Monday, February 28, 2011

Avs Acquire Shawn Belle for Kevin Montgomery

A real blockbuster here.
Reported on Twitter by Bob McKenzie.
Avalanche keep unloading defensive prospects, but Montgomery wasn't too high up the list anyway.

Edit: Shawn Belle's a defenseman, too.

Still waiting for the Liles trade.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why Peter Stastny's Comments are a Bit Harsh

Alright, Peter Stastny, I'm sort of with you on this one. I'm not the biggest fan of giving up Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk, either. But I'm also having a hard time separating my subjective emotions and my objective opinion. Are you?

The eldest Stastny was quoted (h/t to Dater for picking it up) as saying that the recent trade that allowed Colorado to acquire Erik Johnson and Jay McClement "destroyed the team."

Holy overreaction, Batman.

Despite the fact that I wasn't thrilled with the trade when it went down, it's clear that Erik Johnson is an upgrade over Kevin Shattenkirk on the blueline. The same age, both Johnson and Shattenkirk have their strengths, but Johnson is much, much more likely to become that shutdown, #1 defenseman that the Avs so desperately need.

The trade, then, comes down to Chris Stewart. Will he be a 40-goal scorer in the NHL? will he be a dominant power forward who takes over games? Maybe. And if so, the Avs are going to regret giving him up.

That is, if they can't replace him.

One has to figure that the Avs will make it a priority in the offseason to a) acquire a #1 goaltender and b) replace Stewart.

A quick look at the 2011 free agent class doesn't show many players who bring the combination of physical strength and goal scoring.

If the season ended today, who would the Avs target?

20-goal scorer, Justin Williams from the Kings? Maybe a Brooks Laich-type player?

Or maybe the Avs go after a restricted free agent such as Andrew Ladd, Devin Setoguchi, or dare I say, Zach Parise?

Ok, so maybe none of these guys will be in Denver next season. But the Avs do and will have options to replace Stewart - whether through trades, free agency, or maybe even Ryan Stoa.

Let's also not forget, Mr. Stastny, that the Avs also got a #1 pick out of this.

Whether or not this trade has set the Avalanche back 2-3 years will be determined by management's decisions in the offseason.

Until then, we withhold judgement and root for the best.

Go Avs

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Avs Take On Shattenkirk, Stewart, and the Blues Tonight!

What a bizarre title. What a bizarre picture.

If you had told me at the beginning of the season that the Avs were going to trade away Scott Hannan, Colby Cohen, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Chris Stewart, I would have called you crazy.

I would have called you crazier if you had told me that the Avs would be in the midst of a ten-game losing streak in February.

But that's where we are.

Never has the "curse of the former Avs" been more threatening than tonight. We gave St. Louis two offensive threats, and I'll be shocked if one of them doesn't get a mark in the goal column tonight.

The Avs, now a distant 11 points out of the 8th spot, are basically playing for their spots on the team. Colorado management is taking notes on who is quitting on this team, and you can bet that they won't hesitate to move ANYONE.

Dater went so far as to say that not even Paul Stastny is safe.

There will be riots if that move occurs.

For my money, these are the Avs that I think should absolutely stay:

-Stastny
-Duchene
-O'Reilly
-Hejduk
-Winnik
-McLeod
-Johnson
-Liles
-Gaunce
-Foote

I believe everyone else (despite how fond I've grown of guys like Yip and Jones) is expendable. Some might argue that a guy like O'Reilly or Liles could bring in a big return, a return that is bigger than their perceived worth.

I argue that Liles has given everything he has to this franchise. He's stepped up this season to become the steadiest defenseman on the team, and he deserves to stay.

O'Reilly is the perfect third line center for this club. A defensive specialist and a penalty killer. (Despite the Avs penalty kill being putrid this season.) His offensive game will need to catch up eventually, but he still has many years for that to happen.

The Avs aren't done. I just hope they don't screw up.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts on Shatty/Stewart/Johnson


Late to the game in offering my thoughts on the huge deal that went down early (EARLY) Saturday morning.
St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced Saturday the club has acquired former first round draft choices Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk along with a conditional 2011 or 2012 second round draft choice from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a conditional 2011 or 2012 first round draft choice.
A lot of what I has been reading sounds like this:

-Erik Johnson = A big blueliner (which the Avs desperately need) who hasn't QUITE lived up to the billing of what a #1 pick should be. Still, he's a legitimate #1 defender and is still pretty young.

-Kevin Shattenkirk = Nice offense, but plays suspect D. We have guys like him (Stefan Elliott) in the system and he's part of the cost of picking up a guy like Johnson.

-Chris Stewart = Occasionally lazy, sometimes appears to have a bad attitude on the ice, becomes invisible on some nights.

