scratching a guy in order to make a point, but why would you scratch your best offensive defenseman when your team had been outscored 10-2 the preveious two games?

Skrastins is no great defensman anymore. When he was with Clark, they were the big shutdown pair, but that is no more. Skarstins didn't make one difference in Calgary and I didn't even hear his name that much. So why are we keeping him around? Trade him!

And why not scratch Kyle Cumiskey? He's the most inexperienced of the seven and while he helps create offensive chances, he's not at the point of making them into anything productive. Cumiskey is going to be a great player one day, but when a team is in the midst of a losing streak, they need guys in the game who have been there before.

Which leads me to Liles. Third in Avalanche ice time among defenseman and probably one of their biggest shots from the point. Power play anyone? Put Liles out there to shoot a few from the point. Good grief.

Annoyance

I'm fed up with the power play. I'm at the point of groaning when we get one because I realize we have a better shot at scoring 5-on-5. It's sad and if it doesn't improve soon, the Avs are going nowhere.

Game is at 9:00 tonight. Try to enjoy it.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Period-By-Period: Per. 1 - PP Struggles | Per. 2 - Avs Momentum Short Lived | Per. 3 - One Word: Depression

Tonight will be the second Period-By-Period entry on The Avslova Factor. I'm hoping that the entry will go towards changing Colorado's luck a little bit.

Notes:

Cody McCormick was called up today to play in tonight's game against Calgary.

Lets hope that McCormick can provide some of the energy that the Avs have been missing since Lappy's injury. McCormick has been playing very well with Lake Erie this season.

Karlis Skrastins was also activated for tonight's game and may be in the lineup.

The Avs defense is not playing its best right now and perhaps Skrastins can help tighten some screws. However, Skrastins playing means someone will have to be scratched. Look for it to be Cumiskey or Finger.

Enjoy the game and see you after the first period!

__________________________________________

First Period

The Avs put up some chances but were shut out. And while the Flames were shut out, one would think that it was an improvement over the past games. But when all was said and done, the Avs went 0-3 on three consecutive power plays. What is making it struggle? Who knows? But it needs to be fixed...SOON!

Key Play: The Flames came bursting in on a breakaway while shorthanded when Joe Sakic came back and poked the puck away. The play most likely saved a goal.

A lot of chances but no concrete results.

Jose Theodore played VERY well in net, saving various point blank shots.

We'll see what adjustments they make in the second.

___________________________________________

Second Period:

After two, the score is now 2-1 in favor of the Flames. Despite the score, the period was a much better one for Colorado. They started off with a beautiful pass by Paul Stastny to Marek Svatos, who continues to put the puck in the back of the net. However, the defense let us down somewhat as the Flames's first shot after the goal resulted in a goal of their own by ex-Nordique Owen Nolan. And then later, Jarome Iginla scored on a beautiful pass by Matthew Lombardi. Do I blame Theodore for the goals? No. The goal scorers weren't taken out of the play early enough and that's what happens.

The Avs continued to skate hard throughout the period but there was a scary moment as Ryan Smyth made his way to the locker room. I'll have an update after the third.

Get THIS: Through two periods, there have only been TWENTY shots on goal...COMBINED! (The Avs have 12.) A defensive battle.

PP Update: 0-1 in the period, 0-4 in the game

As always, Calgary-Colorado games can get crazy. Enjoy the third.

______________________________________________

Third Period:

Outshooting the Flames 7-5 in the third period, the Avs suffered their third loss in a row tonight. (For the first time all season)

The power play was awful (0-5 in the game) and the defense was pathetic.

I have three rants for my next post, so I'll save the analysis.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Wyatt Smith (Skated hard all game..it's all you can ask for)
2. Marek Svatos (The lone goal)
3. Equipment Manager (Makes it another third star for him)

Next Up

The Avs have one day off before battling Edmonton on Thursday night. Can they break the streak? It's not looking good, folks.

Look for my rants on the scratching of John-Michael Liles, the power play, and the losing streak in my next entry!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Pathetic Effort - Another Loss

There's not much to say about the game in Minnesota on Sunday night. It was a pathetic effort. Turnovers galore...again. It's tough to watch a goal get scored while three of your fowards are way up ice. Whenever Matt Foy begins to look like a superstar, you know your defense and goalie played terribly. Foy had a goal and an assist in the game.

Despite outshooting the Wild 28-26, the Avs got most of those shots in bunches and obviously didn't make them count - they loss 4-1.

All of the same problems in the last post exist. Just read that one...I'm not duplicating it.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Milan Hejduk (Provided some energy on each shift and scored the lone goal)
2. Wyatt Smith (I actually saw him skating hard and backchecking the entire game)
3. Equipment Manager (The jerseys looked spotless..mostly because the Avs weren't hitting anyone)

Next up

The Avs will play three games in six nights, including a Tuesday night tilt against Calgary. Colorado has looked pitiful on the road and now is not the time to lose three in a row. Look for Theodore to get the start.

