Saturday, January 31, 2009

Arnason = Healthy Scratch

Well that's the first step in attempting to make a miracle run.

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What the lines should be today..

Smyth-Wolski-Hejduk
McLeod-Hensick-Stewart
Tucker-Cody McCormick-Svatos
Willsie-Arnason-Laperriere


I like to consider this period of the season the expermimental period. Lets have some fun with it. Give guys some bigger roles and see if they respond.

This includes TJ Hensick, Chris Stewart, and yes, Cody McLeod.

McLeod, along with Smyth and Hejduk, plays hard every single shift. There's rarely a time when he's on the ice when he doesn't register a hit or a shot on goal. His play entitles him to more ice time.

I like Svatos, but I've never figured out where he fits on the game. It seems like he NEEDS to be a first or second line player to succeed, but there's never any room for him when everyone is healthy.

I say trade him while he isn't injured. There have been rumors Pittsburgh is looking at Hejduk to possibly come in and give them a scoring winger. Maybe they'd take Svatty?

Arnason shouldn't be on any line, but as long as he's playing, I want him getting no more than nine minutes a game. Case closed.

Avs-Ducks.
3 PM Eastern.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mid-Game: Leafs Give Us the Finger; The Duke Lighting it Up

4-3 Leafs in a game that will tell us all we need to know about the rest of the Avs season.

If the Avs lose, the season is basically dead.
If the Avs win, the inconsistency will continue.

But winning is more fun.

Notes:

-Leave it to the Avs to allow Nik Antropov to break an 18-game scoring drought. How many times have we seen players break similar streaks when they play Colorado this season?

-Chris Stewart = Money. Forget Darcy Tucker. He has one shot in 9 minutes tonight against his former team.

-That's one more shot than Tyler Arnason has.

-Maple Leafs had too many men on the ice, but it isn't called, so in typical Avalanche fashion, a goal is scored by none other than Jeff Finger. I guess you could said he got a FINGER on that one. (ZING)

-Hejduk has two goals. This is exciting. I like Hejduk. I don't want him to be traded. This isn't even a contest if not for him.

-If Andrew Raycroft hadn't converted from forward to goaltender, do you think he'd be better than Tyler Arnason?

-Don't answer that. We all know what you'll say.

-Kyle Cumiskey lasted 26 seconds tonight. That means more Brett Clark. That means we're probably going to see a fifth, and possibly sixth goal before we're through.

-Finger just hit his own teammate in the head with a wrister. Stajan leaped a million feet off the ice. Give or take a few.

-Tucker vs May in the third. Book it.

-We're watching a real goaltending clinic. (Raycroft: 11-15, Toskala: 13-16)


Gearing up for the third period. The Avs will have to take this game from behind. Lets hope Finger doesn't stop them.

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Losing to the Sharks is Acceptable..but the Leafs are Another Story

Losing to the best team in the league is understandable. Even if they were shut out, most critics (I said most!) will agree that the Avs played hard and gave it all they had.

Fine. Acceptable.

But tonight is a different story.

Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town. True, they no longer have the baggage that is Andrew Raycroft and Darcy Tucker (haha, it's kind of sad, isn't it?) but they still stink. Albeit, they don't stink as much as they used to, but the odor coming from their bench is still one of rotten eggs - especially since they acquired Brad May.

No word as to who is in net, but I'd assume Raycroft will get the chance to show up his old team.

Go Avs.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

GEO Predicts: Avs Will Win This Game

Avs are down 2-0. 20 minutes left. Against San Jose

Doesn't matter.

Avs will win. I don't know by what score, but they will WIN THIS GAME.


And hey, I've got nothing to lose.

If I'm right, I'm brilliant.
If I'm wrong, I'm just another optimist who happens to have a blog.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Thoughts on All Star Weekend

When I was younger, I used to love the All Star Game. Maybe it was because the Avs used to send three to five guys every season, or maybe it was because, actually, no....it's because the Avs used to send three to five guys every season.

This year they sent one. The Duke.

He didn't fail us.

Hejduk finished third in the "elimination shootout" during the Skills Competition and tallied a goal and two assist in Sunday's main event. He was also named third star of the game. That's amazing considering the Habs had FOUR participants.

Some thoughts about each event...

-The Skills Competition needs to be un-revamped. Bring back the stickhandling relay, the goalie shooting challenge, and the East vs West format. Mic up more players and try to catch some interaction. Didn't anybody else wonder about the conversations between Malkin and Ovechkin?