And then on Twitter yesterday, a couple people pointed out to me that the Avs are getting a first round pick out of this. Eh....ok.

What happened to Shattenkirk being a franchise defenseman? A guy we were nicknaming "Captain Kirk?" A couple months ago, we were talking Calder. Now we're talking about his spotty defensive play? We KNEW that was the aspect of his game that he had to work on the most. What happened to teaching young players how to improve themselves? Johnson is an upgrade from Shattenkirk on the blueline (probably), but I'm not a fan of (essentially) giving up on young players. First Cohen, now Shattenkirk. Hopefully Gaunce doesn't think he's next.

As for Stewart, he's a fan favorite. For a team that NEEDS to market its stars, it's trading away an awful lot of its character. Anderson, now Stewart. As Adrian Dater said in his blog yesterday, this is a guy who could score forty goals on day. He was touted as the power forward that the Avs have been missing since Adam Deadmarsh. No, he hasn't been the same since he broke his hand earlier this season. But who on the Avs has been playing well at all? Who is going to play wing for this team? Obviously this season is done (4-0 loss to San Jose last night - Budaj in goal) and more trades are bound to come, setting the Avs up for what is going to be a crucial offseason, but it's still tough to realize that there are more than twenty games left to play.

Most pundits (that I've read) are declaring this a small win for the Avs. I'm still not sure. If Johnson pans out to be that dominating #1 defender, and the Avs are able to sign a big-time scorer in free agency then I'll declare it a win. Otherwise, I feel as though the Avs took a step back in this deal.

Side Notes

Last Night:

Anderson - 47 Saves / 47 Shots (1-0 OT win, NHL.com 2nd star)

Stewart - 2 G, 0 A (9-3 win, NHL.com 3rd star)

Un-freaking-believable.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

World Upside Down: Avs Trade Stewart and Shattenkirk for Erik Johnson

Unfortunately, I don't have time to write this post and may not have time until Sunday morning.

Once again, I'm on my way out, but as I have the habit of doing, I did a quick scan of Puck Daddy.

By now you've heard the news: Stewart/Shattenkirk for Johnson and other things.

Shocked. Utterly shocked.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Avs Trade Anderson

Sitting in class (sorry to my TA), I popped on Twitter for all of two seconds before I saw: "Avs trade Anderson to Ottawa for Elliott."

Sure enough, I googled it and found this:

The Ottawa Senators continued to remake their roster on the fly on Friday, sending goaltender Brian Elliott to the Colorado Avalanche for Craig Anderson.

Elliott posted a 13-19-8 record with a 3.19 goals against average and a .894 save percentage as the Sens’ No. 1 goalie this season.

In Anderson, Ottawa receives a veteran goalie who was a standout last season when the young Avs made the playoffs but struggled with injuries this season.

So the search for Roy continues.

Andy's first season in Colorado was like a dream. He played (perhaps over his own head) magnificently well, inducing fans to chant his name during the home opener against San Jose on Joe Sakic Night.

His ultimate highlight may be Game 3 in the first round against San Jose, when Anderson made 51 saves before Shark's defenseman Dan Boyle broke the scoreless tie and won it for the Avs. (Never gets old.)

Anderson brought personality back to the Avalanche goal, and he had a competitive edge that really hasn't been seen in Colorado since Roy retired.

But he's gone now. Into the East, where no doubt he'll shut the Avs out if he re-signs with Ottawa in the offseason.

Brian Elliott is your new (starting? backup?) goaltender.

All 59-45, 2.81, .903 of him.

Crap.

So instead of just needing to target a big defenseman this summer, the Avs are probably going to want to focus on finding a real starting goaltender.

My big problem: If the Avs have given up on the season (and trust me, they have), why not ride it out with Anderson? At worse, re-sign him in the offseason, get rid of Budaj, and see if he can win the #1 job.

In any case, the Andy era is over. And I have a feeling a few other eras are going to be over as well before the trade deadline is over.

Go Avs

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Loser's Point Still Equals a Loss

Cameron Gaunce
3-2, Pittsburgh wins in OT.

I don't care what the standings say.

Sure, on NHL.com , it no longer says "Loss 9" under the "Streak" column. But an overtime loss is just as bad to a team that may as well start booking tee times in April.

Congratulations to Cameron Gaunce for his first NHL goal. A nice - in his words - "change up" from the point. I can't wait to see Gaunce and Shattenkirk paired together in the future.

Nice game for both Chris Stewart and Paul Stastny. Staz had two assists and Stewie finally scored, almost notching his second in OT.

The Penguins' winning goal came after Kyle Porter took a tripping penalty behind the Penguins net. An utterly ridiculous play. The Avalanche PK had actually been pretty great until this point.

One point in the standings doesn't mean much at this point. It means that Marc-Andre Fleury got me a win in my Fantasy league.

