Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: The Year That Was [Video!]

Ironically, the 2010 calendar year was all about the future for the Avalanche. Highlighted by an unexpected playoff berth, Avalanche fans were treated to stellar performances by Craig Anderson, the journey to super stardom by Matt Duchene, and the realization that the new-era Avs are here to stay. Here's a collection of my favorite moments from the 2010 calendar year:

January 1st: Paul Stastny is named to Team USA's Men's Ice Hockey roster
Stastny centered Team USA's top line, helping them to a silver medal with a goal and two assists over six tournament games.

January 9th: Matt Hendricks lifts Avs over Sabres in an 11-round shootout
The Avs blew a two-goal third period lead before winning in dramatic fashion.

January 22nd: Wojtek Wolski fights (and defeats) Steve Sullivan
HockeyFights.com declared Wolski (one career fight) the victory by a wide margin.


February 2nd: Ryan O'Reilly scores two shorthanded goals on same penalty kill
TJ Galiardi assisted on both of the goals and put the game against Columbus out of reach.


February 10th: Chris Durno dives, ties the game at 3
Down two goals in the third, the Avs were able to tie the game and win it in OT to become the Northwest Division leaders.


March 6th: Chris Stewart records a hat trick, four-point night; Avs net 7 against St. Louis
Stewart's penalty shot hat-trick goal was the first penalty shot of his career. (Check out his second goal - a wicked hard slap shot).


March 14th: Anderson saves 48 in a 5-3 Avalanche victory
Anderson was spectacular for the Avs in 2008, and this game serves as a microcosm for what he did for the team last season.

March 22nd: Galiardi ties game with eight seconds to go, notches crucial point in playoff race
In 7th at the time, the Avs needed a point to avoid the possibility of falling out of playoff. position.


April 6th: Matt Duchene sends the Avs to the playoffs
In a fairy tale ending, rookie and long-time Avalanche fan, Matt Duchene, helps Colorado prove all the "experts" wrong by beating the Canucks to lock-up a Western Conference playoff berth.

April 20th: Anderson saves all 51 San Jose shots; Dan Boyle tallies an own-goal, Avs take the series lead 2-1
In Anderson's best performance as an Av (maybe in his career), the goalie stole the show. The game was capped by a memorable and embarrassing Dan Boyle blunder.


June 26th: Avs go off-board, draft Joey Hishon with 17th pick
Criticized heavily at the time, Hishon is tearing up Juniors as we speak.


October 7th: Stastny's OT goal helps Avs start 2010-11 season undefeated
The beginning of the 2010-11 season was about proving that last year wasn't a fluke. Great start.


October 26th: Liles sets new NHL record for assists by a defenseman to start a season
Liles began the season with a nine-game point streak. Oddly, he failed to record a point in Game 10 which featured six Avalanche goals.

October 31st: Budaj stones Rick Nash
Taking over for the injured Anderson, Budaj announced that he was capable of carrying the load.


November 12th: Greg Maudlin scores first NHL goal - shorthanded!
Maudlin is tenacious on the forecheck and has been a big bright spot this season on the fourth line.


November 15th: Matt Duchene drops the gloves
Dutchy fought for the first time in his NHL career, putting up a nice effort against St. Louis' Vladimir Sobotka.


November 17th: Shattenkirk scores his 1st, Porter nets a beauty in OT
A lot to like in this 5-4 victory against the Sharks. Some great calls by Mike Haynes.


December 13th: Avs defeat Blackhawks in dramatic fashion
After giving up the lead, the Avs scored three times in the final 2 1/2 minutes (highlighted by Tomas Fleischmann's three points) to win the game 7-5.


December 15th: Tomas Fleischmann records a natural hat trick against Chicago
If the Avs ever play the Blackhawks in the playoffs, Fleischmann can be counted on to deliver.


December 18th: Matt Duchene wins it in Ottawa
"Bang bang, it's in the net" - check out that goal celebration! Duchene's second game-winner in three nights.


December 21st: The Bang Bang Dance
Adrian Dater revealed the origins of Paul Stastny's and Matt Duchene's victory celebration. Hopefully we see this in June 2011!

_______

It has been a tremendous year. The Avs have an incredibly bright future, and it is certainly a fun time to be a fan of this team.

If I missed YOUR favorite moment, let me know! I'm always looking for more!

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter.

Happy New Year to all, and thank you for reading!

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Avs/Wings Bullet Points

4-3 OT loss to the Western Conference leading Detroit Red Wings tonight.
Bullet points in no particular order:

-If special teams didn't exist, I could make the case for the Avalanche to be the Stanley Cup favorites. But tonight they go 1 for 6 on the power play and give up three goals to Detroit's power play, including the game-winner.

-Matt Duchene continues to be the most clutch Avs since Sakic. When the Avs needed a goal tonight, Duchene was the one to do it with under three minutes to go in the game.

-Brutal night for Shattenkirk. He took a wicked hard slap shot straight to the face. He did end up returning.

-Speaking of his return, props to the crowd tonight. Booing Bertuzzi has become the norm at these games, and cheering when Shattenkirk touched the puck upon his return was good stuff. The crowds at the Pepsi Center have been great these last couple of weeks, and the players DO notice this stuff. Evidence: Matt Duchene's Twitter.

-Bizarre night of goals. Four goals were scored in the first, zero in the second, two apiece in the final ten minutes of the third, and then the OT winner.

-Avs had 23 shots in the second and nothing to show for it. They deserved better.

-Budaj continues to be average in net.

-Giving Chris Osgood his 400th win sucks. He's overrated and shouldn't (but probably will) be in the Hall of Fame when he finally retires.

-Anyone else sick of Haynes' and McNab's constant praising of the Red Wings? Their love affair with Osgood and Johan Franzen tonight was mind-numbing.

-Avs are in a four-way tie for fourth in the West with 43 points.

-Avalanche showed that they can keep up with Detroit. In the past few years, it has been Detroit that has dominated time of possession and shots, but things are starting to shift.

-Back in action on Thursday against the Oilers (9:30 ET) and New Year's Eve Friday versus the Flames (9:00 ET). Both teams are at the bottom of the Western Conference in points.

-Hope everyone is enjoying a great holiday season!

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Vote!

Not quite sure how/why, but I'm currently leading BallHyped's Blog of the Year Voting.

Look, I know it's somewhat of a joke, considering a real "Blog of the Year" contest would have a Puck Daddy or Mile High Hockey or any of the other thousand blogs that get more hits/comments than The Avs Factor does.

But then blogs like this (or any of the other ones on there) would never have a chance to win anything.

If you enjoy coming by to read every now and then, I'd appreciate the vote for avsfactor.com at this link: "This Link"

If not, that's cool, too. But Vote Hockey.

BallHyped rose to the scene after the popular Digg-like fell off the Earth. It's still growing and hopefully will become a go-to source for sports news in 2011.

Avs-Wings tonight.
The rivalry. Still. (Kind of) Lives.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowed In: Follow Me on Twitter!

Close to two feet of snow here in Philadelphia. This would have been a perfect night for an Avalanche game. Instead, I'm watching US-Finland in my second favorite hockey tournament of the year.

