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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