Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Avs Defeat Predators, Hope Presents Itself

The sun is shining. The birds are singing. I just had french toast for breakfast.

Life is good.

Oh, the Avs are four games over .500 and are 2-0 since losing Paul Stastny for 6-8 weeks.

Life is great.

To be honest, I missed the first two periods of the game; thus, I missed four Avalanche goals. I was shocked to see that two of them were by Cody McLeod, but I wasn't surprised at all to learn that Tyler Arnason still had no points as the #1 center.

That's ok. The Avs basically kicked Nashville in the nuts.

Not only did a fighter (McLeod) score, but also a rookie (Stewart), struggling sophomore (Jones), and an underrated-overrated defenseman (Liles). Ouch, that's gotta hurt Pekka Rinne.

Peter Budaj continued his solid play with 26 saves, with his only blemish coming in a 15-shot second period.

The highlight of the game was McLeod's sidestepping of Jordan Tootoo which resulted in Tootoo's entire body winding up in the Colorado bench. When McLeod was asked about it after the game, his toothless grin said it all.

McLeod is quickly becoming a prime candidate to fill the spot at the top of the site (currently taken by Sakic) after Super Joe retires. I have been considering several re-designs and Stastny, Laperriere, Hejduk, Liles, and Smyth have all entered my thought process. Add McLeod to that list.

Minutes

Who is the #1 center? Looking at the time-on-ice, I'm not sure.

PLAYER-EV TOI
Arnason: 9:48
Hensick: 10:55
Guite: 13:11

Guite's elevated time is probably due to the fact that this was a throwaway game after the second, but Arnason played two fewer minutes than both Hejduk and Smyth.

We'll have to wait until a 2-1 or 3-2 game occurs to look at this situation in closer depth because time-on-ice is skewed when the game has been won with 15 minutes to go.

Avalanche Fantasy Impact Player
Which Av had the greatest fantasy impact?

Marek Svatos
2A, 2P, 1PPP, +3, 2PIM, 2SHOTS

Next Up

The Avs will take on the Phoenix Coyotes on New Year's Eve. A quick look at the standings tells you that Colorado has a huge opportunity to enter 2009 riding high.

Colorado (36 GP) currently sits in seventh with the same amount of points as Phoenix (37 GP). A win for the Avalanche will put them just one point behind Anaheim for the sixth spot and two points behind the Canucks for the fifth spot. Furthermore, it will put them four points ahead of Edmonton in the ninth spot. Come on boys, get two points.

Can anyone feel that? I think it's hope.

Eh, maybe not. We've seen this before. Optimism can be ugly.

Video Fix

Cody McLeod's hit...or lack thereof it:

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Why Tonight is the Biggest Game of the Season

I know, I say it all the time. In fact, everyone says it all the time.

"This is a huge game"
"This is a must-win"
"This is the biggest game of the season"

But I'm serious. Tonight, against Nashville, the Avs will play the biggest game of their season - at least until the next one.

After beating Detroit for the second time on Saturday Night, the Avs should be riding some serious momentum. Without arguably the two best players, Colorado defeated the defending champs 4-3 in a thrilling OT.

Ruslan Salei, Ryan Smyth, and John-Michael Liles got the goals, which all happen to come in the first period and on the powerplay.

Things went south when Detroit scored three unanswered in the second to tie the game at three, but in untypical Avalanche form, the teams played to a draw in the third.

That brought the game to a shootout where Wojtek Wolski and Peter Budaj did the rest. Bada bing, bada boom, Avs win.

That doesn't mean crap if they don't win tonight.

In all likelihood, Peter Budaj will get the start after making 41 saves in regulation, and if he suddenly lets in 5 tonight, no one will care how good he was against Detroit.

And sure, the Avs powerplay was an impressive 3-6. But if they go 0-7 tonight, we'll be calling for Granato's head in the morning.

True, Ruslan Salei scored a goal. But when he misses a check or a chance to score tonight, Avalanche fans will want a Salei-Skoula trade to take place. (Ok, we won't be that desperate)

Tonight is the biggest game of the season.

Until the next one.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Proof the Avs Will Never Turn the Corner

The last three games have been like watching a near car accident. Those are the times when you're sitting at a red light and you see some moron almost hit some other moron. Both cars screech and someone honks their horn and you realize that you've almost seen an accident.

I feel like I'm watching the exact same thing every time I watch an Avs game.

First, the Avs, with Andrew Raycroft in net, take out the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout that consisted of Mike Smith have a tantrum over what appears to be a ridiculous call. Did he throw his stick? No. Was Milan Hejduk affected by the stick falling to the ice? Probably not. Was he rewarded the goal? Yes. Did Andrew Raycroft showboat at the end? Yes. Should he have? OH YES.

That was awesome. It was a fun game. I was psyched.

Then, the Avs went to Florida and put Peter Budaj in net. He's the #1, right? The Avs came out slow and allowed a team that is best known for throwing rats on the ice (if you were playing the drinking game and the key word was "rats," I doubt you saw the end) to walk all over them. They were shut out. Goose egged. Zeroed. They lost 3-0 and Avalanche fans were too bored to even cringe.

It was dreadful. It was an awful game. I was saddened.

Finally, the Avs played Phoenix last night. Raycroft, the outcast from Toronto, was in goal. The Avs were up 4-2 in the third period, but of course, they couldn't hold on. Soon it was 4-3, then with under a mintue to go, it was 4-4. Of course, in OT, Brett Clark had to score a goal to redeem himself (he had taken the penalty that lead to Shane Doan's tying goal) and possibly stifle any trade talk that may have been taking place for the time being. The Avs were lucky to get the win.

It was interesting. It was an exciting game. I fell asleep and missed the last five minutes. Woops.

The point is, the Avs aren't going to turn the corner this season. It will continue to be the roller coaster ride. There is no #1 goalie. It has turned in to a 2a and 2b situation.

Paul Stastny is out. The Avs are without a first and second line center. This means that our 2a and 2b goalies will be forced to act like Patrick Roy in his prime. This team won't be scoring many goals.

Happy Holidays everyone.
Enjoy the happiness while it lasts.

[/cynical post]

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Tales From Philly: Lappy vs Little Girl

When the AHL's Hershey Bears called themselves Colorado's affiliates, there was always a good turn out in Philadelphia when the Avs came to town. Recently, the amount of Avs fans have been dwindling. While I did see a few fans rooting for the good guys, it was considerably less than before. It didn't stop me from observing and taking note of some interesting stories.

Ian Laperriere Scares a Little Girl

I walked down to the glass to watch the Avs warm up and I ended up having to make room for a group of five to six little kids in Flyers jerseys trying to press their faces up against the glass. Their parents were a little further up telling them to bang on the glass and try to get the attention of some of the players. Laperriere ended up planting himself right in front of me - his back to the glass - and seemed to be taking a break from the warmups. Noticing the one of the kids, a little girl who was eagerly watching the ice, Lappy, without looking up, tapped his stick against the glass a few times to try and get her attention. It took him two more tries to finally get her to look at him. I don't know what happened, but she must have gotten a look at his nose. The girl ended up letting out a slight whimper and backed off the glass immediately. Laperriere proceeded to act like he was the one who was scared and imitated her with a big smile on his face.

Laperriere continued warming up but the girl was no longer banging on the glass. I hope it wasn't her first hockey game. She might never be back.

Old Flyers Fan Guy Ignores Kid

Two rows in front of me (the seats right on the glass) was another kid (probably around 15-16) decked out in a rarely-seen Rob Blake jersey. Near the end of the game, a puck was shot into the safety netting and somehow made it down into the stands. The people in the row next to uswere all scrambling to find the puck but the Avalanche fan saw it first and proceeded to walk over, pick the puck up from the floor, and gave the puck directly to the man who was sitting in the seat.

Maybe I have a misplaced sense of morality, but isn't it usually a sort of custom when you're clearly a middle-aged hockey fan to give the puck to a kid? Apparently not because this guy didn't even say thank you. Another fan sitting a few rows back yelled, "give the puck back to that kid!" The man ignored him and decided to roll his eyes and started taunting Budaj. The kid, while not too upset, seemed kind of incredulouus at the whole situation.

This sparks a debate. Would you have given that puck back to the person who got it for you?

Refusing a Colorado Fan Service

It was the beginning of the second intermission and I decided to some water ice for what was a 4-2 game heading into the third period. I walked around a little bit until I found the guy selling the ice and was about to buy some when...

"HEY, you can't sell it to him."

I laughed. I'd already endured a crowd of boos while walking into the stadium. But it didn't end there.

The Flyers fan who yelled actually walked up to us (the guy selling and myself) and decided to try and get the vendor to refuse my service. The vendor, of course, didn't listen and gave me my water ice. As I was walking away, I was treated to the original lines of "Avalanche suck" and "Go back to Colorado." Because I'm not from Colorado, going back is, in fact, impossible.

