Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Solid Win [vs Columbus] - Bad Loss [vs Nashville)

Two games to quickly sum up. I've had a busy few days and don't have time to go into fully analysis mode.

3-1 Win vs Columbus

After allowing an early first period goal, the Avs roared back to take the lead and win the game 3-1.

4-0 Loss vs Nasvhille

Heading into the third period down by 1, the Avs had controlled play for much of the game. A squeaker got by Theodore and crushed Colorado's resolve.

Three Stars, Better Recap, and MORE to come later!

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Theodore Still Solid, Scoring Not There in 2-1 Loss

Patrick Kane, the leading rookie scorer and #1 draft pick for the Chicago Blackhawks cruised in on Jose Theodore and scored a beautiful goal early in the first period. That was the only goal the Blackhawks would score in regulation.

Thankfully, Andrew Brunette got that goal back on a nice play where Hlinka and Hejduk both contributed.

Sadly, Brunette's goal was also Colorado's only one in regulation.

The Brunette-Hlinka-Hejduk line will be a critical point producer in the coming weeks. With the loss of all of thse offensive stars, the scoring will need to come from somewhere and this line is your best bet.

Defensively, the Avs continued to play well. Theodore made 22/23 saves in the game and Jeff Finger logged 27 minutes of ice time while Karlis Skrastins logged 24.

A telling statistic? ZERO shots for Marek Svatos. He's a guy who needs to continue to score and to do that you obviously need to put the puck on net.

Shootout Info:

Marek Svatos: Miss
Wojtek Wolski: Miss
Milan Hejduk: GOAL
Jaroslav Hlinka: Miss

Jose Theodore:

Patrick Kane: Goal
Martin Havlat: SAVE
Patrick Sharp: SAVE
Robert Lang: Goal

When it comes to shootouts, Theodore has been one of the best in the NHL, but the Blackhawks have some good shooters, especially Havlat and Kane.

For the Avs, i have to wonder why Hensick was shooting? Why not Brunette, Arnason, or even someone like Brett Clark?

Three Stars of the Game

1. Jaroslav Hlinka (Needed to step up and did that with an assists on the lone goal)
2. Andrew Brunette (Scored the goal by driving to the next, will need to do it more often)
3. Jose Theodore (Another fine efforT)

Next Up

The Avs are back at it TONIGHT on the NHL Network. They take on the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team they have had more success against then any team in franchise history. (Not so great this season, however) Expect Theodore to get the start.

Video Fix

Please enjoy these great athletes - and their crying ways.



And props to Ryan Smyth!

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Avs Get First Shutout in Tampa Bay; Lose Stastny

It was only my first missed game all season! It just so happened to be Colorado's first shutout of the season, a 3-0 win against Tampa Bay. I did see the last five minutes but there is bigger news to talk about anyway.

Based on articles, highlights, box score, and discussion:

Three Stars of the Game

1. Jose Theodore (32 saves and the first SO of the season)
2. Jeff Finger (Terrific defensive work and ignited the power play in second)
3. Andrew Brunette (Two more assists, both of them beauties)

BIGGER NEWS

First it was Sauer, then Sakic, then Smyth, now it is Paul Stastny, who will be out for 2-3 weeks after having his appendix removed.

What does this mean for the Avs?

Well, TJ Hensick has been recalled, and either Arnason or Hlinka will take Stastny's place on the top line. Jose Theodore will have to keep playing extremely well and Quenville will have to find a way to motivate his players to step up.

The burden of scoring now falls on Hlinka, Hejduk, Svatos, Brunette, and Wolski. Some of these guys have already been stepping up, but Wolski and Hlinka need to get on the score sheet a tad more often.

Stastny only misses five games, all of them at home, so if the Avs can get 6-8 points on the stand, consider it a success.

Sadly, the move also means Stastny won't have a chance to participate in the All Star Game.

Look for Hejduk or Svatos to take his place

Next Up

The Avs hope to extend their three game winning streak against the Chicago Blackhawks TONIGHT. Jose Theodore gets the start in goal.

