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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