Follow me on Twitter because I want to inflate my ego with more followers!

I kid, I kid.

Anyway, I'll settle for a big time Avs-Wings game tomorrow night at 9 PM ET.

The Wings are at the top of the Western Conference, but an Avalanche win would put Colorado within just two points of Detroit's lead for the top spot.

Big game indeed.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Win Streak Ends at 6

All good things come to an end eventually.

In this case, Colorado six-game winning streak ended at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, a 5-0 loss last night at the Pepsi Center.

It was one of those games where nothing went right.

Last week's top two stars, Matt Duchene and Tomas Fleischmann, combined for just two shots on goal, and Duchene was a -3.

The Avs were sloppy, often losing the puck in the neutral zone. For the past couple days, there has been so much press about how fast the Avs are, and how their neutral zone play gives other teams fits. The Kings disrupted that and really tilted the ice all night.

You can't fault Craig Anderson entirely, but he hasn't been good this year. That's all there is to say. It's almost been the reverse of last season, as it has been the Avalanche offense that has saved the team this year, not the goaltending.

One loss is nothing to get upset about. Nor would a second straight loss be of much concern. A third straight? Then it's a losing streak.

Let's just hope that the Avs can right the ship and prove that last night was just an aberration.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Look How Tight The West Is

The Avs are in the midst of a six-game winning streak. They're 19-10-4 and are fifth place in the ENTIRE LEAGUE.

Yet, check out the Western Conference.

The eighth seeded Ducks have 38 points (4 points behind Colorado, but the Avs have three games-in-hand) while 12th seeded Blue Jackets are just 7 points behind the Avalanche.

This could end up being the tightest playoff race in history (it seems like we say that every year now) and if the Avs get too high on this streak, they could come crashing down extremely quickly.

Even keel. Keep it.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Back in the Saddle

In the midst of a five-game Avalanche win streak, I was in the midst of my first semester finals.

A lot of good stuff that I missed:

Bang-bang dance, epic comebacks, clutch Dutch, etc.

I've got nothing to do until January 17th so I'm back in the saddle for now.

Avs-Habs.
Make it 6.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

DUTCHY

Enough said.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Update

Finals have taken over my life; unfortunately, this continue until the 17th.

Stuff to look at around the Avalanche blogosphere:

Avs were bag skated after what was apparently a pretty lackluster effort in Florida. Too bad none of us got to see it.

Matt Duchene has a Twitter account. Will he use this newfound power for good or evil?

Solid Koci sweater purchase by Jay Vean.

And not to sell Cornell short:

Our goaltender, Andy Iles, was named to the US WJC Camp Roster. He will be the backup for returning gold medalist, Jack Campbell.

See you later.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Avs Trade Scott Hannan; Acquire Tomas Fleischmann


After the Avalanche acquired Matt Hunwick from Boston yesterday, I speculated that this meant the end of either Ryan Wilson or Kyle Cumiskey in Colorado.

Turns out I was wrong.

Goodbye Scott Hannan. Good luck in Washington.

Hello Tomas Fleischmann, #14, 6'1", 192 pounds, Left Winger/Center, scorer of 23 goals and 28 assists last season.
The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has acquired forward Tomas Fleischmann from the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Scott Hannan.

Fleischmann, 26, has tallied 10 points (4g/6a) with a +3 plus/minus rating in 23 games for the Capitals this season. In 2009-10, the Koprivnice, Czech Republic native set career highs in goals (23), assists (28) and points (51) in 69 games for Washington.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank Scott Hannan for his services to our organization and wish him the best,” said Avalanche General Manager/Executive Vice President Greg Sherman. “In Tomas we are acquiring a top-six forward who is only 26 years old. His addition will bolster our lineup immediately.”
The initial thought of giving up Colby Cohen and Scott Hannan (two semi-physical defensemen) in two days is mind-boggling. I was certain that this team couldn't get any smaller. Obviously I was wrong. Yeah, there was a definite need to ship one of the d-men because, as of today, the Avs now have eight potential starters (once Cumiskey returns).

For now, we're likely to see Joe Sacco roll with seven blueliners:

Liles, Foote, Hunwick, O'Byrne, Shattenkirk, Quincey, Wilson

They're certainly getting younger.

The newest addition to the Avalanche roster (sorry Mr. Hunwick, you only got that title for a day), Fleischmann was having a down year, with only 4 goals and 6 assists, on the absolutely stacked Washington Capitals.

The fans at Japer's Rink seem to like the move from Washington's perspective.

From a Colorado perspective, it seems pretty clear from Sherman's comments that he's focusing on improving the team RIGHT NOW. The Avs didn't address the need for a top left winger in the offseason and early on, they've suffered the consequences.

Due to these injuries, their hand has been forced.

Fleischmann is certainly intriguing. 23 goals is nothing to sneeze at. Last season, it would have tied him with Milan Hejduk for third on the team.

He is speedy but small, and he has never played more than 75 games in a season.

Fun Fact: Last year at the Pepsi Center, Fleischmann netted 2 goals

Only time will tell with these deals. They could end up biting the Avs royally. Hannan was a warrior, providing a lot of of leadership and solid defense in his brief period with Colorado.

I'll never forget the hoopla surround the signings of Hannan and Smyth a few summers ago. That experiment is over. Best of luck to #22 in Washington.
_____

Avs-Thrashers tonight. Will Fleischmann be in the lineup? If so, does he play with Stastny or Duchene?

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Avs Trade Colby Cohen


Slightly shocking news tonight as the Avs have acquired puck-moving defenseman Matt Hunwick from Boston for highly-touted Colby Cohen.
Hunwick, 25, has skated in all 22 games for the Bruins this season, tallying a goal and two assists with a +4 plus/minus rating. The Warren, Mich., native has appeared in 164 career NHL games, registering 45 points (13g/32a).

“Matt is another young defenseman who can contribute to our lineup right away,” said Avalanche General Manager/Executive Vice President Greg Sherman.
According to Hockey's Future,
Hunwick is a responsible player in his own zone. He is strong in his defensive positioning and decisive in reading his coverage as evidenced by his team leading +14 rating. He is an asset carrying the puck up the ice and is an integral part of Michigan’s transition game. On the power play, Hunwick moves the puck quickly and makes hard, sharp passes. His shot from the point is average at best.
So he sounds like another Liles, or Cumiskey, or Shattenkirk, or Holos.

The big plus for Cohen is that a) he had that killer slapshot from the point that the Avs have lacked since Rob Blake left town and b) he was the long-time defense partner of Kevin Shattenkirk, who is currently tearing it up with Colorado as we speak.

The two even combined for the game winning goal in the NCAA Championship two years ago: (Fast Forward to 8:57)


I really liked Cohen. He had a "mean streak" in his brief stint in the pros this season. Not to mention, the kid grew up in Villanova, PA. Shout out to Pennsylvania, here.

That said, Hunwick sounds like a competent player, and I have no doubt that this means Wilson or more likely, Cumiskey, will be out of Colorado by season's end.

We'll see how this plays out. Hopefully it's not another Johnny Boychuk-type fiasco.