My "Peter Forsberg" Jersey

Maybe it's because Peter Forsberg is so well-known or maybe it's because Adam Foote isn't. Whatever it is, I can't figure it out.

"Why don't you take off that Forsberg jersey?"
"Forsberg sucks."
"Hey, nice Forsberg jersey."
"I thought Forsberg was #21, not #52."
"Forsberg can't help you tonight."

I was wearing an Adam Foote jersey. Maybe the people who made the above comments (and that's just a small sampling from over the years) believe that Avalanche fans only like Forsberg, but not Hejduk, Foote, and every other Av who happens to have the #2 on their jersey.

I'm not exactly sure why the first guy wanted me to take off my jersey. I don't want to find out.
And I told the fourth fan he was correct. Peter Forsberg is #21. Very nicely done.


There you go. The Tales From Philly, 2008 edition. I've had better in the past but because this blog was not around, they have not been recorded. If I let you down in anyway, feel free to throw something at me. It wouldn't be the first time.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tales from Philly: Lappy Scares Little Girls

Make sure you check back tomorrow for this post. You might find funny the various oddities that occurred at the Flyers-Avs game on Thursday.

Highlights Include:

-Lappy scaring a little girl

-An old guy refusing to give a puck to a little Avs fan

-A man trying to stop a vendor from selling me food

-Comments about my "Forsberg" jersey, which turned out to be a Foote jersey

At least one of them should be interesting...I think.

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Two Things I Learned From The Flyers Game (+ Tampa Tonight)

After see the Avs live on Tuesday night (I was sitting very close, on the side that Scott Hannan scored on himself) I can tell you a few things I now know.

1. The Avs have absolutely no idea who is in front of the net and have no ability to clear that person away. (Already knew it)

2. The Avs can not clear the puck and usually just turn it over in the middle of the blueline. (Already knew it)

They were tired. It was the night after playing the Wings. I get it.

But they better beat Tampa tonight or the roof is coming off this place.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In Attendence: Avs vs Flyers - My Personal Stanley Cup

I haven't missed an Avs-Flyers game in Philadelphia since 1997. In that time, I've see Peter Forsberg win the game in OT, Alex Tanguay do the same, Claude Lemieux lead a four-goal comeback and subsequently lose it in OT.

Tonight, the Avs must help me save face in a town that can tear you apart if you dare put on the opposition's colors in-stadium. That's what I'll be doing. Adam Foote - third jersey. Represent.

Game time. I'm psyched. No live blog because my phone is terrible. Pictures - possibly. Will be taken, might not be uploaded.

Excitement.

Lets go Avs.

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AVS BEAT WINGS!!!! The World Has Begun Again

Avs Defeat Wings.

I've been waiting awhile to hear those three words. It was beautiful.

Arnason to Wolski.
Stastny wrist shot.
Leopold penalty shot.
Raycroft save, and save AGAIN!

Unbelievable. And I know it's only one win, but it's the kind of win that makes a .500 team seem like it can make a run to get themselves in prime playoff position.

I'm happy. The butterflies are singing. And I'm going to the game tonight, ftw.

Three Stars

1. Jordan Leopold (Game-winning penalty shot)
2. Andrew Raycroft (Took the usual Avs-Wings game and reversed it)
3. Paul Stastny (For coming alive and stepping up)

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Avs-Wings: Scared?

On Versus - oh crap.
National TV - sort of.
Andrew Raycroft in net - lord help us.


I'll be at the Avs-Flyers game tomorrow so I can't promise that I'll be blogging about this one right away.

Make sure you look for me though. I have seats next to the spot where the zamboni comes out and they're pretty low. Maybe I'll hold up one of those catchy signs - probably not.

Avs-Wings
7 PM
Versus

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Avs Blow One vs Chicago [Guess what? Doesn't matter]

Look, I'm all about racking up points. You do what you need to do to at least get the "loser's point" and then you take it from there.

When you're up 3-2 with ten minutes to go, you have to win that game. This goes double when your top line did nothing to get you there and you're relying on Ian Laperriere and Chris Stewart for your goals.

But the Avs blew it. Rather, Peter Budaj let in soft goals and Brett Clark forgot how to play defense. But really, they blew it. I'm not going to waste time talking about it. There's no point.

It doesn't matter.

No, really, it doesn't matter.

Detroit is playing Colorado on Monday. If the Avs lose, well, then this team isn't winning the Stanley Cup anyway. If they win, or at least register 20+ shots, then there is a new reason to hope that this team will get it together and do something special this season.

It's all about Monday.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Foote Playing Tonight, Tjarnqvist Benched

Adam Foote has returned, Daniel Tjarnqvist has been benched, and Joe Sakic is still out three months due to a loss in a fight with a snow blower.

A snow blower.

Anyway, I wish the Avs could find room for Tjarnqvist. He played really well and was even the savior for the team in a couple of the games.

Dater suggests that Brett Clark may be traded soon and Tjarnqvist's solid play helped alleviate a lot of my fears about the defensive depth heading into the season.

If Brett Clark were to be traded, a second or third line center would be much appreciated. The Avs aren't (and most definitely shouldn't) throwing in the towel on this season and currently sit within striking distance of a playoff spot.

Actually, a win tonight would technically tie them for the 7th/8th spot with the Wild and Predators.

Not bad for a team with Andrew Raycroft serving as backup.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves. The Avs need to shut down Kane, Toews, Sharp, and Havlat tonight.

Lets get this ball game started.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feel Good Win Followed By Bad News

After a fantastic effort against Vancouver to get the shootout win and a "feel good" victory against the LA Kings, the Avs and their fans were treated to some bad news yesterday

First, the games.

I'm a big proponent (at least early in the season) of getting points any way you can get them. If that means your 7th defenseman scoring in the final three minutes and then having to go to the shootout with a division rival, so be it. Getting into OT in all of these close games will make a difference when the Avs are in the hunt for the Playoffs down the stretch.

However, I like the kind of games against the Kings better. A game in which John Zeiler got what was coming to him for taking out Adam Foote, a game that saw Cody McLeod get two goals, adn a game that saw Peter Budaj continue his solid play. Yes, I like 6-1 wins much more than 3-2 shootout victories. I must be the only one.

What I don't like is injuries. And that's what we have here. No, not just any injury, an injury to Joe Sakic.

A snow blower.

Really? A snow blower? I use a snow blower every winter. I've yet to do anything to jeoporadize the rest of my hockey career.

Anyway, he's now out for three months so not only will I not be able to see him next Tuesday when I attend the Flyers-Avs game, but he'll also probably be out when I see the Rangers-Avs game on February 28th.

Oh well. My new wish is for the Avs to be still fighting for the playoffs at that point.

They're playing a lot better. Defensively, things still need to run a little smoother. The penalty kill has been dreadful and I wish the power play would go out there with some sense of purpose, but otherwise, I'm pretty happy with what I'm watching.

Next game is tomorrow night at 9 PM ET against good ol' Coach Q and the Blackhawks.

If there were ever a game for so many players to be motivated (Arnason, Wolski, here's looking at you) then this has to be it.

Also, congratulations to Chris Stewart for his first career NHL goal. It was a beauty.

Video Fix

Fast forward to 2:32 to check out Chris Stewart's first career NHL goal!

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

An Average Last Two

Avs-Preds Game Recap [3-2 L]
Avs-Stars Game Recap [2-1 SOL]
Credit = Mile High Hockey

Why am I not doing my own recaps for these two games? A couple of reasons:

1. I'm tired and irritated.

2. If the team won't give a 60-minute effort, why should I bother summing up their mediocrity?

The few bright spots on this team have been Peter Budaj (still not on his bandwagon), Wojtek Wolski, Marek Svatos, and Paul Stastny. Other than that, all Avalanche fans have had lately are crappy power plays, awful penalty killing, and lackluster third periods.

The Avs were lucky to get a point last night against the Stars. If Svatos hadn't scored to tie the game at one with 55 seconds to play, then this post would be a lot angrier - and probably a lot more incoherent.

I hate losing. It's just how I am. Even if it's not me losing. If it's the team I root for, my properties in Monopoly, or even the lottery, I simply hate being the loser.

I hope the Avs hate losing, too. Because when they play Vancouver tomorrow night at 8 PM ET, a game which would put the Avs five points fivbehind the Nucks for the division lead, they better come out with a fury. I want the win. No Luongo, no excuses. It's time for the Avs to start playing with some passion.


Oh one more thing, Chris Stewart played his first NHL game last night. Sadly, he was on the ice just enough to require a sip of water when he got to the bench. They should have done the kid a favor and told him to bring a seat warmer or something.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Groundhog Saw His Shadow...

