Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ray Bourque: History Will Be Made

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Teams Are As Close As They Appear

Woah! Take a look at those standings:

5. Los Angeles Kings - 40 Wins, 85 Points, 15 Games Remaining
6. Colorado Avalanche - 38 Wins, 82 Points, 15 Games Remaining
7. Nashville Predators - 37 Wins, 79 Points, 14 Games Remaining
8. Detroit Red Wings - 33 Wins, 78 Points, 14 Games Remaining
__________________

9. Calgary Flames - 34 Wins, 77 Points, 14 Games Remaining


Summary:

We pretty much have four teams (Colorado, Nashville, Detroit, and Calgary) competing for the final three spots. Currently, the Avs sit in the best position of the four to secure a playoff bid, but the other three teams are starting to heat up while Colorado's play has remained inconsistent.

A quick glance at Colorado's remaining schedule reveals some bigger-than-gigantic games:

Wednesday, March 17: Calgary @ Colorado

Monday, March 22: Colorado @ Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 24: Los Angeles @ Colorado

Saturday, March 27: Colorado @ Phoenix

Friday, April 2: Calgary @ Colorado

Tuesday, April 6: Colorado @ Vancouver

Sunday, April 11: Los Angeles @ Colorado

Of the fifteen remaining games, seven are against clubs in line line to make the Playoffs. Those are the games that will determine who gets in. Of course, the Avalanche need to capitalize on the other eight games, as they fight teams who aren't bad enough to be fighting for the #1 pick, but aren't good enough to be in serious contention for the eighth seed.

Of the games I didn't mention, two are against San Jose and one is against Chicago. The Avs will also see Anaheim two more times. These are going to be tough games and more than likely, games the Avs are going to have to at least get a point out of.

On April 7th (Game 80), the Avs will head to Edmonton to face a team that will be hoping to lose out. That game will be the clincher. Calling it now.

We're about two hours away from puck drop against Dallas, and the message in the Avs' lockerroom needs to be that the team can't get by the rest of the way playing well one out of every two nights. There has to be a consistent sixty minute effort, and if the game is close in the third, getting at least one point is absolutely necessary.

Who will step up?
Go Avs.


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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stephane Yelle Returns!

Per Bob McKenzie via Twitter,

Stephane Yelle and Harrison Reed have been traded to Colorado for C Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll and a sixth-round pick, says Rutherford

Long-time Avalanche fans should be familiar with Yelle, the 35-year-old veteran formerly of the Hurricanes. Yelle won two Stanley Cups in Colorado and as Darren Dreger is now saying on TSN, it will be nice to see Stephane Yelle back in Colorado.

He's a faceoff guy, a penalty killer, and he'll add some grit.

Best case: He replaces Tucker on the 4th line. Love it.

No clue about Harrison Reed.
No clue about Lalonde-Whatever

Will be fun to see Yelle back in the burgandy and blue. Remember that two game stretch in the 01 Conference Finals? Someone find the tape. Yelle missed a wide open net in, I believe, Game 3, but redeemed himself by scoring the OT winner in Game 4.

I might be off on the numbers.

Still doesn't take the sting off the Wolski deal.
Go Avs.

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The Wolski Deal

By now you know that Wojtek Wolski has been traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for forwards Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter.

I am a Wojtek Wolski fan.

Most Avalanche fans on the blogosphere complain about his laziness, or is inconsistency, or his whatever.

But he's 24-years-old and is on-pace for about a 20-point improvement from last year. He's still a few years away from entering his prime, and if he lives up to his potential, he's going to be more than a point-per-game player.

In response to trade speculation about Kovalchuk, I wrote this about Wolski in January:

At just 23-years-old, Wolski has stepped up in a big way this year. With 45 points in 51 games, Wolski is just five away from his career high. He already has two more goals than last season, and his +/- has gone from a minus 13 to a plus 14. Though Avalanche fans consistently get on him for what appears to be a "lack of effort," Wolski has responded well to a couple benchings this year and even had his first fight a few games ago. In six years, it's unlikely he'll be an Ilya Kovalchuk, but he has all the tools to dominate as an NHL left winger.
Had the Avs gotten a difference maker back, I may be looking at this trade differently; instead,in comes Mueller and Porter.

Had you watched a Coyotes game before this trade, you would have undoubtedly forgotten that Mueller was in the lineup. In 54 games this season, Mueller has 4 goals and 13 assists.

