Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lets End 2009 With a Bang

Thankfully the Avs hung on last night. Anyone realize how depressing it would have been had they blown it?

Anyway, the Avs are going to end 2009 atop the Northwest Division, but a win against the Red Wings would truly be a perfect ending to an up-and-down year for Avalanche fans.

Happy New Year!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HEJDUK SNUBBED

The Czechs announced their Olympic Team this morning and there was one notable snub...

...our very own, Milan Hejduk.

Dater is reporting that it was Duke's choice not to play,
*Via Bruce Garrioch in Ottawa, covering tonight’s game for us: Hejduk said it was his choice not to play, after consulting with Ruzicka. Makes sense, but the reporter’s skeptic in me might question that a little. But whatever, it’ll be good for him to get some rest for the final push with the Avs.
Could Hejduk simply be trying to take the high road, and not give a big "F-U" to the entire Czech Olympic Committee?

Still, Hejduk has been such an honorable player over the years, I can't believe the Czechs didn't even name him to the team, even if they knew he would be replaced later if the injury did, in fact, prevent him from playing in Vancouver.

Internationally, Hejduk played for the Czech Olympic Team in '98 (gold), '02, and '06(bronze), and has also represented the Czech Republic in the 1998 World Championships (bronze), as well as the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Though his Olympics totals - 3 goals and 1 assist in 16 games - are underwhelming, Hejduk would have been a leader on the fairly young Czech team, which can be viewed here.

Duke is also having a very productive season with the Avs. He's 26th in the NHL in goals (15) and he leads the Avs in power play goals with 6.

It's ridiculous to leave him off the roster, and unless it truly was a mutual decision, an utter disgrace.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Budaj named to Team Slovakia, Svatos snubbed?

Mirtle posted the Team Slovakia roster for the Olympics this afternoon.

Peter Budaj will certainly be fresh as he battles Jaroslav Halak of the Montreal Canadiens for the #1 job. Budaj was sensational at the 2006 Games in Turin, posting wins over Russia and USA before eventually allowing just two goals to the Czechs in the quarterfinals. Budaj posted a 2.01 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

Presently, however, Halak may hold the edge. He currently has a 10-6 record as the #2in Montreal and has a .920 sv%.

It will be interesting to see how much time Budaj sees on NHL ice before the Olympics, and how he will use that time to try to solidify himself as Slovakia's number one.

As for Svatos, it must be a disappointment, but perhaps not much of a surprise. Svatos hasn't been in the Avalanche lineup since December 11 against the Lightning when he played just over 7 minutes. Was he missed? Svatty's 6 goals and 3 assists along with his minus 11 this season are pitiful. Lets face it, Svatos is a goal scorer, but his totals have gone down each of the last three seasons. Svatos, whose career high for games played is 69, is unlikely to match that total in 2010.

Tough deal for Svatty, but maybe now he'll get his butt in gear and start playing in hopes of being an injury replacement. Then again, the play of this year's Avalanche team has left the services of Svatos renderable.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chris Stewart/18,007/50


Three things to hit in this late (morning) post:

Chris Stewart: When David Jones went down, we knew SOMEONE was going to have step up. We hoped it would be Duchene (he has) or Svatos (he has not) but the biggest surprise has been the play of Stewart. With two more goals tonight, Stewart is now third on the team in goals (11) and tied for third in points (25). In the month of December, Stewart has 9 goals and 4 assists. His ice time has skyrocketed. From a season low against Philly on November 23, Stewart is now getting over 19 mintues a night. As Haynes and McNabb mentioned several times tonight, this was a player whose NHL career was in serious jeopardy earlier this season. Now he's a legitimate third line winger. Unreal.

18,007: Adrian Dater has been beating the attendence issue to death this year, but he'll have no reason to complain about tonight. A sellout crowd in Denver for (I believe) the second time this season. Joe Sakic Night, of course, was packed. It definitely helped that it was the night after Christmas, it was a weekend, and fan favorite Adam Deadmarsh was being honored, but the atmosphere in the Pepsi Center was extraordinary. Hopefully this is a sign that the fine people of Colorado are recognizing that this team has the chance to be something very special this a year.

50: Finally, who thought that the Avalanche would have 50 points after 40 games? What a season this has become. This has been one of the most exciting years of Avalanche hockey in a long, long time.

___________

Great win tonight against Dallas. Congratulations to Chris Durno on his first NHL goal. He's the sixth Av to score his first NHL goal this year, joining Brandon Yip, Wilson, Duchene, O'Reilly, and Hendricks.

Peter Budaj was excellent tonight, proving once again that he is a very capable backup. Perhaps tonight will give Sacco confidence that he can give Andy a few more days off without sacrificing the team's chance to win. It's time to start looking long-term at a possible playoff run. Anderson must be fresh come April. The only way to ensure that is to limit the number of games he plays.

Also, congratulations to the USA Juniors today for their 7-3 victory over Slovakia.

_____________

Next Up

A nice three-day break will take the Avalanche to Ottawa on Wednesday night at 7 PM ET. That's just a prelude for:

Detroit.

Get it done.
Go Avs.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Salei Named to Belarus, Sakic to All-Decade Team

Long time no blog. My absense mirrors that of fans in the Pepsi Center. Zing.

Belarus Olympic Team

To no surprise, the roster includes the only four Belarusians currently playing in the NHL -- defenseman Ruslan Salei of Colorado, and forwards Mikhail Grabovski of Toronto and brothers Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn, both of Montreal. The latter three will be appearing in their first Olympics.
There's no telling how long it's going to take Salei to recover, especially considering the less-than-sterling reputation that the Avalanche's training staff has.

Still, a nice honor for Salei, who, if healthy, will be one of the anchors of the Belarus defense.

In other news...

Through the first half of the decade, it's hard to find a player at any position who was better than Sakic, the face of the Colorado Avalanche from the day the franchise arrived in Denver in 1995 through his retirement this past summer.

NHL.com named their "All-Decade Team" this morning. Joining Sakic is Martin Brodeur, Nick Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer, Alex Ovechkin, and Jarome Iginla.

On the second team was Chris Osgood (REALLY?), Chris Pronger, Zdneo Chara, Sidney Crosby, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Jaromir Jagr.

Besides Osgood, I think it's generally a solid list. It's nice Kovalchuk is getting recognition after being hidden in Atlanta his entire career.

Avs are off until Saturday.

Happy holidays!

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

First Place On The Line Tonight

Hejduk and Svatos may be out, Ryan Stoa is getting his shot, and first place in the Northwest Division is on the line.

Going to be a fun night of hockey.

A quick look at the standings proves this to be a much more important game than a simple December meeting.

-Sure, the Avs and Flames are tied with 42 points apiece, but the Flames have three games-in-hand. The Avalanche can't just keep pace, they need to be out ahead.

-With 36 points, the Canucks are six points behind the Avs. After tonight, Vancouver will also have three games in hand. Time to put Vancouver behind the pace a bit.

-I'm starting to forget the meaning of a win streak. It's been a long time since the Avs have won more than two games in a row. Tonight would still only be #2.

-Next up? Washington. With 46 points and 108 goals, the Caps lead the league in both categories. Avs not only have to build momentum for that game, they need to win to ensure they don't lose the next two.

Time for Duchene to make his mark against a Northwest Division team.
Go Avs.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh Versus

I own Versus. Don't kill me.

I don't watch many games on it, limiting myself mostly to the Avs, playoffs, and any odd game that happens to have some entertainment value. I typically find that Versus sucks all the entertainment out of a game. Hope that doesn't happen here.

Note: According to the Versus description, this is the second game of a home-and-home. Hope the Avs are fresh.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Matt Duchene named 3rd star

Could have had Chris Stewart in here, too.

There has not been a better player on the Avalanche in December than Matt Duchene. He's finally showing why he was being considered as a possible #1 pick.

Though it may not be permanent, the Duchene-Stastny-Stewart line has loads of potential down the load and creates a scary second line anchored by Hejduk and Wolski.

The West is unbelievably tight right now and the Avs need to keep winning. When Jones went down, we knew that certain players were going to have to step up. Stewart and Duchene answered the call.

Avs-Blues
Go Avs

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Jones Out for Season; Sign Satan?

You've already heard about David Jones' ACL. Out for the season. Huge loss to the Avs.

I picked Jones as a "breakout player" before the season started. He was well on his way to the 25 goals I predicted.

Get well soon, David.

So who the heck is going to take his spot?

The top four wingers now look something like: Hejduk, Wolski, Svatos/Stewart, Tucker/McLeod.