Still, the Avs did play well and hopefully they will build on this effort against San Jose on Saturday night.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Memories of Forsberg

Upstairs, there's a room whose purpose isn't really clear. It's technically a guest bedroom, but it was once a playroom as well. As I've grown up, it's simply become the room in which I watch TV and waste countless hours blogging.

I'm writing this from a dorm room, but you better believe it, if I were home, I'd be in that room writing this post.

Anyway.

In that room, posters have come and gone, but there are five that have always remained. First, next to the window, on the couch's left (and furthest from the door) there's a picture of Joe Sakic, circa 1996. He's wearing a Stanley Cup patch and in the white home jersey. Moving to the right, there's a poster near the ceiling of (all) 26 NHL teams with the old orange and black NHL logo. Below that, there's one featuring Sakic, Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg, and...Claude Lemieux. Behind the TV stands a huge shot of Patrick Roy, no doubt guarding the television screen from annoying sisters who think that it's funny to switch the channel during playoff overtime. Finally, next to Roy is Peter Forsberg. A simple shot of him looking up ice with the big, bold "Forsberg" text over his head.

Sakic, Roy, Forsberg. (Let's forget about Lemieux for the time being. Great player, loved his time as an Av, but for the sentimentality of this post, just forget it.)

Sakic, Roy, Forsberg.

If you were an Avs fan at any point in the 90s, these were your heroes. I'm not sure if I understood at the time that these were three of the greatest players to ever live. Certainly I realized it when Roy broke Sawchuk's wins record in 2001. And Sakic, well, he was the captain - infallible.

But Forsberg, he was a different animal. For those of us too young, we weren't necessarily fully cognizant of all that he had done. Yeah, we knew he was on a postage stamp in Sweden. But YouTube wasn't around to show us the goal. We didn't realize that he had won an Olympic gold medal in 1994 either.

Hell, his 116-point, 82-game regular season in the 1996 Cup year was barely noticed due to a lack of NHL Center Ice and Internet access. At the time, I was too young to realize he had scored a natural hat trick in Game 2 of the Finals against Florida.

Yet thanks to The Hockey News and other magazines which I now long for, we knew that he was a special hockey player.

Depending on how you looked at it, he was Sakic's sidekick or Sakic was his.

Think about this - after that 82-game regular season (his second in the NHL), "Foppa" never again played 82 games in any year. In fact, in his 13 NHL season, Forsberg only played more than 70 games five times. Yet, look at those numbers.

Fourth all time in assists per game (.900).
Member of the "Triple Gold Club."
A points-per-game average in the top-10 in NHL history.
Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner in 2002-03, just one year after missing the entire regular season for "spleen recovery."

I still have the t-shirt from Drunken Bleachers that asks: "Who needs a spleen, when you've got Hart?" (It now comes in Flyers orange - gross)

He was Peter the Great. The Puck Wizard. His highlight reels are matched by very few. He hit, passed, and scored with the best of them. A +238 in his career, I don't think anyone could ever call him a burden.

I've had the privilege of seeing Forsberg play live numerous times in Philadelphia. My favorite moment? Easy.

It was the 2002-03 season - Foppa's MVP year - and the Avs and Flyers - were tied at one.

Forsberg, having scored the Avalanche's lone goal of the night, started the overtime. The Flyers won the faceoff and the defensemen controlled the puck at the Philadelphia blueline. All of a sudden, sneaky as a mouse, Forsberg pick pocketed the Flyers defenseman, broke in alone on goaltender Roman Cechmanek (good grief) and scored 26 seconds into the extra period to give the Avs the win.

Check out the recap:
With the bottom half of the net taken away, the Swedish All-Star lifted a backhander under the crossbar for his 24th goal and Colorado’s fourth win in five games.

“It was a very fast play,” Cechmanek said. “I felt that Forsberg would go more to the backhand side. He put a perfect shot high on the inside of the net and I didn’t have a chance.”
Another great moment was when Forsberg (in those dark times when he returned to play for the Flyers, the team that drafted him) had the (weird) chance to play against his former team. The first faceoff of the night featured Forsberg and Sakic. How weird must that have felt for both players?

Forsberg had one (tying) goal and one assist in the final three minutes of play to send the game to overtime. The Avs survived, however, and won thanks to a 5-on-3 goal by Alex Tanguay.

In the recap:
Peter Forsberg was gracious enough to pick up the bill when he dined with a group of his former Colorado teammates.

The Avalanche returned the gesture by sticking Philadelphia with a loss.

Alex Tanguay scored with 45.8 seconds left in overtime, helping Colorado spoil Forsberg’s first game against his former team in the Avalanche’s 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

“It was a little different, but as soon as the game started, I don’t really care,” said Forsberg, who spent 10 years with his old team. “I’ve never cared who I’m playing against. I just try and do my best to win the game for us.”
In the end, however. Forsberg wasn't a Flyer or a Predator. He was a member of the Colorado Avalanche. The organization was gracious enough to give him one last chance at finishing his career on his terms.