Sorry for the short post...but there's not much else to say. (That isn't R-rated)

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Worst game ever by Avs? Lappy Update.

Four Jussi Jokinen goals, three points for Mike Modano, an amazingly large amount of turnovers by Colorado, and a simply dreadful night resulted in a 6-1 loss for the Avalanche.

There isn't must good to report. (As reflected in the Three Stars) Dallas was simply the better team. Jokinen, whose four goals are tied for the second most in a single game in franchise history, scored two of them in the second, which were apart of a four goal second period for the Stars. The lone Avs goal was scored by Jaroslav Hlinka with just three minutes to go in the game.

Turnovers were a key in Dallas's win. Not only did they forecheck very well and for the full 60 minutes, but Colorado helped them out the entire way. It seemed like a minute didn't go by before Jeff Finger or Kurt Sauer or a foward or another defenseman lost the puck at the blue line. Mike Ribeiro basically stood in place behind the net as the Stars completely controlled the pace of the game.

Special teams were dreadful. The Avs were 0-2 on the penalty kill and 0-3 on the powerplay. This was while being outshot 26-18 in the game, including being outshot 14-6 in the second period.

Jose Theodore was pulled after the fifth goal. He allowed five goals on just fifteen shots. Mike Smith, who played goal for the Stars, made 17 saves on 18 shots.

On the Dallas broadcast of the game, the announcers called it the best Dallas has played in years. As for the Avs, this is one they need to forget.

We need to improve getting the puck out of the zone! There is absolutely NO POSITIVE SPIN in turning over the puck. And it's not just one guy. It's everybody.

Furthermore, the fowards need to learn how to backcheck properly. That's a direct reflection on coaching.

This could be a Stanley Cup team - but these games aren't acceptable.

Lappy Update

Ian Lapperiere is offically out for 2-4 weeks. Look for Scott Parker and Brad Richardson to fill his spot in the lineup.

Three Stars of the Game

1.
2.
3.

The Three Stars are null for this game. No one deserves it. It's true.

Next Up

The Avalanche will play the Minnesota Wild on Sunday and the game will be for first place in the division. Currently, the Avs are just one point ahead of the Wild in the Northwest. Colorado is just four points back of the conference leading Red Wings.

Minnesota last played on Friday against the Canucks and lost 6-2. Just like us...they'll look to avenge that effort.

Hopefully...this was a busy Saturday for Colorado.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Hall of Fame Induction: Best Class Ever?

On November 12th, what has been called the greatest Hall of Fame class EVER was inducted into the exclusive club.

This year's inductees include:

Ron Francis, Mark Messier, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens, and as a builder, Jim Gregory.

This isn't a news blog or a stats blog, but here a few notes about these men.

Ron Francis is one of the best playmakers of all time. Second on the games played list, he would have been first if not for the lockout.

Mark Messier is known as one of the greatest leaders in NHL history. His 1994 snapshot of his wild laugh while hoisting the cup is a classic for NHL fans. The Mark Messier Leadership Award is given out each season.

Al MacInnis helped make Boom Boom's shot the most feared in the NHL. While playing for over a decade with the Blues and Flames, MacInnis's slapshot was the sickest we've seen in many, many years.

Scott Stevens was one of the biggest hitters the game has ever seen. However, he did it cleanly. Probably best remembered for officially ending Eric Lindros's time in Philadelphia.

There was no messing up this year's group of players. It will go down as the best ever.

Having watched all of these players play in the 1990's, it's surreal that they now share the same hall with Gretzky, Orr, Howe, and Richard.

Congratulations to all of them.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Catchup Post - Avs Lose to Nucks, Beat Wild

I was away for the past two games, so I missed the Minnesota game completely and saw the last two periods of the Minnesota game.

Can't recap much, but I can give the three stars for the Minnesota game.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Paul Stastny (Three point night, including two goals in the second, and he has now registered 100 points in 99 games.)
2. Peter Budaj (Made some big saves and the only goals he let up were on the powerplay)
3. Ryan Smyth (He's getting his scoring touch going and he had an assist.)

Next Up

The Avs are off until Friday, when they will play Dallas. The Avs beat Dallas earlier this season and hopefully, we can continue our streak on the road. This is the first game of four away from the Pepsi Center. Expect Jose Theodore in net.

First Place

The Avs are now in FIRST PLACE in the Northwest Division, SECOND in the Western Conference, and FOUTH in the NHL. BEAUTIFUL start!