Not exactly imposing. An understatement, but there's some room for improvement.

Money is there, too. With around 6 million in cap space, Greg Sherman can afford to sign another winger AND still have room to wheel and deal if he so chooses.

Looking over the free agent list, I see that Miroslav Satan is still available. At 34, Satan would likely be affordable (he made 3.5 million last season, but would cost much less at this point in the season) and would provide decent depth on the right side.

The more likely scenario is the calling up of Brian Wilsie or *gasp* the re-entry through waivers of TJ Hensick. Nope. Wrong move.

This team needs some life. Bring in Satan.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Preissing Waived and Other News



Saw it on NHL Network. No link.

Think that management would have waived TJ Hensick AND Tom Preissing last season? Not a chance. Benching players and sending players down who aren't performing? What a concept!

It's safe to say that I was less than impressed with Preissing's little playing with the Avs. He's a guy we could have let the Kings keep.

In other news, Kyle Cumiskey has been placed on IR.

So we put one defenseman on IR, and waive another? Adam Foote is also out.

Quick math =

Hannan-Quincey
Liles-
Clark-Wilson

Avs roster page has Brian Fahey on it. Apparently, the Avs took him in the 4th round of the 2000 entry draft. Since then, he has yet to play an NHL game, and his stats have regressed each of the last three seasons while with the Chicago Wolves and Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL.

What about Ruslan Salei? Man has gone invisible.

_________

Avs play the Wild tonight in Colorado at 9 PM ET.

The Avs would be in first place right now if they could just play a decent 3rd period 50% of the time. I KNEW the Avs were going to lose when they went into the 3rd tied last night. They just seem incapable of matching the other team's intensity level. The team that wants it most usually wins and the Avs definitely didn't want it more than the Wild did.

Time to take back 1st place tonight.

Go Avs.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

FIGHT

Just saw Marek Svatos drop the gloves. Life almost complete.

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Avs Struggle, Flyers Tonight

Both teams have lost their last two, but both appear to be going in opposite directions.

The Flyers enter tonight's game 7-3-0 in their last ten while the Avalanche have sputtered over a 3-6-1 stretch.

Random:

Paul Stastny needs to score. Luckily, tonight's game is in The Can. Stastny has 16 assists on the season for 20 points, but he can't buy a goal on the road. As the top center, he needs to start producing at a more consistent base.

Speaking of consistency, the names Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos come to mind. Wolski's name is either called consistently throughout a game or not at all. Svatos, on the otherhand, is invisible on more nights than not. 5 goals and a -11 for a "sniper?" No thanks.


Have the wheels come off on this team? It seems like it, doesn't it? Still, the Avs have had third period leads in the past few games and should have at least come away with a point. It's not as though they've been outplayed over the full 60 minutes, only the last 20 or so.

Tonight, against the high-powered Flyers, a great start will be key to a victory. But once this team gets the lead, Joe Sacco must remind his troops to keep digging, keep pushing, keep going for goals.

Similar to the prevent defense in football, sitting back in hockey never leads to positive results.

Aggression, aggression, aggression.

Go Avs.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

We'll Take It - Ramblings

The Avs will enter their 20th game (roughly 25% of the season) on Saturday with a 12-4-3 record. They sit 2nd in the West and just released these "some like 'em, others don't" third jerseys.

Paul Stastny, Wojtek Wolski, Milan Hejduk, Kyle Quincey, Scott Hannan, and Ryan O'Reilly are playing fantastic hockey.

Craig Anderson was the steal of free agency. These first two months have made him a candidate to start on the US Olympic team. Unbelievable.

The other rookie, aka Matt Duchene, has struggled, but we fans should be pleased with his effort. The bounces aren't going his way yet. They will.

Defense:

Quincey-Hannan

-We finally have a shutdown pair. I completely forgot what that felt like.

Cumiskey-Foote

-Cumiskey is here to stay. Great skater, but he suffers from Brett Clark Syndrome. Captain Foote looks slow. I actually winced when Haynes said he was on the ice in the final seconds.


Clark-Liles/Wilson

-Clark gets injured every shift, but I guess that's what happens when you block every shot. Liles needs to be in the lineup or the PP goes down the toilet. Ryan Wilson has shown tons of promise.

Tom Preissing is a problem that needs to be traded.

Joe Sacco
has done surprisingly well in his first year as coach. Although, putting Darcy Tucker in the 3-spot in last night's shootout will be questioned until his next win.

Let's be honest. If some hockey angel came down and told Avalanche fans that the Avs would be 12-4-3 in their first 19 games without Matt Duchene scoring on a regular basis, we ALL would have taken it.

Avs-Vancouver on Hockey Night in Canada. Exciting stuff. Avs need a win because Hell Week is coming.

Nov 17 - @Calgary
Nov 18 - @Edmonton
Nov 20 - @ Vancouver
Nov 23 - Philadelphia

We can keep talking about how each stretch is huge, and I already heard Haynes/McNabb discuss that there is a sense of "urgency" to these games.

There's still 62 to go. We're not going to make it with this blood pressure.

Over the next five games, a successful result would be 10 points.

A realistic result is 6-7. We'll take it.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

"What's at Steak"

Love that play on words by Altitude.

Tonight, the Avs are going for a club record seventh straight home win to begin a season.

Consider the teams Colorado has had in the past. The 2009-10 version is the one with the lowest expectations and definitely the one with the least experience. Yet, these kids are managing to win hockey games.

We're past the point of surprising people. Teams KNOW that the Avs are first in the West and they KNOW that there is some talent. The fact that Colorado is still able to keep games close (with a few exceptions) and pull out victories in the third period is nothing short of remarkable.

Tonight, the Avs go for #7 against the Edmonton Oilers. Did anyone think the Avs would be ahead of the Oilers before the season began?

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

2-1 in the Last Three

Hold off with talk about "impending doom" and "wheels falling off." The Avs are 2-1 in their last three games.

These weren't home games against Florida, Detroit, and Atlanta. The Avalanche marched in to the buildings of two division rivals and took two points - in regulation. Then, after a back-to-back, Colorado laid an egg against one of the elite teams in the Western Conference. Whoops. 10-2-2.

First place in the league.

It's going to be November. Most of us thought the Avs would be going for a lottery position already. We thought Ryan O'Reilly would be in juniors. We thought Scott Hannan would be our "so-called" #1 defenseman. We thought Joe Sacco was going to prove that Patrick Roy would have been the right choice. We thought Anderson might be "ok" behind a craptastic defense.

We thought wrong.

The Avs didn't shown a lot of fight last night, but it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to show a lot of fight each and every game. The teams that are successful are the teams that show fight in ALMOST every game. Fourteen games in, the Avs have done just that.


Calm down. Take a breath. Consider where we are.

Go Avs
10-2-2

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Being Taken Lightly

In the October 26th Hockey News, over 80 NHL players were asked, "Who will finish last overall in the NHL this season?"

NY Islanders - 32.9%
Phoenix - 24.1%
Atlanta - 10.1%
Colorado - 10.1%
Tampa Bay - 6.3%

From John Grigg's article,
Of Colorado, one player who chose the Avalanche as his breakout team asked: "They have to bebetter than last year, right?"


Colorado's 8-1-2 start is as shocking to us as it is the NHL. Imagine having to game plan for Sakic, Forsberg, Hejduk, Tanguay, and Blake. Now try to imagine putting the same work into coming up with a plan to stop Stastny, Hejduk, Wolski, Duchene, and Quincey.

Every year, a team comes out of nowhere to make the playoffs. In 2009, it was the St. Louis Blues, who improved from 14th in the conference to 6th. 2008 saw the Bruins squeak in the postseason, improving from 76 points to 94.

Out of the 16 playoff teams in 2010, at least one of them will be a surprise. If teams continue to take the Avs lightly, Colorado may very well be the team everyone is talking about not just in October, but in April as well.

Of course, there's a lot of hockey to play, including tonight in Edmonton.

8-1-2
Go Avs

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

8/8

PK got it done.

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Last Night, Andy, Avs-Wings, Tucker, O'Reilly

Last season, Carolina would have won the game 5-1. This isn't last season. Down 2-0, O'Reilly and Stastny stepped up in a big way to tie the game. As soon as it was 2-2, you knew the Avs were going to win. There's something about this team - energy, youth, whatever - that makes me feel like they're never out of a game. Big win after an annoying shootout loss in Minny. Good to see Stastny finally play a game as the first line center.

Craig Anderson is going to be worn down eventually. Though I would love for him to start 82 games this year (and still be fresh for the possible postseason) it isn't going to happen. Last night was the perfect chance for Budaj to give Andy some rest, but alas, it was not to be. The result will be Anderson back in the net against the Wings on back-to-back nights.

