Monday, January 31, 2011

Avalanche All Star Highlights

Matt Duchene snipes his first All Star Game goal past Cam Ward in the first period


In their first NHL All Star Game, both Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny created some last memories.

After being taken with the second-to-last pick by Team Staal, Stastny got off to a fast start by scoring his first career All Star Game goal just 2:48 into the first period. Stastny was back on the score sheet 32 seconds later when he made a sweet pass to Patrick Elias, the other #26 on Team Staal.

Team Staal held an early 4-0 lead, but Team Lidstrom battled back. With Staal's squad holding a 4-3 edge late in the first, Matt Duchene broke in all alone against hometown 'tender Cam Ward. With a flick of his wrists, Duchene went high blocker side to register his first All Star goal.

Duchene had a chance for a second goal in the third period after Alex Ovechkin threw his stick while Duchene was on a breakaway. Unfortunately, Dutchy's attempt was stopped by Bruins All Star Tim Thomas.

Both Dutchy and Stastny were on the ice in the final seconds as Team Staal battled desperately to try and even the score, but they came up just short as Matt Duchene and Team Lidstrom won the 2011 All Star Game by a score of 11-10.

______

Of course, for those of you who watched the game and the Skills Competition, you know that Dutchy had some, uh, interesting verbal moments. Take a look at that and other Avalanche All Star moments from Raleigh:


Duchene's Vodka Comment

Duchene clarified what he meant on Twitter:
Oh and btw, the vodka thing wasn't a personal thing, it was a joke amongst our group! Don't take it how I said it
Uh-huh.

Duchene's Breakaway Goal / Penalty Shot


A more complete look at what led up to the first penalty shot in ASG history


Stastny's Goal

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Duchene and Stastny Fall To Final Six in All Star Draft

In the NHL's first (and hopefully not last) ever All Star Game Fantasy Draft, Colorado's representatives didn't fare that well.

Battling team allegiances, country alliances, and family ties, Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny had the dubious honor of both still being on the board when it came time for Captains Lidstrom and Staal to each make their final three picks.

Duchene was taken in the 16th round by Team Lidstrom. Then, after David Backes and Louis Eriksson were taken, it came down to Paul Stastny and Phil Kessel.

The caveat of this draft was that yes, the player chosen last would have to face the "embarrassment" of being chosen last in an All Star Game, but that player would also win a new car and 20,000 dollars to donate to charity.

That player turned out to be Phil Kessel, as Paul Stastny was taken with the 35th pick by Team Staal.

So it'll be Team Duchene vs. Team Stastny tomorrow night in the Skills Competition and Sunday night in the All Star Game.

Pray for no injuries.

Check out the full All Star Draft results here

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stastny Headed to Raleigh

With a rash of injuries to notable names such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Ales Hemsky, Colorado's Paul Stastny has been added to the All Star Game roster. He will join teammate Matt Duchene in the NHL's first ever "All Star Draft" next Friday where he will be chosen by either "Team Staal" or "Team Lidstrom."

This is actually Stastny's second All Star Game, but per the Denver Post,
Unofficially, Stastny is an NHL all-star for the second time in three years. He was named in 2008 but couldn't play because of an injury. Because of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, there was no all-star game a year ago.
I'm still hoping to see John-Michael Liles get his chance at some point. Coyotes defender Keith Yandle was added yesterday to replace the injured Tobias Enstrom, so nothing's for sure.

Final game before the All Star break is tonight.

Coyotes @ Avalanche
9 PM ET / 7 PM ET
Go Avs

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hunwick's Time to Shine

Oy

It would be an understatement to say that Matt Hunwick's brief time in Colorado has been (thus far) disappointing.

In 23 games with the Avs, Hunwick has 0 goals, 3 assists, and is a pitiful -9.

In fact, Hunwick hasn't scored a goal since October 19th - as a Bruin.

Not exactly what Colorado fans were hoping for when GM Greg Sherman traded away the promising Colby Cohen in November.

But in roughly two hours, Hunwick will take to the Pepsi Center ice and stare down his old Boston comrades.

We're not asking for a hat trick, but a simple, turnover free game from Hunwick could help lead the Avs to victory.

How have other recently acquired Avs done against their former teams?