HOF Induction Post Tomorrow

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Lappy leads the way - Avs win in shootout

It was one of those games that you didn't want to end. Right from the first period when Ian Lapperiere deflected Jeff Finger's shot to put the Avs up 1-0, you knew it was going to be a good game. Then the Oilers scored and you weren't so sure. In the end, FIVE first period goals were scored, including two for the Avs by Lappy and Tyler Arnason. However, Peter Budaj, who got the start over Jose Theodore, let in three first period goals.

In the second, the teams were shutout, as Budaj made seven big saves from in close. This set us up for a third period in which the Avs would need to attack. They did.

Just 2:20 into the third, Lappy got his second goal of the night and tied the game 3-3. Lappy almost completed the hat trick shorthanded when his slap shot hit the post.

Making 13 saves in the third, Budaj managed to get the Avs into overtime...then a shootout.

Shootout:

Col: Wolski - GOAL (Fake backhand to the forehand side)
Edm: Gagne - Missed (Fake to the backhand side - missed high)
Col: Smyth - Missed (Fake to forehand side - Stopped by Roloson)
Edm: Hemsky - Missed (Shot to the stick side)
Col: Sakic - Missed (Wrist Shot to the stick side - Hit the post)
Edm: Torre - GOAL (Shot through the five hole)
Col: Savtos - GOAL (Wrist shot to the forehand side)
Edm: Reasoner - Missed (Backhand stick side - Hit the Post)

Final Score: Avs: 4 vs Oilers: 3

The Avs took two points and are now in first place in the Northwest Division standings!


Negatives:

The Avs need to limit the amount of turnovers they at the blueline in their zone. A turnover lead to an Oilers goal last night.

The powerplay is still dreadful (0-4 last night) and the penalty kill has now allowed a goal in five straight games. (Ranked 12th in the league.)

Notes:

Joel Quenville's goalie rotation continues to work. He's been playing Theodore and Budaj based on past performance against the teams Colorado is playing each night. (Budaj has better career stats against the Oilers.) It seems that we once again have no #1 goalie, but instead are in a similar situation that Minessota was in a few years ago. (Roloson and Fernandez split playing time.)

Tyler Arnason continues to own the Oilers, registering a goal and an assist in the game.

Joe Sakic's eight game assist/point streak was snapped last night. The assist streak was an NHL high this season.

Ian Lapperiere was named Wednesday's third star on NHL.com Lappy had a three point night.

Props to Scott Hannan, Kyle Cumiskey's defensive partner. Cumiskey, a second year player in the NHL, is known to take many offensive chances. Great job by Hannan to recognize this and make sure that the Oilers can't get numbers going the other way.

The Avs finished their five game homestand against the Oilers with a record of 4-1.

Play of the Game:

With only a few minues left in the third, the Oilers had a two-on-one when Kurt Sauer went down on the ice, spread his body out, and managed to deliver a beautiful poke check. The play most likely saved a goal.

Game Fact:

In his career, Lappy has had 18 multi-goal games. (Including ONE hat trick)

Three Stars of the Game

1. Ian Lapperiere (Three points and good penalty killing by Lappy)
2. Tyler Arnason (Two points, including the first assist on the game-tying goal)
3. Brett Clark (Very creative and he has been creating nice offensive chances.)

Next Up

The Avs look for revenge against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. The Canucks gave the Avs their only loss at the Pepsi Center and Colorado will look to return the favor. Statistics show that Jose Theodore will be starting this game.

First Place!

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Period By Period | Per. 1 - Avs PP Struggles But Game Tied | Per. 2 - Avs Lead, Kipper Robs | Per. 3 - Avs Win! and Phaneuf Goes Down!

The puck has just dropped and tonight I'll be making a post each period. I may end up doing this once or twice a month for the rest of the season. Just a little experiment.

Jose Theodore (2-0) is in net for the Avs while Miikka Kiprusoff (0-2) tries to get his first win against the Avalanche this season.

Early power play for the Avs. Lets see if they decided to work on anything.

_________________________________________________________

Period One:

Once again, the Avs had to come from behind early in the game.

With just four seconds left in their first power play, Alex Tanguay threw a shot on net that got by the sprawling Theodore.

However, the Avs would change the momentum. Outshooting the Flames 17-6 in the period, the Avs had FOUR powerplays and will complete a fifth one in the first minute or two of the second period.

One of those powerplays was a 1:21 second 5 on 3. Did we convert? Of course not. Terrible passing, no shooting, and stubborn coaches were the reason. The Avs were 0-3 until the fourth power play when Joe Sakic took a shot from the point which was deflected by Andrew Brunette into the net. That goal would prove to be the last one of the period as the Avs and the Flames skated off tied 1-1.

A novel idea, right? Taking a shot from the point?

Sakic has played very well thus far, taking shots whenever he can. Defense has been very good, although the first goal probably should have been cleared before it ever reached a Calgary stick. We'll see if the Avs can grab the lead in the second on their FIFTH power play.

Northwest Division Update: Minnesota has defeated Edmonton by a score of 4-1.