...and has decided that it's Joe Sakic's fate to miss six more weeks of the season.

Now, this causes me some stress.

I'm going to two Avalanche games this season. The first one is in about two weeks when the Avs come to town to face the Flyers. I have been to every Avs-Flyers game in Philadelphia since '97 and I'm saddened that I won't be able to see Sakic one last time in Philadelphia.

The second game is February 28th against the Rangers. That will be my last chance to see Sakic live. I just hope that he's healthy for that game.

Despite the injury, the Avs still have a chance. They're offense has been better the last couple of games and all this means is that the top players (Stastny, Hejduk, Svatos, Wolski, Smyth) need to consistently play well in each and every game.

Ah well. We'll see what happens.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Avs Survive in 6-5 win @ Minnesota

Peter Budaj was terrible and the penalty killing was atrocious but the Avs offense gave Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom a new career high for goals against and managed to skate out of Minnesota with a 6-5 regulation victory.

With Joe Sakic on the IR, the young players on this team will need to step up in the coming weeks. They certainly did last night.

After falling behind 1-0, the Avs came storming back with two straight goals from Marek Svatos and David Jones.

Jones has been much better in the past few games and finally appears to be playing the physical game he needs to play in order to be successful.

Falling behind 3-2, the Avs answered the call once again. Goals by Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk, TJ Hensick (first of the season), and Stastny again gave the Avs a commanding 6-2 lead. The Wild managed to put another one past Budaj, however, to make it a two-goal game heading into the third.

Through two periods, the shots favored the Avs 26-12, Backstrom had been pulled, Laperriere had two assists, and Stastny had a three point night going. Sounds good, right?

Uh-oh. For the second consecutive game, the Avs almost blew a three-goal lead.

When Brent Burns drove hard to to the netand (at least I thought so) interfered with Peter Budaj in order to score, the stage was set for a thrilling last six minutes. Basically, as you've already heard/read, the Avs managed to hold on, but not without some close calls along the way.

Overall, a solid effort on the offensive end and we're lucky that Budaj didn't cost us the two points.

The Ugly

In a great hockey game, it's tough to be negative. However, the Avs allowed the Wild to go 3/4 on the power play. I don't care if they have to build a human shield in front of the net. That can't happen.

Tyler Arnason was the only minus player for the Avs. That stat is probably the most overrated stat in the books and it's worth noting that Arnason has been decent in the past few games. He's still making stupid turnovers and I'd like to see him score on something other than an empty net.

Brett Clark blocks shots. Cool.

James Mirtle put together a very interesting post examining just how much shot blocking matters in the NHL. He states,
My theory is that this means that teams that (a) spend more time penalty killing, (b) spend more time in their own end, and (c) simply lack the speed and/or finesse to defend in other manners all rely more on blocking shots. If you're a puck possession team like Detroit or Washington, are you lying down in front of shots or stick checking? Is there a relationship there? Does speed and positioning trump the block?
This guy has been a weak link this season. With Foote on the IR, not is not the best time to be thinking about trades, but I have to wonder what will happen when Foote eventually returns to the lineup and the Avs are interested in giving Cumiskey and Tjarnqvist more playing time.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Paul Stastny (Two goals, three points, lead all Avs in ice time)
2. Milan Hejduk (Three points)
3. TJ Hensick (First goal of the season came from a turnover he helped create)

Next Up

The Avs take on the Nashville Predators at 8 PM ET on Thursday. Can we expect another high scoring affair?

Video Fix

The first 2009 Winter Classic commercial from the NHL:

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Teaching a Mother Hockey

It's Happy Hockey Talk Day and because I'm all for happiness, and I'm especially fond of hockey, I will be a willing participant.

When I started watching hockey in the 90s, it quickly became apparent that this wonderful game on ice would only be so much fun if I were watching alone. However, if I could find somebody to watch with me, well, the joy would be endless. (If I sound like I'm trying to pull adjectives out of nowhere then mission accomplished.)

My dad was never a huge sports fan and I knew that he was busy anyway. Instead, I turned to my mom. Here she was, a native of Philadelphia who wasn't a big sports fan, but she was certainly more open to it. I'm not sure exactly how it started, but pretty soon, I was reading The Hockey News along with several other weekly/monthly hockey publications. With the help of the publications and my local newspaper, I gradually began the process of transforming my mom into a hockey fanatic.

We started easy - a quiz.

"Who is leading the league in goals?"
Jaromir Jagr
"And what team does he play for?"
Pittsburgh
"The Pittsburgh what?"
Penguins!

And on it went. Acting like a little drill sergeant, I made sure that mom knew the league's leading scorers each and every week and that she also knew what teams they played for and what position they played. When I felt as though she had made enough progress, we entered a more advanced realm of the game - the rules.

I won't take the time to express how difficult it was to explain offsides or why players weren't allowed to simply pick up the puck and toss it into the net, but I'm sure you can imagine. Of course, by having my mom watch countless Flyers games and highlights on NHL2Night, it was clear that the transformation was almost complete.

Pretty soon, my mom was willing to take me to a couple of games a year, watch games on TV,(and tune in to watch the boys on NHL2Night afterwards) and even read The Hockey News after I was through.

She developed her own favorites, independent of my own. Contrary to my hatred for the Flyers, my mom grew up in Philadelphia and naturally rooted for them. Knowing my love for the Avs, she also became interested in the team Colorado and pretty soon, became a bigger Avs fan than Flyers fan. Her favorite players included some of the most prominent players of the 90s. Eric Lindros, Jaromir Jagr, Paul Kariya, and Joe Sakic were always very high on her list. She loved watching Grant Fuhr and eventually detested Scott Stevens after he had his final say on Lindros's career. She booed when the Wings won in 2002 and again when the Devils won in 2003.

Then the lockout hit.

Now with the prominent players of the 90s fading into obscurity and a new cast of young talent taking over the game, it appears as though I'll need to get back to square one if I want my mom to return to her once "hockey fanatical" status. She can still name you the goaltender of the Devils and the top defenseman on the Wings, but ask her who Sean Avery is or who the Capitals goaltender is and you might be getting answers of "who cares?" and "Olaf Kolzig." (On the Sean Avery question, "who cares?" might actually work in the place of "moron.")

It doesn't matter. When I scream at the TV during the playoffs or when I'm up until 2 AM watching a double OT thriller, my mom understands. She knows what hockey is, how exciting it can be, and that there is nothing more special than a Game 7 in the NHL. It doesn't matter that Jagr has moved on to some league in Russia and Eric Lindros is no longer getting crushed along the boards. She became a hockey fan. And once you're a hockey fan, you're always a hockey fan.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Sky Has Fallen [Confirmed!]

It's the end of the first period against Tampa and I have confirmed that the sky has fallen. Believe it or not, I saw the following:

Wojtek Wolski is driving the net and has two goals.

Tyler Arnason has two assists and has only made one stupid play so far.

Andrew Raycroft has been solid and has stopped every shot that he has faced.

A power play goal was scored (by the Avs!)

Marek Svatos has assisted on all three goals.

Ian Laperriere leads all forwards (on either team!) in ice time.

Then I punched myself in the face. After the shock wore off I checked NHL.com and it turns out that all of the stuff I saw actually happened.

And I just put a giant jinx on the game. Sorry Colorado fans. I had to do it before my head exploded from this random bit of success.

Update

Avs win 4-3. David Jones provided the fourth goal, which at the time, put the Avs ahead 4-1 and it seemed as though cruise control would be set. Tampa battled back to make it a 4-3 game and the Avs were forced to kill a four minute double minor in the final ten minutes of the third. It certainly wasn't as easy as it appeared to be.

Three Stars

1. Wojtek Wolski (2 goals, driving the net, excellent penalty killing)
2. Marek Svatos (3 assists=reeeeeeeeaally?)
3. Cody McLeod (Won a fight - this game was interesting)

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Avs vs Lightning Tonight - 9 PM ET

I turned on my computer this morning. I clicked on my "Bookmarks" tab and found my way to Adrian Dater's blog.

Sakic out indefinitely.

Foote on IR.

MacKenzie Recalled.


A few things, understandably, began to run through my mind.

1. I'm going to the Flyers-Avs game on December 16th. Does this mean I may not see Sakic or Foote for what might possibly be the last time?

2. Do the Avs have any shot at going anywhere this season without their two biggest leaders, not to mention most physical defenseman and first/second line center?

3. Who the heck is MacKenzie?

A took a few minutes to think about it. The answers?

Probably
No
Haven't got the slightest idea.