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What Should the New Lines Look Like?

The injury list is almost too ridiculous to be taken seriously.

The names are huge:

-Anderson
-Stewart
-Winnik
-Galiardi
-Mueller
-Foote
-Cumiskey

The third highest scoring team in the league, the Avs are going be doing some major line juggling.

On defense, they're pretty much set.

Quincey, Hannan, Liles, Shattenkirk, O'Byrne, and Wilson

The debate between Jonas Holos and Wilson has already been covered. Are the Avs trying to showcase Wilson for a possible trade?

Or is Joe Sacco just making a huge mistake among a bunch of great decisions?

The forward lines are a little hazier.

Here's how I think it should look by game time:

Jones-Stastny-Yip
Porter-Duchene-Hejduk
Maudlin-O'Reilly-Olver
McLeod-Dupuis-Koci/Stoa

The top two lines remain dangerous. Yip will need to step up after a long stretch on the bottom two lines. The second line, in particular, will give opponents fits if Duchene is really starting to get his scoring touch back.

As for the third/fourth, it's all about survival. Olver has been having a great season in Lake Erie, and he probably deserved to start the season in Colorado, anyway. He should be called up.

Then the debate is probably between playing Koci and calling up the much maligned Ryan Stoa. How many more opportunities does Stoa get before the Avs dump him for a third round pick? Maybe one more camp - but this should only motivate him more if he does get the call.

As for David Koci - he offers nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Next Up

Atlanta. Winners of their last 5. An Avalanche win puts them 3 points behind conference leaders, Detroit. A loss could mean dropping to 11th or 12th.

Once again, it's all about survival.

Go Avs.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bettman, Daly, Among Speakers at Ivy Sports Symposium


Over the last 3-4 years, I've missed very, very few Avalanche games. This year, I don't have DVR capability so I have fallen a bit behind on my Avalanche current events.

The reason for missing last Friday's win against the Rangers is because I attended the 5th annual Ivy Sports Symposium at Princeton University.

The Symposium "aims to help students and professionals acquire invaluable knowledge about the business of sports from the most successful executives in the industry while also providing attendees a forum for debate and interaction"


My goal over the next four years is to position myself so that I will be able to enter the sports industry. I still haven't decided what that ultimately means, but this event gave me a wealth of knoweledge and tips, and presented a great platform on which I can explore my options and meet people who are living the life that I aspire to live.


The speakers at the event, which consisted of various roundtable disucssions ranging from "Athlete Marketing and Representation" to "Ownership and Finance" were as diverse as they are influential in their respective fields.


Hockey fans will recognize Commissioner Gary Bettman - who participated in the Keynote Roundtable - and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly as two of the most influential names on the speaker list.


It was an exciting day that started with the Keynote Roundtable at 10 in the morning. The moderator, David Falk (Michael Jordan's agent in the 90s) was joined by Bettman, Harvey Schiller and Peter Moore (President of EA Sports) in a discussion on lockouts, revenue sharing, paying college athletes, and more.

The first question posed to Bettman? You guessed it.

Will there be another lockout?

Bettman: "I don't know"

Much of the early part of the discussion focused on Bettman, as he defended the NHL's decision to shut its doors in 2004-05.

Bettman: "If you're going to have a work stoppage, you better fix your problems"

Bettman mentioned that the NHL is the only business to close for an entire year and live to tell about it.

"If you have problems, you better address them because they're only going to get worse.

Falk then asked, Did the Lockout work in hockey?

Peter Moore gave his perspective and, based on the numbers, "business has grown."

"[The NHL] fan base is the deepest and most-connected and is by far the most engaged of all [our] franchises, including Madden and FIFA."

Moore stated that EA is "much better off from the lockout as a licensee."

To all of this, Bettman jokingly responded, "Maybe we should re-negotiate."

The discussion shifted to the intercollegiate landscape.

Bettman made it clear that he wished that there were more D1 hockey teams because it helps with development.

When it came time to answer questions from the audience, the following was posed to Bettman:

What advice would you give to David Stern? (Commissioner David Stern of the NBA)

Bettman: "Try to make a deal, a fair deal that works for both sides, without a work stoppage."

"...must identity problems - don't make a deal for the sake of making a deal."

"...it sells fans short if you make a deal just to avoid a work stoppage"


On Bloggers:

My head definitely perked up a bit when someone asked about the role of the media in labor negotiations. Bettman expressed his concern that once something is blogged, it gets repeated and repeated, but the original blog wasn't factual in the first place.

Bettman: "The NHL doesn't have to rely on media"

He pointed out that he has his own radio show, where he can talk about whatever he wants and howeve he wants.

Bettman's Money Line:

"Hockey fans are the most intelligent, most affluent, and most tech-savvy."

Overall Thoughts: The hour or so discussion tried to put Bettman on the defensive with regards to the lockout. He's an exceptionally capable speaker and was able to lighten the roundtable considerably. He and Harvey Schiller had a couple nice jabs at each other.

After a couple lunch presentations, I chose to attend the "Athlete Marketing and Representation" roundtable which featured a lot of high-powered agents, but very little hockey talk.

The same held true for the "Marketing Agencies" roundtable which included Michael Levine of CAA sports, the company that represents Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the Sedins (among others).

Then the roundtable I was most looking forward to - "Leagues."

The panel had a representative from each of the four major sports (minus football due to a last minute cancellation by Mark Waller, the Chief Marketing Officer of the NFL).

Led by Tom Van Riper of Forbes Inc., Bill Daly, Bob Bowman (President and Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Media for Major League Baseball) and Joel Litvin (President of League Operations for the National Basketball Association) discussed the various issues facing each of their leagues.

I'll focus on Daly's answers:

Biggest issues with CBAs and Labor (outside of the obvious)

Daly discussed the advantage that the NHL has by having two more years to negotiate a new CBA. It is beneficial because they can watch the NFL go first. The "NHL will step back and observe how those negotiations play out." He referenced (eventual) new leader of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr, and how Fehr has made a career out of resisting salary caps.

Daly also mentioned that Fehr is very similar to former NHLPA Executive Director, Bob Goodenow. He pointed out that players currently get 57% of hockey revenue and that, from a player's perspective, the salary cap has been "a good system" and that the "average salary has increased."

On Digital Media

Daly followed Bob Bowman's answer about MLB's various live streaming and video options by talking about NHL GameCenter. He also asserted that "Digital media is one of the most important and most dynamic aspects" (especially in the NHL).

He discussed the decision of the NHL Board of Governors to invest in controlling each club's website and briefly explained about the dispute between the NHL and New York Rangers, who were the one team to vote against the Board of Governors.

On Domestic Expansion

Daly's money line was opening up his answer by explaining that he had just gotten a text on his Blackberry telling him that the league was planning on adding teams in Winnipeg and Southern Ontario. (HE WAS JOKING!)

In all seriousness, he flat-out said that the NHL had "no plans" for expanding.

On the possibility of relocation, he mentioned that the NHL has been stable, that they haven't expanded in 15 or so years. The NHL "takes seriously the commitment of fans and cities."