Jimmy Howard gets the start for the Wings.

Darcy Tucker - Could have been a lot worse. Reports say he should be back in a couple weeks.

A lot has been said this season about Matt Duchene, but Ryan O'Reilly is the rookie that's REALLY making his mark on this team. He's putting up points, blocking shots, killing penalties, and winning faceoffs. That's a 9849231893821x improvement over last year's #39, not to be confused with this year's #39, TJ Galiardi.

In short, O'Reilly = Best 2nd Round Pick Since Stastny

7-1-2
Go Avs

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Duchene Featured on Network

On NHL Network's new show, Off the Ice, a half hour is devoted to interviews with three NHL players. (NHL Network is SO clever with their names!) Tonight's episode features Scott Gomez, Marian Gaborik, and #9 Matt Duchene

Assuming you don't read this until it's over, repeats of the episode will air:

10/24: 4:30 PM ET
10/25: 6:30 PM ET

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Tougher Than You Think

Some cause for concern regarding tonight's game against the 2-point Minnesota Wild.

-The Avs head into this game as the favorites. The only other time that (arguably) that has happened was against the Leafs. The Avs played well in Toronto, but the Wild won't roll over tonight.

-Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly are staying. No more worrying about Game 10. They're hard-working kids, and it's not like they're going to try and less hard than they have for the first eight games. Right?

-Wild are debuting new third jerseys tonight. For all we know, they're magic and the Wild are destined to go undefeated whenever they wear them. You just don't know.

6-1-1
Go Avs

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Duchene To Stay

From Brampton Battalion's website, via Jori

It came after the Colorado Avalanche informed Battalion coach Stan Butler that Duchene, 18, will play the rest of the season with the National Hockey League team.
I think we all know to expect a similar announcement regarding O'Reilly this week.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thanks Red Wings Live Blog!

Jinx!

and finnaly he scores,
shit’ll only get better
a shutout tonite?

Posted by Edillac from jesenice,europe on 10/17/09 at 08:09 PM ET
Excellent night for a live GDT on a Wings blog.

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Holy

Avs: 4
Red Wings: 3
F/SO

Matt Duchene - First NHL Goal

What a comeback.

Down 2-0 in the 3rd period, the Avalanche gave us some hope when Cody McLeod finally got one by Chris Osgood. And then...

Matt Duchene

What a goal. It didn't come on a breakaway or from a nice pass across the crease. It was Duchene carrying the puck, putting it on goal, and being rewarded for what has now been eight games of hard work. 2-2.

The Wings made it 3-2 with six or so minutes left, but the Avs wouldn't be thwarted. On a beautiful play by Ryan O'Reilly, McLeod got his second of the night (McLeod was one assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick) to tie the game.

After an eventful OT, the Avs went to their second shootout of the season.

No Wojtek Wolski

He was benched in the third period, and according to Detroit's announcers, was on the ice stretching for the shootout when he was promptly called off by Joe Sacco. Gutsy, although it's extremely concerning that this is the second time Sacco has benched #8. When you take out the league's all time leader in shootouts in this kind of game, you're taking a huge chance.

Jason Williams for Detroit - GOAL.

Marek Svatos - Nice deke to the backhand. GOAL

Henrik Zetterberg - Stopped. So lucky that Pavel Datsyuk wasn't around to shoot here.

Milan Hejduk - Osgood went right. Duke went left. GOAL

Ville Leino - Anderson puts out the glove.

GAME

Dutchy

In OT, anyone watching should have been able to hear "HEY, DUTCHY, WATCH YOUR RIGHT"

Nickname problem is solved.


6-1-1

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Tonight





-There's still no game I look further to more than Avs-Wings.

-I'll ask again. Raise your hand if you thougt that Matt Hendricks AND Ryan O'Reilly would get their first goals before Matt Duchene. Unreal.

-Todd Bertuzzi still sucks. So does Brad May. We'll see them tonight.

-5-1-1

Go Avs.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

O'REILLY

5-1-1

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Avs Improving: Road Trip Thoughts

When I eventually have my first child, I assume that watching him/her grow up will somewhat resemble the last three Avalanche games.

The journey started in Nashville, where the Avalanche had the lead in the third period with about eight minutes to go and promptly fell apart and failed to get the game to OT. The play was sloppy, Anderson became mortal, and Brett Clark turned the puck over in a 3-2 loss.

Next came Chicago, a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. Fighting hard in a back-and-forth game, the Avs were up, then down, then tied, but managed to secure a point by getting through 60 minutes (and several Brett Clark turnovers) knotted up. In the shootout, Wolski, Duchene, and a bunch of others failed, while Hejduk, Svatos, and Tucker recorded goals for Colorado. In the 9-round shootout, however, it wasn't enough, as Chicago topped the Avs 4-3.

Finally, the Avalanche just finished beating one of the "Beats of the East" 4-3. The Bruins were more physical, had a better third period, but were unable to crack the Avalanche down the stretch. David Jones played his first game and was BIG with an assist and a shorthanded goal. TJ Galiardi is a star in the making. He was on the ice for the final seconds and took several huge hits, including one that allowed Jones's breakaway in the second.

Suddenly, the Avs are 3-1-1. They're getting better with each game, and apart from a few Brett Clark turnovers, have been extremely solid in their own zone.

Raise your hand if you thought that Matt Hendricks would be the first Avalanche rookeie to get his first goal. Duchene is has been quieter on the road trip and seemed to choke in the shootout against Chicago. He just needs one. The rest will follow.

A big YES for Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos. Both players have two goals on this trip. Avalanche fans figured goals would come few and far between this season (so far not the case) but if Hejduk and Svatos can have big years, that's obviously huge.

Thumbs up to Joe Sacco for the improvement the team has shown on the power play and penalty kills. With eight PP goals in five games, I can't believe that I actually get to watch a true man advantage again. The PK has been - terrific. A bunch of big kills today and a huge 5-on-3 kill in the Chicago game.

Anderson and stickhandling. It reminds me of Patrick Roy. He's created a lot of work for himself and there have been at least one or two goals that have come from his turnovers. Still, the Avs are 3-1-1. Can't complain.

Healthy scratches = TJ Hensick and Chris Stewart
Sacco has made it clear that if a player takes a few shifts off, he's going to be benched/scratched. We've already seen it with Wolski, now it appears that Stewart better get his act together.

Next Up

The Avs play tomorrow night at 7:30 PM ET against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are 0-3-1 this year and still have to play tonight against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden. Uh oh.

When will Peter Budaj get his first start? This seems like the best opportunity.

Go Avs

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two games in, but the REAL season starts tonight

Sure, the Avs have had a terrific start to the season. Two big wins over two of the best teams in the West.

Joe Sakic time is over.

The Avs have had almost a week to cool down, come back to earth, and realize they're supposed to be the doormats of the Western Conference.

The Nashville Predators will be a good barometer for this road trip. The Preds are always lurking near the 7th or 8th spot and will no doubt, be a good challenge for the 2-0 Avalanche. If the Avs can come out and play like they did the first two games, then this group has the chance to do something that was very unexpected over the next few months.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Anderson Shuts Vancouver Down; Avs: 2-0, First in League



The only words to describe the first two games? Surreal.

After losing the face of the franchise to retirement and subsequently retiring his number on Thursday night, the Colorado Avalanche handed the reigns to Adam Foote, Milan Hejduk, and a bunch of kids who should be hanging in a college dorm, rather than playing hockey. No one would have have been surprised if the Avs had come out the first two games with a 0-2 record. No one would have been surprised if the power play and penalty kill struggled, or if Craig Anderson was mediocre, or if Matt Duchene needed more conditioning in Brampton. What is surprising, however, is that everything has worked out to be the exact opposite.

Going 2-6 on the PP, Colorado got goals from Paul Stastny and Darcy Tucker. Those goals made 3-0, after Wojtek Wolski netted his third goal of the season in the first.

The top line kept their momentum from the first game. Wolski, along with his goal, had an assist, while Hejduk had a two assist night. Likewise, Stastny had yet another two point night.

The real start of the show was Craig Anderson. He made 35 saves in what turned out to be his 8th career shutout. (He also gave a heck of an interview with Kyle Keefe after the game.) "Andy" was spectacular at times and solid throughout. He does a lot of flopping around in the crease, but it seems to work for him.

Matt Duchene was pointless today, but had several chances to score and made a few nice passes on the PP. He was given over five minutes of power play time along with a minute on the penalty kill. He drew a penalty in the third and continues to be effective on the forecheck.

