Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Avs Win in Foote's Debut! [Forsberg News, Salei Debut, Lines Update, Hlinka]

It was a moment I never thought I would see a game. Adam Foote wearing a #52 Avalanche jersey in a regular season game. It's unreal.

Knowing that Colorado was going to start the game with just five defensmen, Foote hopped on a private jet and flew to Calgary. He arrived (in a suit) just as the game started and was on the bench before the first period ended.

In an interview after the game, Foote described his feelings:


“Weirdest day of my life,” said Foote, who agreed to waive his no-trade clause when he and the Blue Jackets couldn’t reach an agreement on a new contract. “I found out after practice and it was a shock to me. I didn’t think it was going to happen, but I’ve always had a big part of Denver in my heart. They worked hard to get a plane to Columbus and they found a fast bird that could fly here faster and higher. My mind was kind of spinning, but it worked out great.”

Even with all of this emotion, a game still needed to be played.

Trailing Calgary by six points heading in, the Avs needed a win. They got things going early with a Ryan Smyth goal, but Calgary answered later on in the period.

In the second, things looked bleak when Calgary scored a shorthanded goal. The Avs were failing to generate much offense and Calgary was winning all of the little battles along the boards.

In the third, the Avs FINALLY converted on the powerplay as Milan Hejduk snapped his scoring drought and tied the game.

In OT, Colorado was granted a power play and on a shot by Hejduk, Smyth grabbed hold of it and fed a beautiful backhander to Stastny who won the game for the Avs!

Theodore made 28 saves as the Avs outshot the Flames 5-0 in overtime and 34-29 in the game.

Foote Watch

Even though he missed most of the first period, Foote logged over 18 minutes of ice time and played on both the power play and penalty kill. He was very physical throughout and made smart plays with the puck. Playing with a combination of Leopold, Liles, and Hannan, expect Foote to settle in on the first or second pairing while getting minutes on the second power play unit as well.

Forsberg News

According to NHL.com, Peter Forsberg is currently practicing with the team in Vancouver, but it is unlikely he will be playing tonight. Look for his debut this Saturday.

Salei Debut

Ruslan Salei is expected to make his Avalanche debut tonight against Calgary. No word yet on who the scratch will be.

However, I believe Kyle Cumiskey will be scratched. Nothing against him, but he's the odd-man out on a group that features Hannan, Leopold, Foote, Sauer, and Liles.

A smart coach would scratch Sauer, considering he and Salei are very similar. It also would be smart to bench Liles, considering he hasn't had the best of seasons.

The Lines

The lines for last night's game were:

Wojtek Wolski - Joe Sakic - Andrew Brunette
Ryan Smyth - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Marek Svatos - Tyler Arnason - Scott Parker
Cody McLeod - Ben Guite - Ian Laperriere

Of course, the lines were juggled often. As usual, Guite's line still mainted third line minutes.

Expect Forsberg to probably play on Sakic's line, in place of Brunette, who will probably join Arnason and Svatos on the third line.

Quenville has stated that he wants to put Foppa with either Stastny or Sakic.

Hannan - Leopold
Foote - Liles
Sauer - Cumiskey

Without Clark and Finger, it's tough to figure out where Salei would have fit in had those guys been healthy. My guess is that Salei is a guy who has the potential to be traded after this season. If not Salei, then Sauer should be gone.

Jaroslav Hlinka

As you can see, Hlinka was not in the lineup for the Avs and it is unlikely that he'll get in the lineup considering Forsberg is on his way. Hlinka is a good player and it is a shame he will probably be a spare for the rest of the season. If Wolski or Arnason or any other player goes into a slump or doesn't impress the coaching staff, I'd expect Hlinka to get the start.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Paul Stastny (Game winning goal and an assist on the one that tied it)
2. Ryan Smyth (A goal and an assist for a guy who is struggling? We'll take it)
3. Adam Foote (Welcome back)

Next Up

The Avs continue their march to the Playoffs TONIGHT against the Vancouver Canucks. Expect Theodore to get the start and for Ruslan Salei to be in the lineup.

On the Bubble

Instead of the division standings, we'll take a look at the bubble!

6. Minnesota - 73 Points (19 Games Remaining)
7. Vancouver - 72 Points (20 Games Remaining)
8. Nashville - 72 Points (18 Games Remaining)
9. COLORADO - 70 POINTS (18 GAMES REMAINING)
10. Phoenix - 69 Points (19 Games Remaining)

Video Fix

I couldn't find a video of Foote's actual return to the Avs bench (although I have it taped), but I did find this great tribute video. Credit avidvj of YouTube.

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