It didn't work out. But next season, #21 will hang in the rafters with #s 77, 33, and 19.

It's where it belongs.

Thank you Foppa, for allowing me to watch one of the greatest hockey players the game will ever see. You will be missed.






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Monday, February 14, 2011

Forsberg Retires - Really?


It seems like just yesterday that I wrote this:
It seems like just yesterday that I wrote this:
Greeted with a standing ovation and a tribute video, Forsberg played on a line with Sakic and Hejduk all night and helped quarterback the powerplay.

Forsberg played for 19:57 and had three shots and helped create twice as many scoring chances. He was effective, playing his old physical style and took a few licks along the way. It's clear that teams will target him in the coming games.
Well, guess what? Almost two full years later, Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg is returning to Denver.
Oh wait, that was last sunday - on February the 6th - that Greg Sherman announced that Peter Forsberg would be returning to play for the Avalanche.

And no, that wasn't a typo. Just the ultimate example of a little deja vu.

Two games (two Avalanche losses) later, Foppa has decided that it's time to hang his skates up for good.

At 4:30PM ET / 2:30PM MT, the Colorado Avalanche website will have a live stream of Forsberg's first official (and probably final) retirement press conference.

Note that the Avalanche website states:
At that time, he will announce his retirement from the game of hockey.
No more Sweden. No more foot surgery. No more comebacks.

From the game of hockey.

It was a remarkable career, one that should and will be honored by a number retirement next year in Denver.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Caput

Preds score with under three minutes to go. Empty netter by Legwand seals it.

Streak: L7

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Do or Die Tonight

The Avalanche season hangs in the balance. A lot of you probably already think that it's over.

Losers of five in a row, the Avs now sit in 14th place in the Western Conference, seven points out of a playoff spot. There are only 28 games left. The winning needs to start now.

Luckily, there will be some energy injected into the Avalanche lineup tonight. Peter Forsberg will play.

With the losses of TJ Galiardi and Kyle Cumiskey (and Craig Anderson's personal time), Forsberg's role (he will likely play with Duchene and Hejduk tonight) becomes much more important. One gets the sense that as Foppa goes, the Avalanche go.

The West is so close - a three or four game winning streak would put the Avs right back into contention.

Check out the next four opponents:

Columbus (Tonight) - 1 point ahead of the Avs, currently sitting in 12th

Nashville (Saturday) - 9 points ahead of the Avs, 5th in the West

Calgary (Monday) - 7 points ahead, holders of the 8th spot

Pittsburgh (Wednesday) - No Crosby. No Malkin. Still churning along.

After the Pittsburgh game, the last five of the month are all against Western Conference foes.

There's still time, but I think that the Avalanche's fate ultimately depend on tonight. Can they come out and play like their season is on the line? Or are they going to get scored on early and spend the rest of the game making mental mistakes?

Completely up to them.
Go Avs

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Forsberg. Is. Back.


It seems like just yesterday that I wrote this:
Greeted with a standing ovation and a tribute video, Forsberg played on a line with Sakic and Hejduk all night and helped quarterback the powerplay.

Forsberg played for 19:57 and had three shots and helped create twice as many scoring chances. He was effective, playing his old physical style and took a few licks along the way. It's clear that teams will target him in the coming games.
Well, guess what? Almost two full years later, Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg is returning to Denver.

In a press release today by the Avalanche, Greg Sherman made the announcement:

“We’re proud to announce that Peter will be back in an Avalanche sweater,” said Avalanche General Manager/Executive Vice President Greg Sherman. “Peter believes he can compete at the NHL level based on how his workouts went. He will provide additional leadership to our club and he will have an impact with this young team.”
Forsberg has been working out with the team the last couple of weeks, testing that oft-troubled foot of his.

Needless to say, the Avs could use "Foppa" right about now. After dropping three straight, Colorado (56 points) sits four points out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the West, but they will have to leap frog four teams to make it there, including Chicago, Calgary, Minnesota, and Los Angeles.

Dater reports that Forsberg will NOT play tomorrow.

Can Forsberg lift the Avs?

Better question: can he avoid the injury list on a team that seems to be made of glass?

Oh, and for kicks:

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Avs Game Postponed

We'll have to wait a little longer for the Burgundy and Blue to return to the ice.

Snow's coming down all around, and the game simply can't go on.
Tuesday night's game between the Avalanche and the Blues, set for 8 p.m. ET at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, has been postponed due to a major storm in the Midwest.

No makeup date has been announced.
Next Up

Wild@Avs
Thursday - 2/3
9PM ET / 7 PM ET


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