Ryan O'Reilly improved on his opening night performance. He had a golden opportunity in the second that Luongo just got a pad on.

The real winner appears to be Kyle Quincey. For the second game in a row, he lead the team in ice time (23:35.) He's taken on the role of power play quarterback very easily, and he earned an assist on Stastny's second period goal.

Odds and Ends

-The new mascot was revealed today: Bernie the Bernard Really? A dog? I don't care what bernards are supposed to symbolize. Actually, I don't even want a mascot. But at least it isn't this Bernard:


-Anybody catch Adam Foote punch a Nuck in the back as the game was winding down? Awesome. Vintage Foote.

-What about that smile from Darcy Tucker after the final horn had sounded? He's off to a surprisingly good start.

-Chris Stewart with a dud of a game. Zeroes across the score sheet and no time on the PP or PK.

-Joe Sacco: 2-0 as a head coach in the National Hockey League

Scratches

-TJ Hensick
-Ruslan Salei

David Koci barely played so I'm banking on see Hensick suit up for the first time next Thursday. Cumiskey improved from Thursday, so I'm not sure when we'll be seeing Salei. Trade?

AF's Three Stars

1. Craig Anderson (Shutout, good interview)
2. Darcy Tucker (Goal #2, Fight, 5 shots, Gordie Howe Hat Trick nominee)
3. Wojtek Wolski (Goal #3, continued crashing the net, 6 shots)

Next Up

The Avalanche start a seven-game road trip next Thursday against the Nashville Predators at 8 PM ET.

League Standings

As of Saturday, October 3rd - The Avs are first in the league with 4 points.

Video Fix

Who else but Super Joe?

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Avs Win Opener on Joe Sakic Night!


What a trip!

Having just gotten back from Denver, I can say with 100% certainty that I'll be making a return trip in the future. Besides one messy encounter outside my hotel (which I'll get to in a later post), the city was most impressive and the game was exactly what I hoped for.

The Ceremony

Not much else I can say that hasn't been said by every other person who was in attendance. It was extremely well done. The walk-in, the locker, the chants, the number 19 itself. I'm a little confused as to why the former-Avs who showed up for the game weren't introduced (Forsberg? Podein? Hinote?) but nonetheless, the ovation by the fans and the tribute to Sakic did the legend's career justice.

The Game

Matt Duchene, anyone? The kid was everywhere - the opening faceoff, the power play, penalty kills, breakaways. If I'm not mistaken, I believe he has sewn up his spot on the team. I don't care if he doesn't get another point for the next eight games - the kid is in.

What struck me most about Duchene is the energy he played with. Never giving up on the play, #9 created turnovers and opportunities. He was rewarded later in the game with an assist on JML's second period goal.

Craig Anderson, the first star, was brilliant and definitely earned the chant of "ANDERSON, ANDERSON, ANDERSON" later in the game after a spectacular glove save. His moment of glory included reaching back for a puck that hit the post, escaping from his crease, and tossing the puck into the faceoff area. He put on a great show. (Albeit a sometimes scary one) When the Avs made the score 4-2, I felt confident with the lead for the first time in awhile. Just knowing that we had a competent goalie between the pipes made a world of difference.

Wojtek Wolski, Paul Stastny, and Milan Hejduk earn line of the night honors. Wolski had two goals, Stastny assisted on both of them, and Hejduk registered his first assist a season on the first goal as well.

Kyle Quincey is a stud on the point. At least for the night, the Ryan Smyth trade is looking pretty darn good.

Congratulations to Ryan O'Reilly on his first NHL point, an assist on Cody McLeod's first of the season.

Darcy Tucker scored the first goal of the Avalanche season, and promptly took penalty. I'll take it.

Scratches

-TJ Hensick
-Ruslan Salei

I was surprised to see Cumiskey warming up, but I can't say I'm not pleased. Sure, he had some tough times (a really bad turnover that lead to a bad goal) but the Avs were SO slow last year. Not a problem last night.

No bone to pick with the Hensick scratch either. I assume that Koci, Hendricks, and O'Reilly will all be scratches at some point over the next nine games, at which point O'Reilly may be sent back to Juniors and Hensick will find himself back on the roster.

Negatives

Forget it. 5-2 Avs win. #19 to the rafters. No negatives for now.

AF's Three Stars

1. Craig Anderson (38 saves on 40 shots)
2. Wojtek Wolski (2 goals, GWG)
3. Matt Duchene (1 assist, tons of energy in debut)

Next Up

On Saturday night the Avalanche will reveal their new mascot as the team takes on Vancouver. Anderson will be goal for the Avs.

In Closing

1-0 baby. Go Avs.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Enjoying Denver

I've been walking around Denver all morning and I must say, it's a beautiful city. The Joe Sakic Way sign ceremony didn't attract a huge crowd, but it was still nice to see Joe honored. (Of course, tonight will be much bigger.)

The Pepsi Center is stunning in person, as well. Looking forward to the rest of the day.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can't Wait

In less than 20 hours, my plane will take off, and I'll be on my way to Denver.

I'm not going to have time to do a normal huge predictions post (it somehow got by me this year) but I do want to go on record as saying:

Stanley Cup Finals 2010

Anaheim vs Boston

Stanley Cup Champion 2010

Boston Bruins

Avalanche finish in...

12 place


_____

It's going to be an exciting season. Expectations are lower than ever. Though that can be seen as a negative, all Avalanche should look at this season as a forecast into Colorado's future. Lets enjoy the ride.

Go Avs.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

That makes two - Jones Out Indefinitely

Add David Jones to the injury list. Dater is reporting that he's going to be missing games to start the season.

Depth is not on the Avalanche's side this season, so injuries like this will really take their toll. As Dater mentions, this is a huge opportunity for O'Reilly and Hendricks to see quality minutes in the first few games and to really make their presence felt.

At this point in the post, I would normally give my predictions for new lines, but to be honest, I'm so confused over who is playing what wing, I'll leave that to somebody else.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tucker's New Attitude

Already un-official decreed the new Avalanche whipping boy, Darcy Tucker, according to Adrian Dater, is looking for redemption.
"People can say what they want about me. I've played hard almost 900 games in this league, and I'm going to play this game as hard as I can and do everything I can to help this team win hockey games," Tucker said before the game. "I don't think, playing only one year, the fans of Denver have gotten to see what I'm all about."
Tucker goes on to say,

"I feel like I've got a clean slate now, like that Etch-A-Sketch, where I can shake it and start something new," Tucker said. "There were some circumstances out of my control last year, and I didn't handle them very well. It snowballed into a bad year. It was humbling."
Maybe Tucker is right. We, Avalanche fans, didn't see what Paul Kariya or Teemu Selanne were about in one year. We didn't see Steven Reinprecht or Jordan Leopold. Maybe those guys just weren't a good fit for the team, but Avalanche fans certainly weren't treated to their best games.

Tucker scored twice last night in Frozen Fury 11, and he'll need to produce similar numbers throughout the regular season if the Avs want to be competitive.

Darcy's attitude has always gotten on my nerves. To put it bluntly, he comes off like an arrogant you-know-what. But I like what I'm reading. I like the attitude. I like the Etch-A-Sketch allusion.

If he can up the scoring a bit, drastically increase his hitting, and take fewer bonehead penalties, Darcy Tucker might be the asset we never imagined.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hejduk Signs; Avalanche Season Approaches

Via MHH, Milan Hejduk signed a 1-year extension earlier today.

Interesting observation by DDC:
It's worth noting that Hejduk is currently 87 games behind Joe Sakic on the Avalanche all-time regular season games played list (Colorado only). Barring injury, he should be the leader by the time his contract ends.

Hopefully Hejduk can help lead this team to an above-terrible level this season. Wouldn't it be nice to see him score 50 again? In our dreams.

Avalanche season is officially one week away. AF's season predictions will be up by the end of this weekend.

There are several intriguing questions left this off-season, especially concerning the final cuts.

The team is down to 27 players but can only hold 23 for opening night.

Who is going down?

From the back end, Tyler Weinman should and will be cut.

On D, Tom Preissing is out 4-6 weeks. That opens up a spot for Kyle Cumiskey. The odd man out appears to be Derek Peltier. The 24-year-old should be playing in Lake Erie this season.

The offense is a little dicier. Assuming Matt Duchene is in, it appears to be a battle between Chris Durno, Matt Hendricks, TJ Hensick, David Koci, and rookie Ryan O'Reilly.