-The Youngstars game needs to die. Either that, or they should spice it up a little bit. Make the youngstars play retired greats. Or better yet, match them up against a team consisting of Gary Bettman, Colin Campbell, and Paul Kelly. I'd be watching.

-I hate Mike Emrick. Many people don't like Gary Thorne, but no one can say that Thorne didn't bring excitement to the competition. Emrick just yaps.

-Props to Zdeno Chara for boggling my mind with his 105.4 to set the new hardest shot record. Somewhere, Al Iafrate weeps.

-The elimination shootout was boring, but it is a good concept. They just need to speed it up.

-As for the game itself, I thought it was decent. We got some beautiful saves from Tim Thomas, who probably should have been the MVP. If the game had taken place in one of the other 29 cities, he would have.

-ASG OT is awesome. The shootout...not so much. In a game with so much talent, I wish they had made it five shooters per team.

-Sidney Crosby should be suspended.

But only because we all hate him. (Sorry Penguin fans)

-Back to the Skills for a second, Ryan Getzlaf should have won the trick shot competition thing. Even though he was going slower than my grandmother in a school zone.

-Has anyone else seen the Hejduk/Brown interview?

If not...


"I've had like one hit in five years"

Simply hilarious.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Smyth/Hejduk Hit 300, Avslova Factor Hits 250

In the six days I've been gone, the Avs have played four games and I'll have some thoughts on those shortly.

For now, lets congratulate Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth for hitting 300 goals in the same game (and the same period) last night in the 6-2 victory over the Lames. (haha, never gets old, does it?)

It's a great accomplishment for both of them, and I hope that this win will be the one to kick the Avs into gear as we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel that signals the playoffs.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Raycroft Rewarded Again

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I didn't blog about it earlier, but can you say ANDREW RAYCROFT?



YEAAAAAHHHH.



He's 9-1. His save percentage and GAA is now better than Budaj's, and he will be getting the start tonight against rookie sensation Steve Mason. The kid has been a shutout machine, but hopefully Raycroft can outplay him.



Rick Nash is out (per Dater) so that should help.



RAYYYYYYYZOR.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Raycroft Shines, Will Start Today vs Penguins

I was very nervous. Afterall, I had just dedicated an entire post to why Andrew Raycroft should be the starter. Now here he was, facing the highest scoring team in the NHL. The situation wasn't on his (or my) side.

43 saves against 44 shots later, Andrew Raycroft has lived to start another day.

He was brilliant against Chicago, making save after save against a very potent attack. Albeit, he did get lucky a few times, but Raycroft was very solid and gave the Avs a chance to win.

Which they did.

Ryan Smyth scored the first goal of the game after the review in Toronto said he did not intent to kick the puck into the net.

The Blackhawks tied it up in the second on a nice screen/deflection in front of Raycroft. It would go down as his only blunder.

In the third, Colorado broke the tie thanks to the now super-hot Wojtek Wolski. He has been getting major props since he became a center and he certainly deserves them. I can't believe we wasted this guy on the wing all these years.

The last minute of the game was a crazy flurry in the Avs end. The Avalanche couldn't seem to clear the puck and only when Raycroft smothered a shot from the point did the game seem safe to celebrate.

Much credit has to go to the defense. They played well for most of the game and really helped Raycroft out with his rebounds.

Also, the forechecking was great. There was one playing in the game where Chris Stewart was almost acting as "monkey in the middle" when he refused to allow the two Chicago defenseman to advance the puck out of their zone.

Good win. Fun win. Go Raycroft.

Now we look to today.

Raycroft will be starting against the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens are 3-7-0 in their last ten and have dropped to 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

Struggling or not, going up against Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby is no easy task.

I wonder if Brett McLean has any old friends on the Avs...

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ANDREW RAYCROFT SHOULD BE THE STARTER

Please let me speak. I never thought I would support Andrew Raycroft. Ever.

First of all, I'm in the habit of supporting every Avs play no matter what. I've made some exceptions in the past. Brad May, for example, is a player I despised.

Andrew Raycroft sucks. Don't get me wrong. But he's our best shot at making the playoffs.

LOL.

No, seriously.

I find it funny that Jibblescribbits happen to go on a rant about the supposed Avalanche goal controversy, but I couldn't help the timing. I needed to get this off my chest.

First of all, Andrew Raycroft is 7-1 this year while Peter Budaj 13-19.

Records are generally bogus, but I'll get to that in a second.

Raycroft has the edge in the GAA (2.71 compared to Budaj's 2.82) but Budaj's save percentage is slightly better than Raycrofts (.901 compared to .894).