_________________________________________________________

Period 2:

For the first time in the past few games, the Avalanche have the lead going into the third period. And it feels good!

Wojtek Wolski got his sixth goal of the season and on an even strength opportunity. It was assisted by Hejduk and Sauer.

The Avs controlled the play for most of the period and managed to get some solid chances on their lone powerplay. The real story, however, is Kipper.

He ROBBED the Avs of at least two goals. The first, Jeff Finger's shot at a wide open net, was gloved by Kipper after a beautiful series of passes and shots by the Avs. The second came on Andrew Brunette's slick deke, in which he faked Kipper out of his skates but somehow, a pad was in the way of the goal.

The period was also highlighted by an Ian Lapperiere fight.

Theodore has been playing very well, making some big saves from point blank range.

Key Stat: The Avs are outshooting the Flames 30-15.

______________

Keys to the Third:

The Avs need to ATTACK! The Flames aren't going to go away and if the Avs sit back in this period, Theodore will let one slip by eventually. Stay physical, clear the zone, and try to create offensive chances. Draw some penalties and lets get the win.

Enjoy the third!

_____________________________________________________________

Third Period:

Oh baby! The Avs Win! What a complete game by the Avalanche as Jose Theodore allowed just one goal on 24 shots and Theodore is now 3-0 at home this season.

Paul Stastny put the Avs ahead by two just 45 seconds into the third on an assist by Wolski and Hejduk.

Hejduk and Wolski assisted on Stastny's second goal as well.

Kipper was pulled midway through the period, but it made no difference as the Avs held on and won the game 4-1. They are now two points behind the Minnesota Wild in the Northwest Divsion!

OUCH!

Ben Guite, the little man on the fourth line, delivered a BEAUTIFUL hit to Dion Phaneuf and Phaneuf actually went down. Yep, the league's hardest hitter taken down by Guite. Be proud folks.

Line of the Night: The line of Stastny-Hejduk-Wolski combined for three goals and five assists. It's definitely a keep for the next game against Edmonton.

Hlinka Scratched: Jaroslav Hlinka was scratched for what I've read to be bad work ethic. Scott Parker took his spot in the lineup.


Three Stars of the Game

1. Wojtek Wolski (Two points for Wolski and that includes the GWG)
2. Paul Stastny (Two goals as Staz gets his offense going again)
3. Jose Theodore (Some beautiful saves and Theo continues to make a push for the #1 spot)

Next Up

The Avs will play the Edmonton Oilers at home on Wednesday. Hopefully, Quenville allows Theodore to continue on with his hot streak.

Success or Failure?

Personally, I enjoyed this Period by Period experiment. Let me know what you think though - either by commenting on this blog or PMing me on the Avs board.

Thanks for reading and vote Republican tomorrow!

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Refs Awful, PP Worse, Luongo Great, Sakic Unlucky, Hannan Bad, Svatos Great, Avs Average, Game Dreadful [Loss vs Canucks]

You know how you're about to fall off a mountain and suddenly your alarm clock goes off? It was just a dream, right? That's what this game feels like...but it's worse. It actually happened.

Despite outshooting the Canucks 32-22 in the game, the Avs lost their first home game this season, 4-2. But instead of giving you a game summary, lets gothrough the title.

Refs Awful: They stunk. I don't know if it's easier to count the actual penalties, the non-calls, or the calls they actually made. It's all too much of a blur. But I'll put it you this way. The Canucks had TWO 5-on-3's (and long ones!) and a 4-on-3, while both teams had a combined total of 14 penalties. Both goals the Canucks scored in the third period came as a direct result of a bad call by the refs. Don't get me wrong, I hate to blame the refs. But this was one of the most poorly officiated games I've ever seen.

PP Worse: Despite the refs being awful, the Avs did have six powerplay opportunities. How many did they convert? Yep, just one. Lets go through some names. Sakic, Stastny, Smyth, Wolski, Brunette, Hlinka, Svatos, Liles, Hejduk, and Arnason. Good names? You bet. The Avs are up there with the best teams in the league when it comes to foward depth and talent. Why can't we score on the power play? Better question: Why isn't it showing signs of improvement?

Luongo Great: Giving credit where credit is due, Roberto Luongo made 29 saves tonight. In an Avalanche powerplay with four minutes to go in the game, he made some amazing saves on Sakic, Wolski, and Svatos. Excellent work by the Nucks goalie.

Sakic Unlucky: Maybe not unlucky, but it's just weird that Sakic's wrist shot isn't that successful this year. It's not like it hasn't withstood the test of time. But when you see a wide open net and the puck is on Sakic's stick, you expect a goal.

Hannan Bad: Both penalties he took in the game were for holding. When a defenseman is called for a holding penalty, it means he was out of position. There is no excuse for that.

