Friday, April 23, 2010

Forget it - Lets Play Game 6

Forget the refs. Forget the 5. Forget the 0. Forget the single digit shot total.

Tomorrow night at 10 PM ET, the Avs play for their season. They have to walk into their home building and outplay the Sharks in every aspect of the game, a feat they really haven't managed since Game 1.

But they can do it.

All season, this team has been the underdog. They were supposed to finish 15th in the Conference, part of the "Race for Taylor Hall" in the 2010 Entry Draft. None of it went according to plan. The season start in Colorado, with a 5-2 victory over these very same San Jose Sharks.

The season will continue tomorrow night.

If there's one thing I've been confident in all year, it's in the way the Avs play in the next game following a beat down. Except for a few stretches, they've come out with energy, with renewed vigor, and in the early part of the season, almost never went two games without a point.

Someone needs to step up. Paul Stastny is the obvious candidate, but Chris Stewart and Matt Duchene have to put the puck in the net in Game 6. Mueller won't be back and Hejduk is a coin-flip at this point, so that means guys like Marek Svatos and TJ Galiradi will have to keep pressure in the offensive zone and make things happen in front of Evgeni Nabokov.

Craig Anderson needs to be great, but the defense in front of him needs to be better.

Win Game 6, and all of a sudden, the season is down to a do-or-die for both teams.

Get it done.
Go Avs.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Avs Lose in OT 2-1, Series Tied 2-2

As I watched last night's game, I kept thinking back to Joe Sakic Night. The season had just begun, starting a new era for Avalanche fans. On October 1st, Matt Duchene played his first NHL game, Ryan O'Reilly shocked Avalanche fans by being in the lineup, Chris Stewart shocked Avalanche fans by not being in the lineup, TJ Galiardi was slated as the fourth line center, Matt Hendricks and Brandon Yip were nobodies, and Kyle Cumiskey was just a small, fast kid who probably was seeing the 09-10 season as his last chance to make an impression.

Oh what a season it has been.

And it's not even close to over.

Despite a 2-1 loss to the top seeded Sharks last night, the Avalanche played perhaps one of their best games of the season. They were sound defensively, put consistent pressure on San Jose, and stood up to them physically - all without Milan Hejduk, Peter Mueller, Ryan Stoa, David Jones and Kevin Porter in the lineup.

Just some thoughts...

-I understand scratching Ryan Wilson, but I'm shocked that it was Salei, not Clark who was inserted into the lineup. Clark may be a turnover machine sometimes, but at least he can skate. I thought we were done with Salei after that miserable series of games in late March. Apparently not.

-The third and fourth lines have been IMPRESSIVE. The goals aren't coming, but the energy and hard work is really coming to the forefront. Matt Hendricks and Stephane Yelle played great games last night - banging bodies, winning faceoffs, and getting pucks to the net.

-O'Reilly has STEPPED UP.

-At long last, the Avs have found a goalie. Craig Anderson, if you didn't know by now, is the real deal. He will give the chance the Avs to make a run in these playoffs if the offense can somehow manage to score a few goals in the next couple of games. The first round is about surviving. Someone needs to put the puck in the net so as to not waste Andy's efforts.

-In an Avalanche fan's mind, TJ Galiardi and Rob Blake have become polar opposites this series. One is now beloved, the other was booed every time he touched the puck in the Pepsi Center. Figure it out.

-Someone needs to score
-Someone needs to score
-Someone needs to score

The Avs are right there - on the doorstep. SO CLOSE to a second round appearance. It's now a best-of-3 series and they just need to show the same effort they did in Game 4 two more times. It's possible. Believe.

Game 5 - Thursday 10:30 ET
Go Avs.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Anderson Perfect, Avs Lead Series 2-1

My two week absence has been a fun one. Having now arrived back from Disney World, I have finally dived straight into playoff hockey. After watching tapes of Game 1 and 2, I was pumped for Game 3 and it didn't disappoint. The game showed why a 0-0 game doesn't have to be boring. Craig Anderson was absolutely sensational. Fifty saves without allowing a goal in regulation - he deserved that fluke goal at the end, even if the Avs didn't.

My day actually started yesterday by attending my first playoff game - Devils @ Flyers. Terrific game, capped by a Danny Carcillo (one of my least favorite players) overtime goal. Incredible atmosphere to say the least.

That said, watching a packed Pepsi Center on TV was just as much fun.

Check out www.milehighhockey.com for a full recap, as I won't be able to do it better.

Expect posts pretty much every day for the rest of the Avalanche playoff run. I will be better.

Go Avs.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Playoff Hockey Coming Up

I was going to post that I'll be back full force for the playoffs, but I'm actually going to be away from Tuesday to Friday. So I'll miss a game or two. Unbelievable.

As you know, the Avs have clinched and have thus already wildly surpassed all expecations. Yes, they faltered down the stretch. Yes, they will probably finish 8th after being in the top 5 for most of the year.

So what?

The future of this team is incredibly bright. With Stastny, Duchene, Stewart, Galiardi, Yip, Mueller, Jones and O'Reilly leading the way, the Avs are going to be able to produce four strong lines every single season.

The key in the playoffs is to never stop believing. The San Jose Sharks choke like none other. The Avs seemed to not take that extra step after the Olympic break. They didn't know what March hockey is all about. No more excuses. If Adam Foote does anything as captain this season, he must demand 100% effort from this team. If they can play for 60 minutes, they CAN win.

Anderson will have to better, as will the defense in front of him. Hopefully, now that the team is in, they will be a much looser hockey club.

It's a general rule that teams must lose before they win. The Oilers in the 80s, Wings in the 90s, and just recently the Penguins all lost before winning the silver chalice. Don't expect a Stanley Cup, but don't expect a first round sweep either.

In any case... THEY MADE IT
Go Avs

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