The save percentages suck. .900 is the minimum that any good goaltender needs to reach in order to be proficient and the best goaltenders should be well above that.

Many will argue that stats don't tell the whole story.

The defense has sucked, the turnovers have been endless, and Marek Svatos is the best defensive forward on his line. That isn't really what a goaltender wants to hear.

Back to the records. For whatever reason, the team plays better when Raycroft is in net. In his eight starts, the Avs have scored 5 goals three times, four goals once, three goals once, and two goals in the other three games. Six of the games have been one-goal victories for the Avs.

This tells me that Raycroft is winning close games. Whether that's a random act of the defense playing better, or Raycroft playing weaker opponents, I don't know. Winning is the name of the game. I don't care how you do it. Budaj is 9-7 in one-goal games. That's not bad, but it's not great.

I'm not going to compare these guys to any other goaltender in the league. I could compare them to Jose Theodore, but that would be stupid. Theodore has benefited from playing behind a great team, and anyone who has seen him play knows that he is simply a shell of what he was last year.

Instead, I'll simply ask a question.

Why Budaj over Raycroft?

Budaj has never shown that he can be consistent. He has never shown that he can handle the #1 spot. He was given a chance last year. He lost it. He was given a chance this year. Instead of sealing the deal, he somehow managed to let Raycroft sneak into the equation.

There is no way the Columbus defense is that much better than the Avalanche. Yet, Steve Mason has been one of the best goaltenders in the league over the last month.

I just want to see Budaj string together some sort of streak where he is outstanding. I have yet to see it.

It's not Budaj's fault either. Maybe it is the defense. Maybe it is the system.

But Andrew Raycroft gives the Avs the best chance to make the playoffs because he is WINNING. Give him five or six games and see what happens. If the Avs go 4-2, then maybe we have something. If they go 1-5, then put Budaj in, call him your #1, and be glad you're getting a Top 10 pick next season.

Lets face it, neither of these goaltenders are the best candidates to lead this team to the Cup. I don't believe Budaj will ever reach that level. Raycroft's career has been in the toilet, but it was just a couple of seasons ago that he won 37 games. He is CAPABLE of reaching that level. Given the current state of the team, and the long odds that exist for making the playoffs this season, there is no reason why Raycroft shouldn't be given the chance to start five or six games in the coming month.

After a strong performance against the Predators, Raycroft will be in net tomorrow night against the Blackhawks. After Chicago, the Avs play Pittsburgh on Saturday. This presents the perfect situation to see what Raycroft is truly made of. Start him in both games. No matter what. See what he does. See how the team plays in front of him.

Shoddy defense. A craptastic offense. You can't win without goaltending. It's possible to win a game 1-0, but it's mighty tough to win a game when the opponent is scoring soft goals each and every night. Budaj hasn't shown me that he can eliminate soft goals from his game.

I like Budaj. From everything I've read and seen, he seems like a nice guy. I know that his record and his stats might not be a true reflection of how he has truly played this year. I know that I'm going to get shelled for writing this. But when I see a 7-1 record, I think it's stupid not to explore it. His stats aren't any better, so why is Raycroft winning? Lets find out. If Tyler Arnason is allowed to be the #1 line center for a few games, Andrew Raycroft should be allowed to start a few games.

Sit Darcy Tucker. Play Andrew Raycroft.

Give him a chance. See what happens. There is nothing to lose.

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The Last Two Games

I have a post to be published tonight that I'm going to get blasted for, so I'll make this one easier on myself.

In their last two games, the Avs were shut out by Minnesota (2-0) for the first time ever, and then managed to beat the struggling Nashville Predators 2-1.

Wojtek Wolski was brilliant last night with both of the goals and thus far, moving him to center has been a complete success. He's been great on the penalty kill and is working harder than I have ever seen him work during a game.

Think about this. Lets say after this season, Joe calls it quits. Is a Stastny-Wolski combo a viable option? Maybe. As long as Wolski keeps playing touch defense and driving hard to the net, I have no problem with it.

Brett Clark sucks. It's too bad Adam Foote is injured, because that means Clark is probably going to see more minutes on most nights. Against the Wild, the second goal scored by Nolan was completely Clark's fault, and I have developed a habit when the Avs are scored against. The first thing I do when Raydaj lets in a goal? Look for the ol' #5. If I don't see him, I blame Arnason. If Arnason is injured, I'll blame Quenneville.

Phillipe Dupuis was fun to watch last night. In for Ian Laperriere, Dupuis helped generate a couple of scoring chances and showed a lot of effort.