Svatos Great: Two goals in tonight's game and Svatos is officially back to his former self. He now has the team lead in goals with two and fought until the final second. (He scored with ten seconds left in the game.)

Avs Average: Sure, they outshot the Canucks 14-4 in the second period, but they didn't really show up until the third. The first period was pathetic, easily the worst period of the season so far. Just bad. The Canucks aren't a good team this year. They're mediocre at best and the Avs let them into The Can and lost the game. It's a bad loss. We need to bounce back.

Game Dreadful: You know when the adjective "great" is used with an opposing goalie and the adjectives "awful," "unlucky," and "bad" are used with Avalanche players then the game was dreadful.

Peter Budaj? I don't want to judge him for tonight's game. It was just too disgusting.

Shorthanded Goal: The Avs did get their first shorthanded goal of the season. It was scored by none other than Jeff Finger who is quickly becoming a blog favorite. Finger took a pass in Vancouver's zone, made a slick move past a defenseman, and put a backhand into the top corner!

Joe Sakic: He was literally being triple shifted late in the third period. Interesting strategy by Quenville.

Sedin Twins: Combined for four or five points tonight. I'm not looking it up because I can't stand to look at the box score anymore

John-Michael Liles: He can't clear the pucks. One of the only Avs I wouldn't mind seeing traded this early in the season. (Literally, he's one of the only ones I would be upset about if we could manage to get a defensive defenseman in return.)

Kurt Sauer's Delay of Game Penalty: Horrible. Actually, it was pretty funny. Shooting it over the glass with no one on you? But hey, at least his name isn't McCabe.

Power Play: Why don't the Avs take shots from the point? In the last powerplay sequence, there were eight guys down low. One player...an Avalanche player, was at the point. Why not let him put it on goal?

Three Stars of the Game

1. Marek Svatos (Two goals, a jump in his step all night, and the kid went to the net!)
2. Jeff Finger (His first time in this spot, as Finger not only scored a shorthanded goal, but managed not to get called on an invisible foul!)
3. Zamboni Driver (The guy did a great job between periods to make sure the ice surface was nice and smooth. Plus, no other Av really deserves it. The question is, how many more times will the Zamboni driver have a chance to get some points?)

Next Up

The Avs have a stretch of 15 Northwest Division games and their second one is on Monday against the Calgary Flames. As we all know, Avs-Flames games can get crazy, so as long as the Avs can come out fast and furious, we should be ok.

Who will be starting? Who knows?! It should be Theodore, but what do I know?

Northwest Division Standings (Record)

1. Minnesota - 18 Points (8-4-2)
2. Colorado - 16 Points (8-5-0)
3. Calgary - 15 Points (6-4-3)
4. Vancouver - 12 Points (6-8-0)
5. Edmonton - 10 Points (5-9-0)

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Budaj to Start Tonight - Hockey Night in Canada

From several sources, Peter Budaj is supposed to get the start for the Avs tonight. Quenville has a history of doing this with goalies and in this case, I strongly disagree with it. Theodore has been hot and usually plays well against the Canucks. While Budaj is the starter, Theodore is the six million dollar man and if he is capable, we should be allowing him to play like it.

This is the first game for the Avs on Hockey Night in Canada this year. For those of us with Center Ice, it means that we won't hear a positive words about the Avs tonight.

Enjoy the game!

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Crosby Still Has Lots to Learn...Avs Win/Take Division Lead

Sidney Crosby, the league's best player, scored two goals in the first period...in truly amazing fashion. There's nothing else to say about this kid except that he has a tremendous work ethic and is one of the best players to come into the league since Gretzky in the 80's. But he still has a lot to learn.

The Avs went into the second period down 2-0 and on a powerplay, John-Michael Liles got his first goal of the season on a tip that squeaked by Danny Sabourin. It would end up being the first of three goals in a span of just three minutes.

Then, a delayed penalty call was made on Crosby...the Avs controlled the puck and Wojtek Wolski eventually would put it home. So no powerplay, just a goal, right? But Crosby, despite all of his skill, is still an inexperienced third-year player in the NHL. He took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which lead to another Avs powerplay. (They couldn't convert, but the momentum officially changed over.)

Ben Guite, who had been playing a very nice defensive game, managed to slip a wrap-around into the net to complete the Avs three goal swing.

The third period was scoreless, as the Avs took a 3-1 win.

Notes

Jose Theodore got the start in the game and played very well, making 26 saves and he ROBBED Crosby from completing his hat trick with an amazing stick save. (Possibly lucky!)

The Avs moved to 6-0 at home, which is a new record for the team to start a season since they moved to Colorado.

The Northwest Division saw the Flames and Wild both go down. Thanks to the Wild's five game losing streak, the Avs now sit atop the division with a record of 8-4.