Whatever. The Lightning currently sit at the bottom of the East with 19 points. That sounds pretty crappy until you realize that the Avs are 14th in the West with a stunning 20 points. Raycroft is in net and I'm going to need to bust out some pain killers or something in order to watch this one.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Blues/Coyotes Quick Recaps

Blues (3-1 Victory)

Three Stars =

1. Daniel Tjarnqvist (Goal, assist, wow)
2. David Jones (Best game of the season)
3. Peter Budaj (another rock solid game)

Coyotoes (2-1 Defeat)

Three Stars =

1. Ryan Smyth (Goal, went to the net)
2. N/a
3. N/a

The reason for this format? Don't worry, it's a one time thing. I need to get my thoughts together. The fact that the Avs sit two games under .500 after 22 games is giving me a headache.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Granato Didn't Learn From Quenneville

When the Avs hired Tony Granato to his second stint as head coach back in June, I was pretty skeptical about it. I can now safely say, after watching 20 mediocre Avalanche games this season, that I am unbelievably pissed off that Tony Granato is the head coach of this hockey team.

Here's a guy who sat through the Quenneville Era. An era that saw a bland offense, a careless defense, crazy line changes, barely any passion, and brutal special teams.

After Granato was hired, he promised Avalanche fans a more up-tempo offense which would play into the team's strength.
Granato promises to preach a more up-tempo style that will take advantage of the team's offensive depth

Instead, Avalanche fans have had to endure what may be the most boring Avalanche team since, well, ever.

The Avs have scored 50 goals this season, good for 14th in the West and 25th in the NHL. They've already been shut out twice and their 28.2 shots per game ranks them in the bottom half of the league.

Also a discouraging trend is the Avs ability to mount a comeback. From a guy who was supposed to bring more passion than "Coach Q," the Avs are 0-6 this season when trailing after the first period. This puts them in a league with Florida and Columbus when it comes to not being able to secure at least a point when given forty minutes to come back in a game. I guess we should all just turn off our TVs if they're losing 2-1 after the first tonight.

In terms of a careless defense, there is nothing to suggest that Granato has helped improve that. Turnovers in front of the net are to be expected at this point and the biggest offenders (Liles, Clark, and Foote) are supposed to be the leaders of the group. Only Clark is a plus player (+1) while Jordan Leopold is the worst at -7, followed by Hannan at -6, Foote at -5, and Liles at -4.

While generally excellent at blocking shots, the leader in hits is Ruslan Salei with a grand total of 30. That's not even good enough to be inside the Top 50 at the position.

Special teams haven't been much better. The Avs are ranked 21st on the power play, a significant improvement over the 30th ranked team from 2007-08, but I'll never understand why Sakic is playing the point, why Tyler Arnason receives time out there at all, or why there are games when the Avs go 0-8 on the PP without making any changes. The good news is, Ryan Smyth is in front of the net. Points for Granato, I guess.

The penalty kill, on the other hand, is simply dreadful. It's lucky to be ranked 20th in the league. The Avs kill just about 75% of the power plays when they're on the road and are one of seven teams to not have a shorthanded goal this season. Too often the Avs just skate around watching the opposition pass the puck until the backdoor is opened up and there is a wide open net waiting to be shot at. We've seen everyone from Stastny to Hejduk to McLeod to Wolski being used and the results are almost always the same. Pass to the point, pass back to the faceoff circle, back to the point, back to the faceoff circle, across the crease, score.

Adjustments clearly need to be made.

With 62 games left in the season, the Avs have a lot of work to do. Is Granato the right coach to do that work? Probably not. Think about this Avalanche fans. At the time of Granato's hiring, there were plenty of qualified coaches out there who could have had this team playing much better. To name two, Ron Wilson (Toronto) and Todd McClellan (San Jose) would have been fine choices. Or maybe Bob Hartley shouldn't have been fired so soon. But hey, I'm just rambling here.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lose to the Ducks? Need some cheering up?

Watch Sweden defeat the team that was the original inspiration for the team that the Avs suffered a 4-1 loss against last night. While Sweden was able to dominate in the offensive zone, the Avs barely managed to display that they were actually trying to come back in that third period and that lack of defense is identical to the way Sweden guards Duck star Adam Banks. If you substititute "Colorado" for "Sweden" and "Teemu Selanne" for "Adam Banks," then you'll have a good idea of how last night's game went down.

Anyway, without further ado:



Three Stars
1. Peter Budaj

Quick Notes

Darcy Tucker left the game last night after a nasty collision near the Avalanche bench. Apparently, he's on IR for about 4 weeks.

Daniel Tjarnqvist made his first appearance last night. Honestly, it wouldn't have made a difference had he not shown up.

Next Up

Tomorrow night, the Avs take on the Blues at 9 ET. In the meantime, I'll try to find some other movie to relate to the eventual loss (win).

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Avs-Ducks Tonight

Quickies:

Adam Foote will miss the game tonight but should be back in action this week.

Joe Sakic is out once again. This time it's for a root canal. Does anyone else feel like the more games Sakic missses, the greater the odds he retires?

Wojtek Wolski is questionable. I'm guessing that means they're trying to decide whether or not to call somebody from Lake Erie to take his place.

Game time is 10 PM ET which means I can choose between no sleep or DVRing the third period. We'll see how the first forty go.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Semi-Live Game Blog [Colorado @ LA]

First Period

5:48 remaining: I'm just coming in from listening to the game on the radio and the score is tied 0-0. Kings on the PP and I have to say, I'm not pleased that the Avs continue to take penalties.

4:21: Yaaay. Avs PP. Maybe we'll see a GOAAAAAALLLLL! What are the odds we see Wolski, Stastny, Hejduk, Smyth, and Liles out there to start?

2:50: GOAL BABY GOAL. THE DUKE on a beautiful shot from the off-wing. Hejduk continues an already impressive season with the 9th of his career. The power came up big for once. Now the Avs need to work on building the game. Hensick and Salei will be credited with assists.

24 seconds: Kings almost had one but one of the Kings couldn't get his stick on it.

But it's 14-13 Colorado in shots and it's a rarity for the Kings to allow so many in the first. With a 1-0 lead, the Avs just need to keep driving on the offensive end.

Quick Note: David Jones has been scratched for this game. Brian Willsie was recalled earlier this week and is playing on a line with Arnason and Tucker. Sakic is still out with his back injury and Guite was placed on IR.

Intermission

Uh, I just sat through an LA Kings fashion show. If I lived in LA and was simply a casual hockey fan, why in the world would I ever attend a game? Mites on Ice ftw.

2nd Period

17:47 left: Butt end of a Kings PP. Avs look to have it under control but Drew Doughty is really, really impressive. The Avs are missing a really young, promising defenseman at the moment.

16:45: Arnason took a shot and it was deflected into the netting. The Kings announcers immediately started talking about All Star voting. Arnason and All Star should never be used in two consecutive sentences.

15:31: Frolov literally tapped Scott Hannan's stick and they called it slashing. I thought hockey was supposed to be a contact sport? Actually, Frolov's stick actually fell out of his own hands. Terrible call. I like it.

14:43: Trying to be too cute on the power play isn't alwaus best. Get pucks on net and knock in the rebounds.

14:01: WOLSKI GOAL! What a pass by Darcy Tucker. It's hard to root for this guy after his alleged cheap shot earlier this year, but that was a sweet looking pass. Tucker skated to the side of the net and gave Wolski a perfect chance in front of a net. Liles picks up the assist as well. 2-0 Avs and 2/2 on the PP.

13:09: Adam Foote just got cheap shotted hard into the boards. He's lying on the ice and the paramedics are coming out. Lapperiere is out there doing his thing and McCormick is backing him up. This is not looking good. Foote was shoved head first into the boards by a two-hand push by King forward John Zeiler. No penalty on the hit but we may see something from this scrum. Meanwhile, Ryan Smyth and an Avalanche trainer is helping him off the ice. He looks ok for now.

If this game stays true to the trend set by the rest of the NHL, John Zeiler is now a target for the remainder of the game.

Tons of penalties being assessed. Ian Laperriere and Cody McLeod is in the box for two minutes, each for roughing. Cody McCormick is in the box for five minutes for fighting. On the Kings side, John Zeiler received a five minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct. He also received two mintues for roughing. Matt Green was given five mintues for fighting.

So after two minutes of 2-on-2, the Avs will have a three minte major power play.

11:59: Stastny passed it to Wolski and Wolski decided to pass it back for some reason. Shoot first, pass later. Wolski was inbetween the circles and should have tried to make a play.

11:09: Doughty just made an awesome move but failed to get a shot off.

11:06: 3 minute major beings. A goal would be dandy.

8:06: Avs PP comes back down to Earth. I don't even think they got a shot.

Crap, don't look now. Wolski just took a four-minute high-sticking penalty. (At least The Great Willsie will come onto the ice again!)

5:15: Kings score on the PP. Avs had plenty of chances to clear but they still can't seem to effectively ice the puck at any time other than even strength.