Tomas Fleischmann
Acquired: Traded from Washington for Scott Hannan
Played against his old team on December 11th.
0 Points, 2 PIM, 2 Shots, -1
3-2 Avalanche Win

Ryan O'Byrne
Acquired: Traded from Montreal for Michael Bournival
Faced the Habs on December 19th
0 Points, 0 PIM, 2 Shots, Even
3-2 Avalanche Win

Kevin Porter
Acquired: Traded from Phoenix w/ Peter Mueller for Wojtek Wolski
Faced the Coyotes on January 6th
0 Points, 2 PIM, 0 Shots, Even
2-0 Avalanche Loss

Daniel Winnik
Acquired: Traded from Phoenix for a 4th-round 2012 Entry Draft Pick
Took on the 'Yotes on January 6th
0 Points, 0 PIM, 2 Shots, Even
2-0 Avalanche Loss

And just for kicks:

Craig Anderson
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in 2009. Formerly a Florida Panther.
Faced the Panthers on December 2nd 2009 and March 11th 2010
57 Saves/59 Shots, 1 SO, 1 Win, 1 KO (Was injured in OT by Keith Ballard, booo)

Ok, so our Avs don't really have the best track record against their former clubs.

That said, Hunwick is playing for his job each and every game. With Kyle Cumiskey healthy again, Hunwick was a healthy scratch last game against Nashville.

Time to play with a chip on your shoulder, Mr. Hunwick.

Make it happen.

Bruins @ Avalanche
3 PM ET / 1 PM MT
Go Avs

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Well I'll Be Darned

In Sacco We Trust, indeed.


Good stuff, Joe.

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In Sacco We Trust

So it's been a hectic few days for me. I'm back at school and enjoying a pretty fun week before classes begin. Unfortunately, it once again means that blogging takes a back seat.

I haven't missed this many Avalanche games since 2003-04 - the last year (excluding the lockout) that I didn't have NHL Center Ice.

Oy.

The big news that Avalanche fans are talking about is the demotion of TJ Galiardi in favor of Ryan Stoa for tonight's game. Galiardi was sent down to Lake Erie yesterday.

With the loss of Ryan O'Reilly, Galiardi was moved to center for the 4-3 OT win against Vancouver on Tuesday night. He finished with zeros across the board, and he received the least amount of ice time for anyone not named McLeod or Koci.

That said, there's another player in Sacco's doghouse and his name is Brandon Yip, who has played very little hockey in 2011.

With the call-up of Ryan Stoa, will Yip have a chance to play himself out of his funk tonight?

Now that the Avs are getting healthier, I'd like to see all the pieces we imagined to be set in place. Yeah, maybe Galiardi and Yip have been disappointing this season, but there's no way that David Koci and his 2 minutes of ice time contributes more on a nightly basis.

Avs fans must live by the motto: "In Sacco We Trust." He's the guy who figured out how to get Chris Stewart to elevate his game to a superstar's level. In his short tenure with the Avalanche, he's made guys be healthy scratches for one game, only to see them come back ready and refreshed in the next game. As the former coach of the Monsters, he has a good instinct for how younger players operate, and he seems to know what buttons to push in order to get each specific player to play better.

Then comes the problem of Matt Hunwick.

Why the hell is he still in the lineup? Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers.

Wait, that's a negative.

Maybe he brings the unique ability to move the puck and to pass and to shoot, blah, blah, blah.

Wait, John-Michael Liles and Kevin Shattenkirk do that, too.

Tonight marks the return of Kyle Cumiskey. It's time for Hunwick to sit.

Phoenix at Colorado
Tonight
9PM ET/ 7PM MT

Go Avs

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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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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Duchene an All-Star, Liles Snubbed

The NHL announced the full 2011 All-Star game rosters this morning, and it will please Avalanche fans to see that Matt Duchene has made the team.

Duchene's 18 goals and 43 points led the Avalanche.

Also named to the "SuperSkills Roster" were twelve rookies, including Colorado's Kevin Shattenkirk.

But what about...

I hate to get greedy. There's a limited number of spots, and the NHL usually tries to make sure that each team is represented.

Looking over the list, I don't see many mistakes, but two Avs certainly deserved a spot:

John-Michael Liles

Liles is eighth in points among defenseman and ninth in assists. He set the record for most consecutive games with a point by a defenseman to start the season. He's been an absolute rock for the Avs and deserved a place on the roster.

Paul Stastny

Stastny ranks 23rd in the league in points (37) and is second in scoring on one of the league's best offensive clubs. Should he have gotten in over, say, New Jersey's Patrick Elias? Perhaps. But he's more of a stretch (based on the play of the other forwards) that Liles.

Solid News

Only one Red Wing was named to the team.

Less-Solid News

Three Vancouver Canucks were selected

What say you on the 2011 All-Star selections?

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Avs Avoid Collapse, Defeat Red Wings 5-4

It looked like it was going to be an easy night.

The Avs scored four first period goals - two by Duchene, one each by Stastny and Porter - and chased Detroit's Jimmy Howard from his crease.