Video Fix

Every once in awhile, a player pulls off a goal that boggles the mind. Rick Nash has provided us with the most recent one.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Svatos Makes it 10 in 11 - Avs Win on Road

10 goals in 11 games.

Marek Svatos will take it. And with the Avs missing stars Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth, Svatos has helped fill the void and has been absolutely sensational the few weeks.

In what turned in to be an exciting game, the Avs defeated the Florida Panthers in a shootout by a score of 4-3 to give the Avs their second consecutive road victory.

It was a penalty filled game, with 52 combined penalty minutes. Colorado, the most disciplined team in the league this year according to statistics almost blew the game on the penalty kill, allowing two goals when on the kill.

Andrew Brunette put the Avs in the lead a few minutes into the first period. The Avs would never trail in the game, as the teams kept on trading goals.

1-0
1-1
2-1
2-2
3-2

A power play goal by Svatos and another goal by Brunette gave the Avs a 3-2 lead but 11 minute into the third period, Florida tied it up.

It became Jose Theodore's time to shine as he made 30 saves in the game. (The Avs put up 50)

Shootout Report

1. Marek Svatos - Miss
2. Wojtek Wolski - Miss
3. Milan Hejduk - Goal

Jose Thedoroe - Three Saves

The Avs took it in the shootout on a goal by Milan Hejduk. Colorado is 2-2-0 on this road trip and have one more game to play before going back home to the Pepsi Center.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Andrew Brunette (Stayed out of the box and contributed with two goals)
2. Marek Svatos (Timely goals in almost every game the past few weeks)
3. Brett Clark (Made a terrific play to break up a 3-on-1 in the third)

Next Up

The Avs are back at it TONIGHT against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Many expect Q to keep riding Jose Theodore. Game time is 7:30 EST.

Video Fix

Enjoy the highlights!

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Svatos Shines in Third, Completes Comeback

"Not all wins are created equal."

That quote is certainly true about the win the Avs picked up over Carolina last night. Completely outplaying them in the first period, the Avs couldn't put the puck past Cam Ward and even after outshooting the Canes 14-7, the Avs went into the locker room with a 2-0 deficit on their hands. Both goals were soft ones which Theodore should have had.

In the second, the top line FINALLY woke up as Milan Hejduk scored a goal after a long stretch where he just couldn't register a point. In the game, Cody McLeod started with Hejduk and Stastny, but that position was eventually taken over by Andrew Brunette, who had an assist on the goal.

The Avs couldn't get the game-tying goal because Carolina struck back just three minutes later to make it 3-1. Not to be outdone, Paul Stastny a beautiful goal by picking up a rebound, holding onto it, and putting it by Ward.

However, for the second time in the game, it took just three minutes for Cory Stillman to give the Canes a two goal lead (again) and the score remained 4-2 going into the third.

Enter the biggest period of the Avs season so far.

It took ten minutes, but Cody McLeod, who has been one of the best Avs in his first 11 games made a beautiful fake from behind the net and caught Ward cheating to the right side. He wrapped the puck around and put it in the back of the net.

Three minutes later, it wasn't the Canes, but the Avs who scored the goal. Marek Svatos continued his wonderful hot streak as he scored yet another goal from the front of the net.

With under seven mintues to go, the game was tied. The Avs needed someone to step up, and scoring his second goal of the night was Marek Svatos. Where was the goal scored? The front of the net.

Svatos is probably one of the best players in the game at getting to the puck down low and putting it behind the goaltender. For such a small guy, he spends all of his time near the crease and the hard work is paying it.

On the goal, Arnason got his second asssist of the night while Wolski also picked one up.

The Avs hung on to win the game, 5-4.

Turning Point

In the middle of the third period, Jose Theodore robbed the Hurricanes in front of the Avs net by making a terrific glove save. Props to Theodore.

Very Weird

In the past three games, Theodore has given up 1 goal (loss), 2 goals (loss), and 4 goals (win).

Maybe the key to the season is to give up more goals and make the offense work harder?

Whatever works, right?

