Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Avs/Hawks Pre-Game Thoughts // All-Star Game Preaching

I'm going to try to stop saying "big game tonight" or "big win for the Avs" because at this point in the season, every game is a big game. It's simply too tight in the West to give up two-goal leads in the third or to not force games into OT or to not shut the door when a game is in hand.

The Avs are twelve points behind division (and Western Conference) leader Vancouver are are only three points ahead of the eleventh seeded San Jose Sharks.

Think the Sharks aren't going to make a major push for the next few months?

As for tonight's game, Chicago and Colorado matchups have been fun times during the past couple seasons.

So far this season, highlights have included:

-A 4-3 OT Avalanche win to open the season
-A 7-5 thriller that saw the Avs give up the lead, only to score three goals in under four minutes to win the game
-Another 4-3 Avs win two days later

This is the fourth and final meeting for the teams.

Also...

-Per Dater, Budaj is getting his second straight start, denying Craig Anderson the chance to play in front of his hometown crowd.
I have mixed-feelings about this, and I'm starting to think about Anderson in the same light that Penguin fans were thinking of Marc-Andre Fleury at the start of this season. Fleury was struggling mightily, but he did eventually play himself out of it. I think Anderson needs to do the same. It's a contract year. Motivation shouldn't be an issue.

-How will Matt Duchene play in his first game since becoming an All-Star? Counting on a couple points tonight from Dutchy.

-Kevin Shattenkirk will be a game-time decision. I'd do anything at this point to get Hunwick out of the lineup. Of course, Shatty playing would mean either a Holos scratch or the seven-defensemen method.

-Chicago has 49 points. The Avs have 50. You know what that means! BIG GAME
*I knew I wouldn't last!

-I read a certain rumor monger today. His name starts with "ek" and ends in "fraud." But he actually made a valid point as to why the All-Star Game should continue to be played. It's for the kids. When I was younger, I didn't have Center Ice. I read the hockey news and watched NHL2Night, but the All-Star Game served as one of the only times I could see Al Macinnis's slapshot or Jaromir Jagr's mullet. It was a time when I could watch Joe Sakic play on a line with Jeremy Roenick and no one thought it was weird. It was a big deal to see four or five Avs take part in the game, and it was a big deal to see who the fastest skater would turn out to be.

Now that I'm a tad older, I really don't care anymore. Nor do you, probably. But think about seven or eight-year-old kids who are looking forward to seeing Alex Ovechkin play with Henrik Sedin. (If Captain Staal or Captain Crosby choose to make it so.)

-2 hours until puck drop. Go Avs.

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