Special teams came through. The Penguins, who have the third ranked powerplay in the NHL, were just 1/6 last night. However, the power play is still struggling, matching the Penguins' 1/6 stat and failing to convert on a 5-on-3 early on in the game.

Wojtek Wolski extended his point streak to eight games. That's a career high.

_______________________________________________________________

Overall, this was a very nice game for the Avs. Theodore seems to be regaining his confidence and despite giving up early goals, this team continues to show no quit. The powerplay needs to get going. Not converting five out of those six times could have been the difference between a win and a loss.

Kyle Cumiskey is going to be a great player in the NHL. He made great plays on both end of the ice and I'm convinced that he should be up with the Avs all season. Great effort on his part.

The Avs officially have a goaltending struggle. A good one, but are struggles ever good? Budaj is still the #1, but with Theodore playing the way he is, how do you sit him against Vancouver, who is he usually very good against? Theodore's positioning was very solid last night and he didn't lose his confidence after an early goal.

The defense is much improved. They looked GOOD. And the pairings actually made sense.
Defensive Pairings:
Sauer-Clark
Hannan-Cumiskey
Liles-Finger

That top pairing is sound defensively, while Hannan complements Cumiskey's agressive offensive style. They put Liles and Finger together, with makes sense considering the experience of each player. However, Hannan was used to shut down Crosby last night, so these pairings tended to change throughout the game.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Ian Lapperiere (Two assists and he was rewarded with some extra ice time. Lappy was also out there for the final few seconds, in which he blocked a slapshot and gave the Avs the oppurtunity to clear the puck.
2. Ben Guite (The game winner and an assist, Guite's parents were in attendence and he continued to impress on the penalty kill)
3. Jose Theodore (Cliche to put the goalie on the list? Maybe. But Theo saved the game on more than one occasion. Shut out the Pens from the second period on.)

Next Up

The Avs play on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night against the hated Vancouver Canucks. The Nucks are suffering a losing streak at the moment, so we'll look for the Avs to continue on with their home streak. Expect Theodore to start the game.

Sidney Crosby

Skill? Yes. Passion? Yes. Maturity? Not yet. Crosby needs to learn that there is a time to fight battles. But lets think about it. The guy gets called for a penalty, the other team scores, and then he argues it? Why not make a statement using your skill, instead of your mouth? Joe Sakic, easily the most respected playing the NHL right now, plays the game with class. It's something Crosby needs to learn to do.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Avs undefeated at home - beat Wild 3-1

When the best team in the Northwest Division comes onto your home ice near the end of the first month of the NHL season, it's a pretty good measuring stick of where your team is at. For the Avs, things are looking up.

It all started about eight and a half minutes in when Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth combined for another goal on a 2 on 1 break. It looked to be a carbon copy of Friday night's goal. The chemistry between Sakic and Smyth is just starting to come into play and it will result in many victories for Colorado. The goal came when Minnesota had been controlling the game but the momentum had changed. However, Eric Belanger tied the game with a powerplay goal and the teams went into the first intermission tied 1-1.

Avalanche Fact: The Avs are undefeated when scoring the first goal this season.

The second period saw very even hockey until the end, when Marek Svatos scored his fifth goal of the season. Svatos is now tied for the team lead in goals. Once again, credit Sakic with an asssist.

In the third, Peter Budaj continued his solid play. With just over three minutes to go, the Wild had a brilliant chance in which Budaj mananged to glove a wrist shot when the entire net had been open. It was a game saving play and Budaj came through. The Avs managed to seal the game when Wojtek Wolski put in the third goal with 37 seconds left and the Avs won 3-1.

Notes

Peter Budaj has now won fifty games as an NHL goaltender. In today's game, he made 21 saves and was sensational at times.

Wojtek Wolski extended his point streak to 7 games with a goal in the last minute.

With a record of 5-0 at home, it's the first time the Avs have ever gotten off to such a great start at the beginning of a season. They are are now 6-0 when scoring first as well.

Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Marek Svatos, and Paul Stastny are tied for the team lead in goals with five apiece.

Negatives

Even in such a great win and effort, some negatives can be found. The Avs continue to turn the puck over in their own zone way too often. No team will go far in the Playoffs by turning the puck over. This needs to be stopped.

The power play continues to struggle. With so many playmakers (Sakic, Stastny, Hlinka, Svatos, Wolski) this shouldn't be a problem. With special teams being so important in today's NHL, lets hope the coaching staff puts some time in working on the problem.

Faceoffs are also an issue this season. Seriously, they stink. And stinking on faceoffs means not having the puck in your own zone after key draws.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Joe Sakic (Two assists, making plays, etc. He still does it all.)
2. Wojtek Wolski (A seven game point streak and his defensive game has improved dramatically)
3. Marek Svatos (He has his scoring touch back and was in the slot to create several chances)

Next Up
The Pittsburgh Penguins will travel to Colorado on Thursday as the Avs get their first look at Sidney Crosby. Still no idea who will start in goal, but I would assume it would be Budaj.