Top Players Show Up

Common theme to the win? Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny combining for three points in the game. That's the kind of production the Avs are going to need to win games over the next few months.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Marek Svatos (Also NHL.com's second star, Svatos has been Colorado's MVP the last two weeks)
2. Paul Stastny (A goal and an assist as Stastny was all over the puck last night)
3. Cody McLeod (Got the big third period goal and added his first career NHL assist)

Next Up

The Avs go right back on the ice TONIGHT against the Florida Panthers. Jose Theodore will get the start.

And Avalanche fans will get a chance to see old buddy Brett McLean. It should be a fun one.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Avs Pathetic in Loss to Caps

Alexander Ovechkin was shut down all night. Usually, against the Caps, that equates to a win for the other team. Of course, this is a team that is missing Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic.

On the plus side, it was another great effort by Jose Theodore, who gave up both goals in a 2-1 loss in the third period. With 21 saves, Thedoroe is creating another goaltending battle in Colorado.

Through two periods, the Avs had just 9 shots. The top line was non-existent again, as Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny are officially ice cold.

Our best two players have consistently been Marek Svatos and Wojtek Wolski, who have both stepped up their games. For Wolski, however, he needs to start putting the puck in the back of the net.

The lone Avs goal was scored by Marek Svatos 38 seconds after the Caps scored their second. Sadly, the Avs couldn't tie it up. It was Savtos's 17th goal of the season which gives him the team lead in that category.

Fire Quenville?

It's not outrageous to start discussing whether or not the Avs should consider firing Quenville. A true coach is able to motivate his team at the darkest of times and after three straight losses, the Avs are clearly not motivated. There are some good coaches out there and the Avs should start exploring a few of their options. Washington has only gone up since their coaching change earlier this season and it's not likely Quenville will be here in two years anyway.

Welcome Back Arnason!

Tyler Arnason returned to the lineup for the game and logged four shots in 13 mintues of ice time.

Brad Richardson was sent down to Lake Erie.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Marek Svatos (Contributing goals, spark, and energy, Svatos is a 30+ goal scorer once again)
2. Jose Theodore (Welcome back to the top 3 Theo! This game should have been a win)
3. Mike Haynes (Only he can make a meaningless goal sound exciting.

Next Up

The Avs continue their road trip on Saturday against the Carolina Hurrcianes. Sergei Samsonov is not expected to play for his new team. Expect Theodore to remain in net for the Avs, as he has much more experience against Eastern Conference teams.

Video Fix

Enjoy the NHL 08 Goal of the Year!

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Theodore Only Lets Up 1, Offense Only Scores...0

For the first time in over 90 regular season meetings, the Red Wings beat the Avalanche by the bland score of 1-0. The lone goal was scored by Pavel Daysyuk with less than two minutes to go in the second period.

Theodore played well, making 24 saves including 11 in the very first period. It just wasn't a day for Colorado's offense.

There is some definite concern right now. The offense wasn't clicking. Stastny and Hejduk were completely taken out of the game and no one else bothered to step up. With Smyth and Sakic out of the lineup, consistent efforts will be tough to get.

This goes for the power play as well. The Avs only had one chance, but it came with eight minutes to go in the third and could have shifted the momentum completely. But without gaining complete control of the puck for more than a few seconds, Detroit had an easy time killing it off.

I will blog no more about this game. We'll see how they play tonight before getting into a rant.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Jose Theodore (24/25 saves against the best offense in the league)
2. TJ Hensick (Surprisingly, probably the Avs best offensive player in the game)
3. Detroit Ice Girls (I'm not sure if they have them or not, but I'm sure they'd make it anyway)

Next Up

The Avs are back at it tonight against the PATHETIC Washington Capitals. And if they lose this one, expect a big rant tomorrow.

Video Fix

Colorado gets a look at Alexander Ovechkin tonight and for those of you who don't know, here's what he brings to every game.

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Avs Win Goaltending Battle, Wolski + Theodore Shine

For Jose Theodore and Wojtek Wolski, it was one of those nights where the stars aligned and neither of them could be stopped.