4:55: Another penalty on the Avs. When it rains, it pours.

3:45: Stastny without a stick but the puck is cleared.

Update on Adam Foote: Back injury; his return is doubtful. Hannan will have to step up his game as the lone member of the shut down pairing.

1:42: Stoll takes a penalty. Holding the stick says the referee. Descriptive name. I don't have to explain this one. Not like that stupid slashing penalty.

:10: The Avs apply pressure but don't actually shoot the puck on the power play. The two used to go hand in hand.

Second Intermission

It's past midnight and I've had a long day. Time for a rousing game of Hearts. Oh, and check out this article about Roy's retired jersey in Montreal:

Roy's Retired Jersey (Montreal Style)

It's a great honor for him and I'm glad the Montreal fans decided not to hold a grudge.

Wow...that hearts game was terrible. Whatever, third period coming up.

Third Period

The situation is this. The Avs have had the lead the entire game. Their leader, Adam Foote, was taken out of the game thanks to a cheap shot. If they lose this game, this season is done. Maybe not completely. Obviously they'll still be very much alive and there is every possibility that they might win the Presidents trophy. But if they can't pull this game out against an inferior team, then something is seriously wrong.

19:29 left: Colorado PP over.

19:11: Kings tie the game. Patrick O'Sullivan was unguarded behind the Avalanche net, recovered a rebound, and pro15ceeded to roof the puck past Budaj. 2-2.

18:45: Arnason was just slightly robbed. It's a miracle he was even in position to get a shot off.

17:57: Dustin Brown puts the Kings ahead with a weak one. Budaj had it between the pads and it squeaked through. It was shoddy defense and bad goaltending. 3-2 Kings and I can hear the world falling apart around me.

16:33: Hensick just hit the post but it looks like the Avs are back to the dump-and-chase offense. Afterall, it's been so effective in the past couple of games.

15:58: The game was just announced as a sellout and the supposed capacity crowd cheered like they were filling around 60% of the seats.

15:29: STASTNY TIES IT. Paul Stasny scores his first goal in eight games and his first goal at even strength this season. Hannan made a nice "slap-pass" to Stastny who deflected it into the net. 3-3.

Russell Martin is shown in the audience. The Tampa Bay Rays star catcher and resident Canadian mentioned Roy's jersey retirement but the interviewer was more interested in his Thanksgiving plans. Too bad. I would have liked to hear him talk about hockey a bit.

13:00: Clarke turns the puck over which leads to two good scoring chances for the Kings.

11:42: Another Colorado player injured. This time it's Wolski. He lost his balance as he was getting hit and it definitely looked to be accidental. He's being helped off the ice and will hopefully return. Not a good night for the health of this team.

5:32: It's been a long day and now my Internet is going in and out. Perfect. Anyway, it's still 3-3. The Avs will hopefully be able to win this is regulation and not give away any more points,

3:20: Smyth, Svatos, and Stastny (The "S" Line) create havoc aroudnd the net. It looked like Smyth had a goal for a minute but the black disk stayed out.

3:03: Colorado penalty. Excellent time for that, eh? Hooking on Darcy Tucker in the neutral zone.

1:02: Penalty killed and the Avs just put a little pressure on the Kings. Now they'll have a faceoff in the LA zone with less than a minute to play.

34 seconds: Kings fail to clear two times and the Avs manage to whiff on both of their chances. Ryan Smyth is pushed into the net, ending all hope for a decent night's sleep.

Overtime


Kings outshooting the Avs 30-28 through regulation. Budaj has been decent but not extraordinary. The rest of the team has looked ok. The third period looked more like the games against Calgary than the first and second periods did.

OVERTIME REORDS:
Avs: 3-0 (all three in shootouts)
Kings: 2-2

4:35 left: Budaj makes a glove save on Drew Doughty who completely faked out an Avalanche forward.

4:13: Avs turn the puck over, get it back, get a scoring chance. This team is tough to watch sometimes.

3:07: Hensick let his inexperience show. He played with the puck at the Kings blueline instead of getting it deep and Anze Kopitar nearly ended it before colliding with Budaj.

2:38: Another turnover in the neutral zone by Colorado. Anyone counting?

8 seconds: Faceoff in the Avs zone. Won by the Avs. We're going to a shootout. Hold on to your seats folks.

The Shootout

The Avs are 3-0 in the shootout this year and I'm sure we'll be seeing Wolski-Hejduk-Svatos (in that order).

Uh, major brain freeze. Wolski, the Avs best shootout performer by far, is out. So the order is Svatos-Hejduk-Smyth.

Kings Shooter: Patrick O'Sullivan
-Tries to shoot to the stick side but Budaj makes the save

Avs Shooter: Marek Savtos
-Goes right down the middle, dekes to the backhand and slides it through the five hole for the goal!!!


Kings Shooter: Dustin Brown
-Skates in and simply shoots the puck towards the five hole. Budaj comes up BIG again!

Avalanche Shooter: Milan Hejduk
-Hejduk makes the goalie look silly as he fakes the shoot, goes to the backhand, and has all day to put it home.

AVS WIN! AVS WIN! AVS WIN!!!!!! OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH....AVS WIN!

Yeah, pretty awesome win. Actually, not really...but it's late and I can't critique.

Three Stars of the Game


1. Milan Hejduk (Started things off well and scored the clincher in the shootout)
2. Paul Stastny (Strong offensively tonight, finally scored 5-on-5)
3. Peter Budaj (A few chinks in his armor but he came up huge in the shootout)

Next Up

Don't know, don't care. I'll check the schedule tomorrow. I'm going to bed. Avs win.

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The Flames Game and Kings Game

Why didn't I blog the Flames game?

1. I was without a computer and had absolutely no time.

2. It was crapriffic. Or, as Jibbles prefers, heinous.

A 1-0 loss with Peter Budaj as AF's #1 star (the only star) for the second game in a row.

There are eight minutes left in the first period of the Kings game. Let me start my first semi-live game blog of the season.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Avs-Flames Tonight; Avoid Embarassement?

So the Avs were outshot 51-23 and suffered their third loss this season (0-3) to their division rival, the Calgary Flames. Besides the fact that Peter Budaj, AF's first star and the only reason the game was semi-interesting, was extraordinary once again, the entire team was crapariffic. And I make up that new word because I couldn't find one in the dictionary that did the game on Tuesday night justice.

But the Avs play again tonight. Once again, it's against the Calgary Flames.

In my opinion, this game will show us what the rest of the season holds. Do the Avs come up and try to make up for the garbage that was Tuesday night? Or do they get out shot by more than a 2:1 ratio again?

We'll see.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh Captain, Our Future Captain Has Signed


With Sakic's back in bad shape, Avalanche fans are now receiving some news regarding the future of the club.














The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that it has signed 22-year-old center Paul Stastny to a five-year contract extension beginning with the 2009-2010 season.
Avalanche News


Adrian Dater is reporting that it is a 5 year, 33 million dollar (6.5 per season) deal.

Great news on a Monday without Avalanche hockey. His salary replaces Sakic's when Joe decides to retire.

The deal is actually a little less than Anze Kopitar's 6.8 million per season deal. The Avs got a good price for their new franchise player.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Avs/Clarke/Budaj Steal One vs Oilers

A turnover. What a surprise. Empty net. Game over. Wait a second, the heavily criticized Brett Clark makes the save! HOLY SHAMOLEY. (I'm using hockey lingo, here). Then, with under 15 seconds to go, the Avs made it 6-on-3, Darcy Tucker and Ryan Smyth put themselves in front of Dwayne Roloson, and what do you know, the Avs actually scored thanks to a Jordan Leopold shot from the point and subsequent deflection by Tucker. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

In the shootout, Wolski scored on what appeared to be a half-slapshot move which we haven't seen from him before, and Tucker ended up scoring the winner in the fifth round on a nifty slapshot. Why Hejduk, Svatos, and Smyth all refused to deke, I don't know. 3-2 was your final score.

Shawn Horcoff must feel like crap today. I certainly don't. Peter Budaj and the Avs stole one last night against the Oilers and made it three straight games with a W. Boods is certainly winning me over, but like I said, I'm waiting until he's this consistent over a 6-8 game stretch.

The defense? It was ok. It could have been a lot better and I think all of them made a few egregious turnovers at one point. Right now, Budaj is bailing them out. How long that lasts, I don't know. They need to get it together. If that means benching one of them in favor of Cumiskey or Tjarnqvist, so be it.

Worthy of Note

Smyth finally scored his first goal against the Oilers. Thank you, again.

In the Doghouse

David Jones - Played under seven minutes, a -1, and only had one shot. He's been invisible this year and really hasn't developed a role on this team. I'd like to see Brian Willsie or Per Ledin get a shot while Jones works on getting his confidence up.