The Avs are now just two points back of the Northwest Division lead!

In the next post, look for a Pittsburgh Penguins report.

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Four Notes on Today's Game

The Avs and Wild faceoff in a little under an hour and there are four big notes:

Peter Budaj will get the start over Jose Theodore in net.
One has to wondering why Quenville isn't rewarding Theodore after he played so well in the last game. The last thing Colorado needs is Quenville playing mind tricks with its goalies.

Niklas Backstrom, who is the in the Top 10 for for wins and GAA this season, will miss today's game. 23-year-old Josh Harding will get the start in goal.
Both goalies are solid, but Colorado would much rather face Harding, who has only gotten into two games this season. However, he is 2-0 in those games with one of those wins coming in a shutout. In his lone start against the Avalanche, the Wild lost and Harding made 30 saves on 32 shots.

Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra are both scratches for the Wild. These are two of the biggests Avs killers out there. Offense might be a little harder to come by for the Wild.

Colorado Scratches: Milan Hejduk, Jordan Leopold, Karlis Skrastins, Brad Richardson

Go Avs!

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Theodore steals one against the Flames [RANT: Hometown 3 Stars]

Jose Theodore may be the backup, but last night, he was as good as any goalie in the league.

Just seven minutes into the game, the Avalanche got on the board with a goal from Joe Sakic, his 1,599th point in his career. He wasn't done for the night.

But minutes later, Alex Tanguay put the Flames on the board. For some reason, Tanguay always seems to have a jump in his step when he plays the club that brought him into this lead.

Into the second period, the Flames scored on a goal by Matthew Lambardi and then Tanguay appeared to have scored again when the referee blew the play dead because he had lost sight of the puck. Looking at the replay, it looked to be a bad call and Tanguay openly critisized it after the game. But we'll take it.

The Avs continued to play on their heels all the way through the third period. Trailing 2-1, they had killed various 5 on 3's already. Finally, one second after a powerplay ended, Marek Svatos showed us some of his potential and tied the game up.

Through regulation, Theodore had made 39 saves.

In OT, it took just 23 seconds for Ryan Smyth to take Joe Sakic's pass and put it by the Flames to end the game and give the Avs their second straight win on the road.

It was a game the Avs didn't deserve to win. They were outshot 41-22 and managed to sneak two points from the Flames. They are now 2-0 against the Flames.

Joe Sakic recorded his 1600th point. He now joins players such as Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, and Mario Lemieux (along with a few others) as the only ones to have ever scored as many points all with one franchise. In his career against the Flames, he has 100 points (60 assists, 40 goals)

Joel Quenville recorded win #400 as a head coach. Hopefully, many more are to come.

Andrew Brunette also hit a milsetone, as he had his 500th point with an assist last night. Go to the net, and good things happen.

Jose Theodore played his best games in two seasons, yet, he wasn't named one of the game's three stars, which leads me to...

Rant of the Week
After every NHL game, the three stars are announced to the audience. The stars are always picked by someone affiliated to the home team. Last night, even with Theodore's amazing performance, he was left off the list. And even with an Avalanche win, the top two stars were flames.
I know, it sounds trivial to be ranting about this, but the three stars are meant to honor players for individual games. The fact that Lombardi and Tanguay were picked ahead of Theodore is ridiculous.
Why not give the job of picking the three stars to an NHL official? Maybe a referee or a goal judge. Anyone who will make competent decisions.
Homers.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Jose Theodore (He gets the respect here and with 39 of 41 saves, the Avs can thank him for the two points.
2. Joe Sakic (Two points, including the assist on the game winning goal, Super Joe recorded a milestone)
3. Kurt Sauer (Quickly becoming a great defenseman and for the first time, I don't hate the guy)
Three Stars Standings (Through 10 Games)

1. Paul Stastny: 9
2. Peter Budaj: 8
3. Ryan Smyth: 7
4. Andrew Brunette: 4
4. Tyler Arnason: 4
4. Jaroslav Hlinka: 4
4. Ian Lapperiere: 4
8. Ben Guite: 3
8. Joe Sakic: 3
8. Jose Theodore: 3
11. Brett Clark: 2
11. Milan Hejduk: 2
13. Tyler Weinman: 1
*First=3 Points
*Second=2 Points
*Third=1 Point
I feel like Jeff Finger should be in there. He's been one of the most consistent guys all season. We'll see if we can find a reason to move him up a little bit.
Next Up
The Avs return to The Can, where they are undefeated this season, to take on the Minnesota Wild - the Western Conference's best team. The Wild beat the Avs in hard fought game last time. No word on the goaltender situation as of yet.
A post dedicated to Jeff Finger coming up soon! Afterall, his last name is Finger.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Smyth returns to Edmonton as Avs get first road win

It was an emotional scene in Edmonton as the Oilers honored their long time hero, Ryan Smyth, before last night's game. Smyth, who shed tears during the tribute, was given a standing ovation for most of the night.