O'Reilly has been the big suprise of camp. Having just been signed, it's likely he'll be on the roster October 9th. However, I'd be shocked if Francois Giguere kept him around for more than nine games. No need to cut into that three-year contract yet.

Hensick is also probably safe, though he shouldn't be. The experience he had last season probably makes him the 4th line center, but he won't excel in that role. Sacco did experiment with Hensick at the right wing position earlier in the preseason, but that idea has since been squashed.

It comes down to Durno, Hendricks, and Koci. Like all of you, I haven't been able to watch the games, thus, I can't make an intelligent guess on who will be sent down. From everything I've read, my money is on Hendricks and possibly Koci staying up. Once again, that's a complete guess.

7 days and counting...

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2009-10 Avalanche Round Table Day Two


Welcome to another year of the Avalanche Blogger Roundtable! After reading this blog's segment of the event, I encourage you to head over to Mile High Hockey for day one of the festivities, and then over to Angelique's "Colorado Avalanche Prospects" blog for another day two Roundtable discussion

Now for the question!

Unfortunately, due to the recent cuts, this issue is now a moot point. The topic was posted for discussion September 10th. As I write this 11-12 days later, it's completely irrelevant. Lets see how many bloggers called this one correctly!

The fantasy hockey king, Darryl Dobbs, boldly says that Ryan Stoa will reach the 40-point mark. Is it possible?
GEO: Apparently, Darryl Dobbs is losing his mojo.

Matt Jordan from Mile High Mayhem: 40 points? Not this season. He's going to either be the 3rd or 4th line C. The question is, do the Avs have anyone on the 3rd or 4th lines who can put the puck in the net? If he centers the 3rd line...it will be Koci and Tucker on his wings. If it's the 4th, I'm sure it will be Galiardi and Stewart. It's going to be nothing short of a miracle if he hits 30, let alone 40.

Mike from Mile High Hockey: What Matt said, but more like a miracle to hit 20 with those linemates. I'll add one caveat though, if for some reason the powers-that-be decide that Matt "The Boy Wonder" Duchene goes back to Brampton after 9 games because of some combination of his and Stoa's play, Stoa could be our 2nd line center with Wolski on his wing. I wouldn't think 30 points would be out of his reach.

Aaron Musick from HockeyBuzz: I have to disagree with you on this one. While I don't think he'll get 40 points, I do think that 30 is a reasonable number.
1) I don't believe that Galiardi will be a fourth line player. Given the lack of Left Wings and his speed and hands, I see him landing on the second line.
2) When you're looking at the third line, don't forget about McLeod. He's not skilled enough to be on the top two lines but could end up on the third line with Bates and Stewart.
Back to Stoa, he could wind up on the fourth line left wing with Hensick and either Svatos or Jones. That's a line that could produce, provided Hensick turns the corner this year. However, the bigger question is this: should Stoa start the season in Lake Erie along with Mercier and Yip or should he play the fourth line at the NHL level?
(GEO: I think we now know the answer to that one)

David Driscoll-Carignan from Mile High Hockey: t's certainly possible, but I'm not sure that I would bet the fantasy farm on it. As a frame of reference, his former U of Minn teammate, Phil Kessel, scored 29 in his first year with the Bruins and took 3 NHL seasons to get to the 40-point mark. You never really know. The Avs drafted a bunch of college players the year they took Stoa. Paul Stastny scored 78 in his first year. T.J. Hensick has 92 NHL games under his belt and has just 32 career points. If it was my fantasy draft, I'd probably figure to count on 25; everything over 30 would be nice bonus.

Tapeleg from Jerseys and Hockey Love: I hope not. I know, that sound weird, but really, why should the Avs shove Ryan Stoa into the club so fast? It's already going to happen with Matt Duchene, as there will be rioting at Le Can if he doesn't crack the lineup, but Stoa? Get in line buddy. Even after a high and mighty season last year with the University of Minnesota Gophers, he is still fresh out of college. This isn't his time.
Stoa needs a little time to develop. There is no need to bring him to the big club for anything but call ups. Let him have some AHL time to make the transition. He isn't going to save the franchise this year (hell, no one is going to save the franchise this year), so why bother rushing him? Dobbs can say what he likes, but if those 40 points are coming from the NHL, I'll be amazed.
(GEO: And then Matt Jordan made the best point of the day:)

Well, Stoa gets sent down...I guess the question about him is currently moot.
As for my answer to the question, I obviously knew Stoa was going to get sent down, thus, I adamantly fought not to have a question that is as irrelevant as Darcy Tucker on the power play.

In any case, we have eight days left. The 2009-10 season is finally upon us. Are you ready for some hockey?

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rebuilding The Avs From All Thirty Teams

It's an ordinary Monday, so lets participate in a unique, completely time-wasting project. It's no secret that the Avs are in rebuild mode. Wouldn't it be nice if we could expediate that process? What if the Avs were given the freedom to draft one player/executive from each team? What if the other teams were allowed to protect no one, the only hope being that the Avs eventually ran out of cap space? Here's how I'd want it to play out:

Team salary may not exceed 56.8 million. Individual player salaries are based on the numbers (cap hits) from http://www.capgeek.com/. All Avalanche players not drafted become free agents. This does not include Matt Duchene. Mostly because I like Matt Duchene too much to let him go. I do not, however, like Darcy Tucker. He becomes a free agent.

Anaheim: Ryan Getzlaf - Center, 5.325 million
Analysis: The team needs a #1 center that plays with a competitive edge. Getzlaf is as mean and talented as they come.

Atlanta: Jason Krog - Minor Leaguer
Analysis: He can't crack the big leagues, but the man is a beast in the AHL. He's won scoring titles, championships, but never a long stay with an NHL team. With 112 points in 2007-08, Krog is consistently one of the leading scorers in the next-best league in North America. He'll do well as the guy the Avs never call up.

Boston: Milan Lucic - Left Wing, 850,000
Analysis: Impressive in his rookie year, Lucic comes at a great value. Chara was tempting here, but his 7.5 million cap hit was too tough to take.

Buffalo: Lindy Ruff - Coach
Analysis: Ruff keeps the Sabres competitive despite questionable talent. It wasn't that long ago that Buffalo was on the doorstep of another Stanley Cup Finals appearance. He doesn't mess with his goalies, he doesn't take crap from the media, and he HATES Darcy Tucker.

Calgary: Robyn Regher - Defenseman, 4.020 million
Analysis: The man's a beast. Put him on a pairing with Tyutin and prepare to be eaten alive.

Carolina: Fans
Analysis: Based mostly on the Jibblescribbits' rankings.

Chicago: Duncan Keith - Defenseman, 1.475 million
Analysis: With 44 points in 77 games, Keith took his game to the next level in 2008-2009. It might hurt not being paired with Brent Seabrook, but the Avalanche will look forward to the continued development of the league's next great shutdown defenseman.

Colorado: Paul Stastny - Center, 6.6 million
Analysis: The price tag is insanely hard to swallow, but Stastny will fill the role of third or fourth line center brilliantly.

Columbus: Fedor Tyutin - Defenseman, 2.83 million
Analysis: Tyutin isn't flashy, but he's rock solid on the back end. It was tempting to pick Steve Mason for the backup's role, but Tyutin will complement a high-powered offense.

Dallas: Ice Girls - Slightly Demeaning
Analysis: I had Steve Ott penciled in here, but then I realized that I forgot the new trend in hockey: ice girls. Dallas ain't bad.

Detroit: Ken Holland - General Manager
Analysis: The man knows how to build a team. That's all I'm sayin'.

Edmonton: Sam Gagner - Right Wing, 1.625 million
Analysis: We're going to stretch the rules a little bit and move Gagner away from his natural center position. After a 118 point season in Juniors three years ago, the former-Oiler has yet to find his scoring touch at the pro level. Last season saw a huge change in his +/- (-26 to -1) and we all know how revealing that stat can be! He won't have to be the star for this team, which could help his development in the long run.

Florida: Scott Clemmensen - Backup Goaltender, 1.2 million
Analysis: The best kind of backup goaltender? The kind that steps in when the franchise starter goes down and keeps his team not just competitive, but as part of the elite. Clemmensen was is an unbelievable door opener (he's had a lot of practice) and he's perfect for the job in Colorado.

Los Angeles: Jack Johnson - Defenseman, 1.425 million
Analysis: Johnson's potential is huge, but he appears to be made of glass. Still, he's physical, plays a decent offensive game, and works well on a blueline that defines the word "steady" in the dictionary.