Tyler Arnason - It goes without saying that this guy stinks. I'll say it anyway. This guy stinks. He was his usual 0, 0, 0 with a -1 thrown in there for good measure. He turns it over on a consistent basis and when the camera showed the Avalanche bench at one point, he actually had the nerve to take a drink of water. I didn't see much effort on his part. The healthy scratch obviously meant nothing.

Hensick Report

Hensick failed to register a point for the first time since being called up. He was surprisingly invisible except for a hooking penalty in the second period.

Sakic Scratched

Sakic missed the second game of the road trip with his bad back. I don't know what's worse. The fact that our 39-year-old vet has a bad back or the fact that our 39-year-old vet with a bad back is still better than a fully healthy Tyler Arnason.

No Respect Roloson

Rolson's complaining after the tying goal was completely ridiculous. Smyth and Arnason didn't bump him. They screened him, but certainly didn't venture deep into the crease. Roloson was whining all night and was seemingly distracted during that final sequence. He should have been complaining to his defense who let the Avs run wild in front of him.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Peter Budaj (33 saves, brilliant in the third and in shootout)
2. Ryan Smyth (Finally scored, made Roloson look like a bumbling idiot)
3. Darcy Tucker (Trying to win back fans, scored tying goal and shootout winner)

Next Up

Colorado will look to make it a perfect road trip on Wednesday night against the Flames. The Flames have been hot at home this season (6-2-1) while the Avs will look to crawl above .500 in both their overall and road records.

Video Fix
Cody McCormick vs Jarome Iginla from the last Avs-Flames game. Perhaps we'll see a rematch?

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Barry Melrose Fired, ESPN Gives Us Coverage [SOLUTION!]

Wow. I never thought I would turn off ESPNEWs and turn on the NHL Network in order to get away from hockey coverage. As many have already heard, Lightning coach Barry Melrose was fired about an hour ago.

Melrose, of course, was ESPN's main (only) hockey analyst and gave up that position in order to pursue his first coaching gig in over a decade. Obviously, that didn't work out.

It's nice to see ESPN giving hockey some attention and I think that the NHL might be on to something.

Start hiring ESPN employees.

Then fire them.

No, seriously. Chirs Berman could become the new play-by-play guy for the Blue Jackets while Stuart Scott could be the main anchor for Versus coverage. E.J Hradek could become Tampa Bay's new head coach while Kenny Mayne would make the perfect color guy to Jim Hughson on Hockey Night in Canada.

All of them would be fired and ESPN would report on the NHL nonstop.

But seriously, Melrose shouldn't have been hired in the first place and by the sound of this interview on ESPNEWS (I swear, I flipped it back on only for a second!) he doesn't deserve to be re-hired by any team. James Mirtle has some more on his relationship with his players.

Still, in the interview, Melrose gave a shout out to former NHL2Night host John Buccigross. Perhaps a reunion is coming and a nightly hockey show (NHL on the Fly doesn't suffice) is right around the corner?

Perhaps not.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Budaj Brilliant in Canucks-Avs Thriller

I've criticized Peter Budaj this season. This post will not do that. Instead, I'll say that last night was one of the better games I've seen in awhile and definitely one of Peter Budaj's best performances in the NHL.

He out-dueled Roberto Luongo, the hottest goaltender in the league who entered the night with a three-game shutout streak.

He made glove save, pad saves, toe saves, stick saves - you name it. The only goal was scored on a penalty shot. That means he has now let in 0 goals during regular play in the last two games. Not bad.

He won the shootout by making terrific saves against Kyle Wellwood and Taylor Pyatt.

He played a great game. Lets hope he can remain consistent.

On the scoring front, it took the Avs until an early third-period power play to break through the wall that is Luongo. Originally credited to Paul Stastny, the NHL has now given the goal to Marek Svatos, crediting Stastny and Wolski with assists.

The last ten minutes was so intense. End-to-end action. The ice seemed tilted in the first period (towards Vancouver's end) and also in the second period (towards Colorad's end) but the third period seemed to balance out as it went along. Both goalies had to be spectacular to get his team a point. Luongo actually had to make a huge glove save on Wolski (thanks to a beautiful pass from Wolski) with about 1.9 seconds to go. Classic.

In the shootout, Wojtek Wolski pulled the old Peter Forsberg move while Marek Svatos, the last shooter for the Avs, netted one top shelf to give Colorado the victory 2-1.

Some other notes...

Ben Guite reportedly has broken ribs. That's not what we needed to hear after Tyler Arnason was finally a scratch. Speaking of Arnason, he played just over 8 minutes and finished with his usual 0, 0, 0 line.

Joe Sakic didn't make the trip with the team, but according to Mike Haynes on the telecast, he might join them later on. Sakic has until Saturday to figure out if he'll be good to go or not.

John-Michael Liles was paired with Brett Clark in what seemed like a smart move for Granato. That switch helped free Adam Foote to play with Scott Hannan. Those two will be the shut down pair while Liles and Clark will be expected to provide some offense from the point.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Peter Budaj (31 saves in a remarkable performance)
2. Marek Svatos (Goal in regulation, goal in shootout - doesn't get much better)
3. Ruslan Salei (Terrific on defense, as were all the defensemen)

Next Up

Edmonton, Saturday, 10 PM EST. The Avs will try to climb back to a .500 record while Peter Budaj will look to make it three great performances in a row.

Video Fix

The conclusion to the best game of the 08-09 season thus far:

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Mats Sundin Suits Up

He looks like he's in great shape. But I guess pocket aces will do that for you.



I saw this last night during the finale of the World Series of Poker on ESPN and a few thoughts suddenly grabbed me:

1. Why is it that when ESPN finally decides to air ANYTHING related to hockey, it has to include a guy who changes his mind more than Jekyll and Hyde. Couldn't PokerStars have gotten Alex Ovechkin instead?

2. Why is Mats Sundin wasting his time with this? If he needs the money, he can play for ten million in Vancouver. If he needs the thrill, then there's obviously something wrong. If you're Mats Sundin and can't get thrills, nobody can.

3. RUMOR: A3, Sundin to represent Canada at WSOP '09.

4. If you were playing poker with Mats Sundin and he moved all in, would you have the guts to call him? I know I wouldn't. Especially if you look at the board. No flush draw, no straight draw. Unless you have the ace, then a call there is stupid. According to Norman Chad, the opponent was drawing dead after the flop.

5. OMG! HOW COOL WOULD IT BE TO PLAY WITH MATS SUNDIN ONLINE!!!! [/sarcasm]

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Avs Won, Arnason Sat, I Didn't Blog

It was a shock. No, really. It was a shock. Darcy Tucker scored for the second game in a row, Tyler Arnason was scratched for the first time in what seems like forever, and Peter Budaj got a shut out. My head almost exploded. Thus, I didn't blog.

Three Stars from that game include

1. Peter Budaj
2. TJ Hensick
3. Scott Hannan

Hensick did a terrific job by assisting (a bit of a fluke) on Tucker's first goal and probably should have had two more if Ryan Smyth had gotten a tad luckier. But to forego the game summary, lets just talk about tonight.

Colorado vs Vancouver, 10 PM ET.

The Canucks have scored 48 goals this, a number that most people thought would be much lower at this point. Of course, there's Roberto Luongo, who has been shutting people out like it's his job (wait a second) but assuming Hensick is in and Arnason is out, my hopes are up.

I promise no more huge gaps between posts.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Hensick Plays, Arnason Tries, Avs Lose

A five game losing streak. Ouch. It's starting to feel like a trend. Three makes a pattern. Four makes a slump. Five makes a worse slump. Six makes a trend. The Avs have one more game until they feel the ultimate wrath of the blogosphere.

To be fair, they played decently last night after letting up three quick first period goals against a team they knew plays well when they're ahead. The lone goal in the 3-1 loss was scored by Darcy Tucker, who is now taking heat from Jibblescribbits.

I have to agree with Jibbles. If this is true, I don't want Tucker in an Avalanche uniform. After the Steve Moore incident, Avalanche fans know what a dirty play looks like. There can't be any tolerance for it and I hope the coaching staff does something to straighten Tucker out.

A few notes:

Hensick > Arnason

Although I felt that Arnason played a pretty game, there is now no doubt in my mind that Hensick is the better player. Arnie finished with his usual 0, 0, 0 while Hensick assisted on Tucker's goal and won several key faceoffs (especially at the end of the second period) in over fifteen minutes of ice time. Once Joe returns to the team, it's up to the coaching staff whether or not they send Hensick back down. If they're interested in winning, they'll get Arnason out of the lineup for good.