Without naming names, he went over the public litigation that ensued over Jim Balsillie's attempt to buy and move the Coyotes. He also announced that the "NHL is moving towards an ownership transition to give Phoenix a local owner."

Bob Bowman praised the NHL for doing a "terrific job" in the Balsillie case.

On Overseas Expansion

Daly bluntly said that the NHL is "not prepared to add European franchises" (at least in the near future). He did express that it COULD happen one day and that a large amount of traffic to NHL.com is from Europe. He mostly expressed that the NHL's interest lies in exposing Europe to the NHL game.

On the length of seasons

Daly and the others kept their answers short on this one. Leading up to the lockout, there had been some internal talk of a "play-in" round for the bottom two seeds in each conference, but that mostly was about generating additional revenue before the lockout. Since the lockout occurred, there has been NO talk.

On the Olympics

Daly provided background on the league's Olympic history - about the fact that the NHL currently shuts down the league for two or three weeks in the middle of the season. They started going in 1998 and for three times since then, have had differing experiences each time.

There are a lot of factors to the Olympic decision. Last year, 170 players were sent from the NHL.

YES, it's a great way to showcase hockey; but Daly expressed concern that there is no brand id with the NHL. The NHL has not seen a "tangible benefit from shutting down."

He mentioned that the clubs are "not keen on it" either. (Lost revenue at the busiest time of the season, possible injuries to players, etc)

There will be an agreement in the next CBA.

Highlight of my Day

As much as this event was about roundtable discussions between some of the industry's biggest names, it was also about networking and giving students the chance to talk to these "big names."

After his discussion, Daly made himself available in the hallway to shake hands and answer questions from a long line of students.

When I finally got my chance, I asked him how he would respond to a die-hard NHL fan's proposal that the NHL should let its players go to the Olympics, because the NHL owes it to its fans (who have stuck with the league pre and post-lockout) to allow for a competition every four years that showcases the best players in the world competing against one another.

As I told him, I understand that there are some definite disadvantages for the league, but after awhile, it can't all be about the money.

He responded by basically saying that the fan's opinion is extremely important, but it's not necessarily as clear cut as I was putting it (that most die-hards want the players to go).

I understand his point. There are a lot of hockey fans out there who already think the season is too long and ends too late. These are also the fans who want to cancel the All Star Game.

But the Olympics has provided lasting legacies for so many NHL players. Every true NHL fan knows about Peter Forsberg's postage stamp or Dominik Hasek's miraculous shootout performance against Canada in 1998. Even last winter, Ryan Miller became an instantly recognizable name in America because of his Olympic heroics.

By not allowing NHL players to play for their countries, the NHL is effectively ensuring that its own fans won't watch hockey in the Olympics (and this probably means no one else will either). How is that good for the SPORT of hockey?

Overall, I found Daly to be extremely personable and likable. (Mr. Daly, if you ever read this, I will absolutely accept a job offer)

The fifth annual Ivy Sports Symposium won't be the last, and I'm already looking forward to next year's event.

I believe that most of the discussions were video taped, so I will post links to the discussions with Bettman and Daly as they become available.

Until then, it's time to start focusing on your division-leading Colorado Avalanche, once again.

Go Avs and Go Hockey

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Duchene's First Career Fight



Was anyone else holding their breath throughout this fight? Last thing the Avs need is another injury - especially to one of the stars.

Looking for Marc Moser's call if anyone has it!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

DISGRACEFUL All Star Ballot Snubs


The NHL All Star balloting process is a joke.

Whether it's Montreal fans rigging the vote or guys like Rory Fitzpatrick having the chance to crack the starting lineup, the whole process is asinine.

Add a new chapter to the list.

The NHL released the names of the players to make the All Star ballot and Avalanche fans will notice a couple ridiculous snubs.

First, the three names of Colorado players nominated:

Anderson, Stastny, Hejduk.

Anderson is out and obviously won't be selected, but if you're going to include eighteen goaltenders, you have to make some questionable choices.

Stastny and Hejduk are second and third on the Avalanche in points respectively.

The Snubs

The most egregious name left off the list has to be Chris Stewart. Stewart is tied for third in the league with goals (10), only trailing Alex Semin (who also isn't on the ballot) and Steven Stamkos in that category. He currently sits twelfth in points (ahead of Stastny and Hejduk) and has three game-winning goals, tying him with eight other players for number one in the league.

Who is on the list instead?

Patrice Bergeron - 2 G, 7 A, 13 GP

Michael Cammalleri - 2 G, 8 A, 14 GP

Zach Parise - 3 G, 3 A, 12 GP (Although I guess someone from New Jersey has to make it)

Thomas Vanek 4 G, 5 A, 17 GP (And a beautiful -7)

I could go on, because Chris Stewart has been one of the best and most dominant forwards in the NHL this season. The fact that he doesn't have a chance at a starting position is ludicrous. If for some reason he isn't selected to the game at all, these cries will be louder.

John-Michael Liles

After starting out with an NHL record nine games with a point (all assists) to start the season, Liles has slowed down considerably. In fourteen games, he has eleven points (again, all assists) but this still puts him 13th in scoring among defenseman. He sits 15th in plus/minus, as well. He's certainly not a starter, but he deserves to be on the ballot.

Who's on instead?

Dion Phaneuf - 0 G, 4 A, -6, 11 GP

Mark Streit - WHAT GIVES NHL - HE'S NOT EVEN PLAYING

Seriously, Mark Streit is on the ballot. 0 GP, 0 G, 0A.

BRIAN FREAKING CAMPBELL: (See Streit, Mark)

If I'm John-Michael Liles, I'm sitting at home and wondering what drugs the people who put together this ballot were on.

Unbelievable.

The NHL can change the All Star Game all it wants. The new format promises to be exciting and intriguing. I love the idea of captains and a fantasy-esque feel to the game.

But it's stuff like this that irks me. We watch these young guys like Stewart or these now-sort-of veterans like Liles put together nice beginnings to seasons, only to not be recognized because the NHL decides they want the name recognition of a Brian Campbell or Mark Streit or Zach Parise.

It's write-in ballot time.

Vote Stewart. Vote Liles.

Go Avs.


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Avalanche Trade for O'Byrne; Bournival Heading Other Way

O’Byrne, 26, has skated in three games for the Canadiens this season, tallying no points and four penalty minutes. The 6-foot-5, 234-pound defenseman was Montreal’s third-round pick (79th overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft. He dressed in a career-high 55 games during the 2009-10 season (1g/3a) and also appeared in 13 of Montreal’s 19 playoff contests.

On Bournival: he was Colorado's third round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.

Hockey's Future has this to say:
Possesses the ability to play in all three zones and a no-quit, win at any cost attitude. Bournival might not be the most talented player available, but his work ethic and dedication will help ensure that he becomes a viable NHL prospect.
In other words, he's pretty much like every other Avalanche player. The organization has been drafting guys with "work ethic" and "dedication in all three zones" for years. That's why guys like Stastny, Duchene, O'Reilly, Yip, Hejduk, and Jones make up the forward corps.

Bournival certainly has potential, but it will be hard for any prospect to crack Colorado's top-9 in the coming years.