Minnesota: Cal Clutterbuck - Right Wing, 725,000
Analysis: On my fourth line, I want a young kid who can provide energy, some physical play, and the occasional or point or two. In his rookie year, the points weren't there for Clutterbuck (18 in 76 games) but the kid lead the league in hits and became a fan favorite in Minnesota. I'll take a shot with him.

Montreal: Andrei Kostitsyn - Left Wing, 2.25 million
Analysis: Back-t0-back 20 goal seasons give the Avs hope that Kostitsyn will improve with a playmaking center such as Backstrom or Parise.

Nashville: Shea Weber - Defenseman, 4.5 million
Analysis: Weber can get it done on both ends of the ice. At just 24, he'll be a franchise defenseman for years to come.

New Jersey: Zach Parise - Center, 3.125 million
Analysis: In four NHL years, Parise has hit the 30-goal mark three times and has missed no more than one game in any season. Last year, Parise exploded for 45 goals and 94 points. While that production may take a dip with new coach Jacques Lemaire, Parise shouldn't have any problems with Ruff and McCllelan at the helm.

New York Islanders: Kyle Okposo - Right Wing, 1.671 million
Analysis: Okposo entered his rookie year in 2008-09 with big expectations on an Islanders team whose fans already have Tavares fever. After scoring 18 goals and recording 39 points, Okposo will be expected to do much better on a team that is in the business of winning.

New York Rangers: Marc Staal - Defenseman, 826,660
Analysis: What a pedigree. With a name like Staal, you can't lose. He won't put up a lot of offense, but his defensive game has improved dramatically in just two seasons.

Ottawa: Marian Hossa? Martin Havlat? Dany Heatley?
Analysis: The Avalanche politely decline this pick.

Philadelphia: Ed Snider - Owner
Analysis: As the chairman for Comcast, the company that does just about everything, Mr. Snider has done pretty well for himself in Philadelphia. Snider has always done what is in the best interest of his team and has gone to amazing lengths to promote his business interests.

Phoenix: Shane Doan - Right Wing, 4.55 million
Analysis: Extremely versatile on either wings, Doan will finally have enough talent around him to put up huge numbers. Thirty goals on Phoenix is no joke.

Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury - Starting Goaltender, 5 million
Analysis: Fleury had a rocky start his first few years in the league, but he has really come into his own, winning a Stanley Cup last June. At 24, Fleury will provide stable goaltending for years to come.

San Jose: Todd McClellan - Assistant Coach
Analysis: I'm not sure exactly what he did in Detroit, but to much to my chagrin, they won Stanley Cups while he was there. Much to my delight, they lost the Stanley Cup the year he left. McCllelan couldn't get the Sharks past the playoff hump, but I want him next to my head coach anyway.

St. Louis: Jeremy Boyer - Organist
Analysis: The techno/rock/whatever music is alright, but the organ is classy.

Tampa Bay: Alex Tanguay - Left Wing, 2.5 million
Analysis: He's back! (And at a much more affordable price!) Tanguay will probably never be the kind of player who takes over a game, but placed with other great talent (see: 2001 Colorado Avalanche), he is capable of putting up solid, consistent numbers.

Toronto: "Brian Burke" - Twitter Personality
Analysis: Down Goes Brown is one of the few things that is right with this franchise.

Vancouver: Alex Burrows - Left Wing, 2 million
Analysis: Another winger who gets on the nerves of the opposition, Burrows had 28 goals last season in what started as a supporting role.


Washington: Nicklas Backstrom - Center, 2.4 million
Analysis: Yes, he makes his living passing the puck to Alex Ovechkin. A newborn baby could probably put up a few points by being on the ice at the same as #8. Backstrom will have right wingers to protect him and left wingers to make him look good. It's an ideal situation as the Swede rounds out the group of centers.

Total Salary: 54.89766 million
Cap Room: 1.90234 million

Projected Opening Night Lineup

Lucic-Getzlaf-Doan
Tanguay-Stastny-Okposo
Burrows-Backstrom-Gagner
Kostitsyn-Parise-Clutterbuck

Regher-Keith
Weber-Staal
Tyutin-Johnson

Fleury
Clemmensen

Coach: Lindy Ruff
Assistant: Todd McClellan
GM: Ken Holland
Owner: Ed Snider
Fans: Carolina
Ice Girls: Dallas
Twitter Personality: "Brian Burke"
Organist: Jeremy Boyer
Minor Leaguer Never To See NHL Action: Jason Krog
Team Disgraced: Ottawa

Potential Weaknesses:

I like the depth on the middle and left side, but besides Doan, the wingers are very suspect. Jason Krog could become a problem later in the season.

Strengths:

The defense is young, promising, and already proven. Once again, the depth at center works.

Worrisome:

I was so bored that I was tempted to do Round 2!

____

There it is! Rebuilding the Avs from all thirty (well, twenty-nine) teams. Even if it's not what you like, it's better than what we have.


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Friday, September 11, 2009

Adam Foote Named Captain; Hejduk/Stastny Alternates



That "A" now becomes a "C"

“I’m honored to be named Avalanche captain,” said Foote. “I’ve been with this franchise for the majority of my career and I know what the standards are here. I look forward to the challenge of leading this team, starting with training camp and heading into the regular season.”
Avalanche

On my unofficial list of favorite Avs, Foote actually ranks 2nd, just behind Super Joe. When you think Colorado Avalanche, you think Sakic, Roy, Forsberg, and Adam Foote.

It's going to be extremely weird to see someone else wearing the C, but if it had to be someone, at least it's a player who has given his heart and soul to the franchise. Even if there were some dark days in Columbus, few players have played harder in An Avalanche uniform.

As for the Alternate Captains, they're perfect choices.

The Avalanche also announced today that forwards Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny will serve as assistant captains for the upcoming season.

Stastny will almost certainly be named Captain within the next 3-5 years. Foote is 38, and I doubt that he'll play into his 40s.

As for Hejduk, the move gives me some hope that he won't be traded this season. True, the Avs did dispense of Ian Laperriere in the offseason, but Duke is one of the few connections to the "Glory Years" left on the team. He should retire an Av.

This season will mark a new era in Avalanche hockey, an era lead by the new Captain Foote.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Greatest Birthday Present Ever

Today is my birthday, and while I generally don't get overly excited for my date of birth, the present I received has me completely revved up.

I'll be taking my first trip to Denver in October. October 1st.

I'll also be attending my first Avalanche game in Denver. Against the Sharks. On October 1st.

Joe Sakic was my childhood hero, and now that I'm getting the chance to see his number retired, I'm in complete and utter shock.

If anyone from Colorado is reading this, I'd appreciate some suggestions on what to do or where to go before and after the game. I'm flying in the day before and leaving the night after so I will have some free time to explore the city a bit.

So excited.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Brett Favre of Referees

Thought this was an interesting story on an ordinary August day:

Sources tell TSN, Stephen Walkom is leaving his post as the NHL's Director of Officiating with the intention of making a comeback as an NHL referee.

The 46-year old recently informed the league of his decision after several months of contemplating the move.

Walkom will physically prove he can return and will participate in the NHL officials training camp which opens on Sept 7.
TSN
If you go back and watch NHL games from before the lockout, it's amazing to see how much obstruction there used to be. There's no doubt that the post-lockout on-ice product is better and much of that is thanks to Walkom.

As long as the man below doesn't replace him...














...good luck to Mr. Walkom

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

New Address

It always annoyed me when someone would refer to this site as "Avsrant." True, the old url was http://avsrant.blogspot.com but still, does it take that much effort to read the banner?

I've rectified the problem by registering a domain. This site can now be reached by any of the three links:

www.avsfactor.com

http://avsfactor.com

http://avsrant.blogspot.com

I would appreciate anyone linking to the site to use the new www.avsfactor.com link; however, the old url will still work.

Also, I realize people may still get the site name wrong, calling it "Avs Factor." Oh well, it's closer.

I'll also be revamping the site design, and possible moving away from blogger in the coming weeks. If I don't have time now, I'm sure I'll have plenty next June.

Hope everyone is having a terrific end of summer. Hockey season feels close, but it's still so far away.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Nothingness

We've reached that time of the year when nothing happens in the world of hockey. In fact, the most exciting piece of Avalanche news is that Adrian Dater came back for a day to speculate about a possible Avalanche third jersey - maybe.

We're under the 45-day mark until the home opener. Until then, we can all talk about the Coyotes and Patrick Kane. Sounds like a good time, eh?

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Blogger's Breakout

Fantasy Hockey Scouts is having a "Blogger's Breakout" in which a blogger from each NHL team picks two players on that team that could have a huge year.