Andrew Raycroft has just one loss this season. That's the topic of tonight's post. Please don't hate me after you read it. Thanks. Bye.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Avs Bow to Jackets 6-1 - Granato Loses His Mind

I could spend this post whining about a 6-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Would I do that? Absolutely not. I'll only spend half of it doing that.

The other half will be dedicated to Tony Granato going bonkers.

First of all, we all have to remember that the top two centers are missing. Missing Stastny and Sakic leaves gaping holes in this team and if they're going to adjust, it won't happen overnight.

Also, the Avs happened to be running in to a hot goaltender last night. Steve Mason was on a three-game shutout streak, and the Avs were probably lucky to even get one.

However, I can't stand the fact that it appeared as though the Avs simply gave up last night. The defense stopped playing, Granato didn't pull Budaj, and the offense looked worse than the game the Ducks played against Iceland. (The first time around, of course.)

I could fill this post up naming guys who shouldn't be on this roster (Arnason, Clark, and Tucker are just three examples) but it's pointless. We should have kept Brunette. We should have signed a true third line center, and why can't we trade Brett Clark?

Anyway. Granato has apparently lost his mind.

Dater posted the lines for tomorrow night's game against the Wild, and to be frank, some of the changes are very peculiar.

Smyth-Hensick-Stewart
Hejduk-Wolski-Jones
Tucker-Arnason-Svatos
McLeod-Laperriere-Willsie

Jibbles already posted his thoughts on the changes, and I agree with most of his thoughts.

I will say that I wish Svatos was getting time on the second line with Wolski and Hejduk. Svatos excels when he can plant himself in the slot and take a pass from a linemate. Arnason and Tucker aren't prime candidates for that job. Put him with Wolski, Hejduk, or even Hensick and Smyth and see if Svatos can't put up some more goals this season.

I disagree with Jibbles in his assumption that Lappy's place on the fourth line means he won't be receiving as much ice time.

Even when Arnason was on the top line, he was still receiving the same amount of minutes as just about everyone else on the team. I expect we'll see the third and fourth lines receive very equal minutes tomorrow night.


Any team that can beat Detroit is capable of beating anyone. The Avs need to somehow find some consistency. If these lines work, that has a real chance of happening.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Barry Melrose's Absurd Generalizations

Sometimes I think there is nothing worse than hockey coverage on Versus. Then I watch the coverage it gets on ESPN.

Today, I was watching a lot of Barry Melrose on ESPNNEWS, mostly to satisfy my curiosity as to how much coverage the Winter Classic would garner (not much). What I got was 1% analysis, 99% generalizations.

Here's what I learned today from Barry....

Best Defenseman in the NHL...

Zdeno Chara

Most Dissappointing Team in the NHL...

Pittsburgh Penguins

Most Talented Team in the East...

Washington Capitals

A Team with Absolutely NO Weaknesses...

Boston Bruins

The "Slam Dunk" Coach of the Year...

Claude Julien

Best Puckhandling Goaltender in the NHL...

Mike Smith

Everyone thought...

...that San Jose was going to win the Stanley Cup

But then Chicago won 9 in a row, so everyone thought...

...that Chicago was going to be the best team in the West

The Best Team in the NHL Right Now...

Detroit Red Wings


I understand that Barry anchors the coverage for hockey on ESPN, and even if he is right on a few of these comments, I can't stand him telling me who the BEST team is or the SLAM DUNK award winner will be. Give me the information. Tell me that he is ONE OF THE BEST.

And sure, maybe I'm nitpicking the coverage. But every casual fan watching Melrose run his mouth now thinks that Zdeno Chara is better than, say, Nick Lidstrom. No questions asked.

I'll be keeping track of these generalizations from now on. Why? Because ESPN's hockey coverage gives me nothing else to talk about.

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Avs Lose, but Winter Classic at 1 PM TODAY

I missed the whole game. They shouldn't schedule games when most people won't be around hockey fans. In my case, I was in a room full of people who liked basketball, the Eagles, and apparently, hated the year 2008. I like hockey, and for the most part, I liked 2008. Oh well, I missed it all. The Avs lost. It's upsetting, but....

WINTER CLASSIC.

Today. YEAAAAAAH.

I guess Avalanche fans will root for the Wings because the Blackhawks are closer in the standings, but does any Avalanche fan really want to see the Wings not get embarassed on the national stage? I know I do.

Should be a fun event, a fun day. Everyone enjoy the first game of 2009.

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