As for O'Byrne, he address a couple needs on the back end.

First, he's gigantic. 6-5, 234 pounds.

Second, he's a defenseman, something the Avs are ridiculously short of.

With the prospects - Shattenkirk, Holos, Cohen, and Liffiton - playing pretty well right now, it'll be interesting to see who sits and what this means for those who are injured, specifically Wilson and Cumiskey whose names appear to be on the chopping block.

O'Byrne has a cap hit of under a million, making him a perfect fit under current Avalanche management.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Peter Forsberg Reti-ATTEMPTING A COMEBACK!?

Adrian Dater is reporting that Foppa is going to give it one last shot:
“I will make a last, last, last try,” Forsberg told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, after playing in a charity game there. (the quotes are from the Google translation of the story).
“I’ll give a few weeks now and make a last, last, last try.”
Let's get over the fact that it isn't going to happen and assume that it does.

Is Colorado not the perfect fit for him? Forsberg's days at center are done, but he'd look really nice as a left wing to complement one of Colorado's scoring lines.

That said, I want Forsberg to go out with a little bit of dignity. It's time for him to hang 'em up and take his rightful spot in the Hall of Fame.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Future of Avalanche Defense

Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen

Coming into the season, the names were familiar.

Quincey, Hannan, Liles, Foote, Cumiskey, Wilson. Some of them have/had promise (Quincey,Liles, Cumiskey, Wilson) while others are seemingly on their last legs (Hannan, Foote) but Avalanche fans knew that a new wave was coming.

Thanks to an excellent job by the scouting department, the Avs have a bevy of defensive prospects in their system.

Shattenkirk, Cohen, Gaunce, Elliott, Barrie, Chouinard, Holos

Now, due to a ridiculous amount of concussions, Avalanche fans are going to get a taste of what the Colorado blue line is going to look like for years to come. With Foote, Quincey, Cumiskey, and Wilson all out, the defensive group against Calgary tonight will look something like:

Hannan-Shattenkirk
Cohen-Liles
Liffiton-Holos

Of course, I'm completely guessing on the actual pairings, but the point is, the Avs now have a young blue line to match their youth up front.

I think Adrian Dater made a terrific point in one of his latest blog entries:
But anybody who watched Saturday’s 5-0 Avs win over Dallas had to be struck by how much fresher the team’s defense looked with Cohen and fellow rookie Kevin Shattenkirk in the lineup. With the addition of just two guys, the Avs’ defense went from the stale, predictable unit to one that had youthful enthusiasm and, most of all, flashes of some great talent that, with more experience, should continue to grow.

One of the biggest complaints about our so-called "veteran" D is that they turn the puck over in the zone too often.

In other words, these vets were making rookie mistakes.

Another one of their downfalls - getting the puck (effectively) on net - is fixed by playing the youths. Cohen is notorious for his booming slap shot and Liffiton, in his brief stint thus far, has shown that he can let it fly as well.

They'll be tested tonight against Calgary. Without Craig Anderson, the Avs are pretty much putting out a B+ team.

Lets see if they can handle it.

Go Avs

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shattenkirk to Debut Tonight

Colorado's highly touted 2007 first round draft pick will make his debut with the big club tonight.

I can't wait to see what he can do for the power play. His defensive game will obviously be a little - uh, cringe worthy - to start out, but I have a feeling that Coach Sacco will limit his minutes unless the Avs have the man advantage.

Part of the future has arrived, ladies and gentleman.

Game time is 9 PM ET versus the Nucks.

Go Avs!

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Avs Win Barnburner

It was 3-1 Calgary when I left the room.

It was 3-3 when I got back. Chris Stewart had scored a hat trick. Then Calgary scored.

So I left the room until the third period started.

By now you've heard the tidbits:

-Chris Stewart hat trick
-Three assist game for Ryan O'Reilly
-John-Michael Liles' point streak snapped
-Daniel Winnik game-winner
-Kyle Cumiskey was a +3 despite possibly earning a possible healthy scratch for being absolutely terrible

______

Peter Budaj wasn't terrible last night (the majority of the goals were not his fault) but the defense continues to struggle and Budaj isn't going to bail them out as much as Anderson does. No matter what, though, this SHOULD NOT be the defensive group at season's end. A trade or signing or something must change.

Kyle Cumiskey is in the doghouse right now and if given the option, I think most Avalanche fans would want to be rid of him. The critique on him has always been that he's a poor-man's Liles. Now that #4 is finally playing well at the beginning of the season, Cumiskey is expendable. This is especially true if you consider that Shattenkirk, Cohen, and Gaunce are all likely to be with the Avs either next year or the year after.

Next game's scratches are going to tell me a lot about where Joe Sacco's head is. I want Cumiskey scratched, I want David Liffiton (see below) in, and I want Chris Stewart to keep playing out of his mind.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Believing

It's not that I don't believe in Peter Budaj. I like the guy - a lot. From all accounts, he's a great teammate, a tremendous worker, and the absolute perfect backup for Craig Anderson. But that's what he is.

A backup.

He had his shot as a starter, and though he had his good games, he was never the guy who made me feel like he could carry the Avs to a Cup one day.

Word from Denver is that Anderson is out indefinitely, but no surgery is needed and he shouldn't be out too long.

Luckily, the Avs schedule isn't brutal at all for the next week or so. After tonight's game at Calgary (in which an unknown rookie is starting - great), the Avs play Columbus in Colorado on Saturday. Then they have a four day rest before facing the Canucks again. Will Anderson be back that soon?

Hopefully, but probably not.

Then again, I honestly have no clue. After that Nucks game, the Avs play Dallas next Saturday and then have another four day break.

So even if Andy is out for the next two weeks, that's only four games in which Budaj must hold down the fort.


Oh, the chances that John Grahame sees any action whatsoever?

Absolutely nil.

Unless Joe Sacco goes bananas. I don't want that man anywhere near the crease unless he's in a practice jersey.


Puck drop in about 90 minutes. Avs are three points back of the Flames for the division lead. It's only been a few weeks, but let the playoff chase begin.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dropping Like Flies

With 9 minutes left in the third period (Avs down 3-2), here are the injuries that have occurred this game:

-Craig Anderson
-Scott Hannan
-John-Michael Liles
-Paul Stastny

Holy crap.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Woe is Andy

Solid picture of Anderson during LA's fifth goal.

Unbelievable.

After Wayne Simmonds was thrown out and given a five-minute major for butt-ending TJ Galiardi, the Avs looked poised to tie the game at four and hopefully surge ahead.

Well, they tied the game - and congratulations to John-Michael Liles for tying the NHL record in assists to start a season, as well as participating in his second fight ever - and then they proceeded to blow it.

But to be honest, it wasn't really the team that blew it. On the most boneheaded play by Anderson we might see (hopefully) all season, he tried playing a puck (something he shouldn't do anymore), gave the puck away to former-Av Brad Richardson, and failed to get back in his net in time to stop the shot.

A couple minutes later he gave up another weak one...to Brad Richardson. Hello Hat Trick.

A Brad Richardson Hat Trick. What are the odds?
Crap.