I was asked to represent the Avalanche.

Check out my picks, and tell me why I'm completely wrong.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Avs Forum Dead

Big government is at it again!

The official Colorado Avalanche message board has finally closed as all NHL team forums are being consolidated at www.fans.nhl.com.

Though I hadn't posted on the boards in over two years, I managed to make over five thousand posts from March 2004 to Summer 2007. My username on the site, avslova, was the inspiration for this blog's name.

RIP Avalanche Message Board

I hardly knew ya.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Whining About The Schedule

30 teams. 82 games per team.

For what seems like the third or fourth time in the past six years, I will be unable to attend an Avalanche game because the NHL did not schedule an Avs-Flyers game in Philadelphia.

Who cares?

I do.

You should, too.

How pissed are fans in other cities that will be unable to watch Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, or Matt Duchene? (Too soon? Probably.)

The NHL wants to sell the game, but by not guaranteeing that every team plays in every city, they are not giving ans total access to some of its best players. Want to market the surging Blackhawks? Allow fans from every NHL city to see them live. Want to fill seats? Let Avalanche fans watch the Bruins instead of the Wild.

It's also ridiculous to not realize that there are fans of teams living in other cities than the team itself. I won't be able to watch Paul Stastny this season (except on Center Ice) because the NHL wants the Islanders in the Wachovia Center a bazillion times. Exciting.

No Avs for me this year.

A crime.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Farewell, Super Joe



Super Joe, Burnaby Joe, No Ordinary Joe, Quoteless Joe, Captain Clutch, Joe Sakic.

No matter what name you knew him by, Joe Sakic will forever remain one of the greatest hockey players to ever grace the NHL.

______

My first Sakic-related memory dates backs to the mid-90s. I was at a sports store in a mall in New Jersey and my parents finally decided to buy me my first Avalanche jersey. The man at the store only had two available - Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic. Though I couldn't have gone wrong with either, I made my choice with only the slightest hesitation. Sakic it was.

I still have that jersey, and I actually sent it in to Frozen Pond to be autographed by Sakic. It has become one of my most valued possessions.

Growing up just outside of Philadelphia, I didn't have the opportunity to watch many Avalanche games. Instead, I relied on The Hockey News to follow the team. The more I read about Joe, the more I liked him.

He was talented and humble. The perfect combination for an athlete.

Since 1998, I have not missed an Avalanche-Flyers game in Philadelphia. Joe is a huge reason for that. I never realized what I had witnessed until he officially announced his retirement on Thursday. We all hear stories about Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe. In 20 years, those stories will be about Joe Sakic.

Who will ever forget the '96 Final and his 18-playoff goals?

Who will ever forget his penalty shot against the Blues in the 2001 Conference Finals?

Who will ever forget his handing the Cup to Raymond Bourque?

Who will ever forget the 2002 Olympic Final?

What about his record 8 Playoff overtime goals? What about the fact that he's 8th on the all-time scoring list? What about his fight against Gilmour or his class against the once-hated Wings?

Remember the time he knocked down Scott Stevens? Or the season when he became the oldest player to record 100 points? How about his now-legendary wrist shot?

______

Sakic's legacy won't simply be that he was an unbelievable scorer. He will be remembered as one of the most respected players in the game. In terms of value to a franchise - over the last 20 years - Sakic may only be matched by Steve Yzerman. But even Stevey Y didn't change hockey in Detroit as much as Sakic did in Denver.

______

Now that Sakic has retired, a new era of Avalanche hockey will begin. Sakic's number 19 will be retired on the opening night of the '09-'10 season, and if my hunch turns out to be correct, the Avs will wait a year before naming a new captain.

Will anyone ever replace Joe Sakic? Absolutely not. He was a once-in-a-lifetime player. A true legend. A great role model.

Thank you, Super Joe. My love for hockey is all thanks to you.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Retired



I have a long tribute post coming tomorrow. This is a very tough day. Sakic was my first "favorite" athlete, and he was the main reason that hockey became such an appealing sport to me.

I'll miss Joe for what he did on the ice, and the example he set for me off of it.

More tomorrow.

Thanks Joe. An unbelievable career.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

SAKIC LIKELY TO RETIRE THURSDAY [TSN, Denver Post]

Thursday could be the day that a true hockey legend calls it a career.

Denver Post
The news that Avalanche fans had hoped never to hear is nevertheless official: Joe Sakic has decided to retire from the Avalanche.

The Denver Post has confirmed that the Avalanche captain will retire Thursday at a 1 p.m. press conference at Inverness Hotel.
TSN
After 20 NHL seasons, Colorado Avalanche forward Joe Sakic may be ready to hang up his skates.

The Avalanche have called a news conference for Thursday at 3pm et/12pm pt, where according to local reports they will announce Sakic's retirement.
Obviously, more comment on Thursday.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

AVS TRADE RYAN SMYTH TO KINGS



Adrian Dater, according to TSN's Darren Dreger, reports that the Avs have traded Ryan Smyth to the Los Angeles Kings for defensemen Kyle Quincey and Tom Preissing, along with a 5th-round draft pick.
Dater

It's 2:39 am in Philadelphia and I just happened to check the Avalanche blogs before going to bed. Crazy news.

Bits of Dater's article:
Not sure any of you believed me when I wrote the other day that Kroenke is INTENT on shedding payroll, but maybe after this trade you will believe it more. Hannan, Clark or Salei should be the next domino to fall, at some point…
Assuming that Preissing and Quincey are being brought to the Avalanche to play, that means one or both of the three guys listed above will be gone before the season begins. It could also mean that Kyle Cumiskey doesn't get his shot in the NHL.

(Kyle) Quincey had BACK SURGERY in April. That is one reason why the Avs told me tonight this deal is NOT OFFICIAL until the players pass a physical -
Ugh. So the Avs learned nothing from the Jordan Leopold saga. Trading for injury-proned defensemen is not a good idea.

Preissing? Totally awful year last year. You can look at it a couple ways: he was part of a terrible organization last year and things didn’t work out, and he’s really much better than that. Or, he’s well on the downward slope.
I'm inclined to believe that Preissing's terrible play was due more to the terrible play of the Kings as a whole. We saw how many Avalanche players truly stunk last year. It could be the same with Preissing. Still - not encouraging words to read.

Like I wrote before, Stan Kroenke is of the belief that this team needs to be dismantled and put back together through youngsters via trade and the draft. Yeah, there might be a forward picked up in the coming days, but don’t count on anybody like Dany Heatley.
Dater also added earlier that the replacement wouldn't be Dany Heatley.

Who is still out there that plays left wing? Kyle Calder? (Gross.) Stephane Veilleux? (Boring.) Bates Battaglia? (Please, never again.)

Do the Avs try to sign an RFA? Nikolai Zherdev? (Weak.) Benoit Pouliot? (Not worth it.)

I'm kind of pissed that the Avs couldn't squeeze a guy like Frolov or Williams for the man they call "Captain Canada,"

____________

With absolutely no depth on the left side, one must assume that the Avs are counting on Stastny-Sakic as the top two centers with Wolski playing left wing on the top line. Though many have assumed Wolski would get the chance to start the season as center, a ridiculous lack-of-depth will probably make that impossible.

There's an another possibility of Sakic moving to the wing, and having a Stastny-Duchene 1-2 punch down the middle. Unlikely, but possible.

Though Ryan Smyth never lived up to his huge contract, he was consistently the hardest working Av for the past two seasons. He never took a night off, and if he had been used properly - that is, in front of the net while the defenseman took shots from the point - I'm convinced that he would have had an even bigger impact on the team.

His 6.250 million dollar cap hit comes off the Avalanche books, but Quincey and Preissing bring a combined 3.275.

The Avs still have to sign Joe Sakic (and there is every indication that Joe will return for a 21st season) and if Dater is correct, the Avs will still cut more salary in the process.

The current depth chart now looks like:

Jones - Stastny - Hejduk
Galiardi - Wolski - Svatos
Tucker - Hensick - Stewart
McLeod - Willsie - Koci

Liles-Hannan
Clark-Foote
Salei-Quincey
Preissing
Cumiskey

Anderson
Budaj

I'm not sure who is going to score, and I'm not sure who is going to play left wing, and I'm not sure who is going to play center.

I am, however, 100% that Ryan Smyth is no longer an Av. The Francois Giguere era has come to a screeching halt and the Greg Sherman/Rebuilding era has officially begun.
______

Now that the analysis is done, let me be honest....

THIS SUCKS.

