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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