The Islanders took a lead in the first period, despite being outshot 15-4 by the Islanders. Rick DiPietro was terrific not just through the first, but the entire game as well.

It was looking as if the game might end up in a soccer score, as DiPietro was playing so well. Pad save after pad save and it seemed as if the Avs just couldn't solve him.

In the second, the Avs once again outshot the Islanders 11-10, but it wasn't until the 11th shot when Jordan Leopold was pinching in close to the Isles net and managed to squeak one through DiPietro's five hole. It was the kind of goal the Avs needed and it tied the score 1-1.

In the game, Quenville dressed 8 defensemen and put Cumiskey and Boychuk (in his first game) on the wings. They played well, not logging much ice time.

One player who shined for the Avs was Wojtek Wolski, who looked more like Peter Forsberg in the game. He had a chance to show off his stickhandling skills, at one point, holding the puck for a good 30 seconds before making a beautiful pass that resulted in a scoring chance. He started the game on the fourth line, but played with Stastny and Hejduk for most of the game.

But for the Avalanche, this game was about Jose Theodore, who faced 20 shots in the last two periods and stopped them all. Two of the saves were particularly brilliant, including a save in which the player had two chances, and each time, Theodore, sprawled out on the ice, made the stop with his pad. The second, on a hard slap shot in close, Theodore reached down to make the glove save, and held it up (Ala Patrick Roy) and did the old "statue of liberty."

To highlight one more played that stood out, especially in the third, Brett Clark played a great game. In a key 3-on-1 break for the Islanders, Clark managed to break it up and didn't even let them get a shot. On another play, late in the third period, an Islanders player was walking in on goal when Clark dove across the ice and made a perfect poke check to break up the play. These two plays may have made the difference.

The Avs continued their relentless pressure in the third, registering 12 shots, but still, DiPietro wouldn't budge after that goal in the second.

With under two minutes to go in the game, Ian Laperierre took a high sticking penalty, giving the Islanders a power play. The Islanders have the 7th ranked power play on the road and the Avs penalty killing hasn't exactly been solid as of late.

The unit of Stastny, Hejduk, Finger, and Hannan managed to keep the Isles from getting many shots on goal and the game headed to OT.

In the OT, the 4-on-3 power play continued and was killed by the Avs.

A few minutes later, the Avs streaked into the zone, and on assists by John-Michael Liles and Scott Hannan, Marek Svatos scored the game winning goal to give the Avs the win. The goal gave Svatos the team lead with 16 and it was another example of his excellent play down low.

This was a big game for the Avs. Starting on Tuesday, they will play Detroit on what will become a 5-game road trip. This is a key part of the season for the Avalanche, who are four points back of first place in the division with two games in hand.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Jose Theodore (23 saves, easily his best game of the season, possibly as an Av)
2. Brett Clark (Several keep defensive plays which probably saved a goal or two and he had an assist)
3. Marek Svatos (Tough call to not go with Wolski, but Svatos played well all night long as well and he had the game winner)

Next Up

The Avs will go to the Joe to play the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday at 7:30 PM EST. I would expect Jose Theodore to get the start for the Avs.

Video Fix

Enjoy highlights from around the NHL of the "Best of the Week" as presented by NHL Video.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Avs Lose First of 2008, Boychuk Recalled, Smyth Out

Back-to-back losses against the Phoenix Coyotes, especially when you consider the Avs were 4th in the NHL just over a week ago. To be fair, the Avs played pretty well. It was 2-2 the entire game, thanks to two very nice Marek Svatos goals. The Avs were keeping the pressure on the Coyotes the entire game, especially the Hlinka-Brunette-Svatos line, which was far-and-away, the best line of the night.

But two more power play goals for the Coyotes made the score 3-2 and after two empty net/shorthanded goals, the Avs lost their first game of 2008 5-2.

The news gets worse.

Ryan Smyth Out

Ryan Smyth injured his ankle and is out for at least eight weeks with the injury. He joins Joe Sakic on the long-term injury list.

Tyler Arnason Makes the Trip

Arnason, who has been out since October, will make the next big road trip with the Avs. Joel Quenville hopes Arnason will be able to suit up in a few games.