6-4 Kings - yet another third period screw up .

I think it goes without saying that Anderson is out for the next game on Tuesday night against the Canucks. I think it also goes without saying that he's going to be break something in the locker room. Lets hope it's not his hand - we still need him, despite the fact that he screwed up royally tonight.

Sickening loss.

Positives:

Two assist night for Dutchy.
Three point night for Staz (2 goals, 1 assist).
Two goal night for Duke.
Jonas Holos: 26 minutes of ice time = even +/-

.500 hockey.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Early Season Third Period Play


If you've watched the Avalanche over the last, say, 3-4 seasons, you know that the third period has basically been re-named "hold on for dear life." It's come to the point where I'd rather see the Avs tied or behind after forty minutes then in the lead. Of course, that's a bizarre statement. I want to see them ahead every single time at every single point. Still, lets see if it's as bad as I'm making it.

So far this season, games seem to be turning on what has transpired in the third. A look:

Game 1 - Chicago

After two periods, the Avs held a 3-2 advantage; however, halfway through the third, they allowed the Blackhawks to tie the game on a Patrick Sharp power play goal. Colorado took two penalties while the Blackhawks took none. The Avs would prevail in OT.
Shots: 14-14

Game 2 - Philadelphia

Trailing 2-1, the Avs didn't waste any time tying the game thanks to a Milan Hejduk goal just thirty seconds into the period. Unfortunately, an almost-fluke goal by Jeff Carter followed by an empty netter made the Avs go home as losers. The Avs took two penalties (including the bizarre Anderson for diving call).
Shots: 13-9 Flyers

Game 3 - Detroit

Again, the Avs trailed entering the third (3-2) and again, Daniel Winnik did not waste time evening the score at 4:43. After allowing a shorthanded goal to Patrick Eaves just three minutes later, the Avs refused to quit and tied the game with nine minutes left. Colorado won in a shootout. Two Detroit penalties, zero for Colorado.
Shots: 14-13 Detroit
*Detroit outshot Colorado 8-1 to end the period*

Game 4 - New Jersey

Up 2-1 and then 3-1, the Avs seemed poised to finally show some killer instinct and put the Devils away. Alas, Ilya Kovalchuk made things interesting with a goal at 8:49. For the period, the Devils outshot the Avs 16-7 and absolutely deserved to win this game. Had it not been for Anderson, this would have gone down as another third period cough up. Still, Avs win 3-2. One Avalanche penalty - a fighting major to Adam Foote.
Shots: 16-7 New Jersey

Game 5 - New York Islanders

This time, the collapse happened in the second as Colorado fell behind 3-0. They battled, making it 3-1, only to fall behind 4-1, only to battle again to make it 4-2 with ten minutes to go. They couldn't capitalize, eventually allowing an empty net goal. Two Avalanche penalties.
Shots: 13-8 Colorado

Game 6 - New York Rangers

The best third period of the season by far. They built on their 1-0 lead to make it 3-0 thanks to goals that were 30 seconds apart by Winnik and Chris Stewart. One penalty taken by Colorado.
Shots: 14-13 New York

Game 7 - San Jose

Down 3-1, the Avs got back into it after a Milan Hejduk PPG. The equalizer could not be found. Three Avalanche penalties in a game that was just ridiculous.
Shots: 10-7 Colorado


OVERALL

When Trailing Heading Into Third: Outshot 47-40, Record of 1-3
When Leading Heading Into Third: Outshot 44-34, Record of 3-0

Obviously it's pretty early, but I think that the records here are misleading.

The Avs are getting outshot in the third period (overall) by a margin of 91-74. Yes, they're holding leads, but they're also putting much more pressure on their goaltender to do so. It's even more disturbing if you look at how they've been outshot.

In New Jersey, it was by a 16-7 margin. The Avs should have been in firm control of that game. Up 3-1, you're supposed to continue to skate hard, continue to put the puck on net, and continue to do everything that made you successful.

In Detroit, they battled to tie the score, and it looked like the final blow when Eaves scored that shorthander. But they were resilient, and thanks to David Jones, tied the score. Colorado should have had the momentum and they should have been able to build on that goal. Instead, Detroit took it to them, outshooting them 8-1.

So many of the games this year have been one-goal affairs. As we progress deeper into the season, the teams that move ahead of the pact are going to be the ones that win these one-goal games. How do they do that? They keep fighting and they show some killer instinct. If there's one thing this young Avalanche roster is lacking, it's that killer instinct.

How many empty net goals have we seen? Now compare that to how many failed clears there have been in the final minute.

This is practically the same exact group as last year but minus the dead weight that was Tucker and Svatos and Clark. There are no excuses for not being able to perform late in the game. Again, this is more about performance than it is about record. In the Western Conference, every point is crucial. Getting games into OT (at the very least) might be the key to a playoff appearance.

As it stands, Colorado is 4-3. It's too early to tell much of anything, but it's clear that this group isn't for the faint of heart. Hopefully they'll grow this season and learn how to put games away.

It'll make things a lot easier on all of us.


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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Absurd

There won't be many games that this blog complains about the refs - but they literally just handed the Sharks an empty net goal.

A lot of questionable calls tonight. Avalanche radio announcer Marc Moser had a golden line:

"I mean, really, they're [the Sharks] just the most well-behaved team in the National Hockey League"


Some analysis tomorrow probably, but mostly just a sour grapes at this point. Avs are going to feel like this one was robbed from them, but they just couldn't put pucks in the net. They had several opportunities but couldn't cash in.

Broken sticks, questionable penalties, and a fluke empty net goal.

Not a great night.

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If you break your stick..

...go to the bench and get a new one.

Simple as that - no questions, Peter McNab and Mike Haynes. The "stickless player" is a fish out of water anyway, he may as well hurry up and get another one - it's a 5-on-3 situation either way.


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Friday, October 15, 2010

A Tale of Two Games: Flyers/Wings

Starting with the Orange and Black, it was a nice experience in Philadelphia. I was sitting right in front of the player introductions and Eastern Conference Championship banner and was booing my heart out. Unfortunately, I think most of us saw the ultimate result coming when the Avs tied the Flyers in the third and then took that tie to the sub-10 minute mark.

What is it about this team that they can't get games to OT? Last year, the excuse was that they were young and new coach Joe Sacco was still figuring things out.

Guess what - they're still young, but this group has now had a full season together. They should have an idea of how to play in the third period. These are the kind of games you look back on when the Playoffs are just a point or two away in April.

Also, a really nice ovation for Ian Laperriere before the game. Not sure if it was shown on TV, but I have a video that I'll upload soon.

Onto the Wings - complete reversal.

Detroit was up three? times, and the Avs continued to dig and battle back.

Huge game by David Jones. Two goals and an assist. Pray he stays healthy.

Cutting these comments short because it's been too long a gap. By now, you've read everything there is to read.

Overall, letting up ANOTHER shorthanded goal was like being shot in both feet and the knee; but at the end of the day, a win over Detroit will always feel satisfying.

