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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