4. Stinking. Goals.

This is down from 13 last year, and 22 in his rookie season. Mueller and Wolski are actually very similar. Both were hyped up when they came into the league, and both have failed to prove their advocates right.

Porter is an interesting player in the deal. He was taken in the 4th round of the 2004 Draft and went on to play four years in college. In 2008, he won the Hobey Baker. He did play 34 games with the Coyotes last season, racking up an impressive (not) 5 goals and 5 assists. This season, he's played four games and has no points to speak of.

Oh...I left out that he's a center. We so need one of those!

Interestingly, the Avs play the Coyotes Thursday night.
Oh crap. Lee Stempniak to Phoenix. Nice day for them.

My biggest problem with the deal is that it does nothing to help the Avs in the playoffs this season. I'm all for building for the future, but it's not like Tucker or Salei were involved in this deal. We traded youth for youth. That's all well and good, but it would have been nice if it could have made major difference in April and May.

To play Wolski out, here's a video from Hockey Day in Canada, previously postedo on this blog:

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blogger's Breakout Update

Earlier this year, I gave Fantasy Hockey Scouts two Avalanche players who I thought would "break out" this season. Recently, they did a mid-season review of my prediction.

Here's the article, and here's how I fared:

Wojtek Wolski
Blogger Prediction: 77 games 25+40=65
FHS Prediction: 78 games 21+33=54
On pace for: 82 games 22+40=62
After three straight seasons of declining totals... 50, 48 and 42 points it would have been easy to write off Wolski. But The Avslova Factor picked the big 20 point jump... almost to the point. Another great prediction by the bloggers.
FHS Grade: A+

David Jones
Blogger Prediction: 70 games 25+25=50
FHS Prediction: 76 games 14+14=28
On pace for: 44 games 19+11=30
After 19 points in 67 NHL games nobody (including us) was expecting much from Jones. The Avslova prediction looks a bit off, but that's thanks to Jones' torn ACL that will likely keep him out for the rest of the year. If Jones played 70 games he would have scored 48 points at that pace. A bit of bad luck in an otherwise great prediction.
FHS Grade: B+

Looking back, it's amazing to think that Jones probably would have surprassed my prediction had he been healthy all year. If he can get back for the postseason, that would be unbelievable huge.

As for Wolski, he's been his usual inconsistent self, but this season is definitely one he can build on in 2010-11.

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Avs Fall to Wings

The Avs had gone two weeks between losses.

Too bad they've still managed to lose two in a row.

It was a pretty crappy effort last night. TJ Galiardi and Chris Stewart both scored, and they were the guys I noticed for much of the night.

Stastny was invisible, though I give him a one-game pass considering it was barely 24 hours since he was given his silver medal.

Duchene was barely involved, while Wolski epitomized laziness with some the plays he made - at both ends of the ice.

On D, Ryan Wilson was the healthy scratch, as Ruslan Salei and John-Michael Liles were both in the lineup. Salei got an assist on Stewart's goal, but Liles didn't do anything to improve his stock. The power play (which he is supposed to be quarterbacking) was terrible.

Bad start to the home stretch. Twenty games left and the gap is closing. Avs are 20 points away from what seems to be the magical 96. Can they get back on track?

Trade deadline is tomorrow. Smart money is that two of Liles, Salei, or Clark are heading out of town.

Go Avs

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Avs Return, Take on Wings

How do you top the last week of hockey?

Oh - an Avalanche-Wings game.

This is the first game back for the NHL since the Olympics ended last night and is the only game on the schedule. That means that of the 27+ million people who watched the game yesterday, many of them may be looking to this game when deciding whether or not to be hockey fans.

Except for those with DirectTV. Oh well.

Paul Stastny and Brian Rafalski will be opponents after playing together for the last two weeks. Mike Babcock will also be in the building.

Word on the blogosphere is that Hejduk and Cumiskey are out. Hendricks is in, and either Liles or Salei will play.

It'll be interesting to see who gets the nod from Sacco. Salei was pretty decent in the Olympics, scoring a goal and logging a lot of ice time. On the other hand, the trade deadline is two days away and this is the last chance to showcase Liles.

My predicted lines:

Galiardi-Stastny-Stewart
Wolski-Duchene-Yip
McLeod-O'Reilly-Svatos
Durno-Hendricks-Tucker

Quincey-Hannan
Wilson-Foote
Liles-Clarke

Anderson
Budaj

Avs lost their last game before the break, and they need to get back on track quickly. There are 21 games left. Time to bear down.

9 PM ET - Versus
Wings Suck
Go Avs.

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