Next Up

TONIGHT - @NJ Devils at 7 PM ET.
Go Avs

Highlights


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Monday, October 11, 2010

Avs-Flyers: In Attendance

It sucks playing teams when it's their home opener. They're always pumped, the crowd is rockin', and it makes the game that much more difficult.

The Flyers not only have their home opener tonight, they also will be celebrating their 2010 Eastern Conference Championship with a banner raising.

Broad Street Hockey has an interesting post of how the Flyers have fared after past banner raising ceremonies.
On nights when the Flyers raise a significant banner into the rafters with a dramatic post game ceremony, they're 4-3-1 in their history. If history does indeed mean anything, and tonight's ceremony suggests that yes, history means a hell of a whole lot around here, well... we don't know what to expect. In this instance, history doesn't tell us much at all.
In other words, there's no trend to suggest one thing or another.

It's all pointless anyway. This is a new Flyers team. It's new Avalanche team. Lets go to war.

I'm sitting third row in some section in the Avalanche attacking end. Hopefully they can control the puck so there's something to cheer about down there.

Not sure if I'm rocking the Foote or Stastny jersey yet. A better choice might be to wear my "It's all about Lappy" shirt, as that might let me come back alive from the newly christened Wells Fargo Center.

Early season games are all about racking up points. It was huge that the Avs survived to OT with the Blackhawks on Thursday night. Getting the extra point was even bigger.

Back-to-back with Detroit tomorrow. They better not be looking ahead. One game at a time.

I'm ready.
Go Avs.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Same Old Crap (But We'll Take It)

"For me, some of those guys were like gods to me"

It was a magical night at the Pepsi Center. In honor of the 15th Anniversary of Denver's first major sports championship, the 1996 Colorado Avalanche team was honored with a ceremony at Center Ice.

Too bad Versus didn't show it.

Major Gripe #1:

It's opening night and there's a big time ceremony coming on. It's the late game - so only fans of Chicago and Colorado are conceivably watching, and even if there are others, screw it, cater to the fans of the two teams who are set to play.

Why did I have to sit through a montage of the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup run, followed by discussion on whether the Avs can "exceed expectations" again, when some of hockey's all time greatest players are being honored.

Speaking of which, check out those cheers for Roy, Forsberg, and Sakic. Amazing to see them back.

More video should be popping up shortly, I'm sure.

The Game

A couple notes to mention:

Two roster changes from what was expected:

Ryan Wilson got the start over Jonas Holos.
Mark Olver played on the fourth line in place of Philipe Dupuis.

The Avs were flying early, and it probably could have been 1-0 or 2-0 in their favor; alas, the Blackhawks got the opening goal on their first of seven power plays.

The Avs stormed right back. Three unanswered goals including a sick move by Chris Stewart:

Absolutely nasty. You knew he was going to score when he stormed in with that speed. He's a beast, and he's going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.

As for the other Avalanche goal scorers, they were exactly who you wanted them to be. Matt Duchene got on the board during a delayed penalty thanks to a beautiful cross-ice pass by Adam Foote. Later in the period, Paul Stastny added a power play goal to make it 3-1.

Then the horn sounded. And it all went to the dumps.

Major Gripe #2

I sent a text out to one of my friends, a casual fan, who was excited by the Avs' taking a two goal lead.
"They blow more third period leads than I can count...need a fourth to make me feel safer...two goal lead = most dangerous in hockey"

I don't have the stay on how many leads the Avalanche have blown in the third the last couple years, but the number has to be near the top of the league. To be fair, they did a somewhat better job last night. Instead of being outshot by double digits, the shots were even in the third at 14 apiece. (Avs outshot the Hawks in the game 41-38.)

Still, it's disheartening to not be able to feel any sense of comfort or relief when this team goes up by two with only twenty minutes to play.

In any case, opening night went to OT, and to be frank, it was a relief to get a point. A fourth goal allowed in the final minute would have been devastating.

In OT, the teamwork of Stastny and Duchene got me thinking of the ol' Sakic-Forsberg combo. Was it running through their minds, too? Did Sacco feel the energy?

Fast forward to the 2:00 mark.
Beautiful teamwork and a brilliant pass by Dutchy.

Interesting game to say the least. Once again, this is going to be an exciting club to watch, and it already looks like the chemistry has grown from last season. They look comfortable with each other, and there were times when they did a much better job possessing the puck in the offensive zone.

Some Other Notes:

-TJ Galiardi but he did a lot of things well. A few key penalty kills, and he also drew a penalty when he attempted to split the Chicago defense. He also had the third most ice time behind only Liles and Stastny.

-Ryan O'Reilly had seven shots on net. Keep shooting.

-Brandon Yip was somewhat invisible. Least amount of ice time outside of the fourth line guys, Olver, Porter, McLeod.

-JM Liles played 26+ minutes and deserved all them.

-Mark Olver definitely wanted his name on the score sheet. It was very disheartening to see his first NHL shift end up in the penalty box.

Three Stars:
1. Paul Stastny - Two seasons ago, he had a hat trick on opening. This year, we'll have to settle for two goals and the game winner. He has his naysayers, but Stastny is legitimate.
2. Chris Stewart - Initiated the energy for the Avs, five shots on net, and added a secondary assist on Stastny's first goal.
3. TJ Galiardi - No points, but very impressive nonetheless. It pains me though to realize how good this team would be with a legitimate top line left winger, leaving Gali to the second and third line where he probably belongs.


Solid start. 1-0. On pace for 164 point. Should be good enough for a tie in the Presidents' Trophy race.

Next Up

Monday, 7 PM ET, at Philadelphia.

I'll be there. The Flyers have a rookie goaltender starting who shut down the Penguins. Can't wait to see this.

Hockey is back and it feels good.
Go Avs

Photo credit: Jack Dempsey/AP

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thoughts on a New Season

Since 1997, I have not missed an Avalanche-Flyers game in Philly. This year, however, looked to be a streak killer.

Thrown away to the "middle of nowhere" (Ithaca, NY), it appeared as though I'd be unable to attend Philly's home opener aka banner raising ceremony aka the game against the Avs.

Alas, it dawned on me last night that I would be on Fall Break and that the streak could continue.

With that, I'll be sitting third row in the attacking end next Monday night, rooting for our team to get their (hopefully) second win of the season.

The pre-season is over. Real hockey is upon us again. Some things I'm thinking:

-Avalanche players I'm most excited to watch? Chris Stewart, Ryan O'Reilly, Brandon Yip, David Jones.

-Joe Sacco needs to do something about these last second goals. It happened in the last two games of the pre-season - the Avs losing on goals scored in the final couple minutes - and it haunted the team last year. Tighten up the D.

-Hopefully the defense gets better because it's a really likable group on paper.

-Can Craig Anderson do what he did last season? No, but only because Peter Budaj will get the chance to play at least 20 games.

-The Avs probably won't go to the Cup this season, but a second round appearance is certainly feasible.

-The Vancouver Canucks will not win the Cup, either. They're the trendy pick this season, but it's not happening. Roberto Luongo has proven crap since he's been a Canuck and has shown no indication he can carry a team to the Finals.

-The New York Islanders will make the Playoffs this season, Losing Kyle Okposo hurt, but the Isles improved dramatically at the end of last season, and there's no reason why John Tavares can't pick it up in his sophomore year.