Hannan Scratched

Due to "flu-like symptoms," Hannan was replaced by Kyle Cumiskey. Ironically, Daniel Tjarnqvist who has been waiting all season to play, was scratched with a foot injury. Go figure.

The Penalty Kill

The goal scored by Pouliot was pure garbage. He shouldn't have been allowed to touch the puck much less receive a pass and stuff it pass Budaj. Speaking of which...

Rebound Control

It was awful. Budaj's saves look like random acts of charity. His lateral movement is shaky at best and the guy can make a save unless it hits him in the chest. I'm sorry, but watching Niklas Backstrom and then watching Budaj was terrible. I just felt that if the goaltenders were reversed, the Avs would have snapped their streak last night. Instead, Backstrom came up with some brilliant saves while Budaj managed to keep his save percentage at .850. Great.

Three Stars of the Game

1. TJ Hensick (Big faceoffs, an assist, PLEASE KEEP HIM!)
2. None
3. None

Next Up

Saturday, 9 PM ET, vs Nashville. Believe it or not, a win puts the Avs one point away from the 8th seed. The season isn't over yet.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sakic Doubtful, Hensick Recalled

The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that forward T.J. Hensick has been recalled from the Lake Erie Monsters, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate. He will be available for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
-Avs Website

It'll be interesting to see who is centering which lines tonight. Will Arnason stay on the third line or will Granato promote him to #2? Either way, he's probably going to end up with a 0, 0, 0, -1 night. Oh well.

Sakic is doubtful after suffering a back injury in practice. The Avs need to break this losing streak tonight, or else we could be in for a really long November.

Puck drop at 9 PM ET.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Q Embarasses G, Avs Lose Fourth Straight

Q embarassed G last night. B was pretty bad but he did rob K a few times. I wish the A would wake up but lets face it, unless A is taken off the third line and the D starts showing signs of improvement, this is going to be a long season. Word.

Colorado lost 6-2 last night in a game that was, believe it or not, a 1-0 Avs lead at some point. That score is now just a distant memory as defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown cost the Avs each time. By the end of the night, it was as if the teams were skating 5-on-3 instead of 5-on-5. Hejduk and Guite scored the goals for Colorado but after the Blackhawks extended the lead to 4-2, it appeared as though the team had given up.

There's going to be a million theories as to why this team is sucking right now. Some will blame it on the coaching. Others will blame it on the defense. Yet others will cite the goaltending (10 goals in the last two games) or the offense which can't seem to put together a decent 5-on-5 attack. In the meantime, I'll come up with my own and report back.

Scratches

David Jones took a seat in favor of Cody McCormick and Ben Guite being in the lineup.

Note: Cody McCormick/McLeod and Ian Laperriere are the same player. Pick two and have your ballot invalidated.

Three Stars of the Game

1. You know what? I can't think of a name.
2. Cody McLeod (Learned to fight, thank you)
3. Peter Budaj (6 goals allowed, awful defense. Here's your bone, B)

Arnason Watch

Arnason managed his usual line of 0-0-0. With three shots of goal and a rating of EVEN, you have to wonder if his time could have been better spent doing something else.

Next Up

Andrew Brunette faces his old club Thursday night at 9 PM ET. The Avs will look to win their first game in what seems like four or five games.

Current Morale

Low.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Colorado @ Chicago Game Recap

They.

Sucked.

More to come.

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Avs Drop Three Straight (Get Ready for 5 wins!) Sharks: 5 Avs: 3

The Sharks were better.

They made crisper passes, played better defensively, and they had better goaltending.

You have to hand it to the Avs. They kept on fighting to the final whistle. Consistently down by two goals, they kept battling back to pull it within one, but they ultimately fell short after 60 minutes of play.

The good news? It seems that the Avs have a pattern. Expect five straight wins to put the Avs at 10-6. Not bad, actually.

Line Changes

Late in the game, Granato had Sakic playing with Wolski and Hejduk while Stastny was centering Smyth and Tucker. Sadly, Tyler Arnason was still centering NHL players.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Milan Hejduk (Another goal, another good game)
2. Joe Sakic (Should have had a goal, good on faceoffs)
3. Ryan Smyth (Worked hard, six shots)

Oh Yeah, That's Defense

The Avs seem to be hopelessly clueless whenever faced with a forecheck. Instead of retreating and cylcing in the defensive zone, the Avs need to try to skate forwards when they have the puck. It might help limit the number of turnovers right in front of Budaj. But hey, I'm just a blogger.

Arnason Watch

Useless, as always.

Next Up

Tonight, Chicago, 8:30 PM ET. Budaj will be between the pipes as the Avs hope not to give up a highlight goal to Toews.

Video Fix

The highlight goal:

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Tucker vs Brunette

After Andrew Brunette returned to the Minnesota Wild in the off-season, it appeared as though Darcy Tucker was signed in order to replace some of what Brunette took with him to Colorado's division rival. At first glance, it doesn't appear that Tucker has done much of anything this season. But lets compare the two before we draw any conclusions.

Andrew Brunette - 1st 11 Games 2007-2008

2 G, 9 A, +1, 4 PIM, 14:50-23:34 TOI

Darcy Tucker - 1st 11 Games 2008-2009

1 G, 3 A, -4, 9 PIM, 12:22-23:01 TOI

At second glance, it looks like Brunette massively outperformed Tucker in the early going. To be fair, Tucker has spent the majority of the time with Sakic/Arnason as his centers as opposed to Stastny/Sakic, but nonetheless, he hasn't been getting it done thus far.

It doesn't help that Brunette playing very well on the Wild.

Through ten games, Brunette has scored four times, assisted on four goals, hasn't taken a penalty and has played over sixteen minutes in every game.

There's still 71 games to play. Lets hope that Tucker can turn it up a bit and stop the critics from saying it was mistake to let go of Bruno. At this point, it's sure looking that way.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Brodeur Injured

New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur left Saturday night's game against Atlanta with what the team's Web site called a bruised elbow.
NHL.com
It's unlikely that Brodeur will miss any extended time, and yes, he was credited with the win for the game. That means Brodeur is seven wins away from tying Roy's record of 551. Brodeur will most likely reach the record sometime this month and the debates over who was better will begin.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Raycroft Embarassed in 4-2 Loss to Columbus

To let up four goals on fourteen shots is embarassing. To let up four goals on fourteen shots against the Blue Jackets is super embarassing. The Avs, whose offense has now managed to put up 3 goals in the last 9 periods, lost last night and saw their record drop back to 5-5 after ten games.

A few weeks ago, I listened to an interview between the boys on XM's radio show NHL Live! and Detroit GM Ken Holland. Holland said that the key to making the playoffs is winning six out of every ten games. That puts a team between 96-98 points and that has been the magic number to make the playoffs in the past few seasons. Currently, the Avs are already behind the pace.

The goals Raycroft let in were less than spectacular. Derrick Brassard's goal on the second shot of the game beat Raycroft over his left shoulder. He should have had it, or he should have at least tried something more than what looked like a "shoulder shrug." The terrible goal was one that actually went through Raycroft's legs. Bad positioning. Bad reflexes. Bad goalie.

The night was capped off by Sakic and Hejduk colliding in the neutral zone. Just what the Avs need.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Peter Budaj (Who can argue with his 3 save peformance)
2. Paul Stastny (Goal, not named Arnason)
3. Third stars are another name for the second non-first stars.

Arnason Watch

Arnason showed a great scoring touch when he scored his second of the season late in third. It's too bad that the Avs were down 4-1 at the time. It seems as if Arnason can only score on wide open nets (when the puck is literally given to him) or when the Avs are too far behind to mount a comeback. Nicely done, Arnie.

Next Up

The Avs take on the best team in the West - the Sharks - on Sunday at 8 PM ET. Budaj will undoubtedly get the start in goal. I've also said publicly that if he can get the win, I'll officially throw my support behind the guy. (We can all hope)

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hockey in Philly Died Last Night

Much to my dismay, the hometown Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series last night - the first major sports championship for Philly in 28 years. People celebrated by crowding onto Broad Street and launching fireworks, hugging strangers, and even lifting bikes above their heads as if they represented several Stanley Cups.

The bad news?

Philadelphia Flyers hockey has been knocked down to #3 on the list of sports in this great hockey city.

After the Eagles, the Flyers and Phillies have always competed for #2. Not anymore. The Phillies are now officially the #2, probably the #1 team in Philadelphia right now and nothing will change that before June, and probably not even then, unless the Flyers manage to win it all.

The excitement that used to come with Flyers hockey will now be much less. The question "will they be the ones to finally break the curse?" will no longer be asked. If they lose in the first round, so what? The Phillies are our saviors. The Flyers will try next season, but even if they fail, who cares? We still have Cole Hamels.

The Flyers had a chance in 2004 to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning and take their chances at a championship for the City of Brotherly Love. They failed. The Phillies succeeded. Phillies>Flyers.