We're getting rid of a guy who actually played with some heart. We're getting rid of a guy who was one of the only men to perform (cue the "that's what she said" joke.) We're getting rid of a guy who didn't complain about playing on a terrible team. We're getting rid of a guy who played through pain, who played with tenacity, who played the game with respect.

Trade Svatos. Trade Clark. Trade Hannan.

Don't trade Ryan Smyth.

We sign David Koci and then we trade trade Ryan Smyth. Really?

Most GMs want to sell tickets.
No Lappy. No Smyth. This team will be as boring as last year's in both performance and media.

Damn it.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Haha - Rangers Sign Tyler Arnason

It's official - Tyler Arnason is no longer a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Check out the positive spin of the signing on the New York Rangers website.

In addition, Arnason has recorded two career hat tricks, and was selected to the 2003 NHL All-Rookie Team following his first full season with Chicago.


When a player's only career highlights are a couple of hat tricks and an All-Rookie Team selection, it probably means the player sucks.

Arnason will always be remembered as one of the most hated Avs of all time.

Good luck on your new team, Arnie.

Good bye and good night.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Avs Sign David Koci

The Avs just signed David Koci to a 1-year, $575,000 deal.

Koci is a left winger who played 33 games for Tampa Bay last year. He had two points, was a +3, and had 132 penalty minutes.

This is likely a deal to help fill up the Monsters.

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Ian Laperriere signed by Philadelphia

3 years / 1.17 million per season.

A freaking disgrace.

There's absolutely no reason why the Avs shouldn't have signed him.

Living in Philadelphia, Laperriere is going to be closer, but he feels much further away.

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Avalanche Sign Craig Anderson

The Avs clearly read this blog.

Ok, maybe not...but it was still an excellent decision by Greg Sherman & Co to go out and sign a solid goaltender for a reasonable price.

TSN's Free Agent Tracker lists the deal as being two years for 3.6 million.

More news throughout the day.

Avs still have over 9 million to spend.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Free Agency 2009


Welcome to Free Agency 2009. Tomorrow, July 1st, teams will start trying to sign their dream free agents and then proceed to move to Plan B shortly after.

Taking out the UFAs and RFAs, here's how the Avs look for next season:

Smyth-Stastny-Hejduk
Vacant-Wolski-Svatos
Vacant-Hensick-Stewart
McLeod-Galiardi-Tucker

Liles-Hannan
Clark-Foote
Salei-Vacant

Not the most intimidating group.

UFAs

Tyler Arnason - If he's signed, expect a complete mutiny by fans, including this blog. No chance he's on the team next year.

Ben Guite - Great for the fourth line and the Avs should lock him up, preferably without a raise from last year's salary.

Ian Laperriere - Various reports say that he and the Avs can't agree to terms. If Lappy does leave, it's a big loss for a team that is going to be rebuilding this year.

Andrew Raycroft - No.

Joe Sakic - He's made his decision but the Avs are waiting to announce it. Like most, I'm betting that he's retiring. If he were coming back, wouldn't that help Colorado attract free agents?

Daniel Tjarqvist - Though he serviced the Avs well, it's time that the kids in the system, like Vernace and Cumiskey, are given their chances to shine.

Brian Willsie - He's going to play with Lake Erie for most of the year. Anything over the minimum is overkill.

RFAs

David Jones - According to Dater, the Avs did make an offer to Jones. If he signs it, the Avs better not have given him a substantial raise. He certainly doesn't deserve it.

Cody McCormick - Apparently, no offer was made to Cody McC. Many Avalanche fans love Cody for his hard-working attitude. I'm not one of them. Good luck elsewhere.

_______

Looking at the system, taking some guesses, and making some predictions, here's how I see the 2009-2010 Avalanche roster without any signings outside of the men listed above.

Smyth-Stastny-Hejduk
Hensick-Wolski-Stewart
Jones-Galiardi-Svatos
McLeod-Guite- Tucker

Liles-Hannan
Clark-Foote
Salei-Cumiskey

Budaj
Weinamn

Luckily, the Avs will not open the season with this lineup. There will be two or three signings along the way.

____________

With a little over 11 million to spend, the Avs have room, but not much room. Fans are unlikely to see another Ryan Smyth type deal anytime soon. That being said, the Avs need to do something.

Need #1 - A Starting Goaltender

Budaj isn't the answer, but with Raycroft on his way out, Boods will still get the nod as backup.

Solution #1 - Craig Anderson

Some will have you believe the Avs are better off with some Monster or Ty Conklin or even Martin Biron. They may be right, but in a year where goaltending is scarce, Anderson would be a solid pickup.

Last year, on the Panthers, Anderson was the owner of a 15-7-5 record. His .924 sv% was well above the league average of .908, and his GAA was a decent 2.71. He doesn't have much experience (only 109 games as of age 28) but Anderson has done well in limited action the past two seasons. Is it time for him to step up and become a starter? Perhaps.

If the Avs are willing to give Budaj a shot, they should be willing to give Anderson a chance to shine.

Other Options

Martin Biron, Scott Clemmensen, Ty Conklin, Manny Fernandez


Need #2 - A Top-6 Forward

I currently have Hensick penciled in as the second line left winger. I don't even want Hensick on the team.

Solution #2 - Nik Antropov

He's not the left winger I'd prefer, in fact, he's not a left winger at all, but he's better than nothing. Last season, Antropov put up 59 points in 81 games and was a big target at the trade deadline. He's a hard worker who does have somewhat of a scoring touch. If the Avs can sign him for about 3.5 million, he'd be suitable on the second line with Wolski and Svatos.

Note: I keep reading that Antropov is looking for a 5 million per year deal. If that's the case, he's way outside what the Avs are going to be willing to spend. Look for Colorado to target Knuble instead.

Other Options

Mike Knuble, Jason Williams, Tyler Arnason.


Need #3 - Another Defenseman

I really want to see the 6th defenseman spot filled by Cumiskey. It still doesn't hurt to add a replacement in advance

Solution #3 - Dennis Seidenberg

Young (27), decent (30 points in 70 games), and present (22+ minute average), Seidenberg would be a welcome addition to a blueline that was extremely weak last year. In a best case scenario, Brett Clark would be gone by Friday and Jay Bouwmeester would be on his way to Colorado; however, that's unlikely to happen at this point. Seidenberg would service the team well as the 6th or 7th guy.

Oh, from reading several Penguin blogs, I can say that Rob Scuderi is worth taking a look at. Penguin fans think there could be a bidding war, and recent quotes from Scuderi indicate that he'll remain a Pen, but still, it's worth a shot.

Other Options

Paul Mara, Greg Zanon, Steve Montador, Hal Gill

__________

An updated look at the squad:

Smyth-Stastny-Hejduk
Antropov/Knuble-Wolski-Svatos
Jones-****-Stewart
McLeod-Guite-Tucker
Hensick
Galiardi

Liles-Hannan
Salei-Foote
Seidenberg-Cumiskey
Clark

Anderson
Budaj

_____________

Now lets take into account the Lake Erie system.

Smyth-Stastny-Hejduk
Antropov/Knuble-Wolski-Svatos
McLeod-Stoa-Stewart
Tucker-Guite-Jones

Liles-Hannan
Salei-Foote
Seidenberg-Cumiskey

Anderson
Budaj

Spares: Hensick, Galiardi, Clark

_________

I understand Clark isn't going to be a spare. I understand the Avs don't want to get rid of guys who suck (see: Clark, Tucker) and I understand they don't want to get rid of guys who need to be on the first two lines to succeed (see: Svatos) but I can dream.

With 11.5 million to spend, Antropov, Anderson, and Seidenberg would probably be more than the Avs would want to spend anyway.

Thanks a lot, Darcy Tucker.

Have a pleasant July 1st.

May all your free agent dreams come true.

Go Avs.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Laziest Draft Review Ever

I missed the boat on the draft, but no one did it better than Mile High Hockey.

Check out that draft thread here.

My next post will be my 300th and will focus on free agency.

July 1st is basically here. Get ready.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Duchene Fist Pump

Upon hearing that Victor Hedman was drafted by the Lightning...

Click Here

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Avalanche Select C Matt Duchene

The newest Av is officially Matt Duchene.
















Excellent start.

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Get Pumped

No matter who goes first or second, (and there has been plenty of debate and mystery) the Avs should (and will) leave Day 1 of the 2009 Entry Draft with either John Tavares, Victor Hedman, or Matt Duchene.

The Offensive Dynamo, the Franchise Defensemean, the Smart Two-Way Center.

The Avs haven't had a pick this high since they were the Nordiques, and though the regular season was a disaster, this is the reward.

Go Avs.

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