Johnny Boychuk Recalled

A 6-2, 225 pound defenseman from Lake Erie, Boychuk has been with the Avs for several years now and will finally get a shot in the pros. However, this move comes at an odd time. They now have eight defensemen on their roster (including the injured Kurt Sauer) and it makes you wonder if a trade is coming.

John-Michael Liles is the most likely candidate for a trade, especially when you consider the solid play of Kyle Cumiskey and the fact that Liles would most likely demand the most in return.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Marek Svatos (Two goals, on pace for thirty)
2. Andrew Brunette (Starting to step it up and he'll need to with all of our top line injuries)
3. Jaroslav Hlinka (Making a case for why he should be the #2 center until Sakic returns)

Next Up

The Avs will play the New York Islanders TONIGHT at the Pepsi Center. This is the Avs last game at home before a big road trip. Colorado has lost four straight at home and is now 15-6 at the Pepsi Center. Jose Theodore is scheduled to start the game.

Video Fix

Here are some highlights from the Phoenix-Colorado game.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Winter Classic: Gigantic Success

To turn on NBC and see an outdoor hockey rink with snow falling all around the players, it was a sight to see. For all intent and purposes, Buffalo and Pittsburgh put on a great game. The Penguins scored 21 seconds into the game and Buffalo scored in the second and both teams eventually wound up in a shootout.

The NHL got everything they wanted when Sidney Crosby scored the game winning goal in the shootout. The golden boy shines again.

Props to Doc Emerick and Ed Olgyck who did a great job during the various delays when the game was stopped in order to work on the ice.

A lot of discussion has been created as to how often to hold these games.

Well according to this website: http://nbcumv.com/sports/release_detail.nbc/sports-20080102000000-nhlwinterclassico.html

Those ratings are the best the NHL has EVER had. In a league that needs to grow, it's not outrageous to say that an outdoor game could be held every year and be a success.

Even ESPN's shows, including Pardon the Interupption, gave the game props. Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser both stated that they watched the hockey game more than the Michigan-Florida bowl game which was being showed at the same time.

A resounding success for the NHL.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Avs End 2007 on 3-Game Winless Streak

It could have been worse. Down 3-1 going into the final minute of the second, Ian Laperriere made a wonderful pass to Brett Clark who made a terrific move and beat Ilya Bryzgalov to cut the deficit to one heading into the third. But lets back-track a bit.

In the first, Wolski got things started right away with a nice wrist shot to the stick side. 1-0 Avs. Once again, we went into the second period with a 1-0 lead. And once again, we failed to score more.

Phoenix scored three quick goals in a flash to jump out front 3-2. It seems that when teams score against us, they score against us in bunches.

In the third, the Avs managed to put hit the 40+ shot total but still had nothing to show for it.

Quenville, playing the hottest line as of late, in Guite-McCormick-Laperriere, put them out there time and time again. Eventually, Cody McLeod was thrown in thee. Behind the net, Guite, from his knees, put a tape-to-tape pass right on the stick of McLeod who put the puck on net and scored his second career NHL goal.

The game went to a shootout, which resulted in a Wolski miss (after he had beaten the goaltender), a Svatos post shot, and two Coyote goals to send the Avs home one point short of their goal.

On the plus side...

For the first time since 2001, the Avs have a genuine checking line in Guite-McCormick-Laperriere and if you throw Cody McLeod in there, this team suddenly has a lot more grit than they started the season with. This has been the team's best line over the last two weeks.

Three Stars of the Game
1. Cody McLeod (Finishing his hits and scored the tying goal)
2. Ben Guite (Leading the charge on the third line and doing a great job defensively)
3. Ian Laperriere (Beautiful pass to Clark in the second)

Next Up

The Avs finish up a home-and-home series with the Coyotes on Wednesday, January 2nd. We're undefeated in 2008. Lets keep it that way


Video Fix

Here's a a trailer for the Winter Classic, taking place today. It's the first outdoor NHL game ever played in the United States.

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