-Who will miss the Playoffs in the East? Every team in the Southeast except the Capitals and Lightning. Also missing will be the Maple Leafs, Senators, Rangers, and the Canadiens.

-And in the West? Deepest apologies to the Blue Jackets, Flames, Wild, Oilers, Coyotes, Stars, Red Wings, and Blues.

-Red Wings and Flames missing the playoffs? Avalanche fan's wet dream. But the Wings almost did the unthinkable last year with that dreadful start. Don't look for such a significant rebound if it happens again in 2010-11. As for the Flames, I'm not worried about Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay part 2.

-The Penguins-Capitals Winter Classic will be the most watched Winter Classic game so far. Some people are pissed at the league for giving the Pens a second bid to the game, but would anybody have passed up on the ratings bonanza that's going to ensue? I'm sick of Ovechkin-Crosby as well, but I still enjoy watching the Penguins-Capitals games every season. Maybe we'll even see Evgeni Malkin vs Ovechkin.

-Hart: Alex Ovechkin
-Richard: Alex Ovechkin
-Art Ross: Evgeni Malkin
-Vezina: Ryan Miller
-Norris: Shea Weber
-Calder: Magnus Svensson
-Jack Adams: Guy Boucher

-Yeah, ok, so I'm boring and going for the obvious picks. Lets be real, though. Crosby and Ovechkin will compete for the Hart until one of them sees significant injury time.

-Some highlight videos for the road:

Courtesy: Archertom

Courtesy: aviddvj

Courtesy: zone93


Four days away from the continuation of the new era in Avalanche hockey.

Are you pumped?

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hockey. Is. Back

The pre-season has never been this exciting for me, but the youth movement is in full force, and I CAN'T WAIT to see this third line of Jones-O'Reilly-Yip.


The biggest thing to keep an eye on over the next few days is how the fourth line is shaped. It seems to be a given that McLeod and Winnik have their places set. That leaves Kevin Porter and Ryan Stoa (and any other wildcard) battling it out for the final spot. These games could have a lot to do with it, and based on training camp reports, Stoa could have the upper hand.

Puck drop for the Avalanche-Blues will happen in about one minute from now. Check out this site for a radio broadcast of the game.

Good to be back!

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

NEWS!!!!! Avalanche Sign Stewart

It's been a long, long time since I've posted - and to be fair, there's been nothing to post about.

The cloud hanging over the Avs the entire offseason has been their inability to sign Peter Mueller and Chris Stewart.

They took a big step to showing fans the sunshine by announcing that they have signed Chris Stewart to a two-year six million dollar deal.

Whether you think the dollar amount is too high or that the years are too low, consider:

a) He led the team in goals last season (28) and only started to really play in December

b) Though not technically considered a rookie, last year was his first true season in the NHL

c) He has the potential to be one of the best power forwards in the game starting next season.

d) The Avs had to hit the cap floor eventually

In a perfect world scenario, Stewart will score 35-40 goals next year and immediately be locked up for the next 5-6 years. Hopefully that's the case.

Consider this the welcome back post to the blog. I've taken my talents to Cornell University, so I may be providing some college hockey commentary throughout the season.

We're a little under a month away from the regular season. I'm ready. Are you?
Go Avs.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yip Signs Two-Year Deal



The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has signed forward Brandon Yip to a two-year contract through the 2011-12 season. Yip was a restricted free-agent.
The Site


Yip came out of nowhere last season after spending a full four years at Boston University. Upon being called up to the Avs, he made an immediate physical impact - and then he started scoring.

A freakish 16.9 shooting percentage lead to 11 goals in 32 games for the rookie.

CapGeek.com is reporting that the two-year deal is worth 1.45 million - just a 725,000 dollar cap hit.

Well done, Mr. Sherman.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Nice to Know Ya - Brett Clark Signs w/ Tampa Bay

TAMPA - After a quiet weekend, the Lightning returned to work on Monday signing unrestricted free agent defenseman Brett Clark to a two-year contract.

The team was expected to announce the deal later Monday. The salary is reported to be $3 million per year.
Tampa Bay Online


As expected, Brett Clark's time in Colorado will not continue into the 10-11 season. For three million dollars, I'm glad that's the case.

Clark was servicable in his time here and was put up with mostly because of his shotblocking.

Last season, Clark was completely absent offensively (three goals) and was the odd man out in the playoffs, appearing in just one game.

The Avalanche defense looks set with:

Foote
Hannan
Liles
Quincey
Wilson
Cumiskey

Depending on who you talk to, you're likely to also hear the names Shattenkirk, Gaunce, Cohen, Elliot, and Barrie thrown around as well.

Best of luck to #5..hopefully his time in Tampa is fruitful.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Avs Dormant in Free Agent Madness

On a day that has seen Sergie Gonchar go to Ottawa, Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen back to Calgary, Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malhotra to Vancouver, Ray Whitney to Phoenix, Paul Martin to Pittsburgh, and Anton Volchenkov to New Jersey, the team in Burgandy and Blue has remained extremely quiet - to the tune of not doing anything.

No re-signings.
No signings of any kind.
No trades.

Dater is reporting that Matt Hendricks is all but gone, which is sad because I think he was becoming a fan favorite at the end of last season.

Besides Calgary and Vancouver, the rest of the division has stayed quiet. Minnesota lost Derek Boogaard to the Rangers earlier in the day.

Ilya Kovalchuk is still unsigned.
Go Avs.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Avs Draft Joey Hishon? with the 17th Overall Selection



The Avs pulled off a shocker with the 17th overall pick, selecting 5-10 center Joey Hishon from Stratford, Ontario.

With Emerson Etem and Austin Watson on the board, many Avalanche fans likely were thanking the heavens that two of the top prospects were still available, but Greg Sherman apparently didn't agree.

Considering the amount of small centers already in the system, the pick doesn't seem to make much sense. Add that to the fact that Hishon had - according to the TSN crew - a "disastrous season" with a broken foot and knee injury, and it seems like one of the most injury-proned teams in the league just added another headache.

Hishon was ranked 46th by TSN and it seemed like Bob McKenzie and Pierre McGuire had no clue who they were talking about when they heard his name.

Check out this article from NHL.com posted about Hishon a few months ago.

"He's a very skilled player," teammate Steven Shipley said. "He's got a great set of hands on him, he's always competing. He may be a little guy but he goes to the big areas of the ice and he comes out with pucks more often than not."
Still, on a team with Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, and Ryan O'Reilly, where the heck does this kid fit? Can he play wing? Is he even big enough to matter on a top two line?

As of 9:40 ET, Austin Watson has gone #18 to the Predators and I'm sure Etem will soon find a home with one of the next few teams.

Very peculiar start to the draft. The Avs do make a good amount of picks tomorrow so there is room to make up for this head-scratcher.

Of course, I am but a lowly blogger. Who am I to go up against the Avs scouting team?

Oh yeah - I have common sense. Small. Injured. Center. Not good.

I hope I eat my words in five years when Hishon is tearing it up in an Avalanche uniform. It's tough to envision, though.

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