And that's how it will stay for another 28 years.

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Avs goosegged by Calgary, Raycroft in Goal Tonight

A 3-0 loss is just that. A 3-0 loss. It means nobody scored for the losing team. Ok, simple, right?

The Avs dropped to 0-2 on the season against the Flames Tuesday night thanks to three third period goals scored by Calgary. The Avs managed just two shots in the final period and couldn't get an offensive flow going the entire game. The good news? Budaj played pretty well. The first goal was not his fault and you may as well forget about the other two. The Avs aren't going to win by playing like they did in this game.

Three Stars of the Game

*Not tallied for shutout losses against divisional opponents*

Note

Ben Guite was scratched in favor of Cody McCormick. I haven't read who is centering the fourth line against Columbus tonight but my gut is telling me the Avs will put Guite back in.

Raycroft in Net

Raycroft will be taking his usual "Once to twice a week" start against a team that has managed just one win in their short history against the Avs. Raycroft is 2-0 this season.

Arnason Watch

Jibblescribbits put together a great piece that basically shows Arnason to be the crap that he is. Excellent work.

Next Up

Tonight, 9 PM ET, Columbus. Be there or be..well, possibly 5-5.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Building from Buffalo (+ 5 Bold Predictions)

After dealing with a seemingly random snow storm just outside of Philly and then waiting at least 6 hours to get power back, I'm finally able to get on here and talk about the Avs.

Here's a full NHL.com recap on Saturday's big 2-1 shootout win over the Sabres.

Anyone underestimating that win really shouldn't be. The Avs went in against one of the hottest teams in the NHL, played 60 minutes of tremendous defense with offensive pressure, and got Budaj his first shootout win in what seems like, well, ever. Jordan Leopold scored the game-tying goal with about six minutes left in the game and Ryan Smyth ended up notching the shootout winner.

Three Stars of That Game

1. Peter Budaj (29 saves, perfect in the third, solid in the shootout)
2. Adam Foote (Took a puck to the foot early, came back and shut everyone down)
3. Ryan Smyth (Assisted on the Leopold goal, his shot in the shootout looked like luck)

Arnason Watch

One shot in just under 13 minutes of ice time. Why is this guy still on the Avalanche power play?

Tonight

The Avs will head to Calgary to take on the Flames at 9:30 ET tonight. Your bold predictions are as follows:

Three fights, two of which will be by Cody McLeod.

Ben Guite will register two points.

Todd Bertuzzi will be worse than a -1.

Mikka Kiprusoff will be pulled by the 3rd period.

Some Av
will have a four point night.

LETS GO AVALANCHE!

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Super Saturday" Games to be Missed by Most

And there will be much more where that came from when more than 275,000
fans will flock to arenas throughout North America Saturday to watch 600 players
compete in 15 games on the busiest day of the National Hockey League schedule. For
only the second time in the League's history, 30 teams will be in action on the same day.
-NHL.com

It's a shame that few people will see more than one or two of these game on what could have been a great day for the NHL.

According to the schedule, none of the games are being shown on Versus or NBC in America. Unless you have NHL Network or Center Ice, you'll be limited to watching one, maybe two games. (The Kings-Predators game isn't being show on TV at all.)

It seems to me that if there is a day when every team in the NHL will be playing, it is the perfect chance to showcase the top players. Instead, those who do not subscribe to an expensive cable package will see their local team's game only.

The only reason I'm excited for "Super Saturday" is because I have Center Ice and I'll have the chance, starting at 4, to watch uninterrupted NHL games. My friends, who thanks to absolutely no hype, have no idea that this is a historic day, will be watching the Flyers-Devils game and then switching over to the Phillies.

Ok, maybe Philly is a bad example. Afterall, it's the WORLD SERIES. But the point is still there. If that game is 8-0 Rays after the first inning, my friends won't be tuning into Versus to see Ovechkin take on the Stars or Kane take on the Wings. No, they won't even be given the chance.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Avs Win 4th Straight - Lappy with the Gordie Howe Hat Trick

Ian Laperriere does strange things every once in awhile. This includes responding directly to Adrian Dater's comments that he needed to chip in more offensively.
Lappy - as much as I like him personally - needs to add more to this team again instead of just being “good in the room.” A team needs a little something on the ice too, like, I don’t know, maybe a goal now and then.
All Things Avs
Lappy had a goal, fight, and an assist in Colorado's 4-1 defeat over the Edmonton Oilers. Laperriere's "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" made him the story of the night, but had it not been for that, fans would be praising Peter Budaj's 25 save performance. Has he finally settled in to the starter's role? We'll find out tomorrow night when he faces the Sabres, a team that is just as hot as the Avs right now.

My Bold Predictions

For the second straight game, Tyler Arnason made me look like an idiot. He only managed one shot on goal. At the same time, Scott Hannan didn't take a penalty unlike nine other players who all were in the box for hooking. If the NHL is looking to show their fans that they're cracking down, they only need to point them to this game. I was correct about a goal being scored in the first five minutes of the second and correctly predicted the number of fights.

Jones Scratched

David Jones missed the game with the Flu. Ben Guite was inserted back into the lineup. Guite played well and recorded two assists, and we may actually see him in the lineup Saturday. McCormick doesn't deserve to be benched, though.

The penalty kill let up another goal, but the power play scored as well thanks to Paul Stastny.

The biggest surprise this season? Try Cody McLeod. He scored another goal last night.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Ian Laperriere (As good as it gets for the 4th liner)
2. Darcy Tucker (With two assists, his playmaking has been impressive so far)
3. Peter Budaj (Finally a good game. Will it continue?)

Next Up

All thirty teams will be in action as the Avs take on the undefeated Buffalo Sabres Saturday Night at 9:30 ET. I'll have more on this game tomorrow.


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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tonight's BOLD Predictions

I did it once, so why not do it again?

For tonight's game against Edmonton...

Scott Hannan will take at least two penalties, one of which will be holding.

Wojtek Wolski will score a goal.

Tyler Arnason will have a multi-point night.

One goal will be scored in the first five minutes of the second period.

There will be at least two fights.

Very bold. Very, very bold.

I'm not sure if I should be putting (a lack of) faith in Arnason for the second game in a row, but he always seems to do well against the Oilers.

Game Time = 9:30 PM ET
Peter Budaj starting in goal
Avs going for fourth straight victory

By the way

Anyone worried about goaltending or defense only needs to look at the Flyers-Sharks game from last night. 7-6 was the final with seven of the thirteen goals coming in the first period. Consider yourself lucky that the Avs aren't doing that every night.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jones Goal, Budaj 26 Saves, and an Avs 4-3 Victory

I don't like to brag - until there is something to brag about.

Yesterday, I went out on a limb with five bold predictions and I'm proud to say that three of them came true. Lucky? You betcha. That probably won't happen again this season.

Anyway, I watched the first two periods of the Avs-Kings game before setting up the DVR. The next morning, I knew I was going to have to wait until the afternoon to watch the third, but I just couldn't wait. I logged on to the new-and-improved NHL.com and was pleased to see a 4-3 Avs victory.

Then I decided to check to see if I was going to look smart today.

Budaj will make exactly 26 saves

Correct. Budaj made 26 saves on 29 shots. He was decent, I guess. The first goal should have been a stop, but he didn't let in a last second goal. That's always a plus.

David Jones will score a goal

Correct. Jones scored his first of the season thanks to the nice setup by Marek Svatos. i jumped out of my seat when I heard Bob Miller, the LA Kings play-by-play guy, call his name. Congratulations to Svatos on picking up one of his rare helpers.

Joe Sakic will have a multi-point night

Incorrect. Ouch, I thought this one was in the bag. It wasn't Sakic, but rather the RPM line that was most visible during the game. Sakic was held pointless for the first time this season.

Arnason will finish with more than two shots on goal

Incorrect. My "Arnason Watch" feature during each post game blog is an indication of how bad this guy really is. Arnason was held without a shot.

Avs Win 4-3

Correct. Colorado was getting outplayed for most of the first two periods. They were lucky that they were able to capitalize on LA turnovers. Smyth's first of two goals was the epitome of how well he is gelling with Stastny and Hejduk. Speaking of Hejduk, he's been on fire. He scored his sixth goal last night after stealing the puck. Beautiful.

The weakness continues to be the penalty kill. They let up another power play goal last night and didn't seem to be improving. It's extremely unlikely any team with dreadful penalty killing will be able to win the Stanley Cup. The Avs need to figure out how to fix this achilles heel.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Ryan Smyth (Got things going early, ended with the game winner)
2. Milan Hejduk (The hottest Av to start the season)
3. David Jones (Thank you for coming through)

Video Fix

My favorite Bob Miller movie:

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