After a tough lost a few night's ago, the Avs came storming out of the gate with a Tyler Arnason goal, to take a very rare lead on the road. Last season, Arnason had eleven points against the Oilers. (In other words, he owns them.) But Edmonton quickly struck back to even the score. However, Jarsoslav Hlinka got his first career NHL goal and Wojtek Wolski scored on a puck that barely squeezed through the legs of Roloson, and the Avs went into the first intermission leading 3-1.

In the second, the Avs concentrated on defense and they did an outstanding job. Budaj made some tremendous saves as he stopped all twelve shots during the period.

In the third, the Avs clearly did not learn their lesson from past games. In this era of the NHL, even if you have a lead, you need to ATTACK. If you sit back and play a "prevent" defense, you're going to get scored on eventually. And that's what happened. With practically no time spent in the offensive zone, Budaj eventually let up a big rebound which the Oilers put home, to cut the lead to 3-2 with under ten minutes to go.

However, despite pulling their goalie, the Avs were able to put this game away with a Brett Clark empty net goal and they got their first road win, 4-2.

Interesting...

With an extra attacker on and one guy in the penalty box for both teams, Joel Quenville sent out Wyatt Smith, Ben Guite, Brett Clark, and Kurt Sauer to seal the game. The Avs controlled the puck and Smith slid it over to Clark for the empty net goal. The fact that Quenville trusts these guys to play in the last minute of games speaks volumes to the depth the Avs have.

On the play, both Clark and Smith had their first points of the season.

Scratches:

Milan Hejduk and Karlis Skrastins were both out. Hejduk is day-to-day.

He still looks like he's 12...

Those were the words of Mike Haynes when describing Kyle Cumiskey. Cumiskey, who was playing as the Avs 7th defenseman, logged valuable minutes and wasn't afraid to join the rush. He also made several key defensive plays to break up an odd man rush.

In his return...

Ryan Smyth had numerous chances, including a blistering slap shot which Roloson gloved, but was held pointless in the game.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Tyler Arnason (One assist and one game and he created many offensive chances. (Including a sick pass to Svatos across the ice)
2. Peter Budaj (That second period was big and stopped 25/27 shots)
3. Ian Lapperiere (A huge fight and the puck getting lost in his equipment provided some comic relief)

Next Up
Ready for Calgary? They'll be out for revenge after surrendering a 4-0 lead to the Avs last time. A second straight road win would be huge for Colorado, especially one against a divisional foe.

Friday at (TBD)

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Monday, October 22, 2007

4 Word Post to Describe the Avs Loss to Minnesota

Budaj Good
Team Bad


There will be a game preview for the Flames game on Friday. But this post isn't needed.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Peter Budaj
2. Andrew Brunette
3. Tyler Arnason

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Toews and Kane lead 'Hawks to victory over Avs

He loses the puck...he gets it back...he fakes out Hannan...he fakes out Clark...he does something weird with his stick...he fakes out Theodore...and Johnathon Toews shows us that he is part of the future of this league. Incredible.

That's how Colorado's night started.

After that incredible goal, which even got Mike Haynes and Peter McNabb excited, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp added two more goals for the Blackhawks in the second. And yeah, things looked bleak.

Props to JQ for starting Jose Theodore. Even though three first period goals makes it look like a horrible decision, it was the right thing to do after Theodore came up big in the last game.

In the second, the Avs controlled the entire period and Wojtek Wolski got us a goal to cut Chicago's lead to two.

At this point, every Avs fan should believe that the Avs can win. If they can come back from four goals down, they can certainly do it against Calgary.

And in the third, Marek Svatos and Ryan Smyth scored in the first seven minutes to tie the game.

Up until this point, 'Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin had been playing extremely well. But after this tie, both teams became a lot more cautious.

And to make a long and sad story short, Chicago scored with 1:25 left in the third to seal the game. An empty net goal later...Avs lose 5-3.

Notes:

All of the goals allowed by Jose Theodore were "good goals."

Defensive hockey was terrible.

Penalty kill is now 30 out of their last 31.

Milan Hejduk left the game before the third due to back trouble.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Ryan Smyth (Continues to work extremely hard and as I've said, is adding tons of grit and he is a huge presence in front of the net.)
2. Andrew Brunette (Two assists in the game, including one to Smyth.)
3. Jose Theodore (Despite the four goals, Theodore still played very well)

Next Up

The Avs face their toughest test of the season against the undefeated Minnesota Wild. Lets stay above .500! (The Avs haven't lost two straight all season)

Sorry for the shorter post...there will be more next time.

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