It was 4-2 after one, and then 5-2 midway through the second when David Jones scored on a nice move to the backhand. But as usual, the Avs didn't score that "next goal" and allowed Detroit to stick around.

Coming into the game, Detroit's power play against the Avs (for the season) stood at 6 for 12 (50%). That's an outrageous figure.

Tonight, the Wings were 2 for 3 and managed to make it a 5-4 game with 10 minutes to play in the third period.

The Avs managed to save face, shut the door, stay out of the box, and escape with a big two points at home.

Some Notes

-Matt Hunwick continued his atrocious play. Thankfully, I think Joe Sacco has finally started to notice, as he limited Hunwick's ice time to 13:41.

-Then again, Jonas Holos played a paltry 11:03. He was a +1 to Hunwick's -1.

-Tomas Fleischmann's pass to Matt Duchene on Duchene's second goal was a thing of beauty. An all-out hustle play. Props to David Jones for taking a huge hit to start the 2-on-1.

-The penalty killing is going to hold this team back from making any serious noise in the Western Conference. I don't believe the problem is with the forwards. Winnik, O'Reilly, Galiardi, Stastny are all grade-A, defensively responsible guys.

What about the defenseman? It's no secret that the Avs are small. Adam Foote, Ryan Wilson, and Ryan O'Byrne throw some weight around, but none of them are superstar, shutdown d-men.

-Avs had 14 shots in the first, 8 in the second, and 4 in the third. KEEP THE FOOT ON THE PEDAL.

-Todd Bertuzzi sucks.

Avs hit the 50-point mark, they sit in a three-way tie for fourth in the West.

Next Up

Wednesday, Chicago, 8:30 ET
Go Avs.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Trap Game on the Horizon

Last night's 2-0 loss was one of the most boring games of the 2010-11 season for the Colorado Avalanche. Not only were they shut out, but they were held to zero by freaking Jason LaBarbera, a guy with a 50-54 record in ten NHL seasons.

Good grief. The Coyotes are a trap team, no doubt about it - and anyone who watched last night should understand why the trap kills the game.

Anyway, the loss means that the sixth-seeded Avs are separated from the twelfth-seeded Blackhawks by just two points. And guess what?

There's a trap game on the horizon.

Before taking on Detroit and Chicago next week, the Avs must first play the lowly New York Islanders in a Saturday afternoon game.

The Islanders are currently ranked 29th in the league (only the Devils are lower) and are one of just four team to have not topped the 100 goal mark.

That said, check out New York's recent games:

On January 3rd, they topped the still-alive Calgary Flames by a score of 5-2.
Trap: The Flames had a big-time game against division rival Vancouver on the 5th

On December 31st, they defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in OT.
Trap: The Red Wings were looking at a battle royale against the Flyers two days later

On December 29th, they took out the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in a shootout, ending Sidney Crosby's 25-game point streak in the process.
Trap: The Pens, of course, played in the Winter Classic on New Year's Day

The Isles are taking advantage of superior teams by capitalizing on the fact that they're probably being looked past. Who can concentrate on the Islanders, a team riddled with injuries and mediocrity, when the Flyers or Canucks or Capitals loom large?

The Avs can't fall into this trap. These are the games that Colorado must win if they are going to be in the playoffs in April. Forget Phoenix. Don't even think about Detroit. The Avs need to re-focus and get the win.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Time to Win

It wasn't that long ago that the Avs were a couple points back of the Detroit Red Wings for tops in the Western Conference. Now they're a couple points ahead of the 11th seeded Phoenix Coyotes.

So is the life of a Western Conference team.

In fact, the ever-hated Calgary Flames, who were left for dead a few weeks ago, are just six points back of the Avalanche and the eight seed.

That's pretty scary, folks.

It's time to get a W.

The Avs are 5-4-1 in their last ten games

The once #1 offensive team in the league has scored more than three goals just once in the last seven games.

Losses have been to division rivals Vancouver, Minnesota, and Calgary, conference leader Detroit, and the very good Los Angeles Kings.

Tonight, the Avs get to take a crack at the Buffalo Sabres, who have been extremely mediocre this season. With just 36 points the Sabres are nine points back of the playoffs in the East; however, they have won two straight, including a 7-6 shootout barnburner against the Boston Bruins. For Buffalo, this marks the first of a three-game road trip. They're going to be motivated to start it right.

Colorado needs to get itself back on track. A season can't be won in January, but it can certainly be loss.

Peter Budaj will get the start for the Avs tonight per everyone.

Colorado